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hypechick

Newbie needing help understanding Anytime Dinning and MDR

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How does AT and the MDR work? 

Do we just show up or do we make a reservation? 

Will our extended family be seated together? 

Is the same food served in the MDR as the buffet but in a nicer setting?

Any pro tips we should know about AT in general?

 

We'll be on the Ruby going to alaska in Aug 2020.  thanks!

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You just show up.  As to extended family they would have to show up at same time as you to make sure you were seated together.  Food not necessarily same as buffet.  You order off menu that is prepare for that day.  Thats it.

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If your extended family is a big group then you may need to make arrangements for you all to be seated together at a specific time. Talk to the Maitre d'. The biggest tables usually available on Princess ships seat ten. 

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It may be possible, depending on the maitre d', to make advance reservations for certain hours that same night.

 

The food is IMO better, and certainly better presented, than in the buffet.

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Also the daily menus for the main dining rooms are posted from in the morning outside the buffet area and there are usually menus outside of the main dining rooms by the afternoon, so you can check ahead of time what is being served in the main dining room each evening.   If the buffet has any special "theme" for the evening that will be listed in the daily Patter. 

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Some of the items on the menu in the main dining room are the same as in the buffet, but most are different. If you have a large family, make a reservation so you don't have a long wait. And if you make a reservation, show up on time. 

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2 hours ago, hypechick said:

How does AT and the MDR work? 

Do we just show up or do we make a reservation? 

Will our extended family be seated together? 

Is the same food served in the MDR as the buffet but in a nicer setting?

Any pro tips we should know about AT in general?

 

We'll be on the Ruby going to alaska in Aug 2020.  thanks!

Nobody answered about the MDR. That’s a good choice as you all will sit at the same time each day. In my option their is no comparison between the MDR & the buffet. You don’t say how large your extended family is. I prefer eating in the MDR as the wait staff get to know your preferences. 
 

Tom😎

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14 minutes ago, trbarton said:

Nobody answered about the MDR. That’s a good choice as you all will sit at the same time each day.

I am still new to cruising, thus am a bit curious as to your comment.  I thought the MDR was the place that one went for anytime dining.  The difference for anytime dining being that one can show up anytime, versus having a set time for the "standard" MDR experience.  But, both anytime and standard dining were in the MDR.  

 

Is my understanding incorrect?  Thanks 

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Yes but it is much different from the buffet. Actual menu and wait staff vrs buffet

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I understand your confusion and hope this clears things up for you. If you select Traditional Dining you will select a time to dine, either the late seating or early seating. You eat at the same table with the same guests and same wait staff at a designated time every evening in the MDR. You will have to inform Princess of the people from your party that wish to be seated together. If you choose Anytime Dining there is another MDR (with the same menu as Traditional Dining) where you can go to eat when you want. You have a different table every night and can choose to dine alone, with fellow travelers or with the group of people you are traveling with. You must all arrive together to be seated at the same time. The confusing thing is that you can make reservations for a certain time in Anytime Dining. It would be wise to make a reservation if you have a large group, otherwise you may need to wait for a large table. The Buffet is open seating, which could be difficult for a large crowd. The menu is different from the MDR and you will have a typically large selection of food from which to choose. You can eat at the Buffet anytime you care to skip the MDR.

Hope this helps!

Mary

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11 hours ago, blloydtbird said:

I am still new to cruising, thus am a bit curious as to your comment.  I thought the MDR was the place that one went for anytime dining.  The difference for anytime dining being that one can show up anytime, versus having a set time for the "standard" MDR experience.  But, both anytime and standard dining were in the MDR.  

 

Is my understanding incorrect?  Thanks 

The MDR is not just one room, on most ships there are several. Usually one is reserved for traditional diners, the others are for anytime diners. Therefore, you just have to show up at the right one for your assigned type of dining. Names and locations of the various MDRs will be clearly listed in the Princess Patter. Menu is the same in all of them, decor is the same or similar.

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14 hours ago, hypechick said:

Do we just show up or do we make a reservation? 

Will our extended family be seated together? 

on embarkation day - the M'D will be in one of the mdr's for a couple of hours to assist you in this situation … I highly suggest you make visiting him/her a priority to discuss your specific situation

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11 hours ago, blloydtbird said:

I am still new to cruising, thus am a bit curious as to your comment.  I thought the MDR was the place that one went for anytime dining.  The difference for anytime dining being that one can show up anytime, versus having a set time for the "standard" MDR experience.  But, both anytime and standard dining were in the MDR.  

 

Is my understanding incorrect?  Thanks 

 

26 minutes ago, cynbar said:

The MDR is not just one room, on most ships there are several. Usually one is reserved for traditional diners, the others are for anytime diners. Therefore, you just have to show up at the right one for your assigned type of dining. Names and locations of the various MDRs will be clearly listed in the Princess Patter. Menu is the same in all of them, decor is the same or similar.


Thanks, this aligns with my understanding, I’m aware of the many MDRs. Given the post by trbarton indicating the OP would sit at the same time every night in the MDR,  I was slightly confused, as during my only Princess Cruise to date, the Anytime dining experience was in an MDR. 
 

I think the sum of if it is, both anytime and standard dining options are offered in MDRs. 

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15 hours ago, hypechick said:

How does AT and the MDR work? 

Do we just show up or do we make a reservation? 

Will our extended family be seated together? 

Is the same food served in the MDR as the buffet but in a nicer setting?

Any pro tips we should know about AT in general?

 

We'll be on the Ruby going to alaska in Aug 2020.  thanks!

I see many comments that seem to apply to tradition dining only. 

Since you're going to AT dining just show up at the door & tell them you want to sit together. There's no need for any reservations and besides that the reservations given for anytime dining are limited for certain hours only excluding 6:15 PM to around 8 PM. 

They never run out of large tables early in the evening. 

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27 minutes ago, blloydtbird said:

I think the sum of if it is, both anytime and standard dining options are offered in MDRs. 

That is correct. You don't say how big your extended family is so that might affect some advice. If you're a total group of 6 or 8 people, just show up all together at Anytime Dining and, while you may wait a few minutes, you'll get a table. If there are 12 or 16 of you, it's another matter and you should check with the Maitre 'D when you board. Or, work with your travel agent to get you all changed to Traditional Dining with your reservation numbers linked so you will be assigned tables together. I have a problem with the times assigned to Traditional Dining. I know it can vary by cruise but for our upcoming Alaska cruise on the Star, early is 5:00, which is way, way to early. Late is 7:15 which can make it difficult to get to the performance in the theatre. We prefer to go to the early show then take our chances in line at Anytime Dining.

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1 hour ago, blloydtbird said:

 


Thanks, this aligns with my understanding, I’m aware of the many MDRs. Given the post by trbarton indicating the OP would sit at the same time every night in the MDR,  I was slightly confused, as during my only Princess Cruise to date, the Anytime dining experience was in an MDR. 
 

I think the sum of if it is, both anytime and standard dining options are offered in MDRs. 

I apologize as my reply was confusing. Yes their are several dinning rooms, MDR, with some for assigned dinning & some for anytime dinning. I have seen where some dinning rooms were assigned dinning for the first service & then afterwards anytime dinning. 
 

I’m aware of people making a reservation at anytime dinning but you can also go to assigned dining that does the same things & I enjoy having the same wait staff each night. 
 

Question...If I go to anytime dinning each night with different wait staff how do they get tips?

 

Tom😎

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When we have cruised with large groups and done ATD  (years ago) the MD would offer us a standing table at a specific time (thus making it similar to TD). This defeats the purpose of Anytime dining, but since we had a large group, it was the best way to be seated together. Since then we have reverted back to TD regardless of how large our group is because while the idea of ATD is great, I don't want to wait up to an hour to be seated.  The compromise is that we book a couple of nights in specialty dining to mix it up. 

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1 hour ago, trbarton said:

Question...If I go to anytime dinning each night with different wait staff how do they get tips?

 

Tom😎

Yes, they are part of the tip pool

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My experience with anytime dining is that a line starts to form about 15 minutes prior to opening. At the front of the line you can than tell them your party size. You can share a table with strangers or try to get your own. Once the dining room is filled or your size table is not available you are give a pager. If you call the dine line early in the day you can reserve a time slot for anything dining and you get to go around the line at your set time.

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We were just on the Regal for Eastern Caribbean. One of the MDR was set aside for those with traditional dining and there were two MDR's for anytime dining. There were also two restaurants that you can reserve that have a surcharge as well as a pizza restaurant in addition to the buffet. There is usually one MDR available for breakfast and lunch in addition to the buffet.

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We always select Anytime Dining because it is so flexible for varying

port days and allows us the freedom to see shows whenever we choose.

If a shore excursion I a long day, then we do not feel in a mad rush to

make it to dinner at a specified time. This is also supposed to be a relaxing

vacation, right? We feel too "boxed in" with Traditional. And of course, the food

is the same as Traditional Dining. 

 

We never had any luck making reservations at Anytime Dining, however, I think

the longest we waited with a pager was maybe about 15 minutes. We also agree

to the option of sitting with other passengers, unless we are traveling with friends.

We find it very interesting meeting and chatting with other passengers and met

many others from Australia on our Panama Canal Full Transit cruise.

 

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On 2/16/2020 at 10:28 AM, trbarton said:

I apologize as my reply was confusing. Yes their are several dinning rooms, MDR, with some for assigned dinning & some for anytime dinning. I have seen where some dinning rooms were assigned dinning for the first service & then afterwards anytime dinning. 
 

I’m aware of people making a reservation at anytime dinning but you can also go to assigned dining that does the same things & I enjoy having the same wait staff each night. 
 

Question...If I go to anytime dinning each night with different wait staff how do they get tips?

 

Tom😎

Tips are pooled, and split among all the Dining Room staff. Unless you tip a staff member separately, it makes no difference.

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Different point of view.

 

Formal seat down experience is certainly different from Buffett experience.

Some enjoy it as it is part of your cruise experience.

Some think it takes too long for what could be same food as buffett.

 

Whenever we have large group (10-15), we usually have a requested meal anyway

(so MDR vs Buffett, main dish is same)

 

Served in cordoned off area of buffett (most of the time crew provides almost same level of service as MDR)

except any one us has the ability to come late and supplement the served food with whatever items we fancy from the buffett (there is certainly lot more choice than MDR)

 

IN larger group setting, we have started doing above arrangements almost 100% of the time.

 

Edited by hal2008

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18 minutes ago, hal2008 said:

we usually have a requested meal anyway

what is this in the buffet ?

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i know atd is very popular, but i really like traditional dining, where you have the same waitstaff and dinner companions every night.  i like they they really get to know you by day 2-3 and you really get to know them and have a good experience.  for example i LOVE tea.  i can usually dirnk 2 whole pots by myself.  so they start by bringing a smaller pot, but the next day they have learned i am a TEA DRINKER and will just bring me big pots when i sit down, usually with out asking.  i like getting to know their personalities.  ATD is ok. but it is different every night, so no one really learns you and your preferences.  i personally find the continuity nice.

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