SS Norway (12 times) '85 - '97; Radiance OS 06/01; Island Princess 11/04, Grand Princess 11/04/05, Golden Princess 7/21/06, Golden Princess 2/24/07, Explorer of the Seas 12/23/07, Island Princess 11/15/08
I am a bit of a traditionalist too. I like seeing the same faces every night and sitting in the same spot etc. I haven't experienced as you wish dining, so I can't speak from experience, but I think I prefer a set sitting.
Anytime dining if I am cruising with my wife or family. Traditional if I am cruising with a group.
I really do like the flexibility of Open Seating when you are on your own. When you are with a larger group then dinner is the time that everyone can meet without having to "arrange" a special time and place.
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[Sassy, do you run into many other red haters on your cruises.]
Actually, when we were on the Carnival Spirit in 2006, the daily newsletter had a post for any Red Hatters to meet on a certain day and time. There were about 10-12 of us.
That was the only time I have known about any. My sister travels with a foldable red hat just in case she runs into anyone.
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Do you care if you have the choice to Dine When you Wish vs. Traditional Dining? Is either fine by you or do you have a strong preference. How much does it matter to you?
I always said I would HATE flexible dining ... until I had it on the QE2 last April. It was wonderful having the luxury of going to the dining room when I was ready ... and not when the ship's staff told me it was time to eat.
However, I see a great conflict with flexible dining when integrated with my cruising style. I often travel solo, and I don't care to have to sit with different people every night, and maybe some nights having to sit alone in the dining room.
A big part of cruising for the solo cruiser is meal time. It's the time of the day where you get together with a group of people you've gotten to know over the duration of the cruise, and talk about how you spent your day. If you've got a great group of tablemates, you've become comfortable with each other ... can laugh easily ... and can share each other's interest. You talk about your lives at home and everyone leaves at the end of the cruise a bit more enriched and enlightened.
With flexible dining you're not gonna get that. Unless you are dining with your own traveling group, odds are you're gonna sit with different people every night. You're never gonna develop that level of familiarity and comfort that you would with a set group of tablemates over the duration of a long cruise. I would miss that with flexible dining.
I guess it's a trade-off. Again, if I were traveling with somebody and knew I had a dinner companion every night, I guess the lure of flexible dining ... with its advantages ... would be strong, and I would probably opt for that. But if I were traveling alone, I personally think traditional is the only way to go ... at least on a mass market line.
A 10 for traditional 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 ! Freestyle means one can't get set table and waitstaff , or even tablemates . 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 also lost in this crowd and it turns out to be one of the highlights of the vacation.
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definnitely traditional; open seating can be a lonely experience for a solo traveller like myself. HOWEVER, that said, i've been assigned with some strange tablemates a couple of times and chose to dine in the lido.
I enjoy traditional. I just wish the main seating was at 7PM. This would make it easier when doing shore excursions.
I'm confused. For traditional, the Main seating is at 8 & 8:30pm so that makes it very easy for doing shore excursions. We always take the 8pm seating and have plenty of time when we come back to the ship to rest up, have a shower get dressed and head to the Ocean Bar for drinks and then dinner.
Early seating is usually around 5:45 & 6:15 pm. Is that what you meant?
Traditional. We love meeting new people, and then getting to know them at dinner. Also, the wait staff gets to know you and your special needs. I have extreme food allergies...so I like knowing the wait staff...and they know the foods, etc. I have to avoid, etc.
With flexible dining I wouldn't have that secure feeling...I'd have to check and double check each time.
Please put me in the "traditional" category as well for several reasons. First, open seating and open times mean being seated according to the whim of the head waiter or maitre d'. We have had several experiences of being steered (including on a luxury line with open seating no less) toward tables other than the ones I requested, unless a piece of paper currency transfers hands. Second, we prefer that our serving staff get to know us and our preferences; this just does not seem to happen with open seating and different serving staff each day. Third, once we get tablemates with whom we are comfortable (sometimes this takes a couple of days of table-shifting), it is more enjoyable for us to have those kinds of conversations that seem to continue from evening to evening rather than start anew with the same topics day after day. We have several long-standing, close friends who we first met this way. Fourth and finally, a set seating time seems to take away some of the hassle of "what shall we do now?"