How Many Formal Nights on A Royal Caribbean Cruise: The Ultimate  Guide To Planning Your Cruise Wardrobe

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Filed Under: Formal Nights

Picture yourself on a Royal Caribbean cruise, sipping a nice cocktail, enjoying the ocean breeze, and embracing the chilled vacation atmosphere. You’re eager to kick back, relax, and indulge in delicious food and entertainment onboard. But what about those formal nights? Well, let’s find out how many formal nights on Royal Caribbean there are and how to plan accordingly.

Although things have evolved a lot since I first started cruising in the early 90’s, formal nights are still a cherished tradition on cruises, where everyone has the chance to dress up and enjoy a special evening with their friends and family.

The excitement of wearing your best “black-tie look” and experiencing fine dining among fellow guests is something that is quite unique to cruise vacations. 

If you’re a fan of dressing up and taking glamorous photos, then formal nights are definitely for you. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the number of formal nights on a Royal Caribbean cruise and when they usually occur. We’ll discuss what the dress code is, how you can pack your best outfits, and what to expect during these “fancy” evenings.

For those who may prefer a more casual vibe, we’ll also talk about how to opt out of these events.

So, are you ready to learn more?

How Many Formal Nights on Royal Caribbean Cruise? It Depends!

Mariner of the Seas docked at Nassau cruise port
The Number of Formal Nights Depends on How Long Your Cruise Is

Let’s get straight to the point. The number of formal nights on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ships generally depends on the length of the cruise itinerary and sometimes the Cruise Director’s entertainment schedule

Here is a general guide for the number of formal nights based on the cruise duration, but keep in mind that these might vary from ship to ship:

  • 3 – 5 night cruises: one formal night, usually on the second day of your cruise
  • 6 – 7 night cruises: two formal nights, usually on day 2 and 5 or 6
  • 8 – 10 night cruises: two formal nights, days vary by ship and sailing
  • 11 – 14 night cruises: three formal nights, days vary by ship and sailing
  • 15 night or longer cruises: three or four formal nights, days and numbers vary by ship and sailing

Some cruise ships, like the Oasis-class vessels, might have different formal night schedules depending on the itinerary. For example:

  • Day 2 and 5 on Western itineraries
  • Day 2 and 6 on Eastern itineraries

To know the exact formal night dates for your cruise, make sure to check the Royal Caribbean Cruise Compass or the Royal Caribbean app. This will help you plan and prepare.

To make the most out of your formal nights, consider booking specialty dining reservations, spa appointments, or photo sessions in advance. Getting all dolled up is part of the fun, so you might as well go all out!

Here’s a quick summary for easy reference:

Length of CruiseNumber of Formal Nights
3-5 nights1
6-7 nights2
8-10 nights2
11-14 nights3
15+ nights3 or 4

What Is the Dress Code for Royal Caribbean Formal Nights?

Wide Angle shot of Morag and friends with singers from the Il Divo tribute band on Brilliance of the Seas
Me and My Cruise Friends On Formal Night With The Il Divo Tribute Band

Formal nights on a Royal Caribbean cruise offer the perfect opportunity to dress to impress. The dress code ranges from semi-formal to formal attire, depending on your personal preference.

You’ll find many guests aboard the ship dressed elegantly for the occasion, but remember, you should always feel comfortable in your chosen evening outfit.

Back in the 90’s when Alan first started cruising, the formal nights were very formal. In fact, they even offered Tuxedo hire for the gents on the ship, in case they hadn’t packed accordingly.

Nowadays things are much more relaxed – particularly on Caribbean itineraries. You will see everything from the finest ball gowns, to the finest dungarees or jeans (I kid you not!).

Formal Night Dress Code Suggestions for Women

For us ladies, there’s a wide variety of options to choose from. You can opt for a cocktail dress, an elegant pantsuit, or even a full-length gown. All of these options are perfect for making a splash at formal night. 

And of course, fashions can be different depending on your age, culture and where you call home. The key thing I always tell people is, if you think you look good, that is all that matters! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

If you’re worried about packing for the cruise, consider choosing versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched with different accessories.

Pack wrinkle-resistant fabrics or bring a travel steamer or Downy Wrinkle-Guard spray to keep your clothes looking fresh.

Rolling or folding your clothes carefully can help avoid creases, and using packing cubes can keep your clothing organized.

Additionally, pack your shoes and jewelry in separate bags to protect them from damage during your travels.

If you need some inspiration and you are on the larger side like me, I put together some ideas for Plus Size cruise outfits that you might find useful.

Formal Night Dress Code Suggestions for Men

Alan and Morag on staircase at main Centrum on Vision of the Seas
What’s Worn Under a Scotsman’s Kilt? Nothing! As It’s All In Perfectly Good Working Order!

Men also have various options when dressing for formal nights. Choices range from a suit and tie, a sports coat with dress pants, or even a classic tuxedo. If you’re unsure about what to wear, a collared shirt and dress trousers will always be a safe option. 

As a true Scot, Alan will always try to pack his Scottish Kilt. However, it is a very heavy outfit so it does depend if we are flying or not and what weight restrictions we have.

Alternatively, he’ll pack a smart shirt, waistcoat and trousers.  Since he retired from “working for the man” in his late 40’s he now refuses to wear a tie!

Just like with women’s attire, it’s essential to pack smartly for the formal nights. Choose clothing that can be worn in various combinations, and make sure to keep your shirts, trousers, and other clothing items wrinkle-free.

Packing your dress shoes and ties separately can also help protect them from damage. If you need to get your clothes pressed, speak to your room steward on the first day, as they usually have some great deals to revitalize that crushed wardrobe.

Remember, formal nights on a cruise are all about enjoying the experience and dressing up to celebrate the occasion. Dress in a way that makes you feel confident but most importantly comfortable. 

What to Expect on Formal Nights?

A row of Chefs being presented to guests on Wonder of the Seas in the Main Dining Room
There is usually a Chefs’ presentation on one of the formal nights in the Main Dining Room – this was Wonder of the Seas

Formal nights on Royal Caribbean cruises are always one of the highlights of our cruise vacation. They provide us with a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a fine dining experience, get some wonderful photos taken, and have fun with our fellow cruisers. 

Quite often there is a Captain’s Welcome Aboard Cocktail party on the first formal night. You’ll get a quick photo op with the Captain and some free bubbly! What’s not to like about that!

During formal nights the main dining room will also feature a more “enhanced” menu. That’s usually the night Lobster or Filet Mignon will feature.

It’s also a great night to perhaps treat yourself and dine at one of the Specialty Restaurants – well, you are dressed for the occasion, aren’t you!

150 Central Park Restaurant on Wonder of the Seas
150 Central Park Restaurant on Wonder of the Seas

These venues go the extra mile to deliver an amazing dining experience, complete with attentive staff and delicious cuisine. 

In addition to indulging your taste buds, formal nights are perfect for capturing your best-dressed moments.

Take advantage of the many professional photographers on board, who offer various photo opportunities and different backgrounds.  Remember these photos don’t cost you anything unless you actually buy them. So, get the photo taken and if you don’t like it, well at least you tried and it didn’t cost you a cent.

After dinner, there is lots of entertainment on board to look forward to. It’s a great way to round off a fantastic evening.

Ultimately, the key to enjoying formal nights is to have fun and relish the opportunity to celebrate with your fellow passengers. With a combination of good company, great food, and exciting entertainment, it’s guaranteed to be an unforgettable night on the high seas.

Cruise Ship Photographers Work Hard To Help Capture Your Memories

How to Opt Out of Formal Nights?

Hate dressing up, or just not feeling the “formal” vibe? Then don’t worry about it!

Formal nights on Royal Caribbean cruises are totally optional, so you don’t have to worry about packing an evening gown or suit if you prefer to keep it casual. There are plenty of alternatives to formal nights that allow you to enjoy your sailing without dressing up.

Johnny Rockets Diner on Wonder of the Seas
Johnny Rockets Diner on Wonder of the Seas

One option is to have dinner in the Windjammer buffet or Sorrento’s Pizza. These venues offer a more laid-back atmosphere, and casual attire is perfectly acceptable. If you prefer to stay in your cabin, room service is an option that allows you to dine comfortably in your stateroom.

Additionally, you might want to visit more casual venues like the pub, Playmakers sports bar, or Johnny Rockets.

Remember, your cruise experience is yours to enjoy, your way, and there’s always something to do on a Royal Caribbean ship, whether you choose to dress up or keep it casual.

Your Cruise, Your Style: Embracing Formal Nights Your Way

In a nutshell, formal nights on a Royal Caribbean cruise are what you make of them. Love getting dressed up? Great, these nights are your chance to shine in your finest attire.

Not so keen on dressing to the nines? No problem at all. You’ve got plenty of laid-back dining options where casual is the way to go.

What matters most is your comfort and enjoyment. Whether it’s a night of elegance or a relaxed evening at your favorite casual spot, your cruise experience is yours to define.

So pack according to your style, embrace the options available, and most importantly, have a fantastic time making memories.

Here’s to a cruise that fits your style perfectly!

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Morag is our Food, Fashion and Fun expert at Cruise Nonstop. On a typical cruise, you'll find Morag either studying the fine dining menus or dancing on the dance floor, having a ball!

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