Formal night is the cruise industry, and a few blue nose wannabe's desperate attempt to preserve the grand old days of ocean voyages. They didn't call it cruising in those days because they were going somewhere.
The idea is to get dressed up one or two nights for an elegant evening. Just dinner in the dining room, if they are going to ever serve steak and lobster, that's the night they do it. That will usually be when the Captain holds court at his table, leaving the rest of the dining room to speculate about the unnatural act required for an invitation. Actually it is a real good travel agent who gets you invited. Getting dressed up is no biggie for him or his officers, it's called a uniform.
You are supposed to stay in mufti for the evening, thus giving the show, lounges and clubs, where you can dance, the air of an evening out. Things stay loose topside in the dirty shirt buttet and around the pools.
They (industry and blue noses) would like you to be in black tie. The most you will see is in the brochure. Otherwise dark suit, business suit, coat and tie, clean shirt and tie, clean shirt, shirt, whatever, in that order. Passengers on luxury ships normally dress as a matter of course. Raddison requires a coat after six on their Bermuda cruise, otherwise stay in your room. Most ships ask for a coat and tie but will let you in no matter. Disney asks for jacket "if you brought one". Cattle boats have given up and don't attempt a formal night.
The sucess of formal night depends on the attitude of the passengers. I used to pack accordingly but after sharing tables with those who say they are on vacation and dress as they feel, I normally go with a black coat and dark grey slacks that I can mix and match the rest of the time. I hate wearing good clothes on cruise because I always spill something. My wife prefers the good old days.
Formal night begins at dinner or pre dinner Capt.'s party wher the men are expected to where a dark suit or tux and ladies coctail or formal type dress to dinner in the dining room. On most lines the formal dress is expected to be the dress for all evening in all public areas.
Seven day cruises will have two " formal " nights wherein the passengers have the opportunity to dress up , have photos taken , dine in style and etc. Some cruise lines are more formal than others. Usually men wear suits, some will wear tuxedos and some a blazer and tie. Ladies wear everything from evening gowns to nice cocktail dresses, again depending to some degree on which line you are on.
Formal night is just another way of saying " wear your sunday best tonight ".
The ships have a daily paper that will have the events, suggested dress codes for that day, etc. listed. Don't worry a great deal about it. Most ships have alternative dining in the
buffet type restaurants so if one doesn't want to get "gussied up " on those nights, they don't have to---but it is fun. Just take a nice dress, hang a tie on hubby and walk around like a bigshot and have fun.
I believe Radisson Seven Seas Navigator is Country Club Casual for the Bermuda season. In addition, Radisson, on none of their ships require coats on ALL nights. I think you will find that luxury cruise lines are going towards similar dress as land side resorts (which also require coat and tie to enter certain restaurants) while main stream cruise lines are, as you noted, trying to imitate an old tradition of the sea.
I love my tux, and will take it where it is appropriate, but it will stay home for my trip on the Radisson Diamond as the stated attire is Country Club Casual.
If you think Raddison is casual, you are in for a shock. I took the Mariner cruise to Bermuda and everyone wore a coat no matter what the newspaper said. When they ask for a coat, you didn't get in without one.
Most of the passengers really enjoyed formal nights. Even a six year old was in a tux. Former military wore miniature medals. It seemed second nature to many.
Marc, Radisson ships may not sail the Bermuda "season" but they do offer Bermuda cruises nearly every year. This year's are in May and June on the Navigator. In her Maiden season, the Mariner sailed at least a couple Bermuda cruises.
The statement that "Passengers on luxury ships normally dress as a matter of course," is quite accurate. Despite what the daily program states, most guest on luxury ships step it up a notch.
Diva, I have been 19 days on Mariner. I have 7 days on Diamond and 21 days on Voyager booked this year. Yes, some men wore coats on casual nights. Some men wore jackets at debarkation. Formal nights were formal. However, all Radisson trips to Alaska and Tahiti are country club casual. Navigator, for its Bermuda season this year is country club casual. Diamond, for its extended spring and summer in Caribbean is country club casual.
You can be dressed well without necessarily being dressed formally. I agree that the guests on Radisson (I have never sailed the other luxury lines) are generally dressed nicer than other lines that I have sailed. I also felt it more natural to be dressed well on Mariner than on other ships. I do believe that formal nights on most cruise lines exist to bring back "the romance of the sea" whatever that may be. Given that, I feel those that disregard dress policies on formal nights are, in a way, taking away that feeling from other guests that might have booked a cruise for that reaon. On Radisson, I felt that I would not feel out of place, nor would other guests be negatively impacting my own vacation experience with poor attire selection.
Don G. I respectfully disagree. Formal night(s) are very nice affairs where you get to 'dress up' and strut your stuff. I do so for my wife and always wear a tux and she wears a gown, (I would like to think for me but know she like most ladies just 'feels special' doing so). I hardly think I am a "bluenose". In addition there is the 'Captains Party' which is basically quite dancing music with cocktails and hor dors served. During this time they introduce the Captain and his staff and you can often meet the Captain at the door. As for getting invited to the Captains table, your TA has little to nothing to do with it, it is done by the onboard staff like the Maitre D', Staff Captain, Social Host or someone like that. They usually consist of someone that has cruises many times, a first timer that is celebrating marrage, a travel professional, someone that is Military, has an interesting occupation, or just a pretty young lady. To actaully 'ask' to sit with the Captain is just not 'polite'. If you are asked, then take it as a high compliment and accept, if not, don't worry about it as dinner with the Captain is very formal and not for everyone.
Bamas-mary asked a legitimate question about formal night. She got an ear full. Probably wonders about the passioned defense of a time honored tradition.
Most threads about formal night are from those who don't want to bother getting dressed up.
Mariner does indeed travel to Bermuda. I was on her third cruise after her inaugural transatlantic and when I stepped off, I was in Bermuda. She might not do Bermuda often, but she does do it. Never say never.
Formal night was a very comfortable and enjoyable evening because the passengers were comfortable dressing and enjoyed it. To them it was nothing out of the ordinary. Everyone dressed up a notch from what was asked, coat and tie for informal, coat for casual. Granted a large percentage were repeat and partial Raddison cruisers, some sailing just to try out the new ship. They expected the highest standards of decor and service, and acted and dressed accordingly. Nothing phony or pretentious.
Jim, not sure just what you disagree with. On the high end cruise lines, formal night is indeed exercised with taste and class.
For most people, cruising is no longer a life exerience. Just a pleasant way of getting away for awhile and letting someone else take care of the details. In many cases it represents a better value than a resort. An occasional exotic port is a nice diversion. These people don't give a rats about formal night. If the schedule says to get dressed up, they do and enjoy and upscale everning. A night on the Titanic, it ain't.
Some lines, especially on the shorter get aways, go with the flow and only ask for casual. These people seem to have a lot of fun.
Will be on Holland America soon. Been told they have their act together. Will pack accordingly. You might find me a bit jaded, but I doubt if you would call my wife a blue nose wannebe, at least not to my face.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer. Love to read all the responses. They make me laugh, all but the reference to the Titanic....hope we don't have the same fate. Anyway we plan on going and just wanted to know what to expect. Had no idea that
people seem to be a bit touchy on the subject. I plan to go enjoy everything that this has to offer. Have fun & thanks
Bamas-Mary - you have the right attitude. Relax enjoy your cruise, don't sweat about formal nights. Pack a dark suit, dress shirt, shoes & tie for hubby and you can wear a really nice cocktail dress, dressy pantsuit, a dressy dinner-suit or a gown. I like to wear something with a bit of sparkle to it.
barb: "country club casual" or "resort casual" dress code usually means Dockers type pants with a button down or polo shirt, sports jacket,[ maybe,] nice shoes(no sneakers) for the men. For the ladies is usually means a nice dress, or nice pants with a nice blouse,pretty capris and a twinset work great. i usually go with a sundress/sweater combo and sandals with a low heel. What it eliminates is jeans, t-shirts, sneakers,and shorts in the dining room.