What to Wear for Formal Night on a Cruise

Formal night is a time to celebrate in style.

Trying to determine what to wear for formal night on a cruise can be a lot of fun! You shouldn't worry about this experience being boring, over the top or too much work. The evening is a time for everyone to come out in the finest. It is also a time for you to show off how stylish you can be. Find out if your vacation will offer a cruise ship formal night by looking at your itinerary. Then, plan accordingly.

What to Wear for Formal Night on a Cruise

For those unsure about the level of elegance they will need to match on formal night, a good place to learn more about it is your cruise travel agent. Many travel agents take cruises on the cruise lines they book with. They may have been on the cruise you are planning on taking. They are a great resource for what to wear.

What to Wear for the Women

Here are some ideas for the ladies on dressing for formal night on your cruise.

  • What type of evening gown? Most cruises want you to wear an evening gown, but the description of what this is can range widely. Choose a gown that you feel comfortable in. A dressy cocktail-style dress is usually formal enough on most cruises.
  • Don't want to wear a dress? For women who do not want to wear a formal dress or evening gown, a formal style woman's suit will work well. You should dress up, but a pant suit may be acceptable as long as it is considered dressy. An elegant blouse and dress slacks will work well.
  • Dress up your look with jewelry. Most people don't carry too much jewelry when they travel, but a few pieces can help to make many outfits more formal looking. Choose classic items like pearls, diamond earrings or necklaces, and perhaps a nice watch.
  • Do the shoes, too. While you pack your sneakers for all the cruise shore excursions you will take, you also want to pack a pair of comfortable but quality heels or flats to wear during formal night. You may be dancing so keep comfort in mind when choosing a pair.
Dance the night away.

What to Wear for the Men

Formal wear for men should be just as classy for formal night.

  • Is a suit enough? On some cruise lines where the evening will be top of the line, a tuxedo may be the most appropriate clothing to wear on formal night. In most cases, however, a good-looking, well-tailored suit will fit the bill well.
  • Do wear a tie. Men are almost always required to wear a tie on formal nights on the cruise ships. This is a sign of formality. If you forget one, the cruise line may supply you with one for a charge.
  • Jackets required? Check with your itinerary to determine if you need to wear your jacket to formal night. In most cases, they will request that you do. This helps to set the stage for the formal evening.

The Kids

On some cruise lines, children will not attend the formal evening but instead may have a separate get together on the ship. Since most guests will want to take advantage of formal night, this can be a great time for a romantic dinner with your loved one. Consider allowing the children to attend their own special evening.On other cruise lines, formal nights will include children. When they do, the children should be dressed up. Girls often wear nice dresses and dress shoes. Boys should be presented in a suit, including dress shoes. This can be a special way for them to dress up, too.

What Not to Wear

When it comes to what to wear for formal night on a cruise, there are several things you don't want to wear.

  • Don't wear shorts, t-shirts or other beach/swim wear during formal night.
  • Don't forget your hair. You may want to have it styled specially for this evening.
  • Ladies and gentlemen shouldn't wear logo apparel.
  • Unless you are very cold, keep the sweater off.
  • Don't wear sneakers or sandals unless they are formal enough to match your attire.
  • No denim shorts, jeans, or other casual attire may be permitted in the dining rooms.

If you do forget to pack some of these items, don't worry. Most cruise lines offer formal wear rentals in a wide arrangement of sizes. Check with your cruise line prior to leaving for the trip to determine what they offer for you.


Knowing what to wear for formal night on a cruise can help you plan what to pack for a stylish, elegant evening that will be a memorable part of your cruise vacation. Bon voyage!

What to Wear for Formal Night on a Cruise