Some of you may have already read this in our newsletter, but I’m putting it in the blog also after reading a thread on CruiseCritic about formal night. Seems like we’re not the only ones who worried, worried, worried about it!

The statistics we gather when you register on our web site tell us that many of you have never cruised before. So we thought it might be helpful to run a series of articles addressing the questions we had the first time we cruised. Our biggest worry? Formal night. Some people love to dress up, and do it well. We’re learning to enjoy it actually, but I kind of doubt that we do it well. However, we’ve learned how to fit in on a cruise ship. Now, not all cruise ships have a formal night, or even a dress code, but many do and here’s how we handled it our first couple of cruises: Cruise 1 – order room service on Formal Night. Do not venture out of the room under any circumstances. Cruise 2 – Eat in the alternative restaurant. Look at all the ladies and think, “Hmmm. All it takes is something sparkly. I MIGHT be able to do that.” Cruise 3 – Buy an outfit for formal night!!!

Let me backup a little, though. For those first 2 cruises we still had to dress up, certainly more than the pajamas we sometimes wear to dinner at home. (The other night, we almost went to a restaurant with Mary still in her pajamas – luckily we noticed just as she was getting in to the car.) What we did was buy a few skirts. The best were the reversible skirts we got at Nordstrom. We each bought one, so between the two of us we had four skirts. I also bought a black skirt and black pants and a black top at Chico’s. If you haven’t discovered Chico’s and you are not a hot young thing, you really should check it out. Their clothes are extremely comfortable and surprisingly flattering for someone whose weight is no longer what it was when she was a cross-country runner. Also the sizes are 1,2, and 3, so you can pretend you are really tiny. A couple black and white v-neck t-shirts and a black sweater for me and I was set. Certainly not the most creative or stylish dresser on the ship but as far as I know no one pointed at me and said, “Look at THAT inappropriate clothing!”

In anticipation of formal night, we went to that bastion of high fashion, Sears, and bought REALLY CHEAP sparkly clothing. Mary bought a dress and I bought a top to go along with my black skirt. My top was not just REALLY CHEAP, but REALLY REALLY CHEAP. The sparkles rained down onto my body and the floor every time I took the scratchy blouse off and I had to shower before climbing into bed after formal night was done. But, dressed up with some nice inexpensive jewelry loaned to us by a friend who has more fashion sense than us, we fit in just fine on formal night. And it was totally worth going to the dining room for the amazing chateaubriand.

We have a special section in our closet for cruise clothes, and we really don’t wear them any other time, but we’ve come to love packing our cruise clothes, unpacking them on the ship and picking out what combination we will wear each evening. It’s so easy now, it’s practically GarAnimals!