We just came back from the Splendour with her Atlantic crossing. You have 3 different dresscodes: casual, smart casual and formal.We had 3 formal nights. That means, you are asked to get dressed formal. Some women are wearing evening gowns, men wearing smokings or dinner jackets and they serve special dinners.
But you do not have to dress up so formal. I wear a nice suit, or an elegant pant with a nice blouse.
Some americans say, go dressed like you´re going to church on sunday and you would be dressed fine.
But most of us love, to dress up for these evenings and some love it to go to the shipsfotographer and take some special photos home.
ofen, on the formal nights the Captain's Welcome Reception or Farewell Reception respectively are held (on longer cruises, there might be additional formal nights). Gala dinners are also an important part of formal nights, and often the very best entertainment the ship offers is also presented on the formal nights.
Formal means getting dressed up to go to dinner and partying before and after dinner. men will wear tuxedos or dark suits and the women will wear their fancy dresses. The Academy Awards is a formal event as are many high school proms and college dances. The dinner itself is a special occasion with entrees such as lobster and fancy desserts. The dining room sometimes has special plates, silverwear, and decorations.
The formal night has a long history because an ocean voyage was primairly for affluent people who had the time and money to travel. There are several scenes in "Titanic" which shows the formal night but in first class they got dressed up every night of the voyage. Remember the wonderful scene where Kathy Bates playing the unsinkable Molly Brown says to Leonardo DiCaprio " we'll find something for ya" meaning that she would get him a full dress tuxedo.
You will look great in a nice dress, and a dark suit is appropriate for a man.
Just so that you know, there are other alternative dining area such as the various buffets that are open every night including Formal Nights. Some people feel that they are on vaction and do not want to bother getting all dressed up just for dinner, so for those people the buffets are the way to go. There always seems, however, that on every formal night I have attended, the select few that arrive at Formal night looking frumpy and unkept, and wind up being the talk of the dinner table unfortunatly!! I look forward to formal nights because it is so nice to dress up, get your picture taken, have a cocktail before dinner, enjoy a wonderful meal, and then retire to the main theater for a fabulous show. It is really a wonderful evening!!!
Earndon added the parts that I missed, that is, there is a certain magic to formal nights when most of the passengers are dressed up and the officers are in their dress uniforms and the crew is spiffed up as well. And for those who do not want to dress, there are nice places such as alternative dining where they will be fed very well.