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Early Dining or Your Time Dining

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Taking our first cruise on Sensation September 9 - 14 and undecided on which dining option to choose, early dining (6pm) or your time dining.  I know it's a personal preference for the most part but for those who have done both which do you prefer?

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I prefer the anytime dining. The early dining is sometimes difficult to make on port days that end at 5:00. If you are doing an excursion and get back to the ship at 4:00, it is difficult to get everyone through the lines to get back on the ship, get to your room, get showered, dressed, and down for dinner by 6:00. I really like to come in from an excursion and have a drink or two on the balcony and then get ready. And sometimes, you are just pooped after an all day excursion and need a little nap. If you go down to dinner and you have to wait (any time dining), it is never very long and you can always have a drink while you wait. We have only waited a few times. Usually, we are seated right away unless it is a sea day. And, we found out on our last cruise that you can request the same wait staff team each night with anytime dining. We love anytime dining and would never go back to early seating.

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I like both.  If I have a really port intensive itinerary then it is anytime dining, I don't feel rushed.  If we are traveling with a group and the itinerary doesn't have us returning to the ship late I like early.  

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I have done both with and without having my kids with me.  I prefer early dining only because I love having a personal connection with the waitstaff.  We have sailed many times, and met some amazing dining staff.  I have never had that vibe with anytime dining, and the few times I have had to wait a few times, been crowded in, etc.  The one advantage I loved about anytime was once we were at a table for 10, and they were the coolest people ever!!  But we still prefer to have same table, same waitstaff each night. 

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We had early dining on our first and only cruise a few weeks ago and if I had it to do again I would do anytime.  I hated rushing to go eat every night.  That being said, I might also pick other alternatives to the MDR next time to eliminate the whole change clothes for dinner thing.

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when you have my time dinning do you sit with other cruisers we have 4 people and was wanting to know if you sit with others 

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I have done anytime the last few cruises but I have realized that I go to dinner at 6:00 every night anyway. On a port day where we leave at 5:00, I am on the ship by 4:00 at the very latest, which gave us plenty of time to get ready for dinner. 

 

 

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27 minutes ago, vacationpam said:

when you have my time dinning do you sit with other cruisers we have 4 people and was wanting to know if you sit with others 

You can request a table for just your group, or ask to join others. It’s your choice.😀

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20 minutes ago, michiganredrose said:

I have done anytime the last few cruises but I have realized that I go to dinner at 6:00 every night anyway. On a port day where we leave at 5:00, I am on the ship by 4:00 at the very latest, which gave us plenty of time to get ready for dinner. 

 

 

 

I agree. Early dining was great for us, and we loved our wait staff. Eating at 8PM has little appeal unless you plan to be up until midnight.

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We prefer My Time dining because we like having a table for 2. IF we meet folks we want to see at dinner then we make a plan to meet them that night .We don't like sitting with strangers for our evening meal. We usually get the same table every night so that we have the same wait staff who get to know us. On some ships they call it "our" table !!

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Definitely can have the same wait staff with YTD, had them for 2 weeks on a B2B, wonderful team.

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I like your time, no rushes. If you don't like the menu you can go to the buffet and get something else. Wish they had lobster on the buffet.

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We don't like the menu, we go to the Steakhouse or Italian, no dinner buffets for us. YTD gives you so much flexibility, late lunch? eat late, feel hungry early, go eat.

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For Early (or Late) Dining, are you always seated with others? Is YTD the only way to get a table for 2?

 

How long are the waits usually for YTD?

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7 hours ago, DukeASUGirl said:

For Early (or Late) Dining, are you always seated with others? Is YTD the only way to get a table for 2?

 

How long are the waits usually for YTD?

 

For Early/Late dining, you are assigned a specific table or booth.  You will sit at the same table every night with the same people.  

 

If you are assigned a table for more than two, on the first day the Maitre'd will be in the dining room at a specific time.  You can go in a request a table for two.  They will accommodate you if they possibly can.  From what I've read on here, the tables for two are so close together that you can hear the people at the next table talking just like if they were at your table.

 

Wait time for YTD depends on when you go.  Midway through the time it's opened you may have a wait.  Early or late when it's open usually lets you walk right in and be seated.

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In 20 cruises we did any time just once. Never again. Asking for a table for two got us a chair and part of a long bench to share with all the other tables for two along a wall. Elbow to elbow. We felt like we were at a picnic table. Asking for the same waiter (that everyone wanted) netted us a very long wait.  Service did not go smoothly and it seemed like they didn't care. They want you in and out as quickly as possible. Not for us as we make dinner a part of our enjoyment of the cruise and want to relax during it.

I do have to say that I love reading how many people want flexibility, and to go when they want, and yet you will see the exact same people lined up every evening at the exact same time while enjoying a pre dinner cocktail at a bar. I don't have to line up. I already know I have a table with the same wait staff every night.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

IDEAL for us would be an isolated table for 2 in early dining.  But we recognize that as a Gold level cruiser, that can't be expected.  So we go with ATD and sit at a 2 top.  Works out fine.

 

Next time we cruise with our adult kids, I'm sure we'll request an early 4 person booth and get it.

Edited by jsglow

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It depends also if you want to be able to talk to the people you are cruising with.  Since we had 6pm seating at a regular table(10 people)we(4 of us) were in a circle sitting next to each other rather than across from each other so anyone at the end couldn't even see the person at the other end.  This was fine for talking with new people but I liked the first night when we walked in and the 4 of us had a square table and could all talk and visit.  

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My wife and I have only done one cruise so far and have a second one booked.  We chose your time dining, and our thinking was the flexibility of having dinner when we wanted rather than have to plan our evening around a set dining time.  We liked it and so we've got our next cruise set for that anytime dining too.  It's really a personal preference sort of thing.  We can only speak for the anytime and we liked the flexibility it provided.  

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We love the early dining. The table is ready when we are. We have generally enjoyed our wait staff. It's actually fun to see them each night. For the vast majority of ports, you are back on the ship before 5. We love being done with dinner by 7-7:30, that means the rest of the night is ours. 

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4 hours ago, Bookbug53 said:

I do have to say that I love reading how many people want flexibility, and to go when they want, and yet you will see the exact same people lined up every evening at the exact same time while enjoying a pre dinner cocktail at a bar. I don't have to line up. I already know I have a table with the same wait staff every night.

 

 

What if you regularly eat at 7:30, late or early won't work. We have had YTD last 3 cruises always had the same wait staff and never "lined up"

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 We used to choose Early Dining, up until about four cruises ago. There would occasionally be times when we didn't feel like going to the MDR, and would opt for the buffet. That meant letting our tablemates and our waiter know of our plans. Then we switched to YTD. With that option, we don't have to let anyone know whether or not we'll be eating dinner in the MDR.  We like the flexibility of YTD.  

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1 hour ago, coevan said:

 

 

What if you regularly eat at 7:30, late or early won't work. We have had YTD last 3 cruises always had the same wait staff and never "lined up"

So happy to know you are here as usual to straighten out my personal observations and experiences. 

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We love YTD.  We have never waited more than 10 minutes (on elegant night) and always request the same waitstaff (unless we didn't like them the first night).  It's funny to listen to others complain about the 2-tops sitting so close together.  We actually like that 🙂  We will occasionally strike up conversations with those sitting close to us, but don't feel any pressure to do so like we would if actually sharing a table.

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7 hours ago, Joebucks said:

We love the early dining. The table is ready when we are. We have generally enjoyed our wait staff. It's actually fun to see them each night. For the vast majority of ports, you are back on the ship before 5. We love being done with dinner by 7-7:30, that means the rest of the night is ours. 

That's the other reason I would rather be at a smaller table, we were never done with dinner before 7:30 and most nights it was 7:45-8 and they were hurrying to set up for the next group.  Making an early show was never an option unless we got up before dancing/dessert and just left.  We never did that cause I felt like it would be rude.

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