We used the alternative dining (which I will from now of refer to as AD as I am tired of typing it out all the time) on all but 2 nights on our 3/27 Connie cruise. The other nights we had pasta and stir fry.
In any case, alternate dining is the way we will go on X from now on until Select Dining is available and we see how it operates.
Triton, you are correct when you viewed the servers in AD as being rough around the edges, Yet everybody we had was friendly, and did their jobs very well, if sometimes nervously. We did on one occasion have a server whose command of English was a liitle off, but with patience and humor we were able to communicate adequately. It was in no way a big deal.
We found the area where we were seated - aft, port side, near the windows - to be so much better than the main dining room. It was a lot quieter as well. Another plus is that we always had a view of the sea, and sometimes a sunset depending on where we were on the itinerary.
The tables were well set, with tablecloths and the usual six zillion types of silverware. There were wine glasses which were removed if wine was not ordered.
All of the times were we were there, including both formal nights, people were dressed casually, but not sloppily. We saw no jeans, and no shorts or tank tops, etc.
When we first were there, it wasn't that crowded, but towards the end of the cruise, it began to fill up more and more. We typically dined at around 7:00 PM or thereabouts. I can't speak for other times.
We are booked on Infinity for a canal transit in October (East to West), and we plan on following the same dining and dressing "protocol" we did on Connie; not doing formal nights, and using AD rather than the main dining room I do agree that dressing up on occasion is fun, and people do really look nice, especially (and don't laugh) the men who wear kilts or military dress uniforms. But for us those days are over.
Triton, by any chance did your Amazon cruise run into propulsion problems, and had a delay? A cable caught around a propeller? Did you then stop in St. Lucia?