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Bubbs33

Traditional or Anytime dining

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New to cruising. First cruise booked to Alaska July 2019. What do you prefer traditional or anytime dining and why? How does it work on long days in port? 

Thanks.

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3 hours ago, Bubbs33 said:

New to cruising. First cruise booked to Alaska July 2019. What do you prefer traditional or anytime dining and why? How does it work on long days in port? 

Thanks.

For flexibility I would book anytime. 

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Used to go with Anytime Dinning but the lines started to get to long so switched to Early Traditional.  Now they are changing Traditional Dining times to earlier 5:00 and 7:15.  On next cruise have chosen Late Traditional but will see what happens on ships that are sailing now and seeing if the ships actually change their times.

 

As far as late port days.  In the past the ship has gone to all anytime dining on those days.  No Early or Late Traditional, just show up when you want and hope to get in

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Traditional late dinning. Works for us on late departure ports. We like to know were our table is and who our server will be. 

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My DH wants his dinner early and likes to have the same waitstaff. So, we do early traditional. Always.

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2 hours ago, famski740 said:

Used to go with Anytime Dinning but the lines started to get to long so switched to Early Traditional.  Now they are changing Traditional Dining times to earlier 5:00 and 7:15.  On next cruise have chosen Late Traditional but will see what happens on ships that are sailing now and seeing if the ships actually change their times.

 

As far as late port days.  In the past the ship has gone to all anytime dining on those days.  No Early or Late Traditional, just show up when you want and hope to get in

We are also again trying Traditional Dining (7:15) on the CB after doing Anytime on the Regal and Royal several times with mixed results (mostly okay and table for two usually available, sometimes able to make a reservation and sometimes not, some nights long lines and slow service).  On a port intensive cruise like Alaska, we'd go with Anytime, though.

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As a first time cruiser I would go with Anytime and see how you like it. On subsequent cruises you can then decide how you want tto work it.  This lets you decide when you want to eat after all of the days activities.  We have always prefered Anytime as it lets us schedule meals around activities and not vice versa.

 

There is no need for reservations with Anytime.

Edited by Potstech

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We prefer traditional early dining. We eat at 5pm at home so that fits right into our schedule without having to wait in line and hope for a table for two.  We tried anytime dining on the last two Princess cruises and it was organized chaos as far as I was concerned.  

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6 minutes ago, Potstech said:

As a first time cruiser I would go with Anytime and see how you like it. On subsequent cruises you can then decide how you want tto work it.  This lets you decide when you want to eat after all of the days activities.  We have always prefered Anytime as it lets us schedule meals around activities and not vice versa.

 

There is no need for reservations with Anytime.

 

Totally agree with the above.  :classic_cool:

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First we did the TD because that was all that was offered and picked the late time (we were younger).  When they introduced ATD we switched to doing that for several years but a few years ago went back to TD early.  We like the same table location, pax and waitstaff.  The waitstaff learns our names, what we like to eat and drink and makes suggestions based on that.  It is a lot more friendly. 

 

ATD:  You generally have to wait in line which sometimes can be long but can go anytime you want.  Each night you will be taken to a table with others that you probably have not met or wait longer for a table for "two".  They are located next to each other about 2 feet so we frequently talked to the table next to us.  You will get different waitstaff each night.  I have heard you can ask for the same waitstaff and can make reservations but it is up to the maitre'd.  Some accommodate pax and some do not. 

 

TD:  You are assigned to a table either early (4:45 or 5:00) or late (7:15) dining.  Princess just changed the times.  You will be seated with the same pax with the same waitstaff every night.  The table will be waiting for you at the assigned time so no lines.

 

The choice then is what you like and what you can tolerate.  

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Thank you all for your insights. I much appreciate your perspectives. We are travelling with another couple so there are 4 of us. We have requested ATD, but was getting nervous about the choice. You have shown me there is no perfect answer. We keep it as is and as others suggested will enjoy the experience and learn for future cruises.

Thank you.

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I have always been Late Traditional.   Once we tried Anytime, but we went back to Traditional after that experience.

 

I like having the same tablemates at each dinner.  There have been a couple of cruises where there needed to be some re-shuffling of the deck -- once, there was a young non-English speaking couple at the table, and that was awkward for all of us.  They were a lovely couple, but it just didn't work!  There were moved to another table with other German-speakers.  Once, there was a loud-mouthed lout who vigorously expressed himself politically; we asked to be moved -- no talking about sex, politics and religion!

 

But usually, the tablemates are nice people, and we make friendships.  Often, we will go on private shore excursions with some of them.  And we will always discuss what everyone did in port, and that will help educate me for future visits to that port.

 

I like having the same waitstaff every night.  After the first night, my wife's diet coke with lemon is waiting for her when we are seated.  After the first night, my hot water is brought when the staff clears the main course, so that the tea bag can steep and the tea will be ready when dessert is served.   The staff quickly learns your preferences and caters to them.

 

I also like having a specific time that we are supposed to be in the dining room.  It puts a limit to the otherwise endless grooming and fussing.

 

I did like the idea of being able to go to the dining room at whatever time worked out for us, but that was just an idea.  In reality, when we did Anytime Dining, the waits were too long, and we ended up at the Horizon Court buffet or room service more than once.  When I was dressed up in my tux on a Formal Night, and we were told that the wait for a table was an hour, well, that really upset me.  So we went back to Traditional.

 

Whichever you select, I hope you have a great experience.

 

 

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Plenty of advantages with Traditional, particularly the same guests and wait staff, but personally I hate having to be ready at the same time every night. Some days I just like to have a drink on deck or the balcony and get ready when it suits. I have regimentation at home and work so I don't want that on a cruise. That's why we take anytime and we have never had a problem. If there is a queue we just get a buzzer and go and have a drink in a nearby bar and wait. Just a personal preference.

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Do what fits your lifestyle, just know that peak dining times in anytime could have you waiting 30 to 45 min to be seated. I prefer a scheduled dinner time if I have to choose. However, if I have club class I just go when I want to and I get seated right away. 

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9 minutes ago, Coffeeluvr05 said:

Do what fits your lifestyle, just know that peak dining times in anytime could have you waiting 30 to 45 min to be seated. I prefer a scheduled dinner time if I have to choose. However, if I have club class I just go when I want to and I get seated right away. 

 

Have to agree ... Club Class Dining makes it so easy to have dinner whenever you wish.  :classic_wink:

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1 hour ago, Coffeeluvr05 said:

Do what fits your lifestyle, just know that peak dining times in anytime could have you waiting 30 to 45 min to be seated. I prefer a scheduled dinner time if I have to choose. However, if I have club class I just go when I want to and I get seated right away. 

 

We have only had to wait that long one time for Anytime Dining. Most other times it has been no wait at all because we enjoy sharing with other people and meeting new ones.

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We love the flexibility of ATD ... we choose a time that suits us according to what we are doing on any given day.
We generally choose to share a table and find that we then get to meet a variety of people ... some of whom we have later caught up with around the ship or for other meals (and occasionally some we are glad we have only had to spend one meal with and not a whole voyage ... especially as our cruises tend to be 14+ days 😉 ). If we are feeling like some "us time" or just not feeling particularly sociable that evening we ask for a table for two.

As far as having the servers get to know our likes ... we both like variety so we don't really have a need for anybody to predict what we will want as chances are it would be different anyway.

Even though I have an allergy I find it is no issue and they are well able to accommodate my needs by assigning me a head waiter who consults with me each evening as to what I would like to order for the next evening ... when we sit down and the server brings the menu all I need to do is let him know I have a pre-order and who my HW is ... it has always worked well for me.

I think it is wonderful that the majority of Princess ships are able to offer the choice between ATD and TD as it seems obvious that both types of dining are popular.

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After some less than desirable experiences with traditional dining, we tried anytime and never went back.  Our less than desirable experiences at larger tables included loud and obnoxious table mates, religious or political zealots, diners who were rude to the wait staff, table mates who were late and held up the entire table, and so on.  Then we tried smaller tables and sometimes found ourselves parked next to some of the same people - or next to an alcohol-fueled large table with people shouting throughout the meal.

 

With anytime, we can float around a bit until we find the ideal location and server, and if we make some new friends on-board we can invite them to join us for a dinner.  We've also found that the meals in anytime seem to take less time because the servers can earn more in gratuities when they can turn the table over several times during the meal times.  And one big plus, once we find the server and table that we like, we request a table in his/her section and get even better service because the server recognizes us and recognizes that we have requested his/her section.

 

 

 

 

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23 hours ago, Bubbs33 said:

New to cruising. First cruise booked to Alaska July 2019. What do you prefer traditional or anytime dining and why? How does it work on long days in port? 

Thanks.

We've always done traditional dinning---get the same table, the same servers; makes for a great dinning venture; you get to know the servers and they get to know you, what you like, what you don't like.  Just a personal preference.

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We prefer traditional and always request a table of 8 late sitting

 

Reasons it works for us:

 

-it’s nice to chill out in the room, have a nap, shower etc and have plenty of time before dinner with late dining 

 

-activities (theatre shows, movies, entertainment etc) are timetabled to coincide with traditional dining times so we e.g. can watch a singer who finishes when it’s time to head to dining room then walk out of dinner straight into theatre etc. When we did anytime dining we always had to wait to be seated and missed all the shows. 

 

-after a day in port or even on board it’s nice to catch up and hear what others have done (I know what hubby did as we are usually together lol) or get tips on upcoming ports or other cruise lines from other cruisers who you often build up a relationship with over the course of the cruise

 

-a table of 8 means that if there are a boring or weird or whatever couple on the table it’s always been ‘de rigeur’ to vary seating arrangements around the table (musical chairs) so you’re not always stuck next to the same person 

 

-if we really don’t fancy going down to dinner at the time assigned one night we can always go the Alfredo’s, or a speciality restaurant, or even the buffet so we are never “forced” to eat at that time with those people if we really don’t want to or if we just fancy a change. (We did once end up on a table of six with an unpleasant couple who fell out with with the other couple on the second night - the nice couple then asked to be reassigned so we were left with just the insufferable couple; we spent quite a bit of time in specialty restaurants and the buffet on that cruise and the insufferables were alone on their large table. Another time it didn’t quite work was a table of six where the other couples really bonded and we were the odd ones out. They were perfectly nice to us, but we felt a little awkward when they were talking about excursions they’d taken together or things they’d got up to as a foursome. A bit awkward)

 

-it’s nice to be served by the same staff every evening; we usually find that getting to know staff in our favourite bars/lounges or in the dining room is a nice added extra for us 

 

I wouldn’t rule out anytime in the future, but at the moment traditional works for us.  

Edited by claudiniusmaximus

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I have to preface with a disclaimer.  While we like Princess a lot but for the last few years we have been on RCI & Celebrity.  

 

If traveling by ourselves, we choose anytime and get a table for two.  Main reason is it provides most flexibility.  Unlike some of the other comments, we typically have the same table/wait staff at roughly the same times.  But, if for some reason we do need to change then ATD gives us that option. Another potential advantage is if you have a long port day you don't necessarily have to rush to make an early seating.   I do recall having to wait in line for ATD on some past Princess cruises, but never had to wait very long.  

 

If traveling with our group, which is most of our cruises, we opt for TD.  Easier to manage with a large group.  Never a line. 

 

IMO, both are enjoyable.  

 

BTW, I am surprised to see the early sitting is now 4:45 or 5:00.  Reminds me of a Seinfeld episode.  :classic_smile:

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We like late traditional dining. It's great having the same waiters every night. On our trans-Atlantic cruise in September on the Royal, one of our tablemates wanted seltzer water every night. After the first couple of nights, the assistant waiter had it ready for her. On the same cruise, someone else on Cruise Critic complained about not being offered extra lobster tails on the last formal night. Our waiters had them for us in the traditional dining room without our having to ask.

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We've tried both and just preferred Late TD for all the above reasons, emphasis on the wait staff getting to know your preferences  But also most of the time we're back on board, time to get dressed, go to PES and/or Casino, events, drinks in Vines, then off to dinner.  We do tend to get a 2 top but visit with those around us.  In ATD on Grand class the 2 tops tend to be  long `8 tops' with random neighbors.

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I have done both and settled on TD late seating.  ATD works for some people, particularly if you don't mind the potential of having to wait.  I like getting to know the waitstaff.  They always bring my kid's favorites right away and it is one of the best parts of the trip for them.

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