We have just returned from the Carnival Spirit to Alaska. Our son never ended up going to either of the formal nights, but I did have a shirt and tie etc for him just in case (he is 4). For the first formal night my son was asleep so my husband stayed with him in our cabin and I actually went alone (we really liked the other people at our table and dh confessed he was tired etc anyway)
The second formal night, by coincidence, our son asked if he could go to the dinner the kids were having. This worked out well for all of us.
The first formal night on the Carnival cruise we were on was VERY formal. I only saw one boy (aged 3) on that night. He was Asian and he was dressed in a suit. The women were dressed to the max and most men were in tuxedos.
The second formal night was supposed to be "less formal" but was still very dressy. My husband opted to just wear a tie (we were travelling for over a month and he decided against a jacket at the last moment) and he felt really under-dressed and confessed he wished he had have brought his full suit.
Yes, Camp Carnival have a meal for the kids on both formal nights.
These really only suit the early seating. On the first night they had a Coketail Party from 5 to 5.45pm and then a kid's formal night dinner from 5.45pm..they then had activities up until 10.00pm. Some of the older kids even get taken to the show by the youth leaders (if it is deemed appropriate)
On the second formal night they had the Kid's Dinner again and then some more activities....our ship had a Happy Unbirthday Party for the younger ones and the older kids got taken to the show.
I'm the family cruise editor here. I have two questions: Is your child a boy? What cruise line are you going on since some are more formal than others? Let me know and I'll get back to you.
Luisa Frey Gaynor
I have two children a boy and a girl. The boy is now 6 and the girl 7. We have taken them on two cruises and opted to take them with us for the formal dinner. We wanted them to get the experience and they love dressing up. By an odd chance we actually had a tux for my son and have actually inherited another as he outgrew the first. We did have to buy the tux shirt when he outgrew the first but were able to find one at a local tux rental shop for less than $15.00. I did see many children just wearing nice pants and shirts. This was just our choice.
As for your husband, mine is not a tux type person. I managed to talk him into a suit for under $100.00 before our first cruise. He got two different shirts so he would not be wearing the same shirt both nights. He has since managed to locate a Harley Davidson tie so he can embarrass me on the next cruise. I think for the most part it is semi up to the individual but if you don't want to dress up there are many other food options. We decided we wanted to have the whole experience and enjoy ourselves. I still can't get over the oohs and ahhs over my son's tuxedo the first time he wore it. He was 4 then and he loved the attention as much then as he does now.
I find that while people don't dress up as much on ships as they used to, that men do wear jackets or suits on formal night. (My husband never wears that tux that he used to but instead either a suit or sports jacket.)
Kids can get away with being more casual, with boys wearing shirt and tie with no jacket.
Hope this helps.
Luisa Frey Gaynor