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Questions re dining options


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We've never cruised before and I'm a bit confused about how dining works. I'm very sorry if there have been lots of posts on this topic but I found the search feature didn't bring many relevant results back.

 

We will be travelling with a group of 12 on Iona in December for the Christmas Markets. We are a wedding party and all the bookings have been linked.

Breakfast - is it in the 4 main dining rooms and will the dining room be allocated via cabin number or will we be able to all sit together ? We are on deck 15 under the bridge but the rest of the party are midships on deck 12

 

Afternoon tea - I've seen mentions of buffet service, waiter service in the MDR (which I assume to mean main dining rooms) and the Eric Lanlard tea. I'm a pastry chef so I'm not bothered about the Eric Lanlard tea but I do like a sandwich in the afternoon - is the afternoon tea just served in one of the MDRs as a buffet ?

 

Dinner - We have "anytime" dining selected on our cruise personaliser. What does this mean ? I googled but got so many answers that I was no surer of what it meant. Will we be able to eat as a party on some evenings and independently other meals ? We'd like to eat as a family of 3 some nights and in a group others. If we decide to eat in one of the supplement restaurants do we need to book this in advance or could we just decide on the evening what we want to do ?

 

Wine - we are going to opt for a wine package as the premium one covers our main drinks of sparkling wine, white wine and port. We definitely won't drink a whole bottle of port in one go - how does it work if you don't finish the bottle ? And can we order sparkling wine from the package at the bar to have pre-dinner ?

 

 

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Dining is allocated by cabin number, but if your bookings are all linked, allocation together will occur automatically.  Allocation is only relevant for the main evening meal.  At other meal times you can do to whichever dining room (or the buffet) that you want.  All have the same menu.

 

Afternoon tea - this is usually in the buffet as self service, but sometimes can also be in the MDR.  This would be advised in the daily newspaper.  Waiter service is obviously quite nice, and sometimes in the restaurants they have 'special' afternoon teas eg a few times I've see a chocolate afternoon tea.  The buffet option is available everyday, without specialisms.

 

Anytime dining means you don't have a set sitting time.  You can go anytime when the restaurants are open for your dinner. If busy you may have to wait (they give you a pager).  I've never done this option, but everyone on Iona eats this way so I can't imagine it would ever be a long wait.  I would note, I'm not sure they would have a table for 12.  So if you all go together, you might end up sat across a couple of tables.  You can though go at different times, and in different combinations.  The only thing your linked bookings result in is the allocated restaurant.  Beyond that you can eat when you want, in whichever combination you want.  Some can also eat in the buffet if they prefer.

 

Supplementary restaurants - they do need to be booked in advance.  It is in theory possible to book the same day if there is space, but to avoid disappointment if you want a particular date I would say book a few days in advance.

 

Wine - if you don't finish they keep it for the next night.  Spirits are given in measures.  I'm sure how they would categorise port.  Either way anything you 'buy' won't be lost.  You'll either get it in measures, or the bottle will be saved for the next night.  Maybe a port drinker will be able to advise better, but hopefully my reassurance will help.

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Anytime dining means that you can turn up at one of the main dining rooms usually between 6pm and 9:30pm and you will be allocated a table. If you want to dine with others in your party you need to all turn up at the restaurant at the same time. Very rarely, if there is no table available, you will be given a pager and they will call you when there is one available.

One, or more, of the main restaurants serves breakfast between 8am and 9:30am (7:30 to 9am on port days). The main restaurant is also open for lunch (usually 12:00 to 13:30) and for afternoon tea at 4pm to 4:45pm. The main restaurant is waiter served at all times.

 

On top of that the self service buffet is open almost 24 hours.

 

The supplement restaurants are rarely full so you can make a reservation at any time. Just pick up the phone to book.

 

I have never used the wine packages as to me they don't seem to offer a significant saving. Either way, if you have any wine unused, they will keep it for you and bring it back the following night.
 

Brian

Edited by BrianI
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Stop stressing, you will have a fantastic time... 

The buffet is completely separate and is open most of the day and night, although the offering will obviously change from breakfast, afternoon tea etc. 

With Iona being all freedom dining, I don't think you will be allocated an mdr, but can use any of the free ones? I stand to be corrected on this point though.. 

If you arrive to eat together, you will be seated together, but probably on 2 adjoining tables if available as I haven't seen one that size yet. 

Others better informed will advise, but the standard P&O ships have a free buffet, free mdr then chargeable speciality restaurants. Perhaps Iona has free speciality restaurants, I'm not sure. 

Don't panic, you won't go hungry... 

Andy 

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16 hours ago, Fionatritton said:

Thankyou both. So is the buffet a separate restaurant then ? I'm afraid I just don't really get it... 

so is there - buffet resto, MDRs, speciality restaurants that don't charge supplement and then restaurants which charge ? 

Not quite - there are

A buffet restaurant which doesn't charge - open for all meals

The Freedom dining restaurants - allocated to you only for dinner if that is your chosen option and you can go any time between about 6pm and 9pm

The Club dining restaurants (not on Iona), open only for dinner, allocated table for you for either first sitting (6.30) or second sitting(8.30) and you keep that table for the whole cruise

Select dining restaurants - all need to be booked and chargeable.

Room service - free for breakfast, all other meals chargeable

 

Additionally usually one MDR is open for lunch and tea with open sitting.

 

Hope that helps.

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Iona has 4 main dining rooms which are all anytime dining. How they will work is unknown but it will likely be a case of being allocated by cabin number. That being said table size seems to now be open for selection so its possible the 4 MDRs will be based on table size.

 

The buffet serves a variety of food almost 24/7. They have themed nights which can prove popular and you just grab a table and then go up to get food. 

 

There is also multiple speciality restaurants which cost extra, the amount varies by restaurant. I would recommend booking these onboard as you can sometimes get a deal if you book for the first night. 

 

To add to the confusion while not restaurants or buffets the quays are also included without a supplement. This is includes:

Fusion

Hook line and vinegar 

Boardwalk diner - American Grill

 

Its unclear how these will operate but currently I expect that it will operate as grab and go with indoor and outdoor seating. There is also the skydome pizzeria and grill which is grab and go food as well. 

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9 hours ago, Showingthatgame said:

Iona has 4 main dining rooms which are all anytime dining. How they will work is unknown but it will likely be a case of being allocated by cabin number. That being said table size seems to now be open for selection so its possible the 4 MDRs will be based on table size.

Can I ask please what you mean by table size being open for selection?  TIA

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30 minutes ago, davemorton said:

Can I ask please what you mean by table size being open for selection?  TIA

On the cp Iona used to default to tables of 10 and didn't give a choice. However for my cruise in June its now making me choose a preferred table size. 

Edited by Showingthatgame
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5 minutes ago, Showingthatgame said:

On the cp ionya used to default to tables of 10 and didn't give a choice. However for my cruise in June its now making me choose a table a preferred table size. 

Ooo, I will have to have a look at mine. I just presumed as it was all freedom, they would not bother asking for preferences. 

Edited by davemorton
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9 hours ago, Showingthatgame said:

To add to the confusion while not restaurants or buffets the quays are also included without a supplement. This is includes:

Fusion

Hook line and vinegar 

Boardwalk diner - American Grill

 

Its unclear how these will operate but currently I expect that it will operate as grab and go with indoor and outdoor seating. There is also the skydome pizzeria and grill which is grab and go food as well. 

I knew I'd seen included restaurant menus ! It must have been these 

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11 hours ago, Showingthatgame said:

To add to the confusion while not restaurants or buffets the quays are also included without a supplement. This is includes:

Fusion

Hook line and vinegar 

Boardwalk diner - American Grill

 

Its unclear how these will operate but currently I expect that it will operate as grab and go with indoor and outdoor seating. There is also the skydome pizzeria and grill which is grab and go food as well. 

Shopping mall food court springs to mind... 

Andy 

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Just to be clear, the  buffet is up on the top of the ship so you usually get nice sea views. Also up on the top will be some sort of poolside grill. Then the other restaurant are down on the main public decks along with the quays eateries which are a new concept and are around the atrium. Will be interesting to see how these work and what general opinion of them is.

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9 hours ago, AndyMichelle said:

Shopping mall food court springs to mind... 

Andy 

Does sound like an American mall type experience to me. Fast food heaven, because everything has to be ready I  10 minutes or less.  I'm so old, that waiting 30 minutes for my food isn't a problem, as long as I've got a glass or Merlot, or a pint of Adnams in my hand.

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1 hour ago, wowzz said:

Does sound like an American mall type experience to me. Fast food heaven, because everything has to be ready I  10 minutes or less.  I'm so old, that waiting 30 minutes for my food isn't a problem, as long as I've got a glass or Merlot, or a pint of Adnams in my hand.

I think you will more likely get a bucket of root beer than a Merlot. 

I am waiting for the exciting announcement that Spud u Like will be opening as well.. 

Andy 

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13 hours ago, davemorton said:

Ooo, I will have to have a look at mine. I just presumed as it was all freedom, they would not bother asking for preferences. 

That’s how I understand it to be unless things have changed for Iona.

Freedom dining on other ships in the fleet means freedom to choose your table size and time on a daly basis and I would have assumed that would be the same for Iona.

Edited by P-L-B
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23 hours ago, P-L-B said:

That’s how I understand it to be unless things have changed for Iona.

Freedom dining on other ships in the fleet means freedom to choose your table size and time on a daly basis and I would have assumed that would be the same for Iona.

Not just Iona apparently offering a choice of table size when freedom dining.
Just checked my CP for our forthcoming Oceana cruise and although it’s correctly showing freedom dining as our choice it’s also apparently giving us a preferred choice of  table size. Regular P&O cruisers will know that this has never been an option previously when choosing freedom dining.

Confusing as I can’t see them reserving your choice of table size every night for the duration of your cruise not knowing what time you are likely to dine each night.

 

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Edited by P-L-B
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Sorry, just to be clear my previous post 21 should read.

 

Freedom dining on other ships in the fleet means freedom to choose your table size and time on a daily basis whilst on board the ship and I would have assumed that would be the same for Iona.

Edited by P-L-B
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8 hours ago, P-L-B said:

Sorry, just to be clear my previous post 21 should read.

 

Freedom dining on other ships in the fleet means freedom to choose your table size and time on a daily basis whilst on board the ship and I would have assumed that would be the same for Iona.

I would imagine this is but one of the many IT bugs in the new cruise personaliser.

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