We are a group of five, going on the Sea Princess, Alaska cruise. Princess has moved up their schedule for open dining and have offered this alternative dining.
We have opted to try this. I am wondering though, what others think of this. Do you get seated right away? Are you able to request a specific location, ie, window
seating? Is it less crowded if you go soon after they open the dining room, or better to wait awhile? Do you find the dining staff as attentive?
May go back to assigned dining after this cruise, but thought it would be nice to give this a try.
I'll be intersted to hear what response you get to your questions from passengers who have recently tried "Personal Choice Dining". The new open seating on Princess is "restaurant style" so you will be seated together at your own table, not with other passengers. The dining hours are spread out from 5:30 to midnight so you have great flexibility as when you dine. Princess is able to adapt part of the second dining room to open seating, should there be a big enough demand so you shouldn't find there is a "crush" time. You can request a window seat as you would at a restaurant. No guarantee it will be available. Check out recent Grand Princess reviews in our Member reviews area. There have been some positive things said about the new dining arrangements and service. Princess will also have the new Stirling Steakhouse dining option in the Lido restaurants as a dinner choice in Alaska this year.
My understanding of their new personal choice dining is that it mirrors the land-based restaurant idea without the reservation option. You show up when you choose to dine and can request the table or location you prefer. Whether or not they can seat you immediately and in your requested location will depend on how busy they are at the moment (just like any land-based restaurant) and what tables are available. In other words, you may have to wait if you arrive at a time when a large number of your fellow passengers also decide to dine, and the table location you prefer may not be immediately available. With a little trial and error you may be able to find a time when the wait is either non-existent or only brief.
I think that half the fun of cruiseing is siting at the same table everynite. Shareing with your table mates what you have been doing all day. The way if you are not traveling in a big group you sit alone. I am not ready to give this up and hope they never do away with having dinner at the same table everyday. They have open sitting at lunch and breakfast time if you want to either sit alone or meet other people.
This is one of the nice things about cruising, you don't have to deal with the regular, land based restaurant routine--line up and wait--or grease the host for a good table. We are cruising on the Wind in June with their" freestyle" dinning. I have not heard good vibes about it--we shall see.
Carol, open seating is not the same as Princess's "Personal Choice". Sounds like personal choice is right for your group. You can make a reservation for a time, location i.e. window table, and table size of your choice for each day at the assigned dining room or you can just show up and wait to be seated, as mentioned just like at home. If you have a preference for location, waiters (yes you can request a special waiter's station area), or don't mind sitting with others (strangers like in open seating) the maitre' de will try to accommodate you. Of course you may also have to wait a bit especially for a window seat at 7:30 p.m prime dining time! Open seating is where you arrive at the dining room and are seated at the next available seat with other people during a set block of time. Have a wonderful time in a beautiful part of our country.