Let's talk about dinner!
When you book your cruise you had the option of choosing your dining time for eating dinner in the dining room. The choices are early (6:00 pm), late (8:15 pm) , or your time dining. There is no charge for eating in the dining rooms.
They have two large, beautiful dining rooms. One is at the back (aft) of the ship and the other is located in the center.
If you chose early or late dining you will have an "assigned" table in a specific dining room. Doing this, you will have the same table and waiters every night. You might be seated at a larger table with other shipmates. This can be fun if you like getting to know other people. Occasionally it can be an awkward situation but they will re-assign you to another table if you are uncomfortable for any reason. Having the same waiters each night is an advantage because they get to know your preferences for drinks, etc. When we had our one year old grandson with us on one cruise the waiter had a plate of cut up grapes ready for him every night after the first night because that was the only thing he ate! It is good manners to arrive at your dining table on time each night.
If you choose your time, you can go down from about 5:30 to 9:00 and they will seat you as they have tables available. Usually there isn't much of a wait time, except on elegant nights. The past several cruises we have chosen your time dining. The reason we do this is because if we decide not to go to dinner for some reason we don't hold up our table mates and waiters. The your time dining room is typically the lower level of the dining room located in the center of the ship.
The menu is different each night. Be brave and order something you have never eaten before! You can order as much or as many as you want. If two different soups sound good to you, try them both! You will have your starters, entree's and dessert. Everyone has to try the melting chocolate cake at least once in their lifetime!
If you don't feel like going for a big dinner, dressing nicely, or you want to attend another event during your dining time, you have other options for eating at night. They have a 24 hour pizza place, a deli that makes delicious sandwiches, the lido buffet, Guys Burgers, etc. All of these options are free of charge. You also have the option of the going to the Italian cafe, Sushi, or Steakhouse for a very reasonable extra fee. You should make reservations for these options.
When going to the dining room it's nice to dress appropriately. Nice casual wear is acceptable. Carnival is not strict with their dress standards so you will not get "kicked out" unless you are wearing a bikini or speedo! LOL
Check your Carnival Fun Times Newsletter for time and location of all dining options. There is also a list on your tv. You can even check out the menu each night!
I will quickly address the issue of tipping in the dining room. Your daily gratuity charges include paying your wait staff however if you have had a great week of dining and great service an extra tip at the end of the cruise is always appreciated. Simply slip a few dollars into an envelope and hand it to your waiter on the last night. We typically tip each night if we have great service on "your time" dining. You can also request to be seated in the same area if you liked your waiter. Tipping is an individual option and there is no obligation to do so.
The aft dining room is open each morning for a wonderful breakfast. I love eating breakfast here as there are big windows looking out at the ocean. They also have a "Sea Day Brunch" on sea days so if you like steak and eggs, here's your chance!
If you get hungry on your cruise... it's your fault! There are so many options for free dining through out the day!