Cruise Formal Night: What You Need to Know

Cruise formal night happens on most cruises. There is typically a formal night dress code.

As you are preparing for a cruise, it is important to know that most major cruise lines feature a cruise formal night at least once during their voyages. During these nights, a formal night dress code will be in effect and you can expect most passengers on board to be dressed up in their most elegant formal wear. To make sure you’re prepared to enjoy the occasion in style, we’ve got the answers to your burning questions about what a cruise formal night really is.

What is a Cruise Formal Night?

A cruise formal night is a night where the dress code changes from the normal casual style to something a little more sophisticated. Basically, it is an excuse for everyone to get dolled up and have a classy night out while showing off their best evening wear. This is, of course, the perfect opportunity for a romantic date night with that special someone, but anyone can enjoy getting dressed to the nines and going out for the night, even if they don’t have a date!

You will know when the formal night dress code will be in effect ahead of time because it will be on the daily planner that is delivered to your stateroom each night. You can expect most of the passengers to be in their Sunday best, so make sure you pack something nice so you don’t feel out of place! Many people will be heading to the classiest restaurants to make the most of the occasion, so don’t forget to get a reservation if you are planning on doing the same.

What is the Formal Night Dress Code?

So, you may be wondering exactly how “dressed up” you should get for a cruise formal night. Well, there really is no limit to how far you want to take it. Many people go the whole nine yards with their sharpest tuxedos and most elegant ball gowns, so this is your opportunity to bust out your best duds and make a statement, if that is something you are interested in doing. 

That said, if high fashion and elegant styles are not your bag, don’t feel intimidated! The formal night dress code is really more of a suggestion — at the end of the day, anything goes. Now, should you wear swim trunks and a tank top to a high-end restaurant? Not unless you want to feel extremely out of place. But nice pants and a button down for men or a simple cocktail dress for women will be all you need to bring to be prepared for the occasion.

How Many Cruise Formal Nights Will There Be?

When you are packing for your cruise, it is important to know how many formal outfits to pack, so you aren’t left out or stuck wearing the same thing twice. Shorter cruises will have less formal nights then longer ones, so keep that in mind as you are planning your outfits. If your cruise is in the 3 to 5 night range, you can expect to only have one day where the formal night dress code is in effect.

If, on the other hand, your cruise runs longer than that, you will likely be getting more cruise formal nights. Typically if your cruise goes for 6 to 10 nights, then you will have 2 formal nights, if your cruise goes up to 14 nights then you’ll get 3, and beyond that you can get as many as 4 nights. It is rare to get 2 nights in a row, though, so if you have a cruise with multiple formal nights, you will have an opportunity to let your hair down in between occasions.

Ready to see what a cruise formal night is all about for yourself? Visit for the largest selection of cruise line deals — we can help you book the smart way! We give you our exclusive bonus offers and all qualifying cruise line offers, plus all of the cruise loyalty program benefits. Book online at or call 800-288-6006 today.

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