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Will cruise lines do away with restaurant sitting times?

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On ‎03‎/‎08‎/‎2017 at 2:38 AM, 2torts said:

We've tried both & still prefer a fixed time & table. We like to eat early & book for the 6.30 sitting but when we tried freedom dining we used to have to join the very long queue at 6.00 & hope that we would get in. One gala night on Oriana we arrived to join the queue & it went the length of the corridor, curved round the outside of the shops & ended at the casino entrance. We much prefer to just walk into the restaurant & go straight to our table.

I am in total agreement with your sentiments expressed, other than we much prefer the later sitting.

When reluctantly doing 'Freedom dining' on some ships in the past, we've always found that the 8-8.30pm are heavily over-subscribed, and just cannot cope with the demand placed upon them at that time of the evening.

Even my much admired HAL, are devils in always pushing their 'Freedom' type option. We suffered it on Prinsendam, then again on Ryndam. The Maitre'D himself despairing at the seemingly enforced unstoppable demand that so many of us just didn't want anyway.

So nowadays, my cruise bookings with them are conditional upon us getting the Later Sitting, otherwise I would not hesitate to cancel the cruise altogether, and, I think that they  understand me better for knowing that now too.

The other unstated purpose of the 'Freedom' push exercise, could be that in most cases, Freedom rather conversely acts as a means to 'Lock In' those tenuous Gratuity or Hotel Charge options? Call them what you will! 

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On ‎03‎/‎08‎/‎2017 at 3:52 AM, Oldworldtraveller said:

Not all cruise lines are like that 2torts. Try Royal Caribbean, Celebrity or any of the other cruise line that caters for freedom dining. I have been on Oriana several times and it seems you have to queue for anything that is not booked notably breakfast and lunch. My last cruise with Royal in January was a case of turn up, would you like a table for two or are you happy to share and being shown to a table. Never had a problem and that was on Vision of the Seas their smallest ship about the size of Oriana. Had the same experience last year on Ovation of the Seas which is one of their largest.

This was the queue for breakfast on Oriana's disembarkation day. 

Oriana iPhone 055.JPG

I was on Oriana in late June this year, and we did not queue even once for breakfast on any morning, including disembarkation day. We are neither early morning, nor last minute people, similarly we are always happy to share. Its civilised and always a good way to meet and get to know fellow passengers whilst on board the ship.

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Why not have both options? I like the idea of late dining with the same people everyday without having to queue. The idea  of freedom dining is good especially if you cannot get along with the other people on your designated table. We have never had problems with people on our table.

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We sail with Cunard mostly. Dining times are 6pm and 8.30pm. We always book for 6 o'clock as I have a health problem and need to eat at around that time. But even so there are 3 other places to eat your evening meal, 2 you pay to upgrade too if that is what you want. So I hope that Cunard do not go down the road of open dining.

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On 02/08/2017 at 2:14 PM, Countrygirl said:

I have noticed that on the last few cruises we have taken with P&O the restaurant that is for set times is always full on both sitting. We have spoken to other guests who wanted to move from Freedom to fixed time and they had been told that no spaces were available. So that must tell the cruise lines that a lot of passengers still like set times. Me and my holiday included, so for me long may it continue.

I agree with you entirely.  On a previous cruise (Oriana) we experienced open sitting and it felt like we were in a pub restaurant. one of the most pleasant experiences of cruising is your evening meal with your fellow passengers and catching up and talking about the experiences you have enjoyed during the day. you tend to meet likeminded folk and make New friends. Its what cruising is all about. 

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The bottom line, as has been expressed by many posters already, is that the lines will respond to demand and provide what substantial numbers of passengers want. The split of restaurants on P&O's larger ships and Princess of having two restaurants for 'Freedom' and one for Classic seems to work for the present. Personally, I will always go for the flexibility of dining when I want to and am prepared to put up with a little queuing or even the buzzer - in fact the only reason that I don't book Early Saver fares is the concern that we might get stuck with Fixed time dining.

The point was made about the Speciality restaurants being open dining, but of course it is necessary to book for these to control the flow. Maybe if the trend to 'Freedom' continues a transitional system might be to make the current Classic MDR reservation only so that those wishing to have firm times can fix them but with more flexibility. 

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31 minutes ago, mobilegb said:

The bottom line, as has been expressed by many posters already, is that the lines will respond to demand and provide what substantial numbers of passengers want. The split of restaurants on P&O's larger ships and Princess of having two restaurants for 'Freedom' and one for Classic seems to work for the present. Personally, I will always go for the flexibility of dining when I want to and am prepared to put up with a little queuing or even the buzzer - in fact the only reason that I don't book Early Saver fares is the concern that we might get stuck with Fixed time dining.

The point was made about the Speciality restaurants being open dining, but of course it is necessary to book for these to control the flow. Maybe if the trend to 'Freedom' continues a transitional system might be to make the current Classic MDR reservation only so that those wishing to have firm times can fix them but with more flexibility. 

If you have selected any time dining on Princess ships, you can reserve a table for two, four or more passengers - at a time to suit you.  All you need to do is to telephone the reservations line at 8 am.

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On 2 August 2017 at 2:17 PM, sammy sun said:

That's interesting to read Countrygirl and clearly shows that there is still a major desire for it to continue. I had the opposite experience on my last P&O cruise. We were on freedom dining but on several nights were offered a table in the club dining restaurant because tables were free to use, rather than waiting longer to get a table in the usual restaurant. We obviously accepted and it was great but it just seemed strange that these tables were empty on a regular basis.

We regularly cruise P&O and set time dining is always full.we know of passengers trying to change from freedom ,only to find that club dining is full. People also say why don't you go to Speciallity Restaurants, but why? The restaurant food is always good, and why pay more for something you've already paid for in the price of your holiday.

 

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On 02/08/2017 at 2:14 PM, Countrygirl said:

I have noticed that on the last few cruises we have taken with P&O the restaurant that is for set times is always full on both sitting. We have spoken to other guests who wanted to move from Freedom to fixed time and they had been told that no spaces were available. So that must tell the cruise lines that a lot of passengers still like set times. Me and my holiday included, so for me long may it continue.

There is a simple reason why P&O restaurants are always full for both sittings - and it is not necessarily because a lot of passengers like set times.

It is much easier for cruise lines to operate fixed time dining because they know how many meals to prepare for each sitting.

If you opt for a "Saver" fare, you will forfeit the right to demand a dining preference - and P&O will decide when and where they want you to dine.  By ensuring that both of the fixed sittings are full, they manage the numbers on freedom dining.  In theory, that should prevent excessive queues at peak times..

Edited by BobTroll

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On 02/08/2017 at 1:11 PM, roseyroo said:

I agree Furby, personally I do prefer freedom dining but think there is still passengers that definately prefer a certain time and sitting with the same people

 

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I very much prefer any time dining and have noticed on recent cruises, Princess and Celebrity, that there seems to less demand for fixed sittings.  I don't like to rush back from a port visit to get ready for early dinner and often 8:30 is too late for me.

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I like to eat early because of health issues (insulin timing) and find freedom dining rather a lottery.  We usually go with Saga and although it it open dining you are allocated a table of your size preference on the first morning this suits us as the same waiters attend to you throughout the cruise and you get to know your table companions well.  We have made some great friendships this way.

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On ‎04‎/‎08‎/‎2017 at 7:37 PM, BobTroll said:

Princess allow passengers to choose between fixed sittings or anytime dining (apart from their one and only small ship - Pacific Princess),.  On the largest Princess ships, at least two thirds of the capacity of the main dining rooms is available for the anytime option.

There is one notable exception.  Diamond Princess, which is based in Asia, offers cruises from Australia, Singapore, China and Japan.  Many of this year's voyages on Diamond Princess were round trips from Tokyo (Yokohama).  So although Diamond Princess is a very large ship, there is no anytime option on the Japanese itineraries.  The main dining rooms revert to fixed sittings - to cater for the preferences of the many Japanese passengers.

Very interesting, Thanks!

Not the prettiest of ships externally perhaps, but she is very nicely appointed throughout, on the inside.

We cruised on her about 10 years ago now; Bangkok (Laem Chabang) to Sydney, and we had a really lovely time. 

She does have the advantage of having quite a few optional Restaurants to choose from, plus the Lido) so that probably helps  ease the hunger pangs of those who don't want to wait for later dining.

I've a feeling that her sister ship: Sapphire Princess, is doing a Southampton season next year? 

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