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Formal nights on cruise

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We are soon to go on a Mediterranean cruise with Celebrity. It will be our first cruise - our past European tripping has always been by independent means: mainly driving, some rail, some backpacking by any means of public transport available.

One of the things that had put us off cruising in the past, has been the "formal evenings". Not only does it seem incongruous to dress up formally when supposedly on a relaxing holiday, but as hitherto independent travellers we set great store in travelling light. To meet these opposing needs I've gone out and bought the most lightweight suit imaginable - and yet folded it still takes up one-third of my pack! That's a lot of space that I had for other things on every other trip we've done, that's not available for this trip.

Can someone tell me a little more about these formal cruise evenings please? How rigid are the dress rules? Are there still parts of the ship you can still access on these evenings if you are not dressed formally? For instance, can you still dine somewhere, or have a drink somewhere? OK, now I've bought the suit I'll probably still take it (at the expense of other gear that frankly I would regard as more fitting for a Mediterranean holiday), but it would be nice to know what my options are and how flexible the rules are.

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