I heard that they will be offering Personal Choice dining in 2 of the dining rooms on the Grand Princess starting in January. Does anyone know exactly when that starts? We will be on the Jan. 14 sailing, but have not been contacted by our travel agent about the change.
I found the article in the Princess site that explains this, hope it helps. Kind of wondering how this will all work out? Hopefully you can give us a first hand report on the new dinning policy after your Jan. cruise on Grand Princess.
According to the press release on the Princess Cruises web site (http://www.princess.com), the "Personal Choice Dining" will start on the first cruise in January so it should be operative on your cruise.
I'm not persuaded that "Personal Choice Dining" will work out as well as its hype seems to anticipate. It sounds like a great idea until you realize that the normal seating times under the traditional arrangement coincide with the timing of the shows in the various show rooms. Thus, it seems likely that most passengers will request reservations within a few minutes of the normal seating times (nominally 6:15 and 8:30) anyway. Additionally, there's something wonderful about dining with the same people throughout the cruise so you have time to move beyond the stage of casual acquaintances. It's not uncommon for tablemates to remain in contact after the cruise on which they meet.
Will only 1/3 of Princess's passengers request the traditional arrangement with assigned seatings for dinner, as suggested by the fact that Princess's plan calls for only one dining room to retain the traditional arrangement? I doubt it! If more than half request the traditional arrangement, how will Princess handle the situation? Revert one of the two dining rooms slated to offer open dining back to the traditional arrangement? Or refuse such an overwhelming passenger request? How about if nearly all passengers request the traditional arrangement?
In fact, I think it's going to be very interesting to see if "Personal Choice Dining" lasts past the end of March -- and ever happens aboard MV Golden Princess!
I'm with you to stay with the traditional dinning. Its nice eating with the same people all week and also having the same dinning room staff :-) At least to me its one of the highlights of cruiseing.
I like having the same tablemates too, but I like being able to eat in the alternative restaurants whenever I feel like it. I found the alternative restaurants on Grand Princess to be so good that it was a treat. Wish we could have convinced our table mates to come along with us and try them out.
I would consider one of the alternative restaurants for lunch, but certainly not for dinner. In the Mediterranean aboard MV Grand Princess last year, the food and the service at dinner in the main dining rooms really were so outstanding that I would not have skipped it. I don't see how either Sabatini's or The Painted Desert could have been that much better.
Now that the surcharge at Sabatini's is $15, I won't be eating there if I ever set foot aboard MV Grand Princess again! I paid for "five star" food and service when I paid the cruise fare, so I expect to receive it at no additional charge. I don't mind $3.50 for tips for the servers, but $15??? No way!!!
My travel agent was along with us on our Caribbean cruise on Grand Princess. She says the food was so good she didn't want to leave the main dining room and indeed it was very good. Still, it was better in all three alternative restaurants, Sabatini's, the Painted Desert and The Bistro. The Bistro doesn't exist during the day and the other restaurant meals are too much for lunch. Delicious, but more suited for dinner.
I totally agree with all of you. Before I booked recently for the Grand, one internet agent who gave me a good quote, automatically held a cabin and put us in for the Personal Choice dining. Well my local agent was able to get the very same price and cabin guarantee plus a $100 in American Express Travelers checks and booked us to the Late, Table of six to eight people dining choice she knew we would prefer. I really enjoy meeting new people and have had only one negative experience where I would have changed tables if it was not for all of the other very nice people. We all looked forward to doing and sharing things like: what did you do today? let's go to a show after dinner, do you want to go ashore together tomorrow?
Diane, your agent should be the one able to reserve your dining choice. Do you and your partner want to dine alone each evening or are your traveling with a group of friends? The Personal Choice is not like open seating. I will be very anxious to hear how it works out in January.
I am sailing the Grand Jan. 7 and I was very concerned about the Personal Choice dining when they first announced it. I had even found another cruise on RCCL to take if they had started it on our sailing. I did a lot of information gathering and finally found out they will be implementing the Personal Choice on the Jan. 21 sailing of the Grand. Unless they changed it, you'll be on the last sailing with the 100% traditional dining.
As for my opinion of the new dining arrangements, I prefer traditional dining with the set times. I like the way Princess has done it vs. some of the other lines. At least you still have the option of traditional dining. My greatest concern was that we were going to be on the first sailing under the new arrangement. As the poet (Burns?) said, "The best laid plans of mice and men, often go astray". I had serious concerns about being the first to try such an arrangement. I wasn't interested in finding out what their planners had missed. As Norm pointed out, all the shows are scheduled around the dining times. There's a lot of logistics that have to be managed when feeding and entertaining 2600 people. I would consider sailing under such an arrangement in the future once they get all the bugs worked out. Just wouldn't want to be there the first few times.
I think I will stick to the traditional dining. I enjoyed every dinner on the Grand last month. We had a great time every evening talking about what we all had done, what we were going to do that evening etc. Some of my first random thoughts were,
1 Will the same menus be available in both options
2 Would I like the constant movement in and out, like at the buffet, or will it be noiser?
3 Will they put people you don't know or worse yet don't want to know at the table?
4 With a different waiter every night and his prospects for a decent tip going downhill, will service suffer?
5 Whats next in the cruiselines shuffle to fill all these rooms on the new ships? Trying to attract a new base of people who have never cruised and want a resort type of vacation is changing what a traditional cruise used to be. As a cruise director told me" I'm afraid we will have to be all things for everybody and all the cruise lines are going to be playing follow the leader ".
6 My last thought is seeing a National Lampoon movie with the Griswalds taking a cruise, except that there are 1,000 of them and they are always in my video's that I have taken on board!!!!!
There's a press release about this on the Princess web site (http://www.princess.com) about the new "Personal Choice Dining" arrangement. Basically, the plan is for two of the three main dining rooms aboard MV Grand Princess and MV Golden Princess to serve dinner from 5:30 until 11:30 on an "open seating" basis. The third dining room will maintain the traditional arrangement with two formal seatings. At present, the plan is for all three dining rooms to continue serving the same menu each evening, as they do now. I presume that the seating will work as it does for breakfast or lunch (where your party can request either your own table or to be seated at a larger table with other parties). Additionally, the press release said that passengers who request the unscheduled arrangement will be able to make reservations each day for dinner that evening.
If the discussion on this board is any indication, I'm guessing that somebody made a major miscalculation and that Princess should maintain the traditional arrangement in two of the three main dining rooms. Of course, the Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean runs from Pt. Everglades might be the exception in this regard, as these lines tend to attarct a lot of first-time passengers who might not understand the merit of the traditional arrangement.
Norm, was this message on the Princess site new or the one dated 9/12/00? We were cruising when this announcement came out, so subsequently I printed out the announcement of 9/12 to try to understand it better as we will sail on the Grand next March. I too am a traditional person favoring the seating with the same guests at the same table for dinner. I do enjoy open seating for breakfast and lunch when I decide to eat those meals in the dining room. The 2nd. paragraph of the 9/12 article staes "Princess introduces new restaurant-style seating, which enables passengers to dine when and with whom they want, just as they would be able to at a shoreside restaurant at home." In paragraph 5 it states, "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. Each of these dining room will be organized to accommodeate 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 their." With these things in mind, I did not get the impression it would be "open seating" as we know it. But just like at any local restaurant you are seated wither by reservation or the next available table for the size of your party.
Can't wait to hear from the January cruisers. I have also been told the $15 service charge in Sabitini's is already in place. I just can't justify that amount of tip for a Trattoria/Pizza Parlor.
The press release dated 12 September is the one to which I referred.
Time flies! I didn't realize that Princess issued the press release on the new "Personal Choice Dining" program that long ago until I saw the date in your post.
The cruise lines use the term "open seating" in reference to any arrangement where people don't have assigned tables at fixed times, but rather are seated as they arrive. After on your comments, I'm suddenly aware that this term is somewhat ambiguous because the lido cafe, by whatever name, usually also offers open seating. In the main dining room, though, Princess (and I suspect most other lnes) usually do form larger tables by seating smaller parties that arrive at about the same time together. When I read the release, my mind thought in terms of the "open seating" in the main dining room at breakfast and at lunch rather than the "open seating" on the Horizon Court....
I wonder if the paragraph that you quote is taking a "cheap shot" at Norwegian Cruise Line's "Freestyle Cruising" arrangement? I really don't know, as I never cruised with NCL.
Anyway, the article does seem pretty clear aside from that point.
I did not notice a significant noise problem in the Botticelli Dining Room. What I did notice, though, is its awkward location and the lack of respectable gathering space outside of the Botticelli Dining Room. Invariably this leads to a mob of people in the elevator lobby waiting for the doors to open.