HAL's Noordam needs to work on their dining problems. We were a group of 12 people and when we booked we let them know our dining preferences a year before we sailed. 10 of the people were together at a table right from the start, but for some reason we were but at a table by ourselves at a different time. There was a crowd of people waiting to get their dining times straighten out. My sister in law doesn't give up or take the answer no, and they worked with the people who served us to pull up two extra chairs so we only ate by ourselves once. It was a very sad one time and we didn't eat in the dining room but in Lido and I was crying & feeling so left out. They acted like there was nothing they could do cause they were full and it seemed hopeless. For some reason on the lido deck they took our room number and I thought it was because i was upset, but I guess it was so they knew who to get their tips from. They always manage to get that right.
WE go in groups each time. First time to ever have problem and we were with 12 people on Carnival Valor and 6 people on CArnival Paradise. Then our first one with Holland. I was totally shocked to have problems and I was too tired that first day to deal with it hence the tears. So glad the next nite was worked out no thanks to the head people in the dining room. They just listen to my sister in law when she told them it was worked out. We only see my husband's sister and her husband on these cruises now. So it was important to us.
I am not too crazy about it. I go on cruises most of the time alone. usually they put the solo people at one table. if the dining is at different times, I will be dining alone . not a happy camper!
That's exactly my problem with it. I frequently travel solo too, and I can just imagine having to either eat by myself every night, or have the matri 'd basically push me onto another group at their table ... a group that perhaps is none to happy about having a stranger join them.
But, to be fair to HAL, I think many many people have favored this As You Wish Dining concept from the start. I hear that the comments have been overwhelmingly positive during the testing phase. I know that I love open dining when I travel with a companion ... and solos are in actuality a very small minority of the sailing public.
So, I guess HAL is just doing what the majority of their customers have asked them to do and provided a flexible dining option. For now anyway, it shouldn't be too much of a problem because HAL will continue to also offer traditional. But if the day ever comes that HAL eliminates the traditional dining, then us solos could be in big trouble and may have to find another cruise line. After all, I eat alone at home quite often and I prefer it that way. I eat when I'm ready and have no problem either enjoying a meal in my own kitchen or going out to a local diner by myself. But when I cruise, I would really prefer the company of others at mealtimes and if I can't have that, well ... I'm not having a very good cruise experience. If I have to eat alone, then I might as well just stay home.
Traditional is already fully-booked for our cruise next February, booked just yesterday. We're not concerned. We had dinner on our last cruise two nights at the Windjammer (this was RCI), and we were seated immediately, served courteously, had choice of all the food available in the main dining room, etc. The atmosphere was elegant, and even a bit romantic; there were very few diners, so we had a lot more privacy. We ate when we wanted, and didn't feel that we missed out on anything important to us, and indeed felt like we have actually gained something in return. I'm glad to see cruise lines embracing this; it serves our needs better.
Princess', Anytime Dining, has been a complete success for the cruise line and the passenger demand for dining flexibility is becoming industry wide. I believe HAL is doing nothing more than following the industry and appealing to a wider range of cruisers.
I like the fact that they are still allowing a choice between As You Wish Dining and Traditional.
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Traditional is already fully-booked for our cruise next February, booked just yesterday. We're not concerned.
Believe me, once you get onboard, you'll be able to switch to traditional very easily if you want it. Lots of people will "try" the anytime dining and love it, and request to be moved there. There will be lots of space in traditional that will open up.
This was the case on both of my Princess cruises back in 2005. We ended up at large tables in traditional with only two or three of us seated there. Everyone else had bailed to "anytime" dining.
Frankly, I'm surprised Princess still offers traditional ... unless my two cruises were exceptions. Most of the tables in the traditional dining room were not full at all. In fact, I was surprised that they didn't start combining tables so as to make things a bit easier on the waitstaff. It seemed kind of silly to have three large tables in the same general area with only two to four people seated at them. Would have seemed to make much more sense to combine the people at those three tables to make one full one ... especially since the people "missing" at those tables were known to have switched over to "anytime" dining.
Like other solo travelers , I love assigned seating. NCL runs a rather foolish commercial comparing traditional dining to some sort of George Orwellian world. Come on...give me break ! We are talking about having a dinner reservation ! What's wrong with that Freestyle means one can't get such a reservation, I guess. Most of the lines build these 3000 passenger ships which tends to leave solos lost in the crowd. At least at dinner, I'm seated with others who are lost in this crowd and it turns out to be one of the highlights of the vacation. 8)
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Maybe I need a bit of clarification: If you have traditional dining, you CANNOT walk-up for "anytime" dining? How much of the regular dining room capacity is reserved for "anytime" dining folks?
I think it's either/or ... you can't have both. But just like a friend told me ... how will the cruise line know if you have a table in traditional, but walk into anytime dining one evening? I am sure some people will do it.
I think HAL is gonna make one level of the two-level dining room traditional and the other level "anytime." But, I would imagine that if the demand for one or the other is not adequate to justify an entire dining room, HAL will surely make adjustments.
As for waits, I think certain tables might have waits in "anytime" dining. Like if you insist on a table for two by the window, you may have to wait for it. But, if you are truly flexible ... i.e., willing to sit at a large table with others, willing to share a table for four with another couple, etc. ... there shouldn't be very long waits at all.
Right now, passengers can have their cake and eat it too. We were on the Noordam , in May and a part of the AYW dining area was reserved for Traditional Dining. As the cruise progressed, it was obvious that many in traditional seating had bolted for the convenience of AYW. We did not experience a wait nor did we see any beepers.
I am sure experience will vary from sailing to sailing and if everyone shows up between 7-7:30, there is going ot be a crunch.
As of right now, you can also reserve the same table, at the same time within the AYW Dining Room. As good as this sounds, it also seems ripe for abuse as those in the know reserve the best times and others are forced to work around them. And what happens if those who reserved are very late or no shows?
My sense is that the concept will take some fine tuning, over time.
We just recieved our tickets for our 2/16/08 Oosterdam Mexican Riviera cruise. Our dining arrangments are Open, which is not what we had requested. This will be our 5 HAL cruise, and we've always asked for the late traditional seating at a table for 2. We tried a large tables a couple of times but they was disasters, so we prefer to dine together. I don't mind a change in the time, but I do not wait to have to line up with a pager to get into the dining room!!!!!
p.s. can't believe that our tickets arrived so early.
We just recieved our tickets for our 2/16/08 Oosterdam Mexican Riviera cruise. Our dining arrangments are Open, which is not what we had requested.
I wouldn't be too concerned about this. You can probably get it changed once you are onboard. From what I understand, HAL is not confirming anyone for the fixed traditional seatings any longer. The reason for this is that they are offering these "Suite Enhancement Packages" now, which involve giving some non-luxury suite holders some of the benefits of the higher end suites, including priority for dining requests. Thus, HAL really can't confirm "average joe" ... i.e., someone not in suite accommodations, or one who hasn't purchased a "Suite Enhancement Package" until they know what all those suite-holders want in terms of dining arrangements. They get them set up first and then will spread the traditional assignments around to other passengers as far as they will go.
For late traditional seating, I can't imagine you'll have a problem getting your desired dining request. It's early seating that could be a problem since most HAL passengers seem to request that, and therefore it will likely be the preferred request of suite holders as well.