The Essential Cruise Formal Night Guide

The Essential Cruise Formal Night Guide

I get asked a lot how to pack and what to bring for a formal night on a cruise. Being an officer wife, I go to a lot more formal nights than the average person, usually two days a week for 3/4 months!

This is your essential cruise formal night guide for the newbies and regular cruisers that still need help!

If you have never been on a cruise before, this is a daunting experience, especially for women. As they are worried if they are going to be overdressed or underdressed.

It is a lot easier for men as a suit or tuxedo is the dress code. Formal attire for women is another can of worms!

The Essential Cruise Formal Night Guide

What the Cruise Lines Say

Formal attire on most cruise line websites says:

Women – Evening gown, cocktail dress or elegant pantsuit.

Men – Tuxedo, dark suit or dinner jacket and slacks.

Very easy for men! Most women will be thinking which option is best?

I would say it depends on the time of year as well, if it is the holidays, you might like to go all out and go for the long evening gown if you have space in your luggage!

The best option is a cocktail dress as they are easy to find and easier to pack! No one wears a pantsuit. If a dress is not your thing though, you can get away with smart pants and a smart top.

Keep it simple! Simple flatters every age and size. Navy is less harsh on the skin than black. Also one block colour is better on most body shapes.

On a seven-day cruise there are usually two formal nights. So either bring two dresses or one and change the accessories.


What do I wear

I stick to cocktail dresses or a lightweight long dress. I have jewellery to match my dresses and I keep it simple with diamonds or pearls.

I only bring nude high heel shoes and a matching clutch as that colour goes with everything. So even if it is not a formal night I can wear them with smart black pants and a smart top.

I always paint my nails as that finishes off an outfit. Either come onboard with your nails done, have them done onboard or do what I do and do it yourself!

I love Sally Hanson Gel Nail Polish. It is quick to do and you do not need a UV light to dry, just natural or artificial light. I use either Red Eye or Redgy and the top coat. I find it does not for chip 4 – 5 days and you can take it off with regular nail polish remover.

I wear my favourite evening perfume Chanel Chance and I wear my hair either pinned up or lose.

If I wear it lose, I straighten it, I could not live without my GHD’s, best invention! Also, you have the option to have your hair done professionally onboard in the salon.

I wear slightly more makeup on a formal night to feel more glam. Then you are camera ready if you would like to have a professional photograph taken by one of the photographers onboard with one of the many background choices.

Formal Attire Suggestions

Here are some great cocktail dress ideas for all ages:



Shoe Ideas:



Evening Bag Ideas:


You may enjoy reading The Game-Changing Travel Beauty Guide and download your free Travel Beauty Checklist for your next cruise vacation.

Travel Beauty Checklist

I hope you found the Essential Cruise Formal Night Guide helpful. If you have any questions or have a great formal night tip, please comment below.

Also, if you enjoyed reading please share on your Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest so your friends and family can enjoy reading too, sharing is caring!

Happy Travels

Love Lucy x

Love reading the blog? Subscribe to the weekly newsletter to never miss a new blog post and get behind the scenes info never on the blog! All delivered to your inbox. Just leave your name and email by clicking here.

The Essential Cruise Formal Night Guide

(L. Williams is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to, at no extra cost, to you).