i do think it's a cool experience and i love that it's a tradition carried out by cruising.
i always participate in formal nights.
but... i hate packing for it. i usually prefer traveling light. cruises are an exception because there's so many scenarios of what type of attire. as we prefer the traditional dining rooms over the buffet but still want to be in casual wear out side of meal times and especially when going offshore, it's basically packing 3 different types of wardrobe.
well... maybe even 4 different types since i also want to pack my athletic and yoga wear.
now i'm cruising for the first time as a parent so there's the additional packing for my daughter. oye!
in the end, it's worth it. everyone has fun and as i usually have always sailed as part of a group of 3 to 4 couples, it's nice when everyone's all dolled up for the evening!
I am just back from my first cruise, Serenade, RCI, we were not to bothered about formal nights, just black pants and some mix and match glittery tops for me, my friend bought one after five dress, the first 2 nights were easy, and we felt good, the third? well we had decided not to bother, tired after a big day tour, but after a rest, we had to change anyhow, so we made the effort, and had a lovely night, and got some great pics of ourselves, so yes, semi formal, or after 5 is good, maybe not the full on ball gowns though!
We love the formal nights! We also love traditional dining. We don't get the opportunity to do this very often, so it is a special treat. Some of our best family photos have been taken on cruises on formal nights. I wouldn't trade them for anything. Some people like the my-time dining, but after one try, we found it was not for us. We like having regular table-mates and the same wait-staff.
When I first started cruising, I did the tux thing but it got tiring. My last cruise was a 3 nighter and there was 1 formal night. Really????? For the last 15 cruises or so I wore a suit or shirt and tie which was fine with me. As we are going on a transatlantic in about 1 month (my first TA btw) I thought it might be fun to revisit formal nights. I rented a tux to have ready in my stateroom with the shoes and am actually excited. I'll let you know how it works out!