One of the ever-present debates in the cruise industry revolves around a very simple staple in almost all cruise vacations, Formal Nights. For those unfamiliar, Formal Nights are the night(s) of the cruise that guests are expected to get dressed to the nine for the evening. The arguments in the debate range anywhere from “I don’t have enough room in my luggage” to “Don’t eat dinner if you can’t dress up”. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, let’s take a look at what to expect on the ship.
When is Formal Night?
Your room attendant will leave a Cruise Compass for the next day in your room when they make it up each evening. Along with the weather, schedule for the next day, and any advisories from the captain, your Cruise Compass includes the attire for dinner that evening.
Generally, Formal Night will fall on either a sea day or a day with an early port departure. This is intended to give you plenty of time to get ready for the evening. According to the cruise line, for sailings 5 nights and shorter, there will be 1 Formal Night, 2 Formal Nights on sailings 6-12 nights, and 3 Formal Nights on sailings longer than 12 nights. The current exception to that rule is Empress of the Seas, which does not offer Formal Night.
What should I wear?
Royal Caribbean defines formal night as “your best black-tie look”. Everything from Suits to Tuxedos for men and Cocktail Dresses to Evening Gowns for women is acceptable. Many couples and families will coordinate looks between spouses and parents/children for an extra polished look.
Is it really just for dinner?
Formal Night is certainly a main dining room tradition, but many other areas around the ship will also be stepping up to the occasion. The photographers will be out all over the ship to help you capture the moment. The high-end retail shops on board may run specials that night. There may even be special fancy events on board that evening.
So, what if I don’t want to dress up?
The important thing to remember is that Formal Night is a Main Dining Room tradition. The expectation to dress up does not extend past there. If you are looking for complimentary dining that is not part of Formal Night, Windjammer Cafe is a great option. If you would still like a sit down dinner during Formal Night, it is a great night to try out some of Specialty Dining options onboard. Remember though, many of the specialty dining options require Smart Casual every night of the cruise.
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