We have cruised numerous times and still debate it (we too are going on the 11 day Caribbean but in August). It's really a personal preference but some thoughts: If the cruise hits numerous ports like the 11 day caribbean then the late is good because it gives you more time in port (unless you want to skip the dining room and get room service or eat at the buffet.) But the advantage is if you enjoy the midnight buffets then the early is nice because you won't be as full (although the midnight buffets aren't what they use to be and aren't every night now. If you are in port but enjoy getting dressed up for the dining room then the early seating doesn't give you alot of time. If you like to stay late at the pool the late is better. So.... it's all preference!
I too prefer the early seating, gives us more time for shows, gambling and the night time activities, just like Ray said. So, far in all the ports we've visited, we usually are leaving just before dinner anyway, so there has never been a real rush getting dressed for dinner. There may of been a time or 2 I'd like to stay out by the pool longer, but usually, I've had my fill of sun for the day. Again, it really is personal preference on this subject, at home we normally eat around that time, so it just seemed right for us to also eat at that time while cruising.
You will also find more of the families/kids that are at the early seating, not a problem for me, but just something to consider for yourself, have fun!
Definitely personal preference and I think most folks go with what their general habits are. I have done late seating twice and it was not good for me because I am an early riser and not much of a nite owl.
I also found I ate more waiting for the late dinner and that is something I don't want to do. Just weigh the pro's/con's and decide what is best for you! Enjoy your cruise!
We have always done late seating because we are not early risers and when you have breakfast @ 10 AM, you are not ready for lunch 2 hrs later. We manage to tide ourselves over by "nibbling" @ 4 PM tea. The place is hopping till the wee hours anyway, so we never felt we were missing out on anything.
On our last cruise which was a family cruise w/my parents, 5 of my cousins and their spouses, we had early seating because one couple wanted it. We all agreed never again. Too much rushing back from shore excursions and no time to relax before the evening activities. And not once did anyone desire even a look @ the midnight buffet, we were still too full from dinner!
Another thing to consider. From an earler thread I understood that the late seating goes to the earlier show, during the early seating, and vice versa for the earlier seating. If you enjoy the shows and do late seating you will still need to be ready closer to the early seating dinner. Just something else to think about.
My husband and I are fans of late seating. We exercise before dinner and don't like to rush! I also enjoy staying by the pool/deck area late in the day. We usually have protein bars as a snack if we get hungry before 8:30PM.