Norwegian Cruise Line Don’t Have Formal Nights – Here’s What They Have Instead


If you’re taking your first cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line you may be wondering if the line has formal nights. I’ve cruised with Norwegian Cruise Line 10 times to date and their relaxed approach to dining and dress codes is one of the reasons that I choose to cruise with them time and time again.

Do Norwegian Cruise Line cruises have formal nights? 

Norwegian Cruise Line do not have any formal nights on any of their cruises. Norwegian do have ‘dress up or not’ nights for guests wishing to dress more formally but this is a dress code suggestion and passengers don’t have to take part. 

This relaxed approach continues throughout all elements of Norwegian Cruise Line cruises.

Norwegian Breakaway Dinner Dress Code Girl on Balcony in Green Dress
Ready for dinner on board the Norwegian Breakaway!

What is a ‘Dress Up Or Not’ Night?

The dress up or not night is an opportunity for guests to wear more formal clothing should they wish to. Lots of guests take this opportunity to have family portraits taken. There is usually an option to have photos taken with the captain on this night too.

The dress code for the dress up or not nights is extremely casual. In my experience of cruising with Norwegian the option of ‘not’ dressing up it taken by around 50% of the passengers so if you decide you don’t want to dress up you definitely won’t look out of place. That said, some guests will wear full suits and long gowns, so if you do want to wear something nice you won’t look out of place either.

The dress up or not night is usually on the same night as something often referred to as Norwegians Night out.

When Will The ‘Dress Up Or Not’ Night Be?

The dress up or not night usually takes place on a sea day if your cruise has any. If your cruise has multiple sea days the dress up or not night could be on any of these.

If your cruise doesn’t have sea days it’ll be on a mid-cruise port day.

It’s very unlikely that it’ll be on the first night of the cruise because passengers have been travelling and may not have their suitcase and outfits ready for the first dinner. Similarly, it’s unlikely that the dress up or not night will be on the last night because most guests have already packed away their clothes.

Norwegian Cruise Line Main Dining Room Norwegian Encore Manhattan Room

What Is The Dress Code On Regular Nights?

Norwegian have the most relaxed dress code of any cruise line that I’ve ever cruised with. Jeans are acceptable at all times in the main dining room as long as they are not too ripped/faded. Realistically as long as you are dressed and clean you won’t be turned away from the main dining room on a Norwegian cruise.

Norwegian’s website says the following:

Dress cruise casual anytime during the day, in the buffet and in most speciality restaurants. For women, it includes summer and casual dresses, skirts, regular or capri pants, shorts, jeans and tops. Khakis, jeans, shorts and casual shirts are fine for men. Swimwear is acceptable at the buffet and outdoor restaurant, but a shirt or a cover-up and footwear are required. – source. 

Can You Wear Shorts on a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise?

Norwegian do allow ‘dress shorts’ in some of the main dining rooms onboard but shorts are usually not allowed in the speciality restaurants. Many of the cruise ships in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet will have a more formal main restaurant which will not allow shorts.

For example, on Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway, there are three main restaurants. Two of these, Taste and Savour, will allow shorts but the third, The Manhattan Room, will not.

Shorts are always allowed in the buffet and outdoor restaurants and children are allowed to wear shorts in all dining venues.

Why don’t Norwegian Cruise Line have formal nights?

Norwegian Cruise Line focus primarily on the freestyle approach to dining and dress codes. This sets the cruise line apart from the majority of other cruise lines which still do feature formal nights in some way or another.

Norwegian Cruise Line originally launched in the 1960s but didn’t implement their freestyle approach to dining until the early 2000’s. Many cruise lines have since followed offering flexible dining times and multiple dining options.

The majority of cruise lines have been relaxing their dress codes when it comes to formal nights over the last few years with Cunard being the only cruise line to still enforce ship wide dress codes.

What is The Dress Code For Speciality Restaurants?

The speciality restaurants on Norwegian ships usually have a slightly stricter code which requires men to wear a collared shirt, closed shoes and either pants/jeans. For women, the dress code in speciality restaurants would be either a dress or a trouser/skirt combination.

Dress smart casual in our more formal dining room or in our more upscale speciality restaurants. For women, it includes slacks or jeans, dresses, skirts and tops. For men, it’s jeans or slacks with a collared shirt and closed-toed shoes. Kids 12 and under are welcome to wear nice shorts in all our restaurants. – source.

Even for the speciality restaurants, the dress codes are very relaxed in comparison to other cruise lines. This is one of the reasons why I constantly recommend Norwegian Cruise Line to families, to find out why I do (and which other lines I recommend) check out our recommended cruise lines page here: Recommended Cruise Lines (Tried & Tested)

Norwegian Encore Waterfront Los Lobos

Disallowed Clothing Items:

The following items aren’t allowed in any dining venues:

  • Tank tops for men (not sure why this one is just for men)
  • Flip Flops/Athletic Sandals
  • Baseball Caps/Visors
  • Jeans that are faded and ripped

I consistently recommend Norwegian Cruise Line as being one of the best cruise lines for solo cruisers. To find out why check out our recommended cruise lines page here: Recommended Cruise Lines (Tried & Tested)

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Emma Le Teace

Hey, I'm Emma, an award-winning cruise blogger, and YouTuber. I share cruise tips, tours, and videos on this website to help you master cruising on a budget. You can learn more here: About Me.

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