Thoughts on dining seating times

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New Jersey
15 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
When considering dining options, early or late... if I take the early will I have to rush back from port not to miss my seating. If I choose the later time will I miss the shows? Any schools of thought?
Tulsa, Oklahoma
583 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
It's all a matter of preference. We're early eaters at home, so we like the early seating. We've never felt rushed to get back to the ship for dinner. And if you stay late, just eat at the buffet instead. We like being able to go to the shows too. If you eat late, you usually don't get out until 10 and the shows are usually over by then. Not to mention, we're 50, so we don't stay up all night and party.
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London, UK
120 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
we went on Costa last Xmas and they put the shows on twice per night for the two sittings. If you go to the earlier sitting you are likely to have more young children in the restaurant.

Edinburgh UK
8,117 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
There is a possibility that you will have to rush back if you opt for first sitting as it is usually around 6.15. However it may only be a rush to get ready on the formal nights. On most of the MSC cruises that I've been on they dock between 7 and 9 in the morning, so you will still have plenty time ashore. there are a few ports of call 9depending on the itinerary when they may be docking early afternoon). As far as the shows go - they run the show twice so that no one misses out. personally, I prefer second sitting because it is less of a rush to get ready and you tend to be able to spend longer at dinner if you want to as there is not the next sitting waiting to get in to the dining room after you.
Guess it's horses for courses. If you are an early bird, that likes to be up and about and off the ship at the earliest possible time then go for first sitting, if you're not a morning person and prefr getting up late (like me) then go for second sitting

Western Massachusetts
867 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
For a frame of reference, my wife and I are in our mid-forties. I've been cruising since I was 4 years old, and have been through cruising as a small child, a teenager, a newly-wed, a parent with small kids, and now a parent with teenagers. I've selected and enjoyed both 1st and 2nd seatings many cruises through the years and have also enjoyed open sitting on free-style cruises.

For cruises out of U.S. ports, I feel that first sitting is too early and that second sitting is too late. I think that the Mediterranean cruises push back the dining times at least a half an hour which is better.

If I had to pick a perfect time to dine, and when I'm on a free-style cruise line, I like to arrive at a restaurant at 7PM.

I've been on ships with 1st and 2nd seating times at: 5:30 & 7:30, 6 & 8, 6 & 8:30, 6:30 and 8:30, 6:45 & 8:45, etc., but never 7 & 9 which would be perfect for me.

There are almost always 2 shows. Sometimes the show for the 2nd sitting is BEFORE their dinner. You never have to worry about missing anything if you have the second sitting. My problem with late seating is: a) I tend not to wait and I end up eating something late afternoon poolside, and b)that leaving a dining room chuck full (again) at 10PM, makes me want to go right to bed. This combines to cause over-consumption and lack of energy for late-night activities.

Whereas if I have early seating, I can easily wait until dinner to eat, and although I leave the dining room feeling full at 8PM, I usually rebound and feel great to hit the activities all night.

Lately, on Caribbean itineraries, ships tend to leave ports by 5, which has you on board before then with plenty of time to get ready for dinner.

Take it for what it's worth.
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Tulsa, Oklahoma
583 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
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960 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
On the MSC Lirica in the Caribbean, first seating was at 5:45. That's way to early for me, so we did the second seating at 8:00.

Be aware that the buffet is not open on formal night so that all guests can enjoy the Gala Dinner. I never understood the sense of that. They should say that all guests are required to eat in the main dining room on formal nights.