Overcrowding or I can't get a seat at the buffet

We've all been there.  

You go to have lunch at the buffet, but you can't get a table.  Well, there are several reasons for this.  Larger capacity ships, does not mean more square foot allocation for dining.  So, when 4000 passengers all decide to eat lunch at noon, it becomes an issue.       What can you do to avoid this ?     Well, you can go to the MDR, if it's still serving lunch.  You could stagger your meal time by an hour or so.  How about dining next to the pool ?  Does your ship offer lunch back there ? I bet it does.     Try one of the smaller dining options.  O'Sheehans on NCL is free and often not crowded.  On our last cruise that's where we met friends for lunch, rather than deal with the welcome aboard feeding frenzy at the buffet.   

You know how you find these places ?  Do your research. Learn about your ship BEFORE you sail.    You are on board for 7 days.  There are plenty of places to eat.  You don't have to wake the family at 5:00 to make sure you get a table for breakfast at 6:00.

People like the buffet for one reason only, well two reasons; variety & gluttony.     Variety is obvious.  But, no one thinks anyone else is watching when they head up for the third time for another plateful of biscuits and gravy, but we are.  We see you.  Mainly because we want your table, but also the disbelief.  Cruise ships defy physics.  It's amazing how a 175 male can eat half his weight 5 times a day, and by day 5 is complaining the onboard laundry shrunk his clothes.   Which leads me to another thread.

So, if you can't get what you want, try somewhere else. You have to adapt because everyone else, won't. Not for you anyway.

20 Answers

I have never ever had a problem on any of the Princess ships (big or small) finding a place to sit to eat... May not always be my favorite spot but there is always ample room ... curious if statistics show # of seats ...

Haven't had a problem when just DH and I. When traveling with friends or the kids, we check the different areas and secure the seating first. A couple of us will hang back out the table(s) until the others get their food & come back.

Our last two cruises on the Crown Princess - the buffets tended to be way overcrowded - seating extremely scarce. We were driven to sit outside - which was a little problematic because the one trip was to AK and the other around the Horn - and it was coldish, windy and often wet. It all worked out for the best - we've been consciously trying to wean ourselves off buffet dining in favor of the measured portions of an MDR.

I cruise on Carnival Glory, Victory and Sunshine and never had this problem but I also eat at the buffet only a few times

well put Bennett, when we do hit the buffet, we divide and conquer, go to both sides and around to look for a place, put one person there with Kyle (this is so he can sit down and not have to walk him through the buffet line - he is great, but no use in having to walk him through the line with there being a chance that he might try to say hey to someone and they want to start something just because he has special needs), then the rest goes to get the food. We have also just said heck with it and walked around to off areas to find a place to sit, no biggie. brian

I hate it that you have to think of all these scenarios for Kyle due to rude people. I get it though that you don't want some Neanderthal ruining his vacation. We have the same considerations with DH sister--but she will seriously growl at you if you invade her space Wink

I really cannot recall having much of an issue with the subject matter. I do notice that the general seating close to the buffet and window seating is crowded but I always able to locate a table after a little searching. It doesn't take me long to eat a meal so I really don't care where I sit.

We do some of all the tips mentioned above, If the ship has an out-of-the-way eating area near the buffet, we meet up there. If it seems most seats are taken when we get to the buffet area, one of us will sit while the other gets lunch and the we switch. If is just seems that it is too crowded, we go to the MDR. We play it by ear each and every day of each cruise....no set pattern.

Thanks Grandma!

lol I growl too when people get too close to my space :)!

On this last cruise I took the crowded situation as an opportunity to meet people. The first couple I met on the first day blew me off big time. But I didn't let that stop me (probably would in the past). The next couple I met after that (on the first day I always go for a second round at the buffet) were super nice. Each day at the buffet I would either sit with new people or with people I had met before. I met so many people with interesting backgrounds and from interesting places. Each day I would either sit with new people or sit with others that I had met already. So a crowded buffet can be an excellent opportunity.

One thing I find interesting, would love to hear your input, people older than me - I'm 50 in three months - are usually interested in starting up a conversation although strangers while people that are younger are quite stand off-ish. Do others here experience that?


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