I’ve often offered my criticism of As You Wish flexible dining. One of the major issues I had with flexible dining concerned single and solo travelers. What would become of them with such a format?
The main “draw” of flexible dining programs is that you can dine when and WITH WHOM you want. Well, where does that leave the single or solo traveler, I always wondered. For example, what happens if a single walks into the dining room at such a time when there is no larger table being formed with multiple groups? The single asks to be seated with others because they would prefer not to eat alone. Well, gee, everyone else in the dining room at that time would prefer to dine within their own groups. Now what happens with the single? Sure, they want to dine with others, but no one else in the dining room chooses to dine with them. Guess they get a table for one, right?
Last evening onboard the Statendam, I decided to try out dining solo in the flexible dining room. I went to dinner at an “off time,” around 7:30 or so. Clearly it wasn’t crowded. I told the matri ‘d I was a single, but gave him no dining preference. I wanted to see where he would put me left to his own devices.
I was shown to a table for four where there was already another woman seated. She had clearly just arrived because she didn’t even have a menu yet. We introduced ourselves, and I learned that she too was a solo traveler. Before we could make much small talk, another couple was seated with us, and we received menus.
Flexible dining isn’t the nightmare I thought it would be for the single traveler. I discussed it in depth with the other solo traveler at the table, who had been dining alone every night of the cruise so far. She loved flexible dining. She told me that on only one night so far in the cruise did she have to wait to be seated. They gave her a beeper and told her they would summon her when a table was ready, but she hung around the dining room area anyway. Then a short while later, she went back to the matri ‘d station and asked if she could be seated. She was then shown immediately to a table. All other nights during the cruise she said she experienced no wait at all.
She also told me that she enjoyed flexible dining because she had so far met a lot of interesting people during the cruise. She said that most people love eating with others, and those who don’t make reservations for smaller tables in advance. Those who just show up know they’re gonna be seated with others and they have no problem with it.
She told me that in her opinion flexible dining is even more beneficial to single travelers than it would be for others. While people traveling in couples or in groups are not as dependent on meeting others onboard – after all, they have each other to do things with – the single traveler really needs to meet the acquaintance of others in order to have a good cruise. Flexible dining provides the perfect opportunity for this. This woman told me that she is an independent traveler by nature, but it is sure nice to meet others for a bit of conversation to break up the “monotony” of always being on one’s own.
Just thought this would be some interesting information for CruiseMates many single and solo cruisers.
Blue skies ..