i ask this question because we always do anytime dining, now that all the lines offer it. I have found over the years that it appears anytime dining is becoming very popular and there seems to be a line at all times. Thinking about going back to traditional dining. Curious as to your thoughts.
Anytime or fixed dining, which do you prefer?
Early seating on Carnival is 6:00 PM, late is 8:15 PM while Princess is 5:30 and 7:45, Holland America is 5:45 and 8:00. No question, when you have that large of group it is best to nail down a table and time if possible. However, most passengers nowadays prefer open seating, anytime between 5:15 until 10:00, unfortunately, both Princess and HAL are not offering commensurate dining room space for the open seating (anytime) therefore it is a little more rushed than in the traditional restaurant(s).
I glean that all 10 or 11 of the majors are running into this as well, meaning less staff and poorer quality cuisine in their main dining rooms, all the way around.
I believe Princess has now cut back so far they can't get the limited staff to adjust anymore, that I also believe is what is going to happen to all of them. Six would be better than 5:30 or 5:45 for us, although we long ago got away from traditional when the cruise lines started offering open seating. Reasons we don't like traditional is: 1. You are locked into eating at those times only. The late is way too late for us anymore and the early often coincides with the ship's sail away on port days. One of my favorite likes when sailing is the sail away, so I don't want to be down in the dining room feeding my face when I could be on deck taking every thing in. Also, there are many other events and things happening that conflict with traditional dining times at times, for us anyway, so it is awkward to have to keep letting the restaurant staff know you won't be there for dinner. 2. Some of our voyages have been months in length, it used to be hard to get a table for two in traditional seating, therefore you had to go with the luck of the draw in that you were seated with sometimes two or three other couples. If you didn't like them, tough, you were stuck with them for the length of the voyage. Now, we were fortunate and never ran into someone we really didn't care for, except once or twice, but witnessed a lot of horror situations. So we started getting a table for two before our luck ran out. But then, along came anytime dining and that was great.
Unfortunately, that option is not so hot anymore as well. Bummer. In summary, it looks to me like a pay extra for dining in the specialty restaurants or use the buffet area when you don't want to shell out unless the MDR works out for that cruise. Sometimes the buffet areas can be quite good, unfortunately, if they are busy, some of them are terribly noisy.
For me set dining is part of the cruise experience, The same table mates and service staff every night. This give you a chance to get to know your table mates and make friends. We have hung out with our table mates in the ships clubs and on some of the islands. It also lets the staff get to know your likes and dislikes so they can have a drink waiting for you at the table or stash aside a favorite ice cream flavor. I have had staff on a 14 night cruse have special dinners fixed for me when I did not care for the selections on the menu that night, he also set aside Raspberry Sherbet for me when I said it was a favorite of mine.
I see anytime dining as going to dinner in a resort, not part of the cruise experience. The mega ships are more family resort then Cruising.
I always want Anytime Dining and I always get it. If I am with a group sometimes we all get the early seating & that is OK with me. On my Grand Voyage we also could not choose Flexible seating. Many times we had to rush back to the ship to make that early seating time & I didn't not like the added stress. After a long day of sightseeing, I did not want to have to go to the cafe buffet line for dinner.
We enjoy the Anytime dinning as we often just want to stop for a light dinner at the buffet,
Yes, you have to wait sometime, but hardly any longer than we have to wait for a table " without a reservation" here in Edmonton.
Given the choice, we prefer fixed dining, late seating – it’s great to have the same server every night so they know what you like. We ask for a large table and usually have good luck meeting new people.
Thanks to all. I appreciate all the responses. Gives me something to ponder about.
We enjoyed the fixed dining for the first couple years until we had some real duds for table mates. I'm not looking to find new BFFs but at least someone willing to carry on a conversation. We had a couple cruises that got very frustrating, so our preference changed to flexible dining with a table for 2 (unless we are traveling with friends).