Royal Caribbean Formal Night: What to Wear

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Marcello and Victoria on the top deck of Serenade of the Seas dressed for Royal Caribbean Formal Night

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Royal Caribbean Formal Night honors the tradition of cruising when sailing was considered a luxury. It’s an opportunity for passengers to get dressed up and enjoy a memorable evening and fancy dinner in the main dining room.

But some cruisers dread formal nights, feeling overwhelmed by the dress code and unsure if they should participate.

No one wants to feel out of place, especially on a cruise ship.

We’ll cover everything you need to know about the formal night on a Royal Caribbean cruise and what to do if you don’t want to dress up.

What to Wear on a Royal Caribbean Formal Night?

Marcello and Victoria on the top deck of Serenade of the Seas dressed for Royal Caribbean Formal Night
Here we are on formal night. Marcello’s dressed in a suit, and Victoria’s wearing an evening gown.

According to Royal Caribbean’s website, the formal night dress code consists of “suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses or evening gowns.” The cruise line asks guests to consider it as a night out in a black-tie look.

The evening wear among guests varies. Some guests dress in ballgowns and tuxedoes. But you’ll find most passengers wearing suits, sports coats, or cocktail dresses for women.

We often see passengers dressed in smart casual consisting of pants and a collared shirt, dresses, blouses, or pantsuits.

How Strict is Formal Night on a Royal Caribbean Cruise?

Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class Main Dining Room

Although Royal Caribbean’s formal night dress code describes it as “your best black-tie look,” in reality, it’s rarely the case.

As times have changed, Royal Caribbean doesn’t take a strict stance on formal night. Royal Caribbean’s dress code is merely a recommendation, and it’s rare to see someone denied entry as long as they aren’t in swimwear, shorts, barefoot, or ripped jeans.

Generally, you won’t be turned away from the main dining room if you try to dress smart and follow the spirit of formal night. Even golf shirts are generally acceptable to wear.

Think of it as a night to dress up more than a regular evening, but there’s no expectation of wearing a tuxedo.

How Many Formal Nights are on a Royal Caribbean Cruise?

Marcello and Victoria dressed for formal night after getting engaged on a Royal Caribbean Cruise

The number of formal nights on your cruise depends on the length of the sailing:

  • 1 to 5-night cruises – 1 formal night
  • 6 to 10-night cruises – 2 formal nights
  • 11 to 14-night cruises – 3 formal nights
  • 15 + night cruises – 3 or 4 formal nights

The numbers above are offered by Royal Caribbean as a general guideline and may vary by sailing. In our experience, the numbers above are always correct.

When is Formal Night on Royal Caribbean?

Passenger eating at Norwegian Cruise Line Moderno Specialty Restaurant Brazilian Steakhouse
(Photo Courtesy: Norwegian Cruise Line)

Most sailings host a formal night on the second day of the cruise. If your cruise is long enough to have two formal nights, it’s usually held on the fifth or sixth day of the cruise.

Because your luggage gets collected the night before departure, there’s never a formal night on the last day of the cruise.

If you’re sailing on a six-day itinerary, the formal night is usually on the fifth day of the cruise.

On a seven-night cruise, the formal night is usually on the sixth day, though it may be moved to the fifth day on some itineraries.

The dates of formal nights will vary if you’re sailing on a longer cruise. You’ll usually have your first formal night on day two, but the second and third formal nights are difficult to predict. You can contact the cruise line ahead of time to find out when the ship will have a formal night. Or you can check the ship’s itinerary after embarking.

As the timing of formal night can vary by itinerary, it’s best to check your cruise compass, which lets you know when it’s formal night. And if you’re ever in doubt, you can ask your room steward, your server, or visit guest services.

Do You Have to Dress Up for Formal Night?

Royal Caribbean's Windjammer Cafe

You don’t have to dress up for formal night on Royal Caribbean. On formal night, the formal dress code only applies to dinner in the main dining room.

If you don’t want to participate in formal night, you can eat in casual attire at the other restaurants on the ship.

The Windjammer doesn’t have a formal dress code, and it’s the primary spot for passengers to dine if they wish to skip formal night.

You can also choose to eat at one of the specialty restaurants on the ship. Some specialty restaurants have their own dress code that supersedes the main dining room dress code.

And don’t worry about standing out.

There’s a large number of passengers who skip formal night, choosing to dine in the Windjammer. Even the passengers who dress up rarely do so for the entire night.

We’ll usually dress up for dinner and the evening show before slipping into something more casual for the night.

If you decide to skip formal night, you won’t be the only one in casual wear.

Marcello De Lio
Marcello De Lio

Marcello's been cruising since he was 12 years old. He loves the freedom that cruising provides, meeting new people, and exploring amazing new ships. Marcello created High Seas Cruising to share his passion for cruising and travel with readers and grow a community of passionate voyagers.

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