In our recent review of the Carnival Pride, we mentioned the Captain’s Dining Club and the Chef’s Table and this led to a number of questions being emailed to us asking “When is the Captains Dinner on Carnival Cruise Line?”
It transpires that there is a lot of confusion about what a Carnival Cruise Captains Dinner actually is and how it is different from the Chef’s Table and the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Party?
Fortunately, I have a lot of experience of this and I’ve been cruising for over 30 years and can remember exactly what a Captain’s Dinner was and how that relates to modern cruising.
So let’s dig into all the details and figure out what a Carnival Cruise Captains Dinner consists of. We’ll also explore the Captain’s Dining Club and other dining options like the Chef’s Table.
When is the Carnival Cruise Captains Dinner?
There is no “Captains Dinner” on Carnival Cruise Line. However, there is a “Captain’s Welcome Evening” where the Cruise Director will introduce the Captain, Ship’s Officers, and Heads of Departments to the cruise guests. This is at a “champagne” reception which is often held in the ship’s atrium.
The Cruise Director will introduce each Officer one by one. At the end of the presentation, he will then introduce the Captain who will give a short speech to the guests welcoming them on board.
This event will coincide with the Ship’s first Formal Evening. Or “Cruise Elegant” evening as Carnival describes it.
Guests will receive a free glass of “champagne”, so it is quite popular as it is one of the rare occasions when you can get a free drink on board 😉
What is a Captain’s Dinner on a Cruise?
In the early days of modern cruising, it is fair to say that the dining experience was much more formal than it is today. On formal evenings almost everyone would get dressed up.
On the first formal evening of the cruise, the Captain usually had a presentation before each Main Dining Room seating. He would greet the guests as they arrived and this was sometimes accompanied by a photo opportunity with the Captain.
In the center of the dining room would be the “Captain’s table” and this was by invitation only. On each of the formal evenings, the Captain would be present at the table with selected guests who he had personally invited to dine with him.
On other evenings the Captain’s table would always be occupied either by the Captain and selected guests or the Ship’s officers. It’s something you don’t see as often now.
When we were on the Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas in February 2023, our dining table was almost slap-bang right in the middle of the main dining room. I laughed as we were first seated, saying “Oh we’ve got the Captain’s table”.
Sure enough, a few evenings later, the Captain and a couple of Ship’s officers and their guests dined at the table right next to us, but for most of the cruise, it was empty.
When we were on Carnival Pride in June 2023, we never saw any sign of the Captain in the Dining room, the whole cruise. But then again, he may have been on the level above us. We were on the lower deck of the dining room.
What is the Captain’s Club on Carnival Cruise Line?
Once again this is something that can cause a bit of confusion.
The Captain’s Club is actually an annex to the Main Dining Room that appears on the Carnival Legend deck plans, one of Carnival’s Spirit-class ships.
However, on the other Spirit-class ships, this area is named differently.
On the Carnival Pride, the annex is called the Captain’s Club. On Carnival Legend it is referred to as the “Private Dining Club”. On the Carnival Miracle, it is the “Ariadne Room”. On the Carnival Spirit, it is the “Napoleon room”. On the Luminosa, there is no annex space like this.
So the “Captains Club”, is just the name for a small restaurant annex and is not a separate dining experience.
They do occasionally have events in there like the Dr Seuss Breakfast Experience.
The Captain has been known to dine in there at lunchtimes and he does invite selected guests. So you never know, you might get lucky!
What is the Chef’s Table on Carnival Cruises?
The Chef’s Table is a specialty dining experience that is described by Carnival a “VIP Multi-course Dining Experience”.
The Chef’s table is very popular as it is limited to just 14 people per event.
The price varies between $80 to $99.
On arrival, guests are treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on arrival. This is followed by a tour of the Ship’s galley before sitting down in the small intimate Chef’s Table dining room for the main event.
The menu typically features the best food that Carnival has to offer, with the Chef often creating dishes unique to that event.
The Captain does not dine with you at the Chef’s Table!
The menu features seven courses and a wine pairing, so it actually represents really good value and it’s definitely on Morag’s list for our next Carnival Cruise.
What to Wear on Formal Nights on Carnival
Carnival Cruise line describes their formal nights as “cruise elegant”. This is the time to grab your finest and look your best.
For Men, Carnival suggest, dress slacks/trousers, dress shirts, and a sport coat. If you want to make your cruise really special, a suit and tie or a tuxedo is the way to go. I’m a proud Scot so I will always try to wear my kilt outfit.
For the Ladies, cocktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts, and blouses are recommended. Once again, a lot of ladies will make the evening a real event and wear an evening gown.
The most important thing though is to wear what you are comfortable with. If you think it is too stuffy or pretentious, then dress closer to smart casual.
On our last cruise one older gentleman wore denim dungarees and a bright red shirt on Cruise Elegant night. Now, that may sound a bit eccentric for “Cruise Elegant”, but that Gentleman looked like and felt like a million dollars.
I spoke to him later saying that I admired his outfit and he said with a wry smile. “Trust me, from where I come from, this is as elegant as it gets!”
Carnival do ask however that guest avoid wearing any of the following in their dining rooms:-
Cut-off jeans, men’s sleeveless shirts, shorts, t-shirts, sportswear, baseball hats, flip-flops, and bathing suits.
How many formal nights are there on a Carnival Cruise?
The number of Formal (or “Cruise Elegant”) evenings depends on the length of the cruise.
For a 2 to 5-day cruise, there is just one formal evening. For a 6-day or longer cruise, there are always two formal evenings.
The first formal evening is usually scheduled for the 2nd or 3rd day of the cruise, and the second one is scheduled for the 2nd or 3rd day prior to the end of the cruise, depending on the itinerary.
Time for Dessert?
So there you have it. There is no such thing as a Carnival Cruise Captains Dinner. But you will have the opportunity to see the captain (and potentially even get a picture with him) at the Captain’s Welcome Aboard presentation.
I do hope this article has been helpful in helping you prepare for your next Carnival Cruise. Make sure you download the Carnival Hub App, so that you can get everything prepared well in advance for your trip.
If you are looking for some ideas for some of the things that you might need to pack, take a look at this list of the Cruise Essentials you should be thinking about.
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