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What To Wear On A Cruise Formal Night – Cruise Formal Wear

Every cruise has a formal night and the styles vary depending on the ship. If you are curious about what you should pack, here are several different styles to consider for your next getaway.

Cruise Formal Wear

What should you wear on cruise formal night? Women should wear a dress or formal pants suit and heels, wedges, or fancy flats. Avoid jeans or casual attire.

Picking out what to wear for your cruise is almost as fun as planning the actual trip. I have a trip planned this summer with two cruise formal nights slated which needs I need to prepare for the adventure.

Cruise formal wear has a very specific vibe to it and if I’m being honest with you, it really depends on how far you want to take it. I’ve taken about 8 cruises so far and have seen it all. On a Cruise Formal Night, there are prom dresses and pantsuits and then there is everything in between.

As long as you feel comfortable in your outfit, you will do just fine. But just in case you needed a little guidance, here’s a quick rundown.

cruise formal night

Where You Book Matters

Before we go any further, yes it matters on the cruise line. But not in the way you think. I’ve traveled with Disney, Princess, Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean.

The price of your ticket does not matter. The cheaper ticket doesn’t mean LESS FLARE.

In fact, it’s the opposite. The cheaper the ticket – the MORE GLITZ AND GLAM.

On Carnival, I felt like I was severely underdressed. People were in full-blown ballgowns. This is not a lie.

There were plenty of people who weren’t. I’m just telling you – that you can wear WHATEVER YOU WANT on Carnival. If you want to wear a tiara. Do it. If you want to wear a $10 dress from TjMaxx. Do it. There will be people doing the same thing – alongside you.

On Disney, it’s much more muted. Think of it more like a night out at a nice steakhouse.

In fact, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean – etc – I would say I dressed like I was going to a wedding – every single time. A nice dress from my closet that I wore to a wedding. Typically 3/4 length. Something easy to pack and something that didn’t wrinkle.

You should think about the wrinkling factor more than anything else.

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There’s one important thing to remember when planning what to wear on a cruise. Cruise formal wear is about showcasing your best outfit from the vacation. But there are a few things you have to consider.

Do you want to pack it? And will it get wrinkled while you transfer it?

But if you get stressed out about wrinkles and fabrics, then what to wear on a cruise formal night will really depend on FABRIC TYPE. SO, is chiffon really the best choice? I’m not so sure.

Corey Chiffon Fit & Flare Dress DRESS THE POPULATION

Corey Chiffon Fit & Flare Dress DRESS THE POPULATION

There is no LAW that says that you have to wear a long dress during fancy night on a cruise. You can wear a short dress if that is something you prefer. I tried my hardest to show you a variety of options in this post.

Formal wear for cruise dinners vary depending on the body type of the traveler. It’s really about what LOOKS best on you.

Lux Off the Shoulder Chiffon Gown

Lux Off the Shoulder Chiffon Gown

I really do love the off the shoulder look, but don’t forget your strapless bra if you do decide to go with this dress. You don’t want to ruin your cruise formal wear pictures with saggy boobs. Yeah, I said it.

Winslow Maxi Dress REFORMATION

Winslow Maxi Dress REFORMATION

I have this dress and I literally wear it all the time. This dress works with almost every occasion. There will be men in black ties, in suits, and in khaki pants.

So, don’t worry about being over or underdressed. Make sure you match up with your cabinmates. That’s all you have to worry about.

The next thing you have to worry about is whether or not you will continue to get use out of the dress that you purchase. If it’s this one I can tell you that you absolutely WILL. Cruise formal wear or NOT – this dress is multifunctional.

ASOS DESIGN open back mini dress with double ruffle

ASOS DESIGN open back mini dress with double ruffle

This style isn’t for me. I’m not going to lie, but I’ve seen plenty of women – thousands of women – walk into the dining room giving it their all in outfits like this. So, I wanted to showcase every option and every style.

After all, how many times in your life will you get to participate in a night like this? Whether it’s Disney Cruise line formal wear, Carnival Cruise formal wear or anything in between – HAVE FUN.

Lavish Alice asymmetric draped high neck frill midi scuba dress in navy

Lavish Alice asymmetric draped high neck frill midi scuba dress in navy

This dress is a little bit more up my alley. I could see myself wearing this to a function once docking off the boat. It’s special. It’s different. You will definitely stand out in the crowd.

You don’t need any necklace because of the neckline of the dress. What do you think of this one?



I had to add this long-sleeved dress because a lot of cruisers are a bit older and tend to get cold indoors. This is a VERY POPULAR LOOK on fancy schmancy night. You will see this look a billion times. Trust me.

If you are wondering what the 60/70s folks are wearing when it comes to cruise formal wear – if they decide to take it over the top – this is it. Men in black ties and women in sequin black gowns. Elegant and simple on cruise formal night – always.

XSCAPE Embellished Cold Shoulder Shift Dress (Plus Size)

XSCAPE Embellished Cold Shoulder Shift Dress (Plus Size)

Here is a great plus size option that I found. I love the cut of the dress and the flow of the base. The cutouts on the shoulder make it a bit sexy and again – no need for a necklace. That is always a win for me.

XSCAPE Chain Neck Cold Shoulder Jumpsuit (Plus Size

XSCAPE Chain Neck Cold Shoulder Jumpsuit (Plus Size)

Like I mentioned in my intro, there are no RULES when it comes to cruise formal wear. You don’t have to wear a fancy dress. I’ve seen plenty of women rock it out in a smoking hot jumpsuit. Just make sure you wear red heels or something fabulous to really stand out on your cruise formal night. 

Halston Heritage Strapless Drape Gown

Halston Heritage Strapless Drape Gown

I really adore this last dress because it reminds me of a vacation, is really beautiful and understated and I know that I could wear it again in a nanosecond.

A Few More Options For Cruise Formal Night

Personally, if you wanted a more feminine look that wasn’t completely over the top formal, this is a great dress. Keeping with the same simplicity, I think this dress falls within that same vein.

I do NOT have the body for this dress, but it’s plain, simple, and to the point. Looking for a little glitter and glam? Here you go. Lastly, if you have all the money in the world, go big or go home.

Well, what do you think of my Cruise Formal Night Options? Did I help you figure out what to wear on a cruise formal night? I hope so! Use this post as a jump off point and then go from there.

You are overthinking it. I promise! It’s just another day in your vacation. Enjoy every second and take lots of pictures.

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