Interesting stuff. Ever since they first became available we've never done anything other than the "anytime dining" option on whatever line we were on. It absolutely matches our style of informality and not overly pre-planning things when we cruise. This combined with significant meals in the speciality restaurants has been the right mix for us.
Celebrity chefs: absolutely. They're a big deal. Tom Ramsey was on our cruise and was a hoot. Terry spent a lot of time at his demonstrations and lessons, and we had a lot of laughs when he happened to be eating at Qsine on the same night we were.
We've been on Oceania a couple times and liked it, and I've been thinking a lot lately about what Kuki says re simply upgrading to the full premium lines where the dollars might come out in the wash vis a vis lines like Celebrity. The idea has merit. The only mitigating factor for us is that once you get to Elite status on Celebrity, the perks are significant. We don't drink alcohol during the day, and the free nightly Elite "booze and schmooze" hours are ample if we want a drink. We'll often have a glass of wine with dinner, but we don't go at the booze very hard. Plus, free internet, free laundry, and the daily Elite breakfasts that feature fresh-squeezed juice and "real" coffee together make for a meaningful package of freebies, at least for us. Add to that the fact that we almost never take ship's tours (although of course if they were included we might), and our cruise-end bills are startlingly small, even though we do haunt the specialty restaurants. But still, I'm going to do an "all-in" comparison and see how it works out.
Talking to the Captain's Club hostess on this last TA, we learned that 1800 of the 3000 passengers had some Captain's Club status, but the real shocker was that fully 800 of us were Elite. She said the average is only about 60 Elite, but TAs are just a different breed. Those nightly cocktail parties were BIG, and we quickly realized that it was wise to wait until the first seating crowd had left a little before six if we wanted a drink. Once, we were at an event in the same room until about 4:30 and when we left the elevator lobby was jammed with people waiting to be first in line at the bar come 5:00. Yikes.
Also, if Celebrity is marketing to younger folks, it didn't work out that way on this TA. Just the opposite. In fact, I was going to suggest to the CD that she stage wheelchair and electric cart races on deck 5, but I didn't get around to it. But again, I think this uber-old factor may be somewhat unique to TAs.