The Main Dining Room is my favorite place to eat. It is a full three course experience, gourmet style. Hopefully Carnival will continue to have singing and dancing waiters when you order dessert. Dessert’s included (along with the rest of your meal, by the way) in your fare. But don’t skip straight to dessert, because the main course is the main attraction — drop in daily and enjoy a rotating menu of delectable favorites like steak, roasted duck, scallops and prime rib.
The Dress Code has changed through the years. With most cruise lines you are okay as long as you are not wearing “beach” wear – no shorts, t-shirts, etc. Personally, I miss the atmosphere of the more formal dining experience, however, there are a lot of guests that are just happy to be there and are not worried about such things. The attitude towards most things is “I paid my money so I will do what I please.”, seems to prevail. This is not a criticism, but just an observation. This has become one of the points when deciding which cruise line to use. Holland America and Royal Caribbean are more formal. Carnival is completely relaxed. It is just the way cruise travel seems to be evolving.
Elegant night(s) is an event to remember. Even if it is not your cup of tea, I think it should be experienced at least once. I love this night; however, I am not crazy about two nights on the longer cruises. That is just my personal preference. Normally I will dress up for the first night, then opt for something very simple that second formal night, like a pair of black slacks and a sparkly top. One of my favorite things to see on Elegant Night are costumes and themes! We had some very elegant “pirate” guests next to us one year. And of course, full dress military uniforms on formal night make this Navy mom’s heart flutter. This is a special night for photos and feasting. OH… and I wouldn’t worry too much about getting your hair done at the onboard salon unless you really want to. I paid a chunk of money for a really pretty hairdo that the wind on deck took care of after dinner. I had a water excursion the next day and had to take out the 75 bobby pins before brushing it out. It was fun, but not something I will do again.
Carnival will assign your table. Your dining time, room, and table assignment are usually on your ship board card. I know that some cruise lines are thinking about going to arm bands (like Disney), but the information on my card helps me get through the evening. If you are sailing individually, you will be assigned to a table. There is no commitment to the table group to show up every single night, however, as a courtesy to your wait-staff, let them know if you have dinner plans at one of the other venues. If you are not happy with your table assignment for any reason, just check with the maître’ de and he can find you a more suitable table. The have a very organized system for feeding 2,000 to 4,000 people in a 3 to 4 hour span, so be patient and be courteous. Communicate with your waiter and he will look after you.
If you opt for "My Time Dining", you are given a time range and may choose the time you like. You will be seated at a different table with different guests each time. You may request a table just for your party, but that is subject to availability.
AND ... never forget that Room Service is available! I always order a pot of coffee to be delivered to my stateroom in the morning so that I can enjoy that first cup off coffee with a view from my cabin! Just don't forget to tip the server with cash because their service is not included in the gratuities.