How many formal nights will there be on my cruise, and what is the dress code?

formal night tuxedo

Formal nights are one of the main unknowns for any new cruiser.  There are always a lot of questions about this subject, and people are often uneasy and unsure about what to expect on their cruise.

Here is an overview of what you need to know about formal night on the major cruise lines.

Celebrity Cruises
MSC Cruises
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)
P&O Cruises
Princess Cruises
Royal Caribbean

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity have given formal nights a ‘modern luxury reboot’.    Formal Nights have now been replaced with Evening Chic, and Evening Chic attire has replaced Formal attire.  While dressier than Smart Casual, Evening Chic is intended to be less dressy than Formal attire.

Dress Code:

Evening Chic
Women should feel comfortable wearing:   A cocktail dress OR.  Skirt, pants or designer jeans with an elegant top.

Men should feel comfortable wearing:   Pants or designer jeans with a dress shirt, button-down shirt or sweater with an optional sport coat or blazer

Evening Chic means that you can get glamorous and be sophisticated in your own way. If you would like to still wear a tuxedo or formal gown on Evening Chic nights, you absolutely should.

Smart Casual attire can be enjoyed every other night of your cruise.

Smart Casual
Women should feel comfortable wearing:  Skirt, pants or jeans with a casual top

Men should feel comfortable wearing:  Pants or jeans with a short sleeve sport shirt.

T-shirts, swimsuits, robes, bare feet, tank tops, baseball caps and pool wear are not allowed in the main restaurant or specialty restaurant at any time. Shorts and flip-flops are not allowed in the evening hours. The dress code will be enforced at all restaurants. And guests are asked to follow the Smart Casual or Evening Chic dress code in the Celebrity Theater for all evening performances.

Number of Evening Chic Nights:

Cruises of 7 nights or longer:  2 Evening Chic nights.
Cruises of 6-nights or shorter:  1 Evening Chic night.

All other nights of the cruise will feature Smart Casual attire.

Celebrity Xpedition will feature casual attire for the entire cruise.

MSC Cruises

Dress Code:

“Casual resort wear” is appropriate, except for formal evenings when men are required to put on suits or jackets and ties, and women cocktail dresses.  In addition, passengers who would like to participate in theme nights are encouraged to dress according to a specific theme. Examples of theme nights include White Night, Tropical Night or 60s/70s/80s Night.

The standard Lido buffet (and room service) will serve passengers seeking a more low-key dining experience and who don’t wish to dress formally.

After 6 p.m., jeans, T-shirts and shorts are not permitted in the ships’ public areas. No swimwear is allowed in main dining rooms. Jeans are allowed on casual resort wear nights, as long as they aren’t torn or ripped.

Number of Formal Nights:

4-6 night cruises:  1 Formal Night
7-9 night cruises:  2 Formal Nights
10-14 night cruises:  3 Formal Nights
15 nights or longer:  4 Formal Nights

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

NCL’s ‘Freestyle Cruising’ ethos applies to the dress code on Norwegian ships.  NCL believe that guests will have much more relaxing cruise vacations when they are comfortable.

Resort casual is the norm throughout the fleet, so guests can leave their tuxedos and party dresses at home if they wish.

For those who enjoy dressing up for dinner, there is one (two on cruises longer than seven-nights) completely optional “formal night” in various areas of the ship.

P&O Cruises

Dress Code:

P&O have two evening Dress Codes on-board their ships, Evening Casual and Black Tie.  Suggestions of the type of clothing you might like to wear are given in the documents below:

Evening Casual dress suggestions

Black Tie dress suggestions

P&O also host Theme Nights where guests are invited to dress up in line with the theme. Dressing up for a Theme Night is great fun but isn’t compulsory.

For 60s & 70s you can either just turn up and enjoy the music or jump at the chance to dig out your miniskirts and flares!

Black and White nights follow the same dress code as our Black Tie evenings with men in tuxedos or dinner suits and women in ball gowns or cocktail dresses.  You can also opt for an all black or all white ensemble (if your wardrobe will allow).

Tropical nights are all about Hawaiian shirts, grass skirts and optional flower necklaces.

Number of Black Tie Nights:

This can vary from cruise to cruise depending on the number of nights you are on board.

As a guide, there is approximately:

  • 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
  • 4 Black Tie nights during an 11-14 night cruise

Princess Cruises

Dress Code:

Princess Cruises have two evening dress codes on-board their ships, Smart Casual and Formal.  Suggestions of the type of clothing you might like to wear are given in the documents below:

Smart Casual
Guest attire should be in keeping with what they would wear to a nice restaurant at home.

  • Skirts/dresses, slacks, and sweaters for ladies
  • Pants and open-neck shirts for men

Dinner wear such as pool or beach attire, shorts, ball caps and casual jeans (with fraying and/or holes) are not welcomed in the dining rooms. Shoes must be worn.

When formal nights are held, please observe the dress code in the Traditional Dining and Anytime Dining venues for the enjoyment of all our guests.

  • Evening gowns and cocktail dresses for women
  • Tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits with a tie for men
Number of Formal Nights:
Length of CruiseNumber of Formal EveningsNumber of Smart Casual Evenings
1 – 4 Days01 – 4
5 – 6 Days14 – 5
7 – 13 Days25 – 11
14 – 20 Days311 – 17
21 – 28 Days417 – 24
29+ Days5 minimum24+

Royal Caribbean

Dress Code:

Royal Caribbean have three evening dress codes on their ships.  Evenings will either be Casual, Smart Casual or Formal.   There can be 1-3 formal nights during a sailing and is at the ship’s discretion. The Chef’s Table dining experience also enforces a formal dress code policy.

Here are a few types of suggested attire for each type of night:

  • Casual: You’re on vacation – relax! Jeans, polos, sundresses and blouses are all the right amount of laid back. Please keep swimwear to the Pool Deck. Shorts are welcomed for breakfast and lunch, but not dinner.
  • Smart Casual: Think of this as a step up from your typical dinner wear. Dress to impress with collared shirts, dresses, skirts and blouses, or pantsuits. Jackets, sports coats and blazers are snazzy and welcomed.
  • Formal: Make it a night out in your best black-tie look – suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses or evening gowns.
Number of Formal Nights:
  • 3/4/5 Night Cruises – Usually on Day 2
  • 6 Night Cruises – Usually on Day 2 and 5
  • 7 Night Cruises – Usually on Day 2 and 6
  • 8 – 10 Night Cruises – 2 Formal Nights, Days vary by ship and sailing
  • 11 – 14 Night Cruises – 3 Formal Nights, Days vary by ship and sailing
  • 15+ Night Cruises – 3 or 4 Formal Nights, Days and number vary by ship and sailing
  • Oasis and Allure – Day 2 and 5 on Western itineraries and Day 2 and 6 on Eastern itineraries
  • Empress of the Seas – Formal Nights are not offered on some sailings

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Elizabeth Bailey says:

    Trying to find out how many formal nights Ventura 12 nights & if any theme nights

    • Kirsty says:

      Hi there,

      You will have 4 formal nights on your cruise.

      Theme nights, drop p&o a message they will be able to tell you or search Facebook and see if there is a group for your cruise.

      Have a great cruise x

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: