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JLeslie's avatar

For dining on cruise ships do you prefer open seating, early seating, or late seating?

Asked by JLeslie (48263 points ) June 5th, 2012

I’m inclined to do open, but I am cruising with my parents and a couple they are friends with and they have chosen early seating. The ship is in a time zone 3 hours behind me (Alaska is an hour behind PT isn’t it?) so the first few days I guess 5:45pm is not likely to feel extremely early. It will be nice to eat all together sometimes, but we can do it during breakfast and lunches and probably one or two dinners anyway. Last time I took a cruise I very much regretted scheduling early dining, and was looking forward to the flexibility of open seating, but the other cruise was in my time zone.

What would you do? Feel free to answer whether you have cruised or not.

Anyone who has tried open dining please tell me your experience with it. We will be cruising on Holland America.

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9 Answers

Neizvestnaya's avatar

We’ve cruised with Holland America and chose open dining because the cost per person for the paid restaurants was so reasonable and didn’t have the cattle call lines of the main dining room. We saw groups of 6–8 people comfortably seated.

If we were traveling with our parents then we’d still choose the open dining feature as we’ve told the ships have been cruising with greatly fewer numbers of guests than they’re built for so getting what you want when you want it is a good chance.

Which ship are you booked on? We hit all the restaurant offerings on Eurodam as well as room service and the private dining room. Some things we’re not bothering with again for our upcoming cruise on Nieuw Amsterdam which offers identical venues.

WestRiverrat's avatar

We chose early dining, but it really was a moot point for me as I ended up eating either at the open buffet or one of the restaruants on board all but one or two days of the cruise. This was with Princess cruise lines. They were fully booked, but there never really was a long line at any of the dining areas.

Judi's avatar

I always choose late seating when I can. I hate rushing back to the ship to get ready for dinner and they are always in a hurry to get you out of there to get set up for late seating.
During late seating the staff is way more relaxed and the crowd is more active. Early seems to get the families with children and the senior citizens. I have cruised mostly with Royal Caribbean. We are diamond members of the Crown and Anchor society, but the favorite cruise line I have traveled on is Regent.

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks everyone. We are going to do the open. I feel a little bad about not sitting with my parents, but we can do a couple dinners with them anyway. Either in one of the restaurants you pay for, or on a formal night, which my mom and dad will probably be inclined to skip. Plus, I am pretty sure we are all going to go to a an Alaskan salmon bake inhthe same place in Juneau. We are in separate tours, but we all wind up at the bake, I think it should be around the same time. Plus, I am sure the people schedyling the dining will put us all together if it is possible on some nights. The customers service on their 800 number has been excellent, I am going to assume the ships also have great service.

@Judi Your comments help a lot for future cruises which might not have an option for open seating. Reinforces my incliation to choose late dining. My husband brought up the same point about rushing back, he did not even remember we had early seating on the cruise we took years ago funny enough.

@Neizvestnaya The Volendam. It’s a smallish ship (none of them are very small) because it is an Alaskan cruise through the inside passage.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@JLeslie: I’ll bet if you show up with parents, you’ll be seated together if at all possible. HAL seems to be able to do go outside their box if asked.

Alaska Inside Passage is our cruise for next year so keep us posted on all you did and how it turned out. Everyone has told me the Alaska cruises are fantastic in every way.

JLeslie's avatar

@Neizvestnaya There are six of us traveling together (three couples) and we are all doing different excursions, so I’ll let you know the feedback.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@JLeslie if it is the same salmon bake we went to, the different tours will get there on a staggered schedule so that everyone has a short wait in the serving line. And so the cooks can keep the courses hot for each group. It may be possible to eat together, but it will be unlikely.

JLeslie's avatar

@WestRiverrat Ok, thanks. I think there is a waterfall nearby and we can take the shuttles back to the ship at our leisure does that sound right? So, maybe we will hang around and wait for each other if we are able to text each other. Were you able to use your cell phones generally? Or, were there a lot of dead spots?

WestRiverrat's avatar

We had no problems with our cell phones. We didn’t try to use them at sea, but in the towns and cities there was coverage.

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