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What To Wear To Dinner On Carnival Cruise


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Andria Ryals



When it comes to planning a vacation, a cruise is often an exciting and popular choice. Whether you’re embarking on a tropical adventure in the Caribbean or exploring the stunning fjords of Alaska, a Carnival cruise promises an unforgettable experience. One of the highlights of a cruise is undoubtedly the dining options available on board. From casual buffets to elegant specialty restaurants, Carnival offers a wide array of culinary delights to cater to every palate.


While the thought of indulging in delectable dishes may already have your mouth watering, it’s essential to be aware of the dress code for dinner on a Carnival cruise. Dressing appropriately not only enhances the dining experience but also ensures that you feel comfortable and confident. Whether you prefer a relaxed evening or an elegant affair, Carnival provides various dining options and corresponding dress codes to suit everyone’s preferences.


In this article, we will take a closer look at the dress code requirements for dinner on a Carnival cruise. We will explore the different attire options for casual and formal dinners, as well as the excitement of theme nights and the sophistication of specialty restaurants. Additionally, we will provide some valuable packing tips to help you prepare for your dining experiences on board.


So, get ready to embark on a gastronomic journey as we delve into the world of dinner attire on a Carnival cruise. Whether you’re a food enthusiast or simply looking to enjoy an unforgettable dining experience amidst breathtaking ocean views, Carnival has it all, and we’re here to guide you through it.


Dress Code on Carnival Cruise

When it comes to dining on a Carnival cruise, there are a few basic dress code guidelines to keep in mind. While the overall atmosphere on board is relaxed and casual, there are certain occasions that call for a more formal attire. Carnival strives to provide a comfortable and inclusive environment for all guests, so it’s important to adhere to the dress code to maintain a sense of elegance and respect for others.


During your cruise, you’ll typically encounter three main categories of dress code: casual, formal, and theme nights. The dress code for each evening will be announced in the daily newsletter, allowing you to plan your wardrobe accordingly.


Let’s explore each of these dress code categories in more detail:

  • Casual Dinner Attire: Most evenings on a Carnival cruise are considered casual. This means you can dress comfortably yet presentably. You can opt for resort-style attire, such as sundresses, khakis, and collared shirts. Jeans are also acceptable, as long as they are not torn or overly distressed. It’s important to note that swimwear, flip-flops, and tank tops are not allowed in the main dining areas during dinner.
  • Formal Dinner Attire: On formal nights, Carnival invites guests to dress up for a more glamorous dining experience. This usually occurs once or twice during a cruise, depending on the length of your trip. For formal nights, men are encouraged to wear suits, tuxedos, or dress slacks with a dress shirt and tie. Women have the option of wearing evening gowns, cocktail dresses, or elegant separates. It’s a wonderful opportunity to capture some memorable photos and feel like a VIP.
  • Theme Nights: Carnival loves to add a touch of fun and excitement to their evenings with theme nights. These are casual dress evenings with a specific theme, such as “Caribbean Night” or “Tropical Paradise.” Guests are encouraged to dress up according to the theme, which could involve wearing Hawaiian shirts, tropical prints, or even costumes. Theme nights provide a festive atmosphere and give you the chance to get creative with your wardrobe choices.

It’s important to note that the dress code may vary depending on the specific ship and itinerary, so it’s always a good idea to check the dress code guidelines provided in the Carnival Fun Times newsletter or the ship’s website.


Now that we have a better understanding of the dress code categories on a Carnival cruise, let’s dive deeper into the specifics of casual and formal dinner attire, as well as the excitement of theme nights.


Casual Dinner Attire

For the majority of evenings on a Carnival cruise, the dress code is casual. This gives you the opportunity to dress comfortably while still looking presentable for dinner. Casual dinner attire on a Carnival cruise typically falls under the category of resort or smart-casual wear, allowing you to feel relaxed yet stylish.


Here are some guidelines for casual dinner attire on a Carnival cruise:

  • Resort-style clothing: Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen. Women can wear sundresses, maxi dresses, or skirts paired with a nice top. Men can choose from khakis or dress pants along with short-sleeved or collared shirts.
  • Jeans: While casual, well-fitting jeans are allowed, make sure they are not overly distressed or torn. Avoid wearing jeans with holes or excessive fading.
  • Footwear: Avoid wearing flip-flops and beach-style sandals to the main dining areas during dinner. Opt for more formal options like closed-toe shoes, loafers, or dressy sandals.
  • Avoid swimwear: It’s important to note that swimwear and cover-ups are not appropriate for the main dining areas during dinner. Save those for the poolside or beach activities.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to accessorize your casual dinner attire with simple yet elegant touches. Consider pairing your outfit with a stylish necklace, a statement bracelet, or a fashionable handbag. These accessories can add a touch of sophistication to your overall look without compromising on comfort.


Remember, while the dress code is casual, it’s still important to dress respectfully and avoid wearing anything offensive or overly revealing. Being mindful of your attire will help create a pleasant and enjoyable dining atmosphere for everyone on board.


Next, let’s delve into the world of formal dinner attire on a Carnival cruise, where you can embrace elegance and sophistication for special occasions.


Formal Dinner Attire

Formal dinner nights on a Carnival cruise provide a chance to indulge in a more elegant and sophisticated dining experience. These special evenings typically occur once or twice during your cruise, depending on its duration. Dressing up for formal nights adds a touch of glamour and creates a memorable atmosphere for all guests.


Here are some guidelines for formal dinner attire on a Carnival cruise:

  • Men’s attire: Men are encouraged to wear suits, tuxedos, or dress slacks with a dress shirt and tie. A jacket is usually required, but depending on the specific ship, a tie may be optional. Black, navy, or gray suits are classic choices that exude elegance and sophistication.
  • Women’s attire: Women have the opportunity to dress up in glamorous evening gowns, cocktail dresses, or elegant separates. Opt for fabrics such as silk or chiffon, and choose styles that make you feel confident and beautiful. Embrace different lengths, from floor-length gowns to knee-length cocktail dresses.
  • Additional accessories: Formal dinner attire is the perfect occasion to accessorize and add some sparkle to your ensemble. Consider wearing statement jewelry, such as a dazzling necklace or elegant earrings, to complement your outfit. Don’t forget to pair your attire with dressy shoes and a stylish clutch or evening bag.
  • Hairstyling and makeup: Take the opportunity to pamper yourself and style your hair in an elegant updo or create a polished look with soft curls. For makeup, opt for a classic and sophisticated style, emphasizing either your eyes or your lips.

Formal nights on a Carnival cruise provide a fantastic opportunity to capture memorable photos and enjoy a more upscale dining atmosphere. Don’t be afraid to dress to the nines and express your personal style. It’s an occasion to make lasting impressions and create unforgettable memories.


However, if formal attire is not your preference, there are still plenty of casual and themed dining options available on board. Let’s explore the exciting atmosphere of theme nights on a Carnival cruise in the next section.


Theme Nights

One of the most exciting aspects of dining on a Carnival cruise is the opportunity to participate in theme nights. These themed evenings add a fun and festive atmosphere to your dining experience, allowing you to showcase your creativity and join in on the onboard festivities.


Carnival cruise ships often feature a variety of theme nights, each with its own unique dress code and ambiance. Some popular theme nights include “Caribbean Night,” “Tropical Paradise,” “Glow Party,” and “Mexican Fiesta.” These theme nights provide the perfect opportunity to let loose, embrace the spirit of the event, and step outside your comfort zone.


When it comes to dressing up for theme nights, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Research the theme: Before your cruise, check the itinerary or the Carnival website to find out which theme nights will be taking place during your trip. This will ensure you pack appropriate clothing and accessories.
  • Get creative: Theme nights are the perfect opportunity to let your imagination run wild and think outside the box when it comes to your outfit. For Caribbean Night, you might opt for vibrant tropical prints or a flowy sundress. If it’s a Glow Party, consider wearing neon or light-up accessories to add to the neon glow.
  • Group participation: Consider coordinating your outfit with friends or family members to create a cohesive group look. This can be especially fun for Mexican Fiesta-themed nights, where you can dress in traditional Mexican attire and embrace the colorful spirit of the event together.
  • Accessories and accents: Enhance your theme night outfit with accessories that align with the chosen theme. For example, for a Pirate Night, you could wear a pirate hat, eye patch, or carry a toy sword. For a 70s Disco Party, don’t forget to rock some funky sunglasses and groovy disco-inspired attire.

The great thing about theme nights is that they allow you to let loose, have fun, and embrace the festive spirit on board. Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the themed activities, decorations, and entertainment provided by Carnival while enjoying delicious meals in a lively and energetic setting.


Now that you’re familiar with the dress code options for casual, formal, and theme nights, let’s explore the additional dining options available on a Carnival cruise, particularly the specialty restaurants.


Specialty Restaurants

On a Carnival cruise, the dining experience goes beyond the main dining rooms and buffets. For those seeking a more intimate and exclusive dining experience, specialty restaurants are the perfect choice. These venues offer a diverse range of cuisines and culinary experiences that are sure to satisfy even the most discerning palates.


Carnival cruise ships offer a variety of specialty restaurants, each with its own unique ambiance and menu. Here are some popular options you may encounter:

  • Steakhouse: Indulge in premium cuts of steak cooked to perfection at the onboard steakhouse. Immerse yourself in an upscale and elegant atmosphere while savoring the finest quality meats, complemented by a selection of delicious sides and delectable desserts.
  • Italian Trattoria: Delight in the flavors of Italy at the onboard trattoria. Enjoy classic Italian dishes like pasta, pizza, and seafood, prepared with authentic ingredients and traditional recipes. The warm and inviting atmosphere will transport you to the streets of Rome or Florence.
  • Asian Fusion: Experience the culinary delights of Asia at the onboard Asian fusion restaurant. Indulge in a fusion of flavors from countries such as Japan, Thailand, and China. From sushi and sashimi to stir-fries and noodle dishes, you’ll be taken on a gastronomic journey through the vibrant and diverse cuisines of Asia.
  • Seafood Grill: For seafood lovers, the onboard seafood grill is a must-visit. Feast on freshly caught fish, succulent shrimp, and delectable shellfish cooked to perfection. From grilled specialties to seafood platters, you’ll be treated to a delicious array of oceanic delights.

Each specialty restaurant on a Carnival cruise has its own unique menu and may require an additional fee. However, the elevated experience and exceptional quality of the dining options make it well worth it for those seeking a truly memorable culinary adventure.


It’s important to note that reservations are highly recommended for specialty restaurants, as they tend to fill up quickly. You can make your reservations online before your cruise or visit the restaurant’s reservation desk once you’re on board.


Now that you have a taste of the dining options available, it’s time to pack everything you need to make the most out of your dinner experiences on board. Let’s explore some helpful packing tips for dinner on a Carnival cruise in the next section.


Packing Tips for Dinner

As you prepare for your Carnival cruise, packing appropriately for dinner is essential to ensure you have the right attire for all dining experiences. Here are some helpful tips to consider when packing for dinner on a Carnival cruise:

  • Check the dress code: Before your trip, familiarize yourself with the dress code guidelines provided by Carnival. This will help you pack the appropriate clothing for both casual and formal dinner nights, as well as any themed evenings.
  • Bring mix-and-match outfits: Packing versatile clothing items that can be easily mixed and matched will provide you with a range of outfit options without overpacking. Consider packing a few staple pieces that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
  • Include formalwear: If your cruise includes formal nights, be sure to pack formal attire such as suits, tuxedos, evening gowns, or cocktail dresses. To save space, consider packing wrinkle-resistant fabrics or using garment bags to protect delicate garments.
  • Don’t forget themed attire: If you plan on participating in the themed nights, pack appropriate clothing and accessories to fully embrace the spirit of each theme. This could include tropical shirts, costumes, glow-in-the-dark accessories, or any items that align with the specific theme.
  • Pack comfortable footwear: While you may want to dress up for dinner, it’s important to prioritize comfort, especially when it comes to footwear. Pack a variety of shoes that are comfortable for walking and dancing, as well as a pair of dressier shoes for formal nights.
  • Consider layering options: Depending on the cruise’s itinerary and the time of year, the temperature on board or at port may vary. Pack a light jacket, cardigan, or shawl that can be easily layered over your outfits, providing warmth if needed.
  • Include accessories: Don’t forget to pack accessories to elevate your dinner outfits. Statement jewelry, scarves, belts, and ties can add a touch of style and enhance your overall look without taking up too much space in your suitcase.
  • Bring a portable steamer or wrinkle-release spray: To ensure your clothing remains wrinkle-free throughout your cruise, consider packing a portable steamer or wrinkle-release spray. This will come in handy, especially for formalwear and delicate fabrics.

Remember to pack within the weight and size limits imposed by the cruise line. It’s also a good idea to carry a small travel-sized sewing kit and stain remover in case of any wardrobe mishaps.


By taking these packing tips into consideration, you’ll be well-prepared with appropriate attire for all dining occasions on your Carnival cruise. Now, all that’s left to do is embark on your culinary adventure and enjoy the delicious meals and exciting atmosphere that await you.


As we conclude this guide to dinner attire on a Carnival cruise, we hope you feel confident and inspired to make the most of your dining experiences while looking and feeling your best. Bon appétit and bon voyage!



Embarking on a Carnival cruise is an extraordinary experience filled with relaxation, adventure, and, of course, delicious dining. Understanding the dress code for dinner on a Carnival cruise ensures that you can enjoy your meals in comfort while maintaining an appropriate and respectful atmosphere.


From casual nights to formal evenings and exciting themed parties, Carnival offers a diverse range of dining options to suit every taste and preference. Whether you choose to dress up in elegant formalwear or embrace the fun and creativity of themed nights, there is always something for everyone to enjoy.


Remember to pack accordingly, considering the dress code guidelines provided by Carnival. Opt for versatile clothing options that can be mixed and matched, and don’t forget to include formal attire and themed outfits if applicable. Comfortable footwear and stylish accessories will enhance your overall look, while packing essentials like a portable steamer or wrinkle-release spray can help keep your clothing looking fresh.


As you indulge in the fabulous dining experiences on your Carnival cruise, be sure to capture the unforgettable moments and savor every delicious bite. Bon appétit!