At the moment Princess is the only cruise line offering the choice of "Personal Choice" or "Traditional" dining times.
I've thought of myself as a "traditional" kind of guy.... enjoying the same tablemates and service staff throughout the cruise. We were on the Golden over New Year's, and for the reasons cited above chose "Traditional". Now we have the CruiseMates Thanksgiving cruise on the same ship, and I'm thinking maybe I should give a PC a chance. Thought I would come to the experts... our CruiseMates readers... for their opinions. Do you prefer "Personal Choice" or "Traditional'"dining?
My husband and I really liked the Personal Choice dining experience. Our first cruise was on the Grand Princess last year. We liked having the freedom to eat whenever we wanted. It also gave us the opportunity to meet lots of different people.
Only 146 days till the Thanksgiving Cruise on the Golden.
It is interesting that it appears that most people on the boards prefer PC dining. We are booked on The Golden for September 8th and I have been researching Princess alot as this is our first cruise with them. When I booked I asked for traditional dining early seating. AND>>>>>>>>>>>>this is hard to believe we are waitlisted with 350 other people! I was really surprised by that. We cruised the NCL Sun in April with Freestyle. It was good in some ways, but for us I think the minuses won over the pluses. We were on a R&R trip and not ready to be up late. With no schedule we always ended up getting out of dinner too late for the early show and way too early for the late show. Anyway we never saw an entire show! The other big minus for us was we were traveling alone so we missed dining with others. The first night they sat us with other people who we mixed with later, but after that it was a table for two. We enjoy each other, but help me get out of this one please! From what I read Princess does seat you with others though. It looks as though we will be trying PC in September. I got a little long didn't I?
I definitely prefer Traditional because I travel alone and it's a great way to meet people. Think Personal Choice could be awkward for me because maybe two couples wouldn't want just one other person to join them ... or if they didn't mind, they might be good friends that have a lot in common so a person could feel left out. I'm glad at least that Princess gives you a choice rather than NCL's Freestyle where you have no choice.
I cruise the Emerald Princess, Eastern Caribbean on April 16, 2012
Traditional for us - we go to meet new people, but really enjoy spending the evening meal getting to know our new friends. We get enough variety during the breakfast and lunch meals to meet others. By the way, we always request a table for 8.
I with you, Jane, because I travel as a single, too. I consider it to be a minor drawback of the Golden T-time trip because I am waitlisted for early dining! I think it will be awkward to stand in line by myself and maybe have to sit, like you say, with two couples. I'm hoping they can squeeze me into traditional dining somewhere but I have to eat early, I cannot eat late. I guess I am a totally traditional dining person and I used to sail with NCL but not anymore. Sue
We sailed with you on the Millenium. This is our experience with Traditional & PC. Sailed on the Star Princess in May this year. We opted for early traditional as we usually do. First night only 3 people plus us showed up for an 8 person table. Second night two other couples plus the original 5 showed up. The head waiter made all nine of us sit at the 8 person table even though the single lady (who was a large woman) requested another table rather than being forced to squeeze 9 people into a 8 person table. So, because of the crowding, for the rest of the cruise we opted for PC. We found eating at no set time great. We met nice people and enjoyed their company but kind of missed the connection of seeing the same people every night to compare notes from the days's activities. In PC we never waited for a table, but we like to eat early. We heard that late dinners had a short wait. On one of our PC nights we were seated with a honeymoon couple who preferred not to enter into conversation and at that same table was a foreign couple who could not speak much English. That night was a bummer.
In conclusion, we had good times and bad times at both choices of dinning. I must say, though, that I appreciate having the personal choice as a back up in case the traditional doesn't work out for us as happened on this cruise. I feel that both choices have their good points and their bad ones. You must give both a try and decide which works out best for you.
Hey Jim & Karon.. long time no C! Nice to see you pop again. Can't believe you've resisted cruising with me again all this time.
Hope all is going well. I have no doubt that you've been doing LOTS of cruising!
Think I'm very likely to give PC a chance over Thanksgiving... we'll just have to be a bit organized arranging to meet some of those in the CM group who want to.. to meet at a specified time outside the PC dining rooms.
We perfer traditional dining because we feel "your" regular waiter who know's your likes and dislikes & performs better than a different waiter every night. I also feel that you develop a certain repour with your regular waiter that PC doesn't offer. Thats our two cents worth...
David, we just returned from the Dawn. Had PC and loved it. If you enjoy your waiter and tablemates, you can request the same table for the rest of the cruise. We developed a great raport with our wait staff.
You can sit with the same waiter and eat at 7pm one night, or 8:30pm another night. It's great.
If you are stuck with "anytime dining" on "personal choice dining" ship, there is one other option. If you find congenial tablemates on the first night or two, you can ask as a group for a standing reservation for that table for the duration of the cruise. With such an arrangement, they usually will tell you to just go directly to your table at the appointed time. From then on, you have functoinally the same arrangement as "traditional dining" but in a different dining room.
If that does not work out, there usually are a few people who don't see eye to eye with their tablemates on the first evening or two of the cruies and ask to switch. If you see the Maitre D' on the second day, he probably will be able to move you to "traditional dining" at either seating.
If you ask to be seated with others in "Anytime Dining," they will seat you with others. If your table works out well on the first night, you all can request a standing reservation for that table at a specific time for the duration of the cruise. If not, check with the Maitre D' on the second day. Chances are that there are enough folks in each fixed seating who have requested changes to create an opening for you.
On Princess's ships that offer "Personal Choice Dining" (which has expanded to seven of the ten vessels), I'll take "traditional seating" over "anytime seating" (Princess's term for the new option), any time. Here's why.
>> 1. The service is much better because your waitstaff get to know your preferences on the first night or two and thus anticipate your requests thereafter.
>> 2. You have a chance to get to know your tablemates over the duration of the cruise rather than meeting new tablemates on a precursory basis each night.
>> 3. The two seatings of the "traditional seating" arrangement are timed to align with the shows and other evening entertainment. Thus, you probably will end up eating more or less at those times anyway if you plan to attend the shows and other events.
>> 4. There's a lot less traffic going by your table while you are eating in the "traditional seating" arrangement because everybody in your seating is on the same schedule. In the "anytime seating" arrangement, there's a steady stream of passengers entering and leaving the dining room throughout your meal.
We have always had traditional dining in the past, but are really looking forward to Personal Choice/Anytime dining for our Thanksgiving cruise. We prefer to have a table for 2 for dinner, and are flexible about the time, so hope that this will work well for us. It is nice to have the choice.
We were on the Ocean Princess in March and tried PC for the first time. It was WONDERFUL. We enjoyed the lack of "time urgency" related to making it to the dining room at a particular time. We also met a number of very interesting people and got to learn about a number of different places.
We are booked again with Princess, on the Sea in a couple weeks. We are most certainly going to enjoy Personal Choice again.
I must be honest that the service does seem more "detached" than with traditional but the tradeoff is well worth it to us. The "detachment" is really no different than at a restaurant where you only interact with the server on a single evening.
> Traditional for us - we go to meet new people, but really
> enjoy spending the evening meal getting to know our new
> friends. We get enough variety during the breakfast and lunch
> meals to meet others. By the way, we always request a table for
That is exactly how we feel. Not only do we get to know our new friends but we have the same wait staff for the cruise - and they know our likes and dislikes. We get enough variety at the open seating for breakfast and lunch.
We also saw crowds waiting 30 minutes or more for personal choice dining because too many want to eat at the same time. Many people were not happy that they were on a waiting list for traditional seating that never happened. Yes, one can make a reservation but then do they have a modified version of personal choice or a modified version of traditional dining?
Hello...We have been on 9 cruises so far. 2 of our cruises have been on Princess and we're going on another Princess cruise to Hawaii this October. We love Princess the best.
As far as traditional or Personal choice dining, we prefer Personal choice. My wife and I are both 47-years of age and can either party or relax with the best of them, but after trying both dinner options, the freedom of Personal Choice is our preference. We like to dine at whatever time we choose, we love their upstairs buffet, which by the way, has almost the same items that the sit-down dining room has. And we like the freedom of dining in some of their specialty restaurants.
We realize that everyone has a different preference and opinion of everything and I respect that. I don't think their is anything wrong or bad with either dining option. I think it is whatever each couple is comfortable with.
We cruised the Golden's Grand Med and had 2nd seating with two other couples. I feel that personal choice can cause problems for the people in traditional seating in that if your table mates decide to switch over to P.C. on some nights, you can be left sitting alone at a table for 6 or 8. This happened to us a couple of evenings and also to many othr tables in the traditional dining room. It can be very uneasy or uncomfortable to sit at a large table with many empty seats.
We had traditional for our Thanksgiving cruise aboard the Golden. For our next cruise, I'll choose PC. We had requested to be at a table for 6 or 8. We were assigned to a table for 4. The first night, it was just the 2 of us. I thought the other couple might have had some reason for not being there. But the second night, just us again. We skipped our table the third night, eating upstairs instead. We were there by ourselves again the fourth night. But the fifth night we decided to invite a couple we had eaten lunch with earlier in the week to join us for dinner. The wife was at our table at tea that afternoon and complaining that the staff in the PC restaurants weren't able to take their reservation for when they wanted to eat. And the next night we invited two ladies whom we had met at the singles mingle to join us. We ate at Sabitini's on the last night.
"I feel that personal choice can cause problems for the people in traditional seating in that if your table mates decide to switch over to P.C. on some nights, you can be left sitting alone at a table for 6 or 8."
Of course, that can happen on any ship with "alternative restaurants"....
Norm is right and that is probably not a good argument against traditional dining. Even those ships which don't offer a version of anytime dining usually have one or more alternative dining venues and thus there is no guarantee that all of the guests assigned to your table will be with you every evening. At least Princess provides a choice. When we sailed on Dawn Princess transiting the Canal in April, there were fifteen in our group and we had a table for eight and one for seven in the traditional dining room. We had considered requesting personal choice, but then realized how much of a hassle it would be to get everyone to agree on a dining time each evening (and we did want to dine together). On this particular cruise, our wait staff was adequate but really didn't show the attention to our personal dining idiosyncracies that we have usually found in a traditional dining session. (The assistant waiter could never seem to remember that my wife wanted milk in her tea and I only drank decaffeinated coffee). If it was just my wife and I, we might consider trying personal choice, but we really don't find the two seatings of traditional dining to be overly restrictive and we have had very good experiences (mostly on RCI) with our tablemates. I do, however, enjoy the sort of group dining experience (everyone pretty much at the same point in their meal at the same time) rather than the land-based restaurant experience with its constant coming and going of diners. Now that breakfast and lunch are mostly open seating, we find more than enough opportunities to meet others at those times and have frequently done so. We have also met a number of people on these boards, and even though we didn't sit at their table, we somehow managed to enjoy their company at other times and in other spots onboard.
I didn't do a careful analysis of the responses to Kuki's question, but my overall impression was that while there isn't any consensus, personal choice is certainly not the overwhelming choice of the posters on this board. What I would like to know is, if the responses to this post are any criteria, why are there such long waitlists for traditional dining?
Re: Re: Re: Re: POLL- Personal Choice or Traditional
> I didn't do a careful analysis of the responses to Kuki's
> question, but my overall impression was that while there isn't
> any consensus, personal choice is certainly not the
> overwhelming choice of the posters on this board. What I
> would like to know is, if the responses to this post are any
> criteria, why are there such long waitlists for traditional
We have an entire group going on the Coral Princess Panama Canal cruise next April and we are all wait listed for traditional dining. The TA says our chances are good since we have numbers in the 50's because the numbers usually run into the 200's. That being the case, isn't there some message being sent that Princess is refusing to listen to? If this wasn't a group arrangement, I normally will not book a cruise unless I am guaranteed first seating.
If you wanted to see some irate people, last year on the Dawn Princess there were a large number who said they had guaranteed first seating but were denied it when they finally boarded the ship. That kind of treatment doesn't engender customer loyalty.
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: POLL- Personal Choice or Traditional
"We have an entire group going on the Coral Princess Panama Canal cruise next April and we are all wait listed for traditional dining. The TA says our chances are good since we have numbers in the 50's because the numbers usually run into the 200's. That being the case, isn't there some message being sent that Princess is refusing to listen to? If this wasn't a group arrangement, I normally will not book a cruise unless I am guaranteed first seating."
You probably have a much better chance of assignment to "anytime dining" since it's unlikely that fifty seats in "traditional dining" will open up before your cruise if it's already fully reserved.
That said, with a party of fifty, it should be no problem to make a standing reservation for your whole party for the entire cruise at the time of your preferred seating in the "anytime dining" dining room. Your group will be large enough to occupy a whole section of the dining room, so the experience should be similar to that of "traditional dining." Be sure to call the reservation line when you first arrive on board so the staff will be able to accommodate your party.
My husband and I never thought we would enjoy Personal Choice dining, but after trying it, we do like it in certain circumstances. If it is just the 2 of us cruising, we will pick Traditional Seating specifically to meet people. If we are traveling with another couple or group, we prefer the freedom of changing the dinner time depending on how things went during the day. In addition, there is nothing worse than being assigned early seating and missing every Sailaway. (And late seating is too late for us.) With Personal Choice you can enjoy every sailway with a cocktail and amble down to dinner anytime you want.
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: POLL- Personal Choice or Traditional
I think Princess should be doing something to accomodate such a large group, even if it is assigning us to "anytime dining" at the same time as first seating. However, my point, which you and Princess seem to miss is that most of their customers seem to want traditional dining and we are not pleased in the way they are forcing the other on us. We just got off the Regal which, thank God, only has one dining room so they couldn't play this PC game with us. And because of that, we even tipped the old fashioned way which is my preference.
Princess better wake up and listen to their returning customers before they start migrating to other lines.