My husband and I along with two of our adult children are booked for our first cruise in April on Carnival Ecstasy for five days out of Galveston Texas. In reading reviews it is not very clear as to the difference to formal and casual dining. On formal dining is there a dress code? On the casual dining, is the menu limited to encourage passengers to attend the formal dining? What is the hours when it refers to late dining. My husband is a type II diabetic and having to wait until late hours is not good for his health. Can someone please explain some tips for me. Thanks
Others with more experience may also reply, but here is my best shot.
On Carnival, formal dining is in the large dining room at an assigned table. The dress code is generally resort casual, slacks and shirts with collars, generally no shorts. There is a formal night on the five-day cruise. While full formal is not the norm, dress up is. Most men wear suits or sports coats and the women wear dresses.
The food in the formal dining is definitely a cut above the casual. Casual on Ecstacy is pretty much a buffet. You wait on yourself. The selection is less than that in the formal dining room. In the formal dining room, your wait staff will take very good care of you and on a five-day will probably get to know you and your preferences. Our waiters and waitresses have been excellent to incredible on our nine prior Carnival cruises.
Early dining is around 6pm and late dining is around 8pm. The dining room staff will make accomodations if you are assigned late and need to dine early for whatever reasons. We have been able to arrange suitable dining times on all our cruises and ensure that our group was together even in times where a mixup had us assigned wrong.
On the Ecstacy you will find that food is available 24/5. There are more opportunities to eat than the human body can properly endure. My family and I love the formal dining room and eat there for breakfast and dinner every day. Life is so busy on land, this is a great place to get waited on and enjoy it.
We've done this cruise on this ship and loved it. I'm sure you will too. Welcome to Cruise-Chat.
Carnival relaxed their dress code a bit, so that is probably the source of your confusion.
There is always food available on a cruise. So if your husband needs a "snack" to help with his diabetes then he can always find something at the buffet or the grill or the 24 hour pizza.
The meals in the dinning room (which richjester refers to as the formal dinning) as like those in an upscale restaurant. You will be assigned to a table that won't change through the cruise unless you request to be moved and there is an open table somewhere. They serve breakfast and lunch in the dinning room also where you are seated in a first come first serve basis. (No assigned seating) We like to have breakfast in the dinning room as we don't like the crowds at the buffer breakfast. Same goes for lunch but depending on your activities, you might just grab something up on the buffet. Dress code for breakfast and lunch is pretty casual. As long as you are not in a bathing suit you are ok. Shorts are allowed and t shirts. For dinner, they used to not allow shorts or jeans and required a collared shirt. The new dress code allows for "sport casual" shorts (i.e. no cut offs) and dress jeans. (Read this as no holes...) Formal night is dress up night. Men can wear anything from a dress shirt/casual pants to a Tux and women can wear a nice skirt to a evening gown. They used to require a tie at least for the men but the new rules relaxed that. Having given you that info, note that the ships leaving from Galveston have always considered their customers and have considered the "dress western wear" to be considered formal - i.e. dress jeans, dress western shirt and good cowboy boots... So, the Galveston cruises have been running on the relaxed rules for a long time.
The menu for dinner on formal night is typically lobster or prime rib (with other choices also) and on casual night the menu is different each night but the food is 4 star restaurant type food.
Hope that isn't too much info.
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Greetings, TheTylerose... and welcome to CruiseChat. We are a fun bunch of quirky cruise enthusiasts who enjoy answering queries from new and returning cruisers. You are not the first to ask about Carnival's dress code or meal time issues. If you look at the tabs at the top of the page (just above your initial post) you will notice that one reads "Find". Click on that and enter anything that you are interested in and hit "Go". Our archives abound with a wealth of information provided by cruisers who post here. Carnival has probably the most lackadaisical dress code enforcement of any line that I have cruised with. That being said, don't wear shorts to dinner. Your hubby will be able to access food at all hours on the ship. Whether it be room service or pizza, you will have food whenever you like.
Thank you Jim. Your information is exactly what I was looking for. We are very excited as this is the first for all of our family. We are already looking into a cruise to Alaska now, just not going to book until we are absolutely sure we will make good cruisers. We normally travel via motorhome and RV travel and are so spoiled to that 'being in our own bed' feeling. My husband and I are both sleep apena patients and have to take along our sleep machines when we go anywhere,but that is fine too, as we would most likely be dead today without them. Thanks again for the information and we are open to any suggestions. We are completing our passport applications this week although not necessary on this cruise, you never know what will happen and with my husband and I both having senior parents, we want to know we can fly out of any airport in the event of an emergency.
With your hubby being diabetic, call carnival TODAY and let them know you need the early seating because of a medical condition and they will send you a form to fill out and they will make sure you get the early seating.
I have a medical condition that demands that I eat on a schedule...I can always eat at the buffet in an emergency but the dining room is such a highlight for me because I just enjoy the tablemates. Carnival has been extremely kind in taking care of me with this...
TheTylerose, you brought up a couple of items that need comment.
If your husband is taking syringes with insuling with him, this MUST be cleared first by Carnival's Special Services desk. Carnival will need a note from his doctor on letterhead or the doctor's prescription pad, indicating that your husband is diabetic and must have insulin syringes with him. Carnival should also have available to you, either in the cabin or nearby, a small refrigerator in which to keep the insulin.
It may also be required that you report you have your CPAP machines with you, if that's what you use. It's also just a doctor's note required.
And last, it sounds like it's critical for you to take out cancellation/interruption insurance, particularly with elderly parents in the picture. Make sure you buy insurance that will cover you for cancellations/interruptions due to pre-existing conditions in yourselves or your immediate family.
Look here and click on the Carnival link to see their current dress suggestions.
I don't know if Carnival is still staggering the seating times. They were supposed to eliminate it, and go to just two seating times but their website still indicates they are offering staggered dining times on ships with two main dining rooms. In that case they had two main seatings and two late seatings - 5:45pm and 6:15pm for main, and I think it was 8pm and 8:30pm for late. This is what the Carnival website currently says.