Really, Penny, at one time the Caesar Salad, pasta dishes, and several flambe desserts were prepared table-side. I know it was pre-Grand Class, but I can't tell you exactly when it stopped. I was on Island and Pacific Princess pre- P&O; but I'm pretty sure the Cherries Jubilee and occasional pasta specialty survived at least until Royal Princess in the late 80's.
I remember those days, just hadn't sailed on Princess. Back when people truly dressed for formal nights. I have a few pictures of full length gowns, tuxedos or at least a suit. Truly elegant, and truly 5 star cuisine. Oh well, those days are gone.
But you know, even though some of the niceties have gone missing, and many cruisers don't treat formal night as something special, it still is a very wonderful evening--especially on the longer cruises.
I remember how pleasant our first Princess cruise was. We came late to Princess with our first one being in 1998 aboard Sun Princess. It still was mostly tuxedoes and formal dresses. Our wait staff had years of experience and it showed. Our son was 4 years old and the waiter took him to a serving station, wrapped up a bunch of cookies in aluminum foil, and then shaped the foil into a swan. Little things like that seem to be missing these days. I remember the food was excellent and I believe there was no charge for soft drinks at dinner. If there was, they didn't charge us for them.
I sometimes blame the size of the ships today for the lack of attention to the little details. But then I consider that Island and Coral Princess actually hold 20 fewer passengers than the Sun Class ships and that reasoning falls apart.
It does explain why Island and Coral Princess feel so "roomy".
I think the ship size does have a lot to do with it. The Royal brought some of the elegance back, although no cherries jubilee or caesar salads. Dave, I had nearly forgotten the swans. That was such a nice touch. They were always wrapping things up for me, a swan, a dove, a basket, all kinds of designs from foil. Back then I couldn't afford anything but an inside cabin. They treated me no differently than those in the suites. Of course, it probably helped that I didn't have the wrinkles I have now