During dinner hours, the dining rooms (Fantasy and Ecstasy) accommodate all passengers in two seatings (early at 6 p.m., late at 8:15) or on a flexible basis via Carnival's "Your Choice Dining" program. With the flexible option, passengers can have dinner in the main dining room anytime they like between 5:45 and 9:30 p.m. (times may vary). Dining assignments -- which you select before the cruise -- are made on a first come, first served basis, so if you have your heart set on one or the other, consider booking earlier rather than later.
The Sea View Bar & Grill on Lido Deck has a great traffic flow, and even when crowded, tables seem to miraculously open up. There's a lot of purple up there, including molded purple plastic seats. The decor is Star Wars meets the high school cafeteria, but the food is excellent. The pizzeria is open 24 hours; ice cream and fat-free yogurt are also a round-the-clock thing. A station provides made-to-order eggs and omelets, and various breakfast offerings. Everything at the Sea View is cafeteria style. Lunch can be a full course meal if you like, a good solid salad with crisp greens, pizza or a piping hot deli sandwich.
At dinner, the Lido becomes a grill with some of the dining menu options for casual dining.
For an exclusive dining event for just 12 guests, book the Chef's Table through the ship's information desk. For $75, diners can attend a multicourse dinner, hosted by one Carnival's master chefs. The evening begins with a private cocktail reception and a tour of the galley, led by the chef, and concludes with a sumptuous dinner in a nontraditional dining venue, such as the galley or the library.
The Patisserie, on Promenade Deck, offers great coffees and teas, milkshakes, and calorie-laden baked goods. It's called "Cafe on the Way," a great name given its central location. Coffee has its price, and the price is on par with your neighborhood coffee house -- the $2.50 to $4 per drink neighborhood. The sushi cart, also located on the Promenade Deck, shows up nightly. Selections vary by night and there is no extra charge for the fish.
Room service is available 24 hours a day. Orders are delivered promptly, and although only a limited menu is offered at lunch and dinner, breakfast offers cereal, a toasted variety of breads, smoked salmon, really hot coffee and nicely toasted bagels.
Die-hard late-night buffet buffs won't be disappointed on Sensation. There's food galore for this group of energetic passengers. Midnight buffets may be becoming a thing of the past on some lines, but many Carnival guests opt for a plate of pasta, some sandwiches, and a slice or two of pizza before calling it a night. A buffet of offerings tempts those still out and about late at night, and a Grand Gala Buffet -- offered each cruise -- is as orgiastic as it sounds.