What I don't understand is, why are people so opposed to their children dressing up? I understand that more clothes means less room in luggage for something else, and with baggage fees on airlines what they are now no one wants to have extra bags or oversize ones. I get that.
But there is so little opportunity in our everyday lives to have special experiences... As a single parent, I have to save HARD and determined for our vacations. DS and I aren't going to the opera or 5-star restaurants or anywhere else "fancy." I adore formal nights on our cruises for the chance to dress up and step outside of the ordinary routine of our lives. You feel different - goodly different - when you're dressed up. People respond to you differently when you dress up. And you are enhancing the ambience when you dress up -- not dragging it down. And sorry, but someone in a t-shirt on formal night IS dragging down the ambience. Does it ruin my night? Heck no. I simply have little respect for them.
And while society seems hell-bent on making life so casual that at some point everyone will be getting married in sweats and flip flops, cruising still has a long tradition of being a "classier" sort of trip.
Dressing up was something to look forward to, not roll your eyes at.
We've been cruising since my son was 5. I always took it as an opportunity to teach my son about dressing and acting appropriately for different situations. I talked him into switching from a suit to a tux several cruises ago, and he will be the first to cheer that choice now. Women of any age love a dressed-up man, and teenagers are no different.
He's sold on it now. When I brought up the topic with my son he said, "It's only for a couple of hours, and then we change. What's the big deal?? For a couple of hours I get to look like James Bond and then it's back to shorts. It's awesome."
Our formal night portraits over the years are the most cherished photos I have of us together. Don't wish formal night away... especially because you have kids. Don't train them to think dressing up ever is some sort of punishment. Treat it as a special time - as a family! - that you look forward to then and remember fondly later. Or just wear your shorts and bathrobes to the buffet and leave formal night to those of us who love it.