Formal night has gone the same way as Baked Alaska and other cruise ship traditions on Royal Caribbean’s shorter cruises, with the line telling Cruise Critic that it would only be offered on voyages longer than five nights.
Instead of Formal Night, these shorter cruises will instead have “wear your best” as a dress code option on at least one night of the cruise. Formal Night was traditionally offered on at least one night of any cruise, usually coinciding with a Captain’s Cocktail Party.
Like the Basked Alaska Parade, it was a cruise traditional that stood the test of time throughout much of the latter half of the 20th century when cruising began to grow rapidly from a niche vacation experience to a mainstream part of the wider travel industry.
Royal Caribbean was one of the first cruise lines to end the Basked Alaska Parade tradition, and now it is one of the first to end Formal Night on shorter sailings, probably because its ethos has always been about giving passengers choice, which “wear your best” does.
The line’s description of “wear your best” says: “Nighttime’s the right time to wear your best look. That means a step up from your typical dinner wear, and includes collared shirts, dresses, skirts, blouses and pantsuits. Jackets, tuxedos/formalwear sports coats and blazers are also appropriate.”
In the age of mega cruise ships, traditions such as Formal Night have become harder to enforce. On a smaller ship carrying less than 1,000 passengers, those who do not dress up are more conspicuous, but aboard cruise ships the size of Royal Caribbean’s the observers of Formal Night are often in the minority.
This is especially the case on the cruise line’s shorter Caribbean cruises, where families, couples and friends looking for fun on the beach and thrills at sea dominate the on-board demographic.
The only main stream cruise line that still enforces a day and night-time dress code is Cunard Line.
Every night aboard Cunard Line ships is what other cruise line’s would call Formal Night. In fact, passengers who do not want to wear a shirt or gown cannot eat in the dining room and must use the buffet.