Just read an article (posted below) & it looks like they're going to do it! It also looks like they'll be doing it right, giving a CHOICE of old-style AND free-style.
Will be fleet-wide by end of 2001.
LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 13, 2000--Princess Cruises, continuing its tradition of product innovation and commitment to de-regiment the cruise experience with its ``what you want, when you want'' philosophy, is changing the course of cruising once again by offering passengers a brand-new dining option which will satisfy both cruise traditionalists and those who prefer to dine how they choose.
With its new Personal Choice(SM) Dining program, Princess introduces new restaurant-style seating which enables passengers to dine when and with whom they wish, just as they would be able to do at a shoreside restaurant at home. However the traditional cruise dining option where passengers have the same dining time, waiter and tablemates each evening will be available, as well.
``This new program is both revolutionary and evolutionary,'' explained Dean Brown, executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer service. ``It's revolutionary because no cruise line offers both, and also because our new restaurant-style dining option will be operated like a shoreside restaurant -- it's definitely not a typical open seating alternative. And Personal Choice(SM) Dining is evolutionary because Princess has been at the forefront of eliminating regimentation and providing personalized choice to passengers since the mid 90s beginning with the introduction of Sun Princess. This is the next exciting step in providing our passengers with a further customized cruise experience.''
Personal Choice(SM) Dining will be first introduced aboard Grand Princess in January 2001, and will debut on Golden Princess when she is launched in Europe next May.
The new restaurant-style option will be offered in two of the ships' three main dining rooms, enabling passengers to dine at any table with anyone of their choosing at any time, during expanded dining hours of 5:30 pm to midnight. A special dining desk will be open throughout the day where passengers can make their dinner reservations, and passengers will also be able to dine without reservations at their leisure. A wide variety of table configurations will allow passengers to join new-found friends or dine at an intimate table for two, whatever they prefer. Each of these dining rooms will be organized to accommodate passengers sharing the same dining time, eliminating the chaos of some open seating designs, where passengers just sitting down to a meal may find themselves seated at a table next to other guests who are just finishing theirs.
The third dining room will maintain the traditional first and second seating dining experience, with an assigned seating time, waiter and tablemates throughout the cruise. ``Consumer research shows there is a very large percentage of passengers who are passionate about the traditional cruise dining experience, and we can now offer both,'' said Brown.
The special design of the Princess ships, which were originally constructed to offer maximum dining flexibility with a combined 50,000 square feet of dining space in multiple dining areas with dedicated galleys, enables the line to further innovate its trademark ``what you want, when you want'' cruise experience.
``Research clearly shows that many of our passengers desire true restaurant-style dining, but because this style of dining is actually difficult to accomplish on a ship, there's a real danger that choice can end up as a chaotic free-for-all,'' said Brian Langston-Carter, Princess' executive vice president of fleet operations, whose vision inspired Princess to build dining flexibility into all its ships during the past decade and in the future. ``Because our ships were specifically built to offer personal choice, we're able to overcome any operational challenges associated with restaurant-style seating and introduce what we believe is the most exciting dining program in the cruise industry.
``When the program launches in January aboard Grand Princess, passengers will be able to enjoy a dining experience that's just like being able to go to a restaurant at home with friends and family,'' he said. ``But the great thing is that our loyal passengers who like the traditional dining experience will have that, too.''
Langston-Carter added that the new restaurant-style dining is in addition to the many other options available for dinner each evening, among them two specialty restaurants -- an Italian trattoria and Southwestern restaurant -- a 24-hour buffet which turns into an evening bistro, and 24-hour room service. In total, passengers will be able to enjoy up to six different opportunities to dine.
``The move away from regimentation and towards offering passengers more personalized choice is a lifestyle trend we saw coming many years ago, and subsequently we built our ships to accommodate this desire for a more customized cruise experience,'' said Brown. ``That means we'll now have a dining option for every preference, elevated to an exciting, new level.''
``Numbers don't lie,'' said Langston-Carter. ``We have more dining rooms, each with its own separate galley; more dining space at 50,000 square feet on the Grand Princess and Golden Princess, and more flexible tables that can be tailored to accommodate two to ten people. Plus, we have nearly 2,400 dining seats on these ships, ensuring that our passengers will never experience a long wait or delay. We've additionally extended the dining hours beyond the traditional 6:15 pm and 8:15 pm assigned times, allowing passengers to enjoy fine dining as early as 5:30 pm, or as late as midnight. And this is in addition to our 24-hour bistro which offers dinner until 4 am. Dining customization truly takes on new meaning with Princess.''
Personal Choice(SM) Dining will be introduced across the Princess fleet by the end of 2001.