Want to know what to wear on a Disney Cruise Formal Night?
All you questions about Formal Night on a Disney Cruise are answered here so you know exactly what to expect!
When Is Formal Night on a Disney Cruise?
There is a lot of confusion amongst first time Disney cruisers about whether or not there is a Formal Night on their sailing.
If we are talking about the formal night with the Captain’s Gala Dinner this only happens on cruises of 7 nights or more. This is the “proper” formal night on a Disney Cruise.
Don’t worry! This doesn’t mean that you can’t dress up for dinner every night if you really want to.
What is means is that if you are looking for a true Formal Night, where you can meet the Captain, Disney characters will be in formal wear and that the photographers will all be set up for formal photos, you are only going to get this on the cruises of 7 nights or more.
Here is how the nights will be allocated on your cruise according to how many nights you are sailing.
- One cruise casual night
- One Pirate Night themed deck party
- One optional “dress-up night”—jacket for men, dress or pantsuit for women
On cruise casual nights you are not expect4ed to dress up, but you are not permitted to wear swimwear or tank tops in any of the rotational dining rooms.
The cruise casual rule is partly to help the situation if you haven’t yet got your luggage before you go to dinner. This isn’t very likely as usually you do have your luggage delivered to your stateroom by 4 pm at the latest, but it does happen.
- The first night is cruise casual
- One Pirate Night themed deck party
- One optional dress-up night—jacket for men, dress or pantsuit for women
- The final night is cruise casual—no swimwear or tank tops
- The first night is cruise casual
- One Pirate Night or other themed deck parties – for instance, it will be Frozen on Alaskan cruises.
- 3 additional cruise casual nights—no swimwear or tank tops
- One formal and one semi-formal night—both give you the opportunity to dress up and take advantage of the onboard photographers.
- Though optional, Disney recommends dress pants with a jacket or a suit for men and dress or pantsuit for women.
On a 7 Night Cruise, Formal Night will usually be on the first full day of sailing. For instance, if your cruise leaves port on a Saturday, the Formal Night will be on a Sunday.
Disney Cruise Captain’s Welcome Reception
One of the great things about Formal Night is that Mickie and Minnie, along with some of the other Disney characters, will be in formal dress.
This is one of my favorite dresses for Minnie Mouse and of course, it is always great to see Mickey in his tux.
On Disney Cruises of 7 nights or more, there will be a Captain’s Welcome Reception on Formal Night. This is one of the highlights of a Disney Cruise.
This is a great chance to meet the Captain and the Ship’s officers who will be available for a meet and greet in the atrium of your Disney ship.
There will be a cocktail reception in the lobby atrium of your Disney Ship. There are free alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks available. Servers circle around the atrium with a selection of drinks on trays.
There will be two Captain’s Welcome Receptions on Formal Night for your Disney Cruise. This is to fit in with the two dinner seatings for the rotational dining restaurants.
Usually the Captain’s Welcome Reception starts at 5.15 and 7.30. This means you can go to the Reception and still be on time for dinner.
Disney Cruise Formal Night Menu
There is a special Captain’s Gala Night Menu which will be served in each of the rotational dining restaurants on your cruise.
There really is so much that is very good about the Captain’s Gala Menu.
This is one of those nights when it is very difficult to choose what to order as there is so much that is really exceptional.
On our last cruise, DH started with the Aged Prosciutto. He said that this measured up really well against the prosciutto that you get on the Palo Dinner Menu.
The Oxtail Soup was also very good. Soups tend not to photograph well as often they have been carried a long way from the kitchen and have moved around quite a bit in the bowl.
Not always great presentation but it is understandable if you are carrying this will so many other dishes! Doesn’t affec the great taste!
Whatever there is with Shrimp on it on the menu I always order it. The accompanying salad and dressing were really tasty too.
This Oven Baked Salmon is on the menu of every rotational dining restaurant each day in the Lighter Offerings Section.
The highlight of the Captain’s Gala Dinner on a Disney Cruise is that this s the time that you get lobster on the menu in any of the rotational dining restaurants.
This is what happens when you mention to your Server that you really enjoy Lobster! She brought out two for each of us who wanted it. We actually had to stop her from bringing out even more!
This really is for me one of the highlights of the food on a Disney Cruise. I never have lobster on land so this is a real treat for me.
If you enjoy fish, this Roasted Red Snapper dish is also very good.
Every menu has some specialty cocktails to go with that specific dinner. You can of course order anything from the bar menu. Or if you have bought the Wine Package you can enjoy that too.
After all of that lobster there was of course still room for dessert!
You really do have to order the Chocolate Lava Cake. Never fails to impress. It is very rich but the ice cream balances it out.
The Creme Brulee is another favorite. You can also ask for Gluten Free Madelines.
Cruise Formal Night Dress Ideas
The key really is just to feel comfortable with your choice of what to wear on formal night on a Disney Cruise.
You will see a very great range of different attire on formal night. This will range from people who do not get dressed up at all and those who are wearing full length gowns and tuxedos. The choice really is yours.
Most people will have dressed up to some extent, but the majority is unlikely to be in full evening dress.
Personally I really enjoy the chance to get dressed up. There aren’t that many opportunities to do this often on land, so this is something I look forward to. DH would certainly wear a suit, although not a tuxedo.
This very versatile Mermaid evening cocktail dress (yes you can channel your inner Disney Princess Ariel), is very reasonably priced.
This dress is made of stretchy material so ideal for when you have maybe had one dessert or entree too many!
It is available in lots of different colors including classic black. Sizes available range from Small to XL.
This Long Beaded V-Neck Dress With Cap Sleeves and Waistband reminds me of a beautiful dress that the Duchess of Cambridge wore! This one will certainly make you feel like a Princess on cruise formal night.
This vintage style Tea Dress is also a great style for formal night.
Not quite as dressed up as a full length gown, but this is a dress that you can wear for lots of different occasions. There is even a red polka dot version if you want to pay homage to Minnie Mouse!
Of course it doesn’t have to be a dress for formal night. A pant suit is also a great option.
Cruise Formal Night Photos
One reason why you may want to get dressed up for your Disney Cruise formal night is that this is a great chance to have some photos taken.
You can always take your own photos, but many people like to take advantage of the Disney Cruise Ship photographers. They have many different formal and not-so-formal backgrounds set up to take some great photos.
If you want to know more about the different photography packages and prices you can see our ultimate guide at the Disney Cruise Photography Package
Formal night is a great opportunity to have your photo taken with the Captain. Or maybe even Captain Minnie and Captain Mickey! Whichever one you pick. do budget for some extra time, as the lines can get quite long.
Disney Cruise Formal Night Entertainment
Not only do you get the chance to dress up, meet the Captain, get some great photos and eat some wonderful food, you also have an evening of fabulous entertainment to look forward to.
On formal night the show is different according to which ship you are on.
I think the best show for formal night is on the Disney Wonder. This is probably my favorite Disney Cruise show of all – The Golden Mickey’s.
It is particularly suitable for formal night as it has an Academy Award style Red Carpet Arrivals show prior to the performance and a Golden Mickey’s After Party after both performances. This carries on the more formal dressing up theme of the evening just that bit longer.
On the Disney Fantasy the show for formal night is usually Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular. On the Disney Magic it is Twice Charmed – An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story.
Formal Night on a Disney Cruise – Final Thoughts
I know that sometimes the concept of a formal night can seem a bit intimidating to some guests. It really shouldn’t. Even if you live the rest of your life in jeans and a Mickey shirt, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy formal night.
Disney cruise lines wants everyone to have a good time. You are going to have a great time no matter what you wear. If you want to dress up this is such a great opportunity to do that. If you want to keep it smart but casual you are going to have a great time too.
There is so much going on to entertain you on Formal Night on a Disney Cruise Ship. Meet the Captain, watch a wonderful show, get some great photos and enjoy the wonderful dinner menu.
Let us know your thoughts or questions about Disney Cruise Formal Night.
Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando. In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.