Royal Caribbean Cruise Formal Nights: What to Expect and How to Dress

Royal Caribbean Cruise Formal Nights: Many first-time cruisers are frequently concerned about cruise ship formal nights. Stress can result from worrying about what to bring and what kind of clothes is appropriate.

Even though the idea of guests dressed to the nines may conjure up images, once you’re on board this is rarely the case. As it happens, there’s a lot of leeway in terms of formal night attire on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Formal night: what is it?

Only the Main Dining Room on a Royal Caribbean cruise is subject to formal night. Although they are typically quite similar to a formal night dress code, specialty dining and other venues have their own unique dress codes.

The following is what Royal Caribbean says about the required evening attire:

Consider our dress code as an opportunity to wear your best black-tie ensemble for a night out; suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses, and evening gowns are all appropriate choices. A sailing may include one to three formal nights, depending on the ship’s judgment. A formal dress code is also enforced during our Chef’s Table dining experience.

After reading this, you might assume that the majority of passengers will be dressed in tuxedos and evening gowns for formal night. However, this is rarely the case in practice.

While some guests may be dressed in ball gowns and tuxedos, the majority will probably be dressed in much more casual formal attire. Men may be dressed in dress pants and a button-up shirt, while women may be dressed in a sundress or cocktail.

What Should I Wear to a Formal Night at Royal Caribbean?

Formal Night at Royal Caribbean
(Credit: istockphoto)

The official nighttime dress code is “suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses, or evening gowns,” according to the Royal Caribbean website. The cruise line advises passengers to dress for a night out in a black tie.

The guests’ evening attire varies. A few attendees don tuxedos and ball gowns. However, the majority of passengers are dressed in business suits, athletic coats, or women’s cocktail dresses.

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Passengers frequently wear dresses, blouses, pantsuits, or smart casual ensembles of slacks and a collared shirt.

What’s the strictness of Royal Caribbean’s formal night?

While the official nighttime dress code for Royal Caribbean refers to it as “your best black-tie look,” this is rarely the case.

Royal Caribbean no longer has a hard and strict policy regarding formal nights. The recommended attire for guests at Royal Caribbean is simply that—as long as they aren’t wearing ripped jeans, swimwear, shorts, or bare feet—it is uncommon for someone to be refused entry.

If you try to dress nicely and adhere to the formal night vibe, you usually won’t be turned away from the main dining room. In general, golf shirts are appropriate to wear.

Consider it an occasion to dress more formally than you would for a typical evening, though a tuxedo is not required.

On a Royal Caribbean cruise, how many formal nights are there?

Captain's Dinner on Cruises
(Credit: manohracruises)

Royal Caribbean provides the numbers above as a general reference; they may differ depending on the sailing. The figures above, in our experience, are always accurate.

There are some formal nights on your cruise depending on the length of your voyage:

  • 1 to 5 night cruises – 1 formal evening

  • 6 to 10-night cruises – 2 formal nights

  • 11 to 14-night cruises – 3 formal nights

  • 15 + night cruises – 3 or 4 formal nights

Royal Caribbean offers these numbers as a general guideline and they may vary from sailing to sailing. We have found that the numbers above are always accurate.

When is Royal Caribbean’s Formal Night?

B.B. King's Blues Club

A formal night is usually held on the second day of the cruise. The fifth or sixth day of the cruise is typically when the two formal nights are held, if the cruise is long enough.

There’s never a formal night on the final day of the cruise because your luggage is picked up the night before departure.

Best Dresses for Cruise Formal Night

The formal evening falls on the fifth day of the cruise if you are sailing a six-day itinerary.

The formal night on a seven-night cruise usually takes place on the sixth day, though on certain itineraries, it might be moved to the fifth.

If you’re taking a longer cruise, the formal night dates will change. The first formal night is typically on day two, but it’s hard to say what will happen on the second and third. To find out when the ship will have a formal night, you can get in touch with the cruise line in advance. After boarding, you can also look up the ship’s itinerary.

The best way to find out when formal night is is to consult your cruise compass, as the timing varies depending on the itinerary. You can also ask your server, the room steward, or guest services if you’re ever unsure.

Does Formal Night Require You to Wear a Dress?

Formal Night

Windjammer CafePin at Royal Caribbean You don’t have to wear formal attire for formal night. The formal dress code is only in effect for dinner in the main dining room on formal night.

You can dine at the other ship restaurants in casual clothes if you choose not to participate in formal night.

The Windjammer is the main dining area for passengers who want to forego formal night because it doesn’t have a dress code.

Another option is to dine at one of the ship’s specialty restaurants. Certain speciality restaurants have an additional dress code that takes precedence over the main dining room attire.

Also, don’t stress over being noticed.

Many passengers opt to dine in the Windjammer instead of attending formal night. Seldom do even the dressed-up passengers stay that way the entire evening.

Typically, we dress up for the evening performance and dinner before changing into something more relaxed for the evening.

You won’t be the only one wearing casual attire if you choose not to attend formal night.

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