The End of Formal Nights?

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It all started with the lobster.

And to be honest, when lobster began vanishing from main dining rooms, it didn’t much bother me as I’ve always felt that lobster doesn’t have much flavor unless you dip it in butter, and then it tastes like… well, butter. But now, it looks as if formal nights are being “re-examined,” and I might have to take issue with that.

As of December, Celebrity Cruise Line will be dropping “formal nights” in favor of “chic nights” on cruises lasting seven nights or longer on most of their ships. And while that sounds a little too close to “disco wear” for comfort, what it actually means is that jackets and ties will no longer be required in the main dining rooms. Instead, the dress code will exist in some netherworld between formal and “casual smart,” which would seem to leave a lot of room for interpretation!

Some cruisers will welcome this news, and perhaps even find themselves hoping that the lines will do away with nights requiring anything even resembling dressing up. “I’m on a cruise to relax,” they will argue. “If I wanted to dress up, I’d go to work.”

Others, however, will no-doubt feel that this is yet another step on the slippery-slope toward the main dining room’s becoming a fashion free-for-all. There are, after all, many for whom dressing up a night or two is a highlight of their trip. As one gown-wearing woman said during a recent cruise aboard the Norwegian Gem, “If it weren’t for formal nights, my husband would never take me on a fancy date!”

And while it seems unlikely that anyone will be posting a “Thongs Welcome!” sign outside their venues, it will be interesting to watch what reaction Celebrity’s move garners from both the public in general and other cruise lines. After all, if there’s one thing that has become abundantly clear over the past few years, it’s that where one line finds success, others will follow. Right, fans of free room service?

Now, it’s your turn: Are you happy to see lines loosening the rules on dress codes for formal nights? Would you like to see them done away with altogether? Or is dressing up for dinner — aka civility’s last gasp — something you’d hate to see fall by the wayside?

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