What Cruise Clothing To Wear On Formal Night For Families


What is the correct formal night cruise attire? You have booked your first family cruise. Spent hours deciding on the best family cruise cabin. Researched cruise ports and drinks packages to the point you feel prepared. But then comes the cruise clothing question what do I pack? And also;

What Cruise Clothing Do I Wear On Cruise Formal Night? And Do You Have To Dress Up On A Cruise?

What Cruise Clothing do I wear on Formal Night?

Personally formal nights are my favourite nights of the whole cruise. Some cruisers love it and fully embrace it, others avoid it like the plague.

For us as a family the more black tie nights there are on a sailing the better. Also as we have fully embraced cruise formal nights the kids love it too. I spend all year thinking about cocktail dresses and formal night cruise attire

MSC Bellissima formal night photo
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To find out what cruise clothing to wear on formal night? Look no further we have done the research for you.

As  family cruisers we are not just thinking of ourselves we have babies, kids and teens to organise too. Thus making organisation and thinking ahead essential.

I will start by addressing some of the questions we have been asked. We will also look at some of the guidelines for different cruise lines.

Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas Formal Night, What To Wear On Cruise Formal Night For Families

Formal Night Guidelines For Families With Kids And Teens.

How Many Formal Nights Are There On A Cruise, What Should I Pack?

There is always a minimum of 1 night on a cruise however some have up to 3 or 4 on a one weeks cruise. It varies massively depending on the cruise line, for example Royal Caribbean normally have 1 on 5 nights and under, 2 on 7 nights up and 3 on 10-14 day cruises.

How Dressed Up Do You Get On A Cruise Formal Night?

Regardless of the recommendations you can dress up as much as you want. I find there is aways a great mix of formal night dresses and a really supportive atmosphere.

I have worn very dressy dresses and dressed smart elegant and never felt out-of-place with either. It’s all about what makes you feel great. Really, do not over think it you could wear a trouser suit, a very plain basic dress with heels or just what makes you feel nice on your regular night out.

Balcony Selfie on Celebrity Silhouette

What Do Children Wear On Cruise Formal Night?

We are frequently asked what to pack for children cruise for formal night? Cruise lines attitudes to kids formal night wear is pretty relaxed, as long as children look smart and aren’t wearing denim or trainers.

Our boys have always loved dressing up for formal night, we usually buy a suit or trousers and waistcoat from Next or Debenhams, and once they grow out of it I sell it on eBay, they always sell.

Don’t worry about buying smart shoes that will be worn once, get some smart pumps such as Converse these look cool and trendy with a waist coat and tie. Clarkes or Next have a good selection for toddlers. I find it makes the outfit look cool and more in keeping with their personalities.

Do Men Have To Wear A Suit On Formal Night On A Cruise?

Most cruise lines are pretty flexible with cruise clothing for formal night and are happy for men to wear a dark suit or tuxedo, as long as it’s with a tie.

It’s about what you feel comfortable in. But don’t men look great in a tux? Sorry guys! Formal night is such a great time to embrace this, my hubby says he takes his tux under duress, but what a great opportunity to get a family photo.

How Do You Get Creases Out Of Formal Night Dresses Or Men’s Dress Shirts

I never iron dress shirts, if I do it’s only 1 because my itinerary is telling me there is a formal night on night 2 of our cruise. Send the send the rest to get ironed by the ship ironing service.

Dresses can be hung in the bathroom with the shower on hot, the steam drops the creases in no time.

Crusing with Kids editors and families on Navigator of the Seas Back to the 80s cruise

Can Men Hire A Tux On A Cruise Ship For The Black Tie Event?

Yes, most cruise lines offer a cruise clothing hire service for formal suits. You can also just hire shirts, my husband normally takes his dress shirt for his suits but hires another for the second formal night.

Can You Skip Cruise Formal Night?

If you don’t want to get involve in formal night that is totally fine. Cruising is about doing what you love and feeling relaxed. Most cruise ships have restaurants and or the buffet restaurant running an a non formal basic during formal night.

Top Tips For Cruise Formal Night Accessories?

Cruise Accessories For Women

Try to find a pair of shoes and bag that will go with all of your formal outfits to save on packing, gold, silver of rose gold are always great options. Pack a pashmina ( the best way to pack is to roll it) it can be chilly on deck at night and you can’t go on a cruise and not take a walk on the promenade at sunset.

Or go for light-weight bags and sandals and take a few! I adore these Katie Loxton Clutches from Lily And Stella. They come in a variety of colours and have cool messages on the front.

What to wear on Formal Night for a cruise

Men On Black Tie Night

Don’t forget to pack cufflinks, and a bow tie. I have lost count of how many bow ties we have bought on cruise ships. But don’t worry as you can hire these too!

Kids And Teens On A Cruise Ship Formal Night

Ensure their evening shoes are kept separate, cruise port floors and busy port towns can be dusty and you do a lot of walking in port. Best pumps are better saved for the evenings. And comfy trainers are most certainly better for all that walking during the day.

Independence of The Seas Royal Caribbean Formal night children wear
What should kids wear on a cruise

And a fantastic tip from one of our readers, if you kids are magnets to mess like one of ours, change them after dinner before the kids club to keep their formal night outfit fresher for longer. Why have I never thought of that before?

Dress Code For Formal Nights On Cruise Ships By Cruise Line

Princess Cruises What To Wear

4-6 night cruises have 1 formal evening, 7-13 night cruises have 1, 14- to 20-night cruises have 3 formal evenings, 21- to 28-night cruises have 4 and cruises of 29 nights or more have a minimum of five formal nights.

Formal cruise clothing is tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits for men. Evening gowns, cocktail dresses or elegant pantsuits for women. And smart  dresses shorts and shirts, or suits for boys and young teens.

Should you want to miss out of formal night you can head to the buffet restaurant for a more relaxed affair.

Royal Caribbean Formal Night Guide Lines

For a more detailed Royal Caribbean Formal Night Guide Click Here.

What is the attire for Royal Caribbean Formal Night? And how many cruise formal nights do they have; For 3- 5 night cruises with 1 formal night, 6 and 7 nights cruises with 2 formal nights, and more than 7-14 with 3 formal nights.

Although Royal Caribbean embrace formal night it is optional, formal attire for men is suits and ties or tuxedos. For women cocktail dresses. Children are welcomed with smart dresses shorts and collared shirts, however older teens tend to wear trousers and shirts with waistcoats or jackets.

The Windjammer Cafe is available for those wanting a more casual affair.

Some ships also hold a 70s themed night and a white should you want to dress with a retro vibe.

Celebrity Cruises Formal Nights Cruise Clothing

Cruises of 4 to 6 nights have 1 Chic Night, Cruises 7- to 11-night  have 2, and those of 12 nights or more nights have 3 Chic Nights.

What are Chic Nights on Celebrity Cruises? Chic nights are Celebrities relaxed brand of formal evening, it is totally your choice you Chic you choose to go. Men can wear suits, trousers or smart with collared shirts or tuxes. Some woman choose spectacular chic night dresses, where others choose simple elegance it really is up to you. Check out our full Celebrity Cruises formal night guide.

Boys are required to wear full length trousers in the main and some speciality restaurants on chic night, however smart pumps ( Strictly not trainers) are acceptable with a collared shirt or smart collared polo.

If you wish to stay casual you can still dine in the International Marketplace, outdoor grill or AquaSpa Cafe.

P&O Black Tie Night

P&O formal evening are called Black Tie nights, there is generally 1 Black Tie night during a 2-4 night cruise, 2 Black Tie nights during a 5-7 night cruise, 3 Black Tie nights during an 8-10 night cruise and 4 during an 11-14 night cruise.

Ladies wear glamorous evening wear including cocktail dresses, ball gowns or even smart trouser suits.

For men, dinner jackets or tuxedos are the norm, but a dark lounge or business suit and tie can be worn as an alternative. You can also wear formal national dress and military uniform.

The Dress Code for children in the evening is Evening Casual, regardless of the adult Dress Code. P&O do ask that children don’t wear denim on Black Tie nights. When dining in the informal or buffet restaurants children can be casually dressed. If children are going to be in the evening in the formal restaurants and theatre then they can still dress more casually adopting our Evening Casual Dress Code.

NCL Formal Dress Code

There is no formal night on NCL, Norwegian’s Night Out is the line’s freestyle version of a formal night, which is optional, however some cruises do choose to take part and dress up a little. You may also want to pack an all-white outfit to take part in NCLs White Hot party.

Disney Cruise Line Evening Dress Code

Disney has formal, semiformal, “dress-up” and casual nights, “dress-up” nights can be expected on 3 and  4 night cruises, and formal and semiformal on longer cruises. Formal night, tuxedos or suits for men and gowns or dresses for women. Semiformal, suits or jackets for men and dresses or pantsuits for women. “Dress-up” means dress shirts for men (jackets optional) and dresses or pantsuits for women. Most cruises also include one or more theme nights, such as pirate or tropical.

3 and 4 night cruises each hold one “dress-up” night.  You can expect 1 formal and 1 semiformal night on 7 night cruise

It’s not as confusing as it seems, you need to check your restaurants for the dress code as Disney Dining works on a rotation system, Check here for guidance.

Marella Cruises Formal Night Guide Lines

There is one formal night on a 7 day cruse called the Captains Gala Dinner where men are expected to wear a dinner jacket, tuxedo or a suit and tie. Women can choose a cocktail or evening dress. Children smart dresses shorts and shirts with smart shoes, pumps ( Not trainers)  or sandals.

Carnival Cruises Dress Code

There are 2 elegant nights on 7 night cruises and 1 on shorter cruises. Elegant night codes suggests smart trousers and shirt for men with sports jackets, cocktail dresses or pantsuits for women, although you may choose to dress for formally men in a tuxedo and women in evening gowns.

Children evening dress code on Carnival can be quite relaxed, with smart shorts and polo shirts, of dressed up should you choose to, however smart pumps (Not trainers) or sandals are required.

For those not wanting to dress up for formal evening, the Lido restaurants have a casual dress code.

MSC Evening Dress Code

There is 1 formal night on 4-6-night cruises, 2 on 7-9 night cruises, 3 on 10- to 14-night cruises and 4 on cruises of 15 nights or longer.

Men are expected to wear suits or jackets and ties, and women cocktail dresses.

Cunard Formal Evenings

Cunard embrace formal evenings wholeheartedly and holds 4 and an 8 night transatlantic cruise, two fo these are generally themed. On our cruise my favourite was the Black and White evening.

Ladies can really go to town with gowns on Cunard for me this was a real highlight of our cruise. And men must wear a tux or dark suit and tie. The dress code filters across to children too although on non formal night the boys were ok in trousers and smart shirts.

On non formal evening men are still expected to wear a jacket, however a tie is optional. If you love dressing up Cunard is a wonderful option. Should you want to miss the formal evenings of have a night off you can dine in the buffet restaurants.

There you have it, a bumper guide on what to wear on cruise formal night for families, we hope it is useful and if we have missed anything out, please let us know!

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  • Sarah Christie

    Sarah also writes for Mini Travellers Family Travel Blog and Extraordinary Chaos Craft and Lifestyle Blog. Both are award-winning blogs with a travel and family focus. She is married and has two boys, aged 18 and 22, who all love cruising as a family. Nothing is better than waking up every day in a new port with new and exciting things to explore. She aims to share how cruising as a family with young adults is the perfect choice for family travel. Her boys are sporty and love the activities, sports and dining options cruising offers. Sarah has worked with brands such as Walt Disney World, Mark Warner, Ikos Resort, Center Parcs, Laura Ashley, Belling and Next.

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