Carnival Sensation Cruise: Ship’s ‘American Table’ dining room offers no tablecloths but tasty menu choices

ABOARD THE CARNIVAL SENSATION – On our first dinner aboard the Carnival Sensation, the woman at the table next to me was surprised to see dining room tables without tablecloths.

Doesn’t bother me at all. Just think about all the laundry that saves. So much more environmentally friendly. On other cruise ships, I have seen servers changing tablecloths as soon as diners get up to leave so the table is ready for the next diners.

On the Sensation, servers respond quickly to clean tables and set them anew. We do have cloth napkins. Just no tablecloths except for the formal Captain’s Dinner.

It’s all part of Carnival’s new American Table style. I like it.

Bread plates feature images of American city landmarks.

One of the American Table changes I like most is a big carafe of ice water sitting on the table. I can pour it myself when my glass is empty. Usually, a server will quickly notice and do the pouring for me. But I like the option of knowing that there is plenty of ice water right within reach throughout my meal.

The Carnival Sensation has two dining rooms – Fantasy and Ecstasy. Ecstasy is open for scheduled seating. I’m in Fantasy because I chose “Your Time” dining. That means I can show up in the dining room anytime between 5:45 and 9:30 p.m.

Some folks like a set reservation for each night’s dinner to prevent any possible waiting in line for a table. I prefer the flexibility of “Your Time” in case I want to stay ashore a little longer, finish a shipboard activity or write a blog while it’s still fresh in my mind. I prefer to dine early so have had no trouble getting a seat around 6 p.m. I have noticed a bit of a line when I’m leaving the dining room around 7:30.

                                             American Table décor and menu

Part of the dinner table décor for American Table is cute little bread plates with images of American city landmarks. So far, I’ve had a plate with the Hollywood logo sign, another one with the Statue of Liberty and one with the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, “The City of Brotherly Love.”

From appetizers to desserts, Carnival Sensation dishes feature lovely presentations.

Each table has a wine bottle with a stone on a rope around it with the table number. I don’t have a reserved table and have never been escorted to the same dining table twice. But that is fine with me. Lets me see more of the dining room and be seated near different passengers.

The menu is long and seems to offer something for everyone. It starts with about 10 appetizer choices, including fried calamari, chilled Vietnamese roll, cream of ripened tomatoes, shrimp cocktail, smoked chicken quesadilla, corn chowder, heart of lettuce, kale or romaine salad or cured salmon with candied tomato. That was our first night dinner.

Next on the menu is entrees – sweet and sour shrimp, grilled swordfish steak, honey glazed pork loin, braised beef brisket, vegetable lasagna and Indian vegetarian. Each evening, diners can also select “From the Grill” entrees such as salmon fillet, flat iron steak, chicken breast and pork chop.

Carnival’s chocolate melting cake is always a popular dessert choice.

For an extra $20, diners can choose one of the following: broiled filet mignon, New York strip loin steak, broiled Maine lobster tail or surf & turf.

All the entrees come with side dishes but those also can be ordered separately. Side dish options include mac & cheese with bacon, creamed spinach, ratatouille, baked potato with all the toppings, sautéed green beans and french fries.

                                                ‘Port of Call’ cuisine

A fun section of the menu deals with each “Port of Call” on our cruise itinerary. For example, in Ocho Rios, the menu notes that “Jamaica is famous for its street food and jerk cooking. The jerk method of dry rubbing meats with spices and seasonings, then slow roasting it for many hours was used by the Jamaican Maroon people to preserve the meat for days. Originally only done with pork, today you find chicken, fish, sausage and other meats jerked as well.”

The “Port of Call” offers a special cocktail, appetizer and entrée. The Ocho Rios cocktail was pirate punch made with Bacardi Rum, Bacardi 8, Amaretto and orange juice ($8.95). Port of Call appetizer was jerked chicken wings served with banana chips and jicama slaw. Entrée was shrimp curry, sautéed shrimp in Caribbean curry sauce with lemongrass, chilies and tropical fruit, served with coconut rice.

Ecstasy dining room offers plenty of tables for solo diners, couples and groups.

Desserts have included Carnival’s signature melting chocolate cake, crème brulee, chocolate hazelnut cake, apple crumb pie, cheese plate, tropical fruit plate or ice cream.

On the featured wine list are several choices, including Carnival’s special Gifft wines by celebrity winemaker Kathie Gifford – a chardonnay and a red wine blend. Carnival Cruise Line began offering Gifford’s wines in 2015. Before that, the “Today” show host and former Carnival spokeswoman had joined the cruise line in the 1980s where she sang and danced her way through several ad campaigns.

A couple at the table next to me celebrating a young man’s college graduation ordered the Gifft chardonnay and said it was good, if a bit on the sweet side. They also plan to try the Gifft red blend at a later dinner. That’s a fun thing about cruises – a chance to try something we may not normally eat or drink at home.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

11 thoughts on “Carnival Sensation Cruise: Ship’s ‘American Table’ dining room offers no tablecloths but tasty menu choices”

  1. We loved our cruise on the sensation to ochos rios and grand cayman we had a waiter in the dining room on captians night that was absolutly awesome and very entertaining as well that was over a year ago so not sure if he is still on that ship we have been on the ectasy since and goin on the victory in feb 19 with the crew doin 6 month contracts you never know if you will see a repeat crew member but we did while on the ectasy we saw a guy that was on the sensation

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  2. Vacationed on the carnival sensation just recently, mar 30th through the 4th of apr. Hosts were great, food was not so great…. Hell it was terrible, sure it looked fancy, but it lacked any flavor. Not a lot of selections either. Oh and be sure you’ll get nickled and dimed!

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  3. Carol M. Sanders, from Niagara Falls, Ny
    I totally enjoyed travel on Carnival Sensation. From our Housekeeper, Monthana, to Ecstasy Diningroom servers, Steven and Parinder, as well as others. Our 5 day Cruise was most Awesome. I travelled with my Husband and 8 other family members, and we will return. Thank you all employees of Carnival Sensation

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  4. I went on my very first cruise on carnival sensation as a birthday present from my husband and anniversary for his friend and wife. He retired after 26 years in the military. We went went his best friend, also a retired veteran and his wife. We were on a five day cruise to ocho Rios and the Grand Cayman islands. The food service was great and the overall experience was phenomenal. Many criticise carnival sensation on the blogs as being an old smelly ship and not very good. I guess some people just want to complain. I however found it to be more than i expected after all the negatice reviews. I will defenitely ve booking another cruise with sensation and bringing my grandkids next time so they can enjoy it as much as i did. Thank you carnival sensation. Thank you cruise employees, you were all great.

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  5. I went on a 5 day cruise to Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman islands on august 26th with my husband and his best friend and wife. It was my first cruise ever. I was a bit leary about going due to negative reviews about sensation. However i enjoyed myself to the fullest. I celebrated my birthday (present from my husband) onboard and my friends their 15th anniversary. The staff were friendly and the food was great. I had the time of my life and hated to see it end. I will be returning to carnival sensation and bringing my grandkids so they can enjoy themselves as i did. Thank you staff and employees of Sensation. You guys made this my best birthday ever. I reccomend carnival sensation especially if you want to take your kids. Plenty of activities for them onboard. Word of advise: dont take reviews to heart. There were so many negative reviews however i did not see any problems described while i was onboard. Plus i guess some people just like to complain. Life should be enjoyed to the fullest.

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  6. So glad you had a great cruise, Maria! I have been cruising for more than 40 years and have never had a bad cruise. Some are better than others. Some ships are nicer than others. Some food more tasty. Some crew more capable. But, in the long run, I always find many things to enjoy about every cruise I have ever taken. Hope you get to cruise again soon!

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  7. Might be best to ask your travel agent, Leslie. The entertainment changes and is not the same on every ship. I haven’t seen an announcement for the Sensation for June 2020. But I have never seen a Carnival show that I didn’t enjoy.

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