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What to Wear on a Disney Cruise

I often get questions about what to wear on a Disney cruise especially for dinners. So, for those of you who may be wondering what to wear now that you\’ve booked your cruise (or for those who have been thinking about booking a Disney cruise but concerned you don\’t have the right clothes), look no further!

What do I wear to dinner?

On a Disney cruise, you are assigned a dining rotation and will move between the three main dining rooms based on your assignment. None of these dining rooms are more dressy or more casual than the other. What you wear to dinner will depend on the dress suggestions for the night. These are always in the Navigator (your Disney cruise guide that you get each evening).

These evening dress options may include pirate night, formal night, semi-formal night or a few other options. However, you are NOT required to dress up in any of these! Cruise casual is the default dress code and is appropriate for every night.

What is cruise casual and what does that mean?

Cruise casual is your normal clothes! Really, it doesn\’t have to be more complicated than that! Disney Cruise Line says no tank tops or swimwear in the main dining rooms. Otherwise, wear what you want to be comfortable at dinner. As a woman, I typically wear capris with a dressy top or a casual dress or skirt/top combo. My husband and son will wear either khaki pants with a polo or shorts with a polo. We could go more casual, but that is what we prefer to wear. Jeans and shorts are acceptable!

My family (with our servers) on a cruise casual night.

What does formal mean?

Formal means tuxedos for men and long gowns for women.

What does formal look like on a Disney cruise? And do I have to wear a tux?

My family on formal night on our last cruise.

Formal night will encompass a wide range of dress! You will see a few men wearing a tux–maybe 3 or 5 men–and a few wearing full military dress! I\’d guess about half the men wear a suit with tie or a dress shirt and tie. Some men will just wear slacks with a polo or shirt with no tie; some will wear shorts!

About a quarter of the women will wear a long gown, and about another quarter will wear a cocktail length or short dress ranging from kind of formal to more of a party dress. Most of the rest will wear a dress or pantsuit or even slacks with a nice top.

If you have a tux or a formal gown gathering dust in your closet, by all means bring it and wear it! If not, you have plenty of other options!

Why would I WANT to dress up for formal night?

That\’s a great questions, and it really depends! I like to dress up for formal night because it makes great family photos and a nice momento. Some people like to dress up because they don\’t often (or ever) get the opportunity to dress up. If your days at home typically have you in jeans or in a uniform, wearing a formal dress (or tux or suit) may be fun for you! Others simply dress up because that\’s what the \”dress code\” is for the evening!

Why would I NOT want to dress up for formal night? There are also plenty of reasons for not dressing up for formal night. The most obvious is monetary. It will take some funds to buy a formal dress or suit plus shoes and perhaps the correct undergarments. (Ladies…you know what I mean!) If you have kids who grow like weeds (and who doesn\’t?), this may be an expensive a one time purchase!

Maybe you own formal wear but don\’t want to have it altered/cleaned, etc. Maybe packing formal wear would mean you\’d need an extra suitcase that you would have to check on the plane. Maybe your budget for formal clothes would be better spent on port adventures or spa treatments. Or maybe you just spend all week in a suit or dress and want to relax and NOT dress up!

What if I don\’t want to dress up? Will I feel out of place in the main dining rooms? 

You shouldn\’t! People will wear a wide variety of things to dinner on formal night. However, if it really bothers you, you certainly do have other options! You can eat at Cabanas or Beach Blanket Buffet (depending on the ship) which is a casual table service option in the evenings. You could do room service, of course, or opt to eat something from a quick service location and eat poolside.

Stay tuned for part 2 where we\’ll cover semi-formal and themed nights!

Susan Burks is a Disney travel planner at WishdrawalsTravel, a military wife, and a homeschooling mom to a robot-programming, space-loving 10 year old!  As a former teacher and a Disney enthusiast, she loves being able to combine her love of Disney and education in the Disney parks.

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