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Queen of Oakville November 6th, 2013 10:38 AM

Early, Late or MTD?
I have young kids so we always book early seating. But - getting to the dining room for 6 isn't always feasible, especially if 4 of you are rushing to get ready in a small cabin. We end up skipping sailaway parties and other events scheduled late afternoon, because we have to rush for dinner.

Late is not an option for us either because we don't want to be eating a huge dinner starting at 8:30.

I'm tempted on our next sailing to try MTD again. We did this once on a princess cruise and hate it. We were always lined up for dinner and we always ended up waiting for a table. I also think I would miss the experience of a dedicated wait team.

I would love to be able to book a 7 or 7:30 dinner every night and have the same wait team. Which lines do MTD best?

canuckity November 6th, 2013 01:40 PM

We prefer the My Time Dining and have enjoyed it on several cruise lines and I cannot remember there being any difficulties with long waits etc. Norwegian was the first to do it and they may very well be the 'masters' at MTD but I cannot offer a current opinion as it has been 3 yrs since we cruised with NCL.

Mike M November 6th, 2013 01:55 PM

We did open seating for 6. Four adults and our two grandchildren. We did this on Carnival Liberty and never had a wait for dinner.

On a family cruise in March of 2012, we had a party of ten and the longest wait was one cocktail at the bar.

When it is my wife and I we rarely have to wait on any line.

I would say, go for it. I know when we did Anytime Dining, on Princess, many years ago we were also unimpressed with the long wait times and lack luster service. I think they have the kinked worked out now. As do the other cruise lines.

It has become so popular that more space is being allocated for open seating.

Take care,

BernieG November 6th, 2013 03:05 PM

We only do Anytime dining now.

green_rd November 6th, 2013 11:00 PM

We do YTD -had one long wait on our last cruise. The hostess sent treats to our cabin ad an apology November 7th, 2013 12:12 PM

On some cruises offering their form of anytime dining, you can usually call up and make a reservation. Or, if you prefer, you can have a standing reservation. This can be very helpful if you have kids or a special requirement.

We normally do late seating, but on the last two cruises where we did anytime dining (Celebrity & Holland America), the Matre'd came to our table and told us if we liked the table, waiter, and time, he would be happy to reserve it for us every night.

So, when you get onboard, go talk to the Matre'd and see what they can do for you. Doesn't hurt to ask.


ship2shore November 7th, 2013 03:23 PM

A couple of cruise lines now have Family Time Dining:

Set meal time (Early seating), but they serve the kids fast. Then the Kids' Club picks them up, so you can eat the rest of your meal in peace....

Surfguyxxx1 November 7th, 2013 05:28 PM

MTD or Speciality Restaurant for me. Sometimes I want to head in early if we dock early the next morning and dinner at 8:30 is late. By the same token, if we leave a port at 5, I like to maybe nap or have a cocktail before dinner so that time is too early. It's the best of both worlds!

Truck Cruiser November 8th, 2013 02:46 AM

I like the anytime dining best! Some days on shore are more tiring then others and it is nice to know that we don't have to hurry and dress to head down for dinner after boarding the ship. 8:30 to eat is also too late in my opinion.

Mike M November 8th, 2013 07:57 AM

Personal opinion.

I can't understand why anyone would make a standing reservation for open seating dining unless the first or second seating was not available.

If you want the "flexibility" of open seating you are just putting yourself into the same circumstance as traditional dining if you have to eat at the same time every night.

Perhaps some of you could "enlighten" me. :)

Take care,

ship2shore November 8th, 2013 10:20 PM

It's the only way to get a table at 7pm???

AR November 10th, 2013 05:20 PM

We've been huge fans of anytime dining (called by different names on different lines) since the first time we encountered it. We never wait for a table, but I suspect that may be because we're in the top tier of the frequent sailor clubs on a number of lines, and I think that shows up on the computer when we give our room number. In any event, we're always taken at once to a table of whatever size our group happens to be that night.

We place no value whatever on having the same table and the same waiter every night. I'm perfectly capable of saying "iced tea please" each evening and I get no thrill about the waiter knowing that ahead of time. And of course, we consider set meal times a liability, not a benefit.

The flexibility of eating whenever the spirit moves you just can't be beat. Not just the obvious benefit, but the additional one of being able to eat with friends you've just met and hit it off with (a great many of whom--no surprise--also choose anytime dining).

It's clear that more and more people are going this route, and I imagine that, just like dress codes, eventually the forced seating times will be marginalized and may disappear. November 10th, 2013 08:04 PM

I think you could be right about traditional dining times going away in the future as the older generation starts cruising less and less. Along with the not wanting to get dressed up on formal night, the younger generation appears to want a more relaxed atmosphere while on a cruise. And since more and more cruise lines are requiring either pre-paid gratuities or automatically charging them to your account, this also does away with providing gratuities in cash like we use to in the past.

So, for better or worse, I tend to agree that the times, they are a changing.


Aerogirl November 10th, 2013 10:03 PM

We enjoy sitting with the same group each evening so I hope they never get rid of the traditional dining.

thecruisequeen November 10th, 2013 10:37 PM

My time works for me....I love not having a set time to have dinner. Although I do perfer early so it is usually between 5:30 and 6:30.

The most I had to wait for mytime dining is 5 minutes. It works very well.

skymaster November 11th, 2013 09:46 AM

ALWAYS EARLY! Then I head for the theater for the show, and the lovely Mrs. Jones (Vita) heads to the casino. :(


Queen of Oakville November 18th, 2013 01:27 PM

Family Time doesn't interest us; because we enjoy dining as a family. Our nightly routine is dinner, show, and then the kids (if they want) can go off to kid's club.

For those to do MTD - do you find the service is any better/worse than if you'd had a dedicated wait team?

I like the idea of being able to make a fixed reservation at a time that suits me. If we could get the same wait team, that would be ideal.

I noticed something on this last Oasis cruise. They don't track where you are sitting for breakfast and lunch. HAL asks for your cabin number prior to seating you, so if there are any service issues, they can pinpoint where you were and who served you.

Queen of Oakville November 18th, 2013 01:31 PM

cruiseplanner - its interesting that you relate the lax dresscodes to the younger generation. I will, at 43, reluctantly place myself in that group : )

On Oasis, I found that the dress code was most closely followed by the 40-somethings. All the kids we saw followed dress code. It was the Seniors, I noted, that were pushing the limits of smart casual most nights, but especially on formal night. I hope "dressing for dinner" doesn't go away. November 18th, 2013 04:59 PM

Well, as with most things about cruising, it really does depend on the cruise line and ship as to who dresses up and who doesn't. We're taking our grandson on a Carnival cruise in three weeks and he's already talking about wearing his 'suit' for dinner! So I guess we'll be dressing accordingly since he wants to make it special. But normally on a Carnival cruise, I never wear a suit. A tie is about as fancy as I'll go. Then again, on a Celebrity cruise I pretty much am required to wear at the minimum a sport coat if not a suit.

Personally, I'm one of those who really don't want to get all dressed up - I'm on vacation! And unlike many people, as soon as dinner is done, so are my 'dress up' clothes.

So yes, I can see where on some cruise it's us old timers who prefer to dress down instead of dressing up.

As for the type of service we've gotten, usually we don't see too much of a difference between traditional seating or anytime dining, except with traditional dining the waitstaff gets to know you, what you like, what you don't like, etc, so they are sometimes more attentive to your needs and will often anticipate how bests to serve you.


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