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We are a couple and choose the 2nd seating in the MDR.  Our experience as 4* Mariners is that the MDR tends to be less crowded at this time.  Last year on the Voyage of the Vikings we were seated at a table for two.  The MDR at 8 PM was not crowded.  Our waiter asked us if we wanted to have a bigger table in her section.  For the rest of the trip we had a four seat table set for two.  It was nice.  

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23 hours ago, WisRiver said:

We are a couple and choose the 2nd seating in the MDR.  Our experience as 4* Mariners is that the MDR tends to be less crowded at this time.  Last year on the Voyage of the Vikings we were seated at a table for two.  The MDR at 8 PM was not crowded.  Our waiter asked us if we wanted to have a bigger table in her section.  For the rest of the trip we had a four seat table set for two.  It was nice.  

 

OP,  this has been what I have observed as well if one selects 2nd Seating.  

 

Personally, as a solo cruiser most of the time, I prefer having dining companions and always request a table for 6:  a round table for 6.  A round table for 8 is acceptable.  HAL has too many--in my opinion--rectangular tables that seat 6 or 8.  Trying to converse with others when one is at such a table is not enjoyable for me.  

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Generally speaking for us these days, we prefer late seating and a requested table for 2. Once on-board I speak with the DR Manager, or whoever is working the computer seating chart screen during embarkation hours, and request a table for 4  for just the 2 of us (as mentioned).

 

2nd seating is fairly open for such requests. We like a table for the 2 of us so we can invite other folks we know or have met to join us, and, if we don't feel like company, we just enjoy ourselves. I would also say we also enjoy specialty dinners at the PG, other dining venues and, occasionally just doing a Lido or room service meal following an elongated tour day. I would say, anymore, we go to the MDR approx. 70% of the time. We always, or at least try, to tell our wait staff that we would not be showing up the following night for the aforementioned planned situations if we can.   

 

I also might add, that the late seating of 8:00 P.M. is not "set in stone" as often times (after conferring with your table staff) you can arrive at 7:30 / 7:45 with no problems. You can ask for a specific table (ship dining room seating charts are on HAL Facts and other internet sites) but there's no guarantee of a particular table since the charts posted do not match the 'current' table locations. 

 

And, BTW, in the past we've enjoyed larger tables (somewhat of a 'crap shoot' with the other folks you're sitting with for X amount of days) but as I've aged, even wearing hearing aides, I have difficulty keeping up with the conversations. If you decide on a large, round table, I would recommend 'musical chairs, aka everyone sits at a different location every night to get to know one another easier..

 

Good luck and enjoy your cruise regardless of your dining preferences.

 

Be well.

Bob

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If you’re at a table for four, odds are that there will be another couple with you, especially if it’s the early seating. We like a table for six, for more company.  We’ve always had good luck with our table mates, and have formed some lasting friendships that way. 
That said, when cruising resumes post Covid, they may revert to the same format that restaurants have - one party per table. Who knows?

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1 hour ago, prescottbob said:

If you decide on a large, round table, I would recommend 'musical chairs, aka everyone sits at a different location every night to get to know one another easier..

 

Agree.  Some tablemates will be agreeable and some won't in my experience.

 

1 hour ago, prescottbob said:

I have difficulty keeping up with the conversations.

 

No hearing aids--yet,  But those long rectangular tables do NOT lend themselves for conversations.  If I am at one end and I want to speak to someone at the other end,.....if everyone else is not talking, they will hear and I will hear their response.  The odds for that are what to happen?

 

1 hour ago, prescottbob said:

We always, or at least try, to tell our wait staff that we would not be showing up the following night for the aforementioned planned situations if we can.   

 

Doing so is courteous for one Stewards.  I will also, as I am sure you to as well, inform your tablemates, that you will likely not appear the next evening.  

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Yep any answers to this question that happened prior to the pandemic don't apply at all now.  

The lines that are cruising are limiting tables to people in your family.  If it was us we would book a 2 and leave the 4 for a family that needs it.  Seems like that's the courteous thing to do.  Jmo

Edited by Nymich
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15 hours ago, rkacruiser said:

 Personally, as a solo cruiser most of the time, I prefer having dining companions and always request a table for 6:  a round table for 6.  A round table for 8 is acceptable.  HAL has too many--in my opinion--rectangular tables that seat 6 or 8.  Trying to converse with others when one is at such a table is not enjoyable for me.  

as GrandParents bringing our oldest with us ( 15 & 17 ) we requested a table for 10 , the whole point of bring them is to expand they're view of the world , what better way then meeting new people and exchanging their daily experiences 

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We've always requested a table for two and will often ask for a specific location - cruises are when my husband and I get to disconnect with our busy careers and reconnect with each other, so every night is date night for us.  

 

I do recall one trip where we asked for a table for two, and were assigned a four-top.  We did enjoy the extra space, but imagine our surprise on night 5 when we approached our table and another couple was seated there.  We introduced ourselves, but conversation was not easy - English was not their primary language and neither couple really found an ease of conversation.  

 

They did ask us how much it would 'cost' to eat here - it sounded like they thought there was an extra charge in the main dining room, which may be why we didn't see them for the first four nights.  That ended up being the only night they were there, though, and I can't say I was disappointed.  As a result, we now almost exclusively want just a two-top to avoid those situations.

 

Breakfast or lunch is another story - we gladly accept the chance to sit with others at those meals and are happy to share tables at the suggestion of the dining staff.

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3 hours ago, msmayor said:

Breakfast or lunch is another story - we gladly accept the chance to sit with others at those meals and are happy to share tables at the suggestion of the dining staff

 

I have enjoyed many interesting conversations with others during open sitting at breakfast and lunch.

 

Having lunch in the MDR on Embarkation Day has always been a delight.  If one is seated at a table with "newbies" or with others who have little cruise experience, their enthusiasm increases my anticipation for the experiences on the cruise to come.  

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