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What to Wear on a Disney Cruise: Part 2

In part 1, I covered cruise casual and formal wear. This time I will cover semi-formal and themed nights!

What is Semi-Formal?

My son and I on semi-formal night.

This is probably the hardest dress code to explain, but it falls somewhere between formal and cruise casual! In general, I would say that semi-formal for men is a suit with or without a tie or just pants with button down shirt. For women, this is typically a knee length or cocktail dress. However, you\’ll see a wide range of clothing so don\’t feel pressured to buy more clothes!

Will people look at me funny if I don\’t wear formal or semi-formal clothing at dinner?

Maybe…but don\’t let it bother you! Some people are very adamant that the dress codes are hard and fast rules, but really, you should enjoy your cruise. As long as you\’re dressed appropriately for the main dining rooms (meaning not wearing your wet bathing suit), dress as you feel comfortable. If, however, you are truly concerned about it, you may opt for an alternate dining venue such at Cabanas or Beach Blanket Buffet (depending on the ship), room service or quick service poolside.

What do children wear to dinner? Are their rules different?

Technically dress codes are applicable to everyone regardless of age. That said you will see very few little boys wearing tuxedos or little girls wearing formal gowns! Most boys who dress \”formal\” will wear pants with button down shirt and maybe a tie; some will wear suits. Girls may be seen in a \”church dress\” or a skirt/top combination. Little girls may wear their princess dresses! Rule in my family is that our son wears a shirt/tie on formal night and semi-formal night but he may change after dinner!  Pick your battles though!

Speaking of princess gowns, do I take them or leave them at home?

By all means, if you have a little girl who loves princesses and has a closet full of Cinderella, Elsa, or Ariel dresses, bring them along! Maybe she wants to wear them every night to dinner, or maybe she wants to wear them for the princess meet and greets…whatever the reason, they\’re perfectly fine to bring!

What are theme nights? What do I wear for those?

The most common theme night is pirate night when the big Pirates in the Caribbean party takes place! Pirate night takes place on nearly every Caribbean and Bahamas cruises as well as some of the other cruises. Disney will provide each cruiser with a pirate bandana; it is typically in your room before dinner, but I have seen them given out at dinner as well. Feel free to bring any pirate gear and dress up; many people do!  The gift shops onboard will also carry pirate attire if you decide to dress up once onboard. Pirate night can be as simple or as elaborate as you like!

My son dressed for pirate night.

My son boycotting pirate night–he would only wear this pirate Mickey on his shirt!

Friends wearing pirate Mickey ears.

Go all out and release your inner Captain Jack Sparrow or keep it simple with Mickey ears or just use the pirate bandana provided by Disney! It\’ll be fun any way you do it!

Other themed nights may include Pixar or Frozen nights; we\’ll likely see Star Wars nights on the 2016 Star Wars themed sailings!

How do I know if I have a formal, semi-formal or themed night on my cruise?

The best way is to simply call Disney Cruise Line or your travel agent and ask! However, the following are the guidelines Disney Cruise Line typically follows:

  1. 3-night cruises: one cruise casual, one pirate night, one dress-up optional night

  2. 4-night cruises: two cruise casual, one pirate night, one dress-up optional night

  3. 7-night cruises: one semi-formal, one formal, one pirate night or other themed night, with the other four nights being cruise casual

  4. Cruises longer than seven nights usually have multiple semi-formal nights and additional themed nights along with many cruise casual 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!  


She and her family love visiting Disney World and taking Disney cruises. With five Disney cruises under her belt, she is preparing to embark on her sixth Disney cruise and her first through the Panama Canal!

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