We are first timers sailing Explorer of the Sea Sept 14th Western Carribean. We plan on doing all shore excursions. Should we select 1st or 2nd dinner seating? What are the "leave/return" times for shore excursions? What are dinner/show times? Any information you can offer on time frames would be helpful. (P.S. Plus we don't want to miss any sunsets!!!)
My husband and I much prefer 2nd seating. You usually get back on board from the day at port around 4:00 to 5:00, when we always like to go to the pool deck for a swim and a cool drink and listen to the band during sailaway. We then have plenty of time to take showers and dress for dinner at a leisurely pace, which leaves enough time to go to one of the lounges for a pre-dinner drink or glass of champagne, while listening to live entertainment and perhaps a few dances. Also, depending on your age group, there tend to be more kids and seniors at the earlier seating, so if that is not your preference (as far as potential tablemates), you might also prefer the late seating for this reason.
However, my in-laws (late 60"s) wholeheartedly enjoyed the early seating, as they enjoyed watching the sunsets while dining (we preferred to watch them up on deck) and they went to the early show and retired to bed at not too late an hour.
It really all depends on what your preferences are.
We definitely prefer the "early" dinner, more time to catch the shows and do other night time activities. We also start our day fairly early with excursions and shopping, etc.
Have yet to have to rush back and get ready for dinner, but then you would miss those beautiful sunsets, so its basically a personal choice, but sounds like the late seating would work best for you.
You really need to research the time zone and sunset for your particular trip. Right now the sun sets here around 8:50 p.m.
We used to do the late seating but changed to the early seating because we like to go to the shows and found we can dine early, take a short nap, and arrive early for the late show to get a seat right up front. We were also refreshed to dance the night away!
You sound like a late seating to me (spending more time on the shore excursions etc) I go both ways -- but you miss more shows 'cause late seating you are often booked to go to the 7 p.m. show and we never seem to make it at that time.
Late seating is really late, 8:30 on our last cruise. The early seating is when the kids eat and depending on the cruise line, that may or may not be a problem. People seem to get cleaned up for the late seating, the early seating appears to be more..ahem..casual. Early seating follows normal meal times, late makes the evening meal an event. We have found room service to be a good alternative when you would rather be doing something other than dining.
You really do sound like you should do 2nd seating; especially if you don't particularly care about missing the entertainment. Some days there are early shows for the 2nd seating people. Frankly, I have yet to come across entertainment inside that would replace a relaxing stroll on deck before dinner or even the leisure time for getting ready after a land excursion. We also enjoy what seems to be a more relaxed dining experience since the staff don't have to worry about the next group of people waiting to come in to the dining room.