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Pros/Cons for Open Seating Dining on Royal Caribbean


cruzilove
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We like open seating a lot--it's our choice if available. It's so nice to eat when you want, not have to rush around to be at dinner at a set time, have a table for two or join others if you wish. So far we've never had much of a wait on any cruise line, but we don't often go at the most popular times. Once in a while we reserve a time, but not usually.

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My opinion on my time dining

 

Pro:

Go when you feel that day; let's you plan for the day differently. Can reserve, but not strictly necessary.

 

 

Easier to get table alone but still have option to share or share with new groups each evening. Whatever your mood that day.

 

Con:

If you show with a large group, with or without reservation, you may have to wait. The larger the group the longer the wait can be. With fixed seating there is never a wait to be sat.

 

You may not have the same wait staff. You can request them however which is a bonus.

 

Gratuities paid at final payment time. Can not use OBC for gratuities. Can not alter gratuity level.

 

 

I see the appeal of MTD. I have had both positive and negative experiences. My positive experiences were when we had the same wait staff at same or similar times. In that way it mimicked traditional dining in that the wait staff seemed more "invested." When we do not have the same wait staff the service I have received could at times, and at best, be called adequate to downright awful.

 

Worth a shot, IMO, if your group is not large.

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We like open seating a lot--it's our choice if available. It's so nice to eat when you want, not have to rush around to be at dinner at a set time, have a table for two or join others if you wish. So far we've never had much of a wait on any cruise line, but we don't often go at the most popular times. Once in a while we reserve a time, but not usually.

 

I would agree with the above. We tried open dining on RCCL's Independence of the Seas when it first came out and were very pleased with it. We now use it or the version of it on every cruise line. We too have never had to wait

more than a few minutes. We don't want to be married to a set time and have no desire to become Best of friends with the wait staff. We have never experienced problems with service.

Edited by tip
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Thank you. How does it work...can you just go to the dining room when you want to eat? Or must you make a reservation? Also, how do the waiters react to "new" diners each night? Do you get the same service?

 

You can go to the dining room whenever you choose to eat. No reservations are needed, although some people like to make them--we only do once in a while if we know we want a specific time due to some other event we want to attend. Reservations are not necessary but are fine if you want to.

 

There are certain times that may entail a small wait--usually 6-7 o'clock or so, although that varies. So far we've never waited more than 5 minutes (at least 12 x with OD dining), but others have reported longer waits. Sometimes formal night takes a little longer, but often we just walk right in.

 

Service is still very good, but since you usually don't have the same wait staff each night, you don't develop the rapport with the waiters that sometimes happens with the set dining times. This isn't a big deal to us, but others prefer having the same waiters. You can ask for tables in a certain waiter's section if you find some you really like and they will seat you there is possible.

 

We usually cruise alone and like a table for two, but we can always share if we want to--they always ask. The one time we cruised with a large group (we two and 7 grandkids) and used OD dining, it worked wonderfully. With all the kids we ate early, because of activities they wanted to do, usually 6-6:30 and they saved the same large round table for us every night. The waiters were so fabulous with the kids, it made dining special.

 

Cons are that some people report long waits (as stated, we've never had a problem with this), less rapport, possibly, with waiters and...well I can't think of anything else. We don't mind, in fact like, paying the service charge ahead of time, but this is a negative to some.

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I will relate a story from an Adventure of the Seas cruise from a few years ago. DW and I enjoy sharing a large table since we enjoy meeting out tablemates and the socialization. So one year on a 7 day cruise we had late fixed seating dining. We were assigned a wonderful located 8-top table. The first night we were the only people at this table. The Maitre'd stopped by and told us that there were 6 others assigned to our table and we all figured they had dined in the Windjammer. The 2nd night we were the only ones at the table. And it was the same the entire cruise. Since this was a cruise out of San Juan (where folks enjoy late dining) the MDR was totally full so there was no way the Maitre d could move us to another large table. The 6 others at our table never showed for the entire week. Since that time we have spent hundreds of days on cruises (we cruise over 70 days a year) but have always requested open dining (when available) on all of our cruises. On longer cruises we will often end up forming our own table made up of folks we meet the first few days.

 

Hank

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I love MyTime dining and use it all the time now. You can use it in a couple of ways.

 

The first time, I used it like a restaurant. I made no reservations. Showed up at different times each night. The PRO was that flexibility. We'd get the Cruise Compass, find an OPEN spot in the evening and go to dinner then. No worries about rushing back from port or missing an activity. The CON was that we did not have the same waitstaff each night, and I missed that familiarity.

 

The second time, we made reservations at a set time each night. We were assigned a table by the window which was our table all cruise. THE PRO was that we had the same table and staff all week. They got to know us and our preferences. The CON was the reduced flexibility. (Although we could have always moved our reservation an any particular day, had we chosen to.)

 

Personally, I prefer option 2 and have followed that plan for the past several cruises. I like being able to pick the time I want to eat (Not as early as "first seating" and not as late as "second seating".) I like having the same waitstaff all week. I stop having to ask for that glass of wine or after-dinner coffee. It just shows up! I liked that dinner is faster when you're not seated with a large group that the staff is trying to keep to the same schedule for each course.

 

People will argue that you miss out on meeting new people by sitting with your own group nightly. I've not found that to be true. The tables are closer together than in most restaurants, so you end up talking with people at adjacent tables. The first time we made standing reservations, it was so we could sit with a couple who was sitting next to us the first night, who we'd hit it off with. We hadn't made reservations prior to boarding.

 

I'm glad RC provides these dining options, so there is something for everyone.

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We also have been using MTD since it came out and really enjoy it. Even though there are only 2 of us, I always make prior reservations before boarding as I request a table for 2 as I enjoy my husband's company. If you have a large group, 6 or more, I would suggest making prior reservations.

 

Some nights we will go the WJ for a change and we do inform the staff at MTD that we will not be dining with them so they don't hold our table.

Edited by Life is Good Cruising
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You can go to the dining room whenever you choose to eat. No reservations are needed, although some people like to make them--we only do once in a while if we know we want a specific time due to some other event we want to attend. Reservations are not necessary but are fine if you want to.

 

Here is what a CruiseCritic news article reported a few weeks ago about Royal Caribbean:

 

"Royal Caribbean will roll out its flexible dining program to Oasis of the Seas next year -- and possibly to the rest of its fleet.

 

"The new program will give passengers a choice of 18 restaurants, of which seven will be fee-free for all guests: four full-service and three casual eateries. A new reservations system also will be used onboard so passengers can decide when, where and with whom they want to eat each night."

Edited by boogs
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Here is what a CruiseCritic news article reported a few weeks ago about Royal Caribbean:

 

"Royal Caribbean will roll out its flexible dining program to Oasis of the Seas next year -- and possibly to the rest of its fleet.

 

"The new program will give passengers a choice of 18 restaurants, of which seven will be fee-free for all guests: four full-service and three casual eateries. A new reservations system also will be used onboard so passengers can decide when, where and with whom they want to eat each night."

 

I'm not too happy about that if it means we have to choose ahead of time a place and time to eat. Sometimes it's nice to just not have to plan, just show up; that's why we like My-time dining. I like just showing up and having a nice meal without having to think, oh, should we do this or that, what's the menu here or there, now I have to dine at 7:30, or whatever. I still like the main dining room concept; I can choose various restaurants at home.

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Here is what a CruiseCritic news article reported a few weeks ago about Royal Caribbean:

 

"Royal Caribbean will roll out its flexible dining program to Oasis of the Seas next year -- and possibly to the rest of its fleet.

 

"The new program will give passengers a choice of 18 restaurants, of which seven will be fee-free for all guests: four full-service and three casual eateries. A new reservations system also will be used onboard so passengers can decide when, where and with whom they want to eat each night."

 

We're booked on the Quantum of the Seas for April. We're looking forward to trying the new "dynamic dining" that is described above. We like the idea of dining in seperate restaurants instead of a MDR. It should be interesting.

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Here is what a CruiseCritic news article reported a few weeks ago about Royal Caribbean:

 

"Royal Caribbean will roll out its flexible dining program to Oasis of the Seas next year -- and possibly to the rest of its fleet.

 

"The new program will give passengers a choice of 18 restaurants, of which seven will be fee-free for all guests: four full-service and three casual eateries. A new reservations system also will be used onboard so passengers can decide when, where and with whom they want to eat each night."

 

 

OK - we are talking about two different things here.

 

The new dining system that RCI is rolling out is called Dynamic Dining. It is restaurant style and there is NO main dining room, similar to NCL's freestyle concept. So far, Dynamic dining is only available on Quantum. It is coming to Oasis in March 2015, and it is rumored to be coming to Freedom too.

 

The other ships still have a main dining room, with set traditional dining AND My Time Dining which is the open dining concept that the OP is talking about. (According to her countdown clock, she is going on Liberty in Fall 2015).

 

One consideration with open seating dining (MTD) is that the evening shows are scheduled to fit with the traditional dining times. So, if this entertainment is important to you, then you will be dining closer to the traditional times in order to make one of the scheduled showtimes.

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NCL does still have main dining rooms, though. I'm just not sure I'd like the Dynamic Dining concept, but would be willing to try. As I understand it, the different restaurants will each have one menu that continues all week, so if you go to, say, the Steakhouse on Monday, and Friday, it would be the same menu.

 

So far we've always been able to eat at a time that works with the entertainment when using My-Time. If it is a little more difficult for some certain show, that's when we make a reservation.

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OK - we are talking about two different things here.

 

NO, they are the same thing. The OP's question was "Pros/Cons for Open Seating Dining on Royal Caribbean". Open seating on Royal is dining when you want, where you want. The Dynamic Dining idea is the same thing, only with a fancier name, but with the complete elimination of set dining, and as hinted by the CC news report, with reservations soon to be required. Royal Caribbean is slowly moving away from having any set dining format on their ships in the future. If successful on the first three ships, this will be changed as ships go in for major dry dock updates.

 

In other words, they are now following NCL's lead, instead of being leaders in the cruise industry. They are becoming more and more like NCL as each new ship is launched. :(

 

Another negative - Royal is beginning to require reservations to see the shows offered each night. They are deliberately making the theaters smaller on new ships, which in turn will no longer guarantee that you can get in to see any of the shows unless you have made a reservation before hand. That, IMHO, takes away much of the spontaneity that an evening on a cruise ship used to offer.

Edited by fortinweb
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NO, they are the same thing. The OP's question was "Pros/Cons for Open Seating Dining on Royal Caribbean". Open seating on Royal is dining when you want, where you want. The Dynamic Dining idea is the same thing, only with a fancier name, but with the complete elimination of set dining, and as hinted by the CC news report, with reservations soon to be required. Royal Caribbean is slowly moving away from having any set dining format on their ships in the future. If successful on the first three ships, this will be changed as ships go in for major dry dock updates.

 

In other words, they are now following NCL's lead, instead of being leaders in the cruise industry. They are becoming more and more like NCL as each new ship is launched. :(

 

Another negative - Royal is beginning to require reservations to see the shows offered each night. They are deliberately making the theaters smaller on new ships, which in turn will no longer guarantee that you can get in to see any of the shows unless you have made a reservation before hand. That, IMHO, takes away much of the spontaneity that an evening on a cruise ship used to offer.

 

I'm not a fan of having to reserve shows either; hopefully this doesn't carry over to other cruise lines.

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