Let me first off by saying I have booked with CruisesOnly for the last 25 years. I have never had an issue with their bookings for me. Understand that CruisesOnly can only "REQUEST" a time and dining table for you be it a couple cruising or a group. The final decision is purely up to the cruise line. On past cruises, I had requested a table for two when I booked with C.O. only to have them change to a large table by the cruise line. It may have to do with the cruise line but on my upcoming cruise, I have spoken to Princess directly to make changes from a table for two to a table for eight and even though I had booked through an agent (CruisesOnly), they had no problem in making changes for me.
Review by jonkeyes
In response to review, CrusinTim says ...
Well, I have done both, booking with a great agent and also contacted my representative at the cruise line. When dealing with the cruise line I received great service from a very knowledgeable gentleman who has since become a friend. The agent I dealt with is also a great friend to the family now. I work in the sales side of my industry and relationships make up a large portion of my successful sales I can't speak strongly enough about establishing a good working relationship with who ever you are dealing with.
I am having a busy year and therefore cannot cruise at least until next year. The cruise line agent knows this and tailors his flyers and programs to future dates, at the same time, calling me at home when it is snowing and cold in Alberta to describe what it was like on his golf course that morning. Our discussions become quite colorful at that point....
Establish a good relationship from start to finish, from the agent, to the staff on board. You may be surprised how the level of service grows, when you chose to work within the systems that they have to work within.
Getting your request in the MDR is not always possible, but the lines try to make you happy. Lines have to tray and make everyone happy in MDR seating. That is about 2,000 people per week.
I have wondered if the better cabins get the better tables near the windows and the cheaper cabins end up near the kitchen door ? On one cruise we were back near the kitchen door but some of the people at our table were in the top tier o the loyalty program, but had an inside cabin while I was in mid tier and had the extra large Balcony cabin.
We always make a dining reservation when we initially book. Recently I booked many months in advance and I was quite surprised that we were wait listed for early dining. I am sure that they were holding tables open for suite reservations. A call to our travel agent who made a plea to the cruise line rep. got us a confirmed reservation. We use this cruise line often and this has never occurred before. There were plenty of empty stateroom whe we booked so this was even stranger. If we could not get a confirmed reservation for early seating, we were prepared to cancel our cruise and book on another line.
Now if we book last minute, I understand that I probably will not get my early seating request. I usually can change it on board. This is why I like flex dining. On my cruise booking mentioned above, this option was not a possibility.
MDR issues starting w/booking meal time is one of the main reasons why we purchase UDPs (or similar) and use the specialty restaurants. The MDR crush at dinner irritates me almost as much as the lukewarm temperature of all the food being served. The last few cruises that we did MDR, lukewarm was the temperature of everything from chilled soups to main dishes to dessert. Another significant issue for me is noise level. I have a terrible time hearing people across the table due to clanging plates and silverware, so end up being pretty quiet at meals. Now, I stick to the smaller venues and enjoy the total meal experience.
On a ship you go from the noisy MDR to the main theater and the orchestra plays loudly sometimes even drowning out a singer.
I agree that going to a specialty restaurant can solve the problem, but it makes the cost of the cruise higher. For my next long cruise on HAL I may relent and do just that at least a couple of times. We do get one surcharge as a gift from our TA. It isn't that HALs MDRs are any noisier than any other cruise line's MDR. in fact it is even quieter but it just get monotonous seating at the same table on a very long cruise with menu choices not changing very much - not that I am complaining. If I don't have to cook, clean up or do the dishes I am pretty content.
Noisy atmosphere is a growing problem even on land, too. Last night we had dinner with a couple who just married. We were all celebrating their union. I could hardly hear the bride who was sitting right next to me because of the loud band "playing outside the restaurant." Crazy! The restaurant was mobbed, too. It was at the port and tourists and locals alike love to watch the ships departing at just the time of arrival. Even with a call ahead policy in place which I used we had to wait 45 minutes for a table. Walk-ins waited over an hour. I didn't expect this as all the snowbirds have departed.