Freedom dining on P&O

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#1
Wirral, England
1,768 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
I am a bit out of date with info about this. Has it been extended to all ships (except Adonia) now? We are interested in Aurora or Acadia, but possibly others as well.

We have had Freedom dining work very well on Oceana a couple of times because pagers were used if no table available, but found on Oriana for the solar eclipse cruise that they only used pagers if people wanted a table for two, so found ourselves waiting in a queue for up to 45 mins if went at the peak time. Do others find that freedom dining works OK or are some ships best avoided if want freedom.
#3
Staffordshire
1,894 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
Never asked for a table for 2 and have always just walked straight in with no need for a pager and Adonia is the only P&O ship not to do freedom dining.
#5
147 Posts
Joined Mar 2017
Did freedom dining on Arcadia. No problem at all as we were always willing to share so we walked straight in every evening.
#6
87 Posts
Joined May 2009
We did Freedom dining on Azura and never waited even for tables of two. Three nights out of the four we used MDR we got a table near the window.
However we were in early on formal night but when we came out at 7.30ish the queue was huge, all the way to the atrium.
It was a short cruise so maybe people were trying the other options with the limited time on board.
#7
Wirral, England
1,768 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
We did not want a table for two ourselves on the Oriana solar eclipse cruise, but the restaurant manager was giving out the pagers for people who had turned up early but were only prepared to sit at a table for two, even though there was lots of space in the restaurant. Hence as we waited up to 45 mins stood in a queue, people who had been given the pagers earlier just swanned up and went straight into the restaurant and there were presumably not enough pagers to give to any of us. The restaurant manager was quite happy to give those pagers out if only one person came along for them as well!

Once we were told by a passenger what they were doing, we did the same the last couple of nights all you had to do was wait until the restaurant had been open for about half an hour, so the tables for two would have been taken!

We went on two long cruises on Oceana a few years ago and there was no problem then as the restaurant manager used the pagers for people when there were no tables at all in the restaurant, so not one queued. Sounds like the Oceana system works on other ships according to replies here. It may have changed on Oriana now as well, if not then it should do because what was happening was ridiculous - people should have been asked to just come back later if they wanted to be fussy about table size.

Thanks again for the replies folks
#8
Staffordshire
1,894 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
Originally posted by tring
We did not want a table for two ourselves on the Oriana solar eclipse cruise, but the restaurant manager was giving out the pagers for people who had turned up early but were only prepared to sit at a table for two, even though there was lots of space in the restaurant. Hence as we waited up to 45 mins stood in a queue, people who had been given the pagers earlier just swanned up and went straight into the restaurant and there were presumably not enough pagers to give to any of us. The restaurant manager was quite happy to give those pagers out if only one person came along for them as well!

Once we were told by a passenger what they were doing, we did the same the last couple of nights all you had to do was wait until the restaurant had been open for about half an hour, so the tables for two would have been taken!

We went on two long cruises on Oceana a few years ago and there was no problem then as the restaurant manager used the pagers for people when there were no tables at all in the restaurant, so not one queued. Sounds like the Oceana system works on other ships according to replies here. It may have changed on Oriana now as well, if not then it should do because what was happening was ridiculous - people should have been asked to just come back later if they wanted to be fussy about table size.

Thanks again for the replies folks
Cannot understand why you had to queue 45mins for a table if you didnt want a table for 2 and there was plenty of room in the restuarant. Every time I have used Freedom/Anytime dining on P&O/Princess pagers are given out to those that want a table that is not available, normally a table for 2, and the rest are seated straight away.
#9
Wirral, England
1,768 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
Originally posted by majortom10
Cannot understand why you had to queue 45mins for a table if you didnt want a table for 2 and there was plenty of room in the restuarant. Every time I have used Freedom/Anytime dining on P&O/Princess pagers are given out to those that want a table that is not available, normally a table for 2, and the rest are seated straight away.
The queues were when there was not any space in the restaurant, but people who had been given pagers for tables for two earlier in the evening turned up, having been paged and went into the restaurant. The restaurant manager did not give out pagers to those who were queuing at that stage, but only used them for people who had asked for a table for two. He had not even asked people in the queue what sort of table they want as he was just not interested in speaking to anyone in the queue until a table (of any size) became available.

I said in the previous post it was presumably because there were no pagers available after ones had been given out for table for two people half an hour after the restaurant opened and there was plenty of space on other tables, but I am not sure of that. The restaurant manager may have just made the decision he was not going to bother to give out pagers to people who were waiting at that stage. There were no queues if we went very early or very late as there was space in the restaurant then if you were flexible about table size.

We had a comments card on one table when we eventually got into the restaurant one night so had written a comment about that, whilst saying how good the waiters were and the Restaurant manager harangued us about it the next day, when we went to the restaurant. We had to be very firm that he stopped the tirade and got on with letting us go in to eat!! A totally unsatisfactory situation altogether - we should have made a complaint about him really. We had always been given pagers at busy times on Oceana, over the 8 weeks in total we had been on board.
#10
North West
1,809 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
We find freedom on Oriana works better than on any of the other ships.
We ask for a table for 2 and will take a pager or if we are not in a romantic mood we ask for a table for 4 and get straight in. They change the tables round very quickly and are super efficient without making us feel rushed.
#11
England
750 Posts
Joined Aug 2014
We had Freedom Dining on Aurora in May during our 16 night Baltic Cruise. It worked brilliantly. Whilst we asked for a table for 2 at breakfast and lunch (and always got one, without question), we were always happy to share in the evenings, so were always seated immediately. Service and food were both excellent throughout and we met some lovely dining companions, some of whom became good friends throughout the cruise. The one thing that we thought was odd was the long queue of (mostly elderly) passengers lining up outside some 30 minutes or more before the restaurant opened. Why these people hadn't gone for Club Dining 1st sitting and just ambled down at 6.30pm each evening I have no idea. If they had tried to get Club but ended up with Freedom, they would have been better to just arrive as the restaurant opened as they would have been seated immediately. I can only assume that these people were fixated on getting a table for two by a window. Nice, but I wouldn't queue for half an hour for one!
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P&O Cruises Experience – 134 nights over 11 cruises (Aurora, Azura, Britannia x 3, Oceana x 2, Oriana x 2, Ventura x 2)
P&O Cruises to Come - 71 nights over 6 cruises (2017 - Aurora x 2, 2018 - Aurora, Arcadia, Aurora, 2019 - Aurora)

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#12
United Kingdom
459 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Was on Aurora last month and the only people in the bars with pagers (and they are really annoying when they go off!) were those insisting on tables for 2 of which there are not very many.
People who went down and didn't mind sharing were generally seated straight away. I was on 2nd sitting on that cruise (which is generally what you get on a Saver now on the id sized ships) but I've done Freedom as a sole and always been seated immediately as long as I don't mind sharing, which I don't.
The long queue from about ten to six astounded me. Why? That's not Freedom Dining! I wouldn't wait 40 minutes for a table, or for a show!
#13
147 Posts
Joined Mar 2017
Originally posted by Clodia
Was on Aurora last month and the only people in the bars with pagers (and they are really annoying when they go off!) were those insisting on tables for 2 of which there are not very many.
People who went down and didn't mind sharing were generally seated straight away. I was on 2nd sitting on that cruise (which is generally what you get on a Saver now on the id sized ships) but I've done Freedom as a sole and always been seated immediately as long as I don't mind sharing, which I don't.
The long queue from about ten to six astounded me. Why? That's not Freedom Dining! I wouldn't wait 40 minutes for a table, or for a show!
Same happened on our Baltic cruise on Arcadia. At 6 when Freedom dining opened , there was a queue down to the photo area. Like you I don't really understand why!
#14
Wirral, England
1,768 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
Well it certainly sounds like others have not experienced what we did on Oriana for the Solar Eclipse cruise.

Since a lot of people say that they have been able to go straight into the restaurant if they were happy to eat on a table of any size, can I ask if those people tended to go either early or late to the restaurant, or did they sometimes go between 7pm and 8pm, which is when there were queues on Oriana? Admittedly, if we went before about 7pm or after 8pm, then we could get a table straight away. The queues built up between 7 - 8pm as there were no seats at all in the restaurant at that time,

On Oceana we had been given a pager if we turned up and there were no seats at all in the restaurant (again, usually between 7-8 pm) even if we were happy to sit at a table of any size.

It is possible that P&O have now limited the number of people on Freedom dining, so tables are more likely to be available at all times, or perhaps there was just something about the Solar Eclipse cruise that meant more people were turning up at the peak times.