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sciencegrrl

Choose a dining time or anytime dining?

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DH & I are going on our first cruise to Alaska on Eurodam (Seattle to Seattle).  We do plan on enjoying the entertainment on board, happy hours, and ports.  

 

Am puzzled as to what dining to choose.  Early?  Late?  Anytime?  We prefer to get to know our servers and have them know us at our local restaurants, so fixed time dining seems like the ticket.  But which one?

 

Advice appreciated.

 

~ Marci

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We prefer the later fixed dining, which I think is referred to as "Main".  It gives us time to enjoy the ports, freshen up, have a beverage, and then head in to dinner.

 

Also, we will occasionally miss dinner entirely and use In Room Dining, if we have a late departure from a port.

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4 minutes ago, VennDiagram said:

We prefer the later fixed dining, which I think is referred to as "Main".  It gives us time to enjoy the ports, freshen up, have a beverage, and then head in to dinner.

 

Also, we will occasionally miss dinner entirely and use In Room Dining, if we have a late departure from a port.

Thank you for your help.  I will change our preference.  Since I had no idea and my dad was a fan of the "free-style" dining on NCL, I had not selected a fixed-time.  

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Anytime gives you more flexibility as to when to dine, and I think the pace of the meal service is generally faster.  The main con is that if you want to eat at a popular time, you may have to wait for a table.  You can request to have the same servers every night. 

 

It really just comes down to personal preference.  Some people like the rigidity of having a set time (often easier to plan your day that way) and others like the more freestyle approach.  I've done it both ways and tend towards anytime these days, but we also do a lot of specialty dining so are only in the main dining room a night or two.

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We have not had good luck with anytime dining. I have had it a couple of times on HAL (due to late booking,) and on other cruise lines.  The service has been mediocre to down right bad.  1 night ( total of 14 anytime dining nights on HAL) we had very good service.  Whereas, with set dining our service has always been excellent.  Just our experience, YMMV. Some people love the flexibility of Anytime dining.  While there is some appeal in that, it is not enough of an incentive to us for the trade off.

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Cruising to Alaska is very port intensive for me.  I arise two hours before docking to have breakfast and take photographs of the port during sail-in.  Add long days on excursions and I become "early to bed and early to rise".  Eating so close to bedtime is not good for my digestive system.  As a photographer, I cannot capture those amazing Alaska sunsets while dining.

 

Dining at 5:30 allows me to take advantage of all available entertainment, capture sunset photos, process my daily photographs, and be asleep around 11:00 PM with a calm tummy.

 

Just as food is subjective, so is dining times. 

 

 

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We are also early risers and prefer the early fixed dining time.

 

We like that the servers get to know us and what we like.  And then we have the evening to attend shows if we want to, have a night cap before going to bed.

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We're not fans of "Anytime" and prefer Late (Main) Fixed.  We enjoy having the same Waitstaff, the same Table and being able to walk right in and have our Table waiting for us.

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With Open seating you can still make reservations for a preferred table or steward team, and even without a reservation you can ask at the door for any table assigned to your preferred team.

 

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After my most recent HAL cruise (W Caribbean on N Amsterdam), I vowed that I will never do anytime dining ever again. The choice was always to share, or wait and risk a terrible table. (So many 2-tops on NA have banquette seating, which is really low.) And the host staff seemed determined to always make things difficult. On previous NA cruises I had good luck with asking for the same table every night, but that did not work on this cruise. Early seating for me in the future.

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19 hours ago, sciencegrrl said:

DH & I are going on our first cruise to Alaska on Eurodam (Seattle to Seattle).  We do plan on enjoying the entertainment on board, happy hours, and ports.  

 

Am puzzled as to what dining to choose.  Early?  Late?  Anytime?  We prefer to get to know our servers and have them know us at our local restaurants, so fixed time dining seems like the ticket.  But which one?

 

Advice appreciated.

 

~ Marci

 

Its your call.... Fix time to me is a hassel,   you get the same table  the same table mates...luck of the draw  some great some duds.      You loose control... but have the same waiter, good or bad waiter   luck of the draw.       Maybe  your fellow tablemates will want to order all sorts of extras and delay your orders....     Too many variables...  some good  but some bad

Anytime.....well its any time, maybe you dont want to hit a formal dinner some nights...  May be a specialty dinner  Maybe a casual dinner in the Lido...     You have freedom that you will not have in fixed dining

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4 hours ago, catl331 said:

With Open seating you can still make reservations for a preferred table or steward team, and even without a reservation you can ask at the door for any table assigned to your preferred team.

 

But, despite HAL calling it "anytime," it isn't. Reservation options are limited to the earlier and later times, not the middle, like 6:30 or 7:00.

 

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22 hours ago, sciencegrrl said:

DH & I are going on our first cruise to Alaska on Eurodam (Seattle to Seattle).  We do plan on enjoying the entertainment on board, happy hours, and ports.  

 

Am puzzled as to what dining to choose.  Early?  Late?  Anytime?  We prefer to get to know our servers and have them know us at our local restaurants, so fixed time dining seems like the ticket.  But which one?

 

Advice appreciated.

 

~ Marci

Just back from Eurodam.  We did anytime dining and never had a problem getting a 2 top in the main dining room around 6 PM.

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One  important consideration is this an Alaska cruise where the sun sets after 9-10 pm     It will be , except for  1 or 2 days a port every day.    Long days in port and much to do.    Most get pretty tired and just want a quick bite and  hit the sack.

A show and happy hour will either be too early or too late in many cases

The real show will be outside the ship....DSC_0366.thumb.JPG.bbf70b839f88cc1bc93b2dc876a3bc85.JPG

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We're also taking our first cruise to Alaska in May on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We have picked anytime dining to give it a try. With the daylight hours being so long in Alaska we wanted flexibility with dining.  The more we cruise, the less we like the set time dining.

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Posted (edited)

We prefer traditional dining, but it is often filled up early, eg. I booked Noordam 6 months ago, to sail Sydney to Honolulu on Sunday.   There were wait lists for 1st and 2nd seating, so I got waitlisted, now we have been given 'open seating' which we don't want, tried through my Agent and HAL Customer Relations to get a TD spot, but no good.  I am Celiac and have to order dinner the night before, so having same time, same table, same waiters makes it easier for the staff to find me and serve me.

Edited by NSWP

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8 hours ago, NSWP said:

We prefer traditional dining, but it is often filled up early, eg. I booked Noordam 6 months ago, to sail Sydney to Honolulu on Sunday.   There were wait lists for 1st and 2nd seating, so I got waitlisted, now we have been given 'open seating' which we don't want, tried through my Agent and HAL Customer Relations to get a TD spot, but no good.  I am Celiac and have to order dinner the night before, so having same time, same table, same waiters makes it easier for the staff to find me and serve me.

 

As soon as you board, check the daily program to see when you can speak to the maitre d' to try to get your dining arrangements changed.

 

Have you contacted HAL to let them know about your dietary requirements? If so, they will find you wherever you are in the MDR, even if you don't have fixed dining. When you go in for open seating, they ask for your room number, and that must make notes  "pop up" in the computer, because special meals and saved bottles of wine will get to you. I agree that fixed dining with the same waitstaff is better for someone with dietary issues, but it is workable in open seating.

 

And a comment for people who get fixed dining, especially early. If you aren't going to go to the MDR, let them know so that people who want it but didn't get it have a chance to take your place. We were four at a 6-top last winter and the missing 2 people never showed. We thought the seats were unassigned, but the waiter said there were people who had those seats. 

 

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On 4/12/2019 at 7:19 PM, sciencegrrl said:

DH & I are going on our first cruise to Alaska on Eurodam (Seattle to Seattle).  We do plan on enjoying the entertainment on board, happy hours, and ports.  

 

Am puzzled as to what dining to choose.  Early?  Late?  Anytime?  We prefer to get to know our servers and have them know us at our local restaurants, so fixed time dining seems like the ticket.  But which one?

 

Advice appreciated.

 

~ Marci

Hey ScienceGrrl, go for the fixed seating, always more fun.  We've found the Anytime to be too "restaurant" like for us.  We like getting to know our table mates (the good, the bad AND the Ugly) and have always had a great experience, if not a few stories to tell.  Not to mention a LOT of laughs.  Late seating, table for eight.  

IMG_1540.JPG

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We find anytime dining very convenient for us.  We have enjoyed the most of the various of people we have sat with.  We also like it because if we decide at the last minute to not dine in the MDR we do not feel bad that we have not informed them we will be in the MDR.  Most often when we do dine in the MDR we are in the same area and get to know the waiters and the wine steward, so we do make some contacts with staff.

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2 minutes ago, boards said:

We find anytime dining very convenient for us. 

Same here. We hate feeling "obligated" to go at the same time every night regardless of how we are feeling if we haven't notified the MDR in advance that we won't be there. Some nights we are simply too tired, or just don't feel like changing and decide to eat in the room instead.

 

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Thank you all!  From my understanding, we can request "main" dining at a group table, but if our shore excursions or a rumbly tummy upset the apple cart, we can just go "anytime" or lido?  I checked with the hubs and he likes the idea of a table for 8 - so often we sit at the bar to 1) avoid kids and 2) chat with the people around us

 

~Marci

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1 hour ago, sciencegrrl said:

Thank you all!  From my understanding, we can request "main" dining at a group table, but if our shore excursions or a rumbly tummy upset the apple cart, we can just go "anytime" or lido?  I checked with the hubs and he likes the idea of a table for 8 - so often we sit at the bar to 1) avoid kids and 2) chat with the people around us

 

~Marci

Marci, Happy dining and happy sailing!  

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8 hours ago, sciencegrrl said:

Thank you all!  From my understanding, we can request "main" dining at a group table, but if our shore excursions or a rumbly tummy upset the apple cart, we can just go "anytime" or lido?  I checked with the hubs and he likes the idea of a table for 8 - so often we sit at the bar to 1) avoid kids and 2) chat with the people around us

 

~Marci

 

If you have fixed/main dining, that is your slot in the MDR and you can't go to "anytime" in the MDR. You would have to go to the Lido or have room service if it's a last-minute decision. If you know in advance that you're going to want to eat at a different time, you could make a reservation in a specialty restaurant at the time you need. 

 

 

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Pros and cons of fixed vs anytime dining.  For us, it depends on the itinerary and our plans for excursions.  Sometimes one works out better than the other.

 

On our cruise last week we did anytime on the Eurodam, since we had a couple of specialty dinners booked and did not want to rush on the other nights to get ready.  It worked out fine for the most part, with only waiting the first night, one night with a couple of duds and waiters who were "adequate" (not as good as our fixed dining ones).

 

One negative to anytime is if you have a wine package - sometimes it takes the wine steward a bit to find your open bottle.

 

 

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12 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

If you have fixed/main dining, that is your slot in the MDR and you can't go to "anytime" in the MDR. You would have to go to the Lido or have room service if it's a last-minute decision. If you know in advance that you're going to want to eat at a different time, you could make a reservation in a specialty restaurant at the time you need. 

 

 

 

We were seated during Anytime when we were unable to attend early fixed.  It was a one-off though; not a regular occurrence.

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