9 Reasons Why Formal Night Needs to Go on cruise ships

9 Reasons Why Formal Night Needs to Go



Welcome Cruising fans! It’s time that we talk about the elephant in the room, or should I say, Penguin in the room, formal night. Since I first started cruising, the cruising industry has grown tremendously. From the size of the ships we cruise on to the amenities on board, the cruising industry has taken vacationing to unFATHOMable territories.

That being said, with all the strides the cruising industry has taken, why, oh why, are there still formal nights? Yes, I understand some of you like to get all dressed up and show all of us “little people” on YOUR ship how important you are, but let’s be honest folks, when the “little people” are staring at you, it’s not because they are envious of your attire, they’re staring at because they can’t believe you carried all that extra crap on a 5 day cruise, for one night.
Before you get all huffy and puffy, please, give me a chance to get you REALLY upset.

Here are my top 9 reasons why we need to be done with formal night. Why 9? Because I just ate dinner and I don’t want to ruin my Mulligatawny.

9. All That Luggage: Seriously, how much extra did you get charged by the airlines carrying all that extra luggage. When I cruise, I have one bag and one of pair of shoes. That’s how real travelers do cruising.

8. Sequence / Sequins gives me migraines: I’ve come to realize that it’s not the open seas that gets me nauseous, it’s all the damn sequence from the dresses glaring in my eyes. I now know that I have to double up on the Dramamine, on formal night.

7. All the Perfume and Cologne: I understand not wanting to stink on your promenade to dinner, but some of you guys and gals smell like you took a dip in the White Diamond’s Ocean or the Gulf of Aqua Velva. Dial it back folks.

6. Prom at Sea: Your High School days are over, everyone. It’s fine to get together with the old gang from time to time and talk about how awesome everyone thought you were at that particular sport you could’ve gone pro in if it weren’t for your bumb knee. However, like your pro athlete chances, the days of being Mr. Popular are over. Let’s face it, if you’re wearing a tux at sea, I bet you’re not sitting at the cool kids table.


5. Oversized Ego: The way some walk and strut, I swear your ego is as big as the Symphony of the Seas.

4. Dancing is Stupid: I don’t know why I included this on this list, but it always seems like there’s much more dancing on formal night. Just know while you’re taking your dance lessons in the Scooner Bar Lounge, learning the Jitterbug, I’ll be actually enjoying my vacation, sipping the “drink of the day” pool side.

3. Tripping over Photo Backdrops: Talk about a waste of time and money. You all line up doing your best “March of the Penguin’s” impression, just to spend $80.00 on a picture that you’ll just send to all of your friends and family, who are just going to throw it in the garbage…..while laughing at you.

2. Get off my lawn: Please, take your time while you make your way to dinner. With your fancy high heels and Wingtip shoes, us average folk don’t mind at all that you’re tap dancing around gushing at your dribble.
“Just keep it movin Francine.”

1. Waste of Money: Hey, it’s your money and you can spend it any way you’d like, but let’s do some fun math just to show you how much coin is wasted on this ridiculousness. I know some of you own tux or a dress, but for this example I’m going to assume that you live in the real world.
Tuxedo rental = $150
Dress = $150
Cruise Spa Day (cause you have to look nice!) = $100
Pictures = $80
Dry Cleaning = $75
Total $555.00

As you can see, you’ve wasted over $500.00 on a night that mostly everyone will forget including yourself.
That’s all I got to say about this topic. I’m the Cranky Cruiser, if you don’t like it…….. I don’t care.


Please share in the comments below. Check out other posts about cruising 20 Unexpected Costs of Cruising, 10 Best Reason to Cruise, 5 Tips to Consider before Cruising, 10 Tips to Save Money on Your Next Cruise, and Family Cruising: Fact vs Fiction, Top 5 Places Better Than the Caribbean, and  8 Reason to Cruise with Kids




This country has became so.Laxed jeans tee shirts or pajamas….flip flops or sneakers. I love seeing people clean up and take Pride in themselves..so those of you who don’t want to take part in formal night eat somewhere else

Vicki A Spence

I will not dress formal on “Elegant Night”, but I will wear Sunday dress and I will eat in the MDR because I paid for it. My choice of dress should not affect your dinner as your dress does not affect mine.


I enjoy Elegant Nights and dressing up. I also wear dress clothes, but not formal clothes for dinner every night on the cruise. However, I’ve never spent $555. My dresses are usually purchased from consignment sales, Ross Dress for Less, etc., and they are about $10-30. No dry cleaning usually. I do my own hair & make-up-$0. I may buy 1-2 pictures-$20-40. So my total is at most $80.


I enjoyed formal night I paid less than $100 for a my dress shoes and my husband outfit because he isn’t going to wear a suit plus I had someone else take our pics instead of paying them and I can wash my dress and all so I paid less than a $100 for everything also I don’t need to go to a spa to be beautiful


We are church people so my husband has a suit, which is allowed, I have many dresses, a black dress can be accessorized differently and be a whole new outfit. We don’t need a spa day or pictures taken, or dancing, I just like to dress up when everyone else is too.


This is exactly what we do also I did buy a formal last year ($29.99) at Ross because our daughter went and wanted to do formal one of our 2 elegant nights but I take it on all our cruises in case I feel like wearing it instead of my church clothes but it only has a few sequins at the waistline and is washable so no worries here. Cruise is what you make it.

Laura Cohen

Why the anger towards those of us who like to have a nice photo taken together to remember a vacation? My husband owns a tuxedo and many suits. I own many dresses. It costs us literally nothing to do this except the price of the photo. Why can’t we just let folks choose to do what they like to do without judgement? Isn’t the world mean enough? Do you have to add to it?

Keith G

So true…..why all the angry. Let people enjoy THEIR vacation however they choose…


I find your comments, yes all 10 of them very condescending, I am not of so called upper class, toffy nosed or a gend setter, I am a normal middle classed working citizen who enjoys cruising and all that goes with it, including formal nights. Back home we don’t get any opportunity to ‘dress up’ and we certainly did not pay a fortune for our outfits, 2nd hand items, items bought from ebay no designer outlets for us and certainly no sequins they inevitably fall off anyway, any outfits we buy are all machine wash as dry cleaning is too expensive and exercise, we don’t have a spa day to glam ourselves, I do my own hair which is nothing fancy as I just can’t to those ‘up do’s’ I do my own makeup and wear comfy shoes (they can’t be seen after all under the long dress), we may have a pic or two taken if we feel somewhat special for some reason but that doesn’t mean we go ahead and buy them, we didn’t on our last cruise a month ago. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on Formal nights and it’s their own choice to dress to impress or not, so if you feel more comfortable in your unsightly tatty ripped jeans, overly loud t-shirt and worn out flip flops that’s fine but please take your over sized beer belly elsewhere I see enough of that in my home town.

The Cranky Cruiser

Wow….that was A Lot to read there. Where do I begin….Guys should never wear flip flops. I’m proud of my beer belly, and goody for you that you do your shopping at Ross. What is toffy nosed anyway? Thanks for playing!


I was just in a legit fb fued defending your blog because someone called you “bitter and jealous “. I too think formal nights are ridiculous but to each their own…. next topic you should probably write something about how ridiculously cheesy cruise ship pictures are.. I mean come on… they look like school prom pictures. I’m probably going to make a lot of people mad with that little gem.


#7 #7 #7! I cannot say enough about #7! Some people (like my self) are very allergic to many, most, all scents and all that bathing in the stuff just ruins my whole night and very possibly the next 3 days too if I am not able to pull the reins on the migraine that #7 inevitably elicits! People! I am pleading and begging please be kind to those of us who still have a nose!


My usual formal night bills= ZERO!!!!
0-Tuxedo – my husband owns & reuses a gorgeous one-previous total cost114$
0-Recycled Gown from my son’s wedding = 0$ new output
0-Cruise Spa Day (cause you have to look nice!) = $100 I do my own hair and makeup
0-Pictures = $80
0= perfume- I don’t wear any
0= pictures (UNLESS We feel like it) Often we will just take cell phone pics with another couple…
0 on board dry cleaning , toss gown in dryer with cleaner stuff at home= a few bucks Dry Cleaning = $75
a. I have worn sequins once in 15 cruises- on my bodice…nothing blinding…
b. We have traveled with the 50 pound weight limit and always are under WITH our formal wear…..We’ve NEVER left it home…
c. There are cruises for those who want to wear want they want when they want to, heck go for a nudist cruise…If we did not feel like dressing up- we just choose the buffet…big deal!
I do enjoy seeing everyone all glammed up for a few hours- it is EZ and fun….often we change after dinner to casual to go to a show- not always….

Blanca Richardson

OMG I’m going on my first cruise in December and now know I need to ditch my formal floor length gown for a less expensive knee length dress! And the pics DO look like prom! A selfie will do just fine. Thank you for bringing this up – !! It seems the cruising industry needs to catch up with the times. Signed fashion conscious cruiser.

Stephen Banks

An interesting post and one which, in the end, I’m going to have to agree with – but for different reasons. I like having formal nights, what I don’t like are having split nights. On my first cruise (24 years ago) everyone made the effort and stayed that way all night; everyone looked smart. Nov I’m in the circa 20% penguin brigade, happy with the 30% who wear a jacket and/or tie and wondering why the cruise ship claims to have dining standards when it clearly doesn’t enforce them. My preference would be for a return to formal nights where everyone dresses but I recognise that I am swimming against too strong a tide; nevertheless my compliance with rules means that whilst the ships call for a formal night I will continue to dress for it. One day I expect to be “the last penguin in the pool” 🙂


We love formal night – But we do not spend the money you say is needed. My husband wears a nice suit – that he got brand new from Goodwill. I wear a nice dress that I never pay more than $25.00 for. Don’t do the spa or dry cleaning. We do have the pictures taken, and only purchase one or two if at all, but save money on other things because we do not purchase drink or specialty dining packages or internet. We also do not spend a lot on shore excursions. People can choose to dress up or not, so there is no reason to stop formal nights because some do not like it. Let those of us who enjoy them have that enjoyment.

Loren P

Well “Cranky Cruiser” you’ve inspired me to bring another suitcase only for my gowns and heels. I will be sure to walk extra slow to the MDR and stop to get our pictures taken at Every. Single. Backdrop. After dinner my amazing husband (who enjoys his sexy wife getting all done up and being on his arm) will proceed to the dance floor and tear it up! I will not put on extra perfume because I do find that offensive. Thanks for inspiring me to be even more boujee!!


Just like everything else in this country just because you don’t like something you want to remove it for everyone that does like it instead of you taking other options that would make you happy.
That is all I have to say and will not reply to any negatively about my post.

The Cranky Cruiser

Wow! I didn’t know I had that much influence in this country to remove everything. I should probably pay more attention to country stuff. Thanks for Playing!


Interesting topic for sure. All I saw in your post Cranky Cruiser was pure jealousy. I enjoy formal events, fund raisers, and galas every chance I get. They’re a great time for socializing, dancing, laughing, and enjoying life. That being said, I do not rent, I don’t shop at Ross. On my formal night I’ll be wearing my $1300.00 Ralph Lauren Tuxedo and my wife will certainly be wearing her $2300.00 Oscar de la Renta cocktail dress (non rental and non Ross, of course). I’ll also be wearing my $325.00 Allen Edmonds patent leather shoes and $275.00 Eton Tuxedo shirt. I have no bear gut, I’m 6’1 and weigh 165 lbs. and I hit the gym 5 days a week with my work team. BTW, I don’t look down on the casual folks, in fact I don’t even notice them/you.


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