What Do You Wear on a Cruise Ship at Night?

By Michael Ferguson

When it comes to packing for a cruise, knowing what to wear at night can be tricky. Cruises offer a variety of night-time entertainment, including formal dinners, shows and parties.

To ensure you look stylish and appropriate for each occasion, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the dress codes for the cruise you are taking. The following is an overview of what you should wear on a cruise ship at night.

Smart Casual – This is the most common dress code for nights on board a cruise ship. Smart casual attire is more relaxed than formal attire and includes items such as slacks or skirts with dressy tops, such as blouses or sweaters; nice jeans paired with a blazer or dressy top; and casual dresses. Suits are not necessary and open-toe shoes are generally acceptable.

Formal – Formal nights on cruises vary between ships, so check with your cruise line before packing. Generally speaking, formal attire includes suits or tuxedos for men, long gowns or cocktail dresses for women. For men this usually means wearing a jacket and tie but some may include wearing tails or white tie.

Semi-Formal – Semi-formal is similar to formal but slightly less dressy. For men this could mean wearing slacks, a collared shirt and a jacket. Women could wear cocktail dresses or evening gowns but they don’t need to be floor length.

Casual – On some cruises there will be designated casual evenings where guests are asked to wear something more laid back like khakis with polo shirts or sundresses.

Beach Attire. If there is an onboard pool party or beach excursion planned then swimwear is appropriate attire during the day but at night it’s best to cover up in something more modest.

Knowing what to wear on a cruise ship at night can help you look your best and feel confident throughout your vacation. Whether you are looking for something casual and laid back or more formal and elegant, familiarizing yourself with the dress codes of your cruise will help ensure that you look great all night long!


To sum up, attire for nights on board a cruise ship typically falls into one of four categories: smart casual, formal, semi-formal, and casual. Beach Attire may also be appropriate during certain activities like pool parties on board the ship. Knowing what type of clothing is expected ahead of time can help ensure that you look stylish no matter what kind of evening activity you want to participate in!