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1025cruise

Should cruise lines offer a dining option that does not include the MDR?

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4 hours ago, 1025cruise said:

 

In my situation, my other tablemates never showed. When the Maitre D contacted them, he was told that they had kids and couldn't do late dining, so were eating in the buffet. By that point, we were stuck. We wanted tablemates. I had asked earlier in the cruise, but was told that there was no place to move us. All I'm saying is that there needs to be another choice. I saw a post I believe on a FB group for the cruise where one family was planning to eat in specialty every night. Great, no issue with that. However, this family still had seats held for them in the MDR. If they were in anytime, then it meant that its possible someone that wanted anytime didn't get it. That meant that they had seats in traditional. If they ate early, then someone that wanted early got stuck in late. And at that point, its possible they said late was a no go, so ate elsewhere, but if they had early dining, would have been in the dining room. So, if the first family could have selected as their dining option "No MDR, we will eat elsewhere", then family 2 could have gotten their preferred dining in anytime, with family 3 getting their preferred time of early. 

 

In case I'm not clear, I'm not advocating for doing away with the choice to eat elsewhere. Just as the bigger ships are coming out, with more specialty dining options, it is extremely possible that someone might take advantage of all of these options and not utilize the MDR at all. All I'm saying is that perhaps its time for the lines to recognize this and offer the option of "Don't plan to use the MDR this cruise" so that they don't have seats held for them.

We had a similar situation about 15 years ago, while on a RCI cruise.  We enjoy sharing a large table and in those days Fixed dining was still the norm (although some lines had started anytime dining).  The 6 others at our table never showed-up for an entire 7 day cruise.  The maitre'd did make an inquiry and discovered that they were all friends and only dined at the buffet...but wanted to keep their MDR seats "just in case."  Our seating was entirely full and there was no where to move.

 

Partially as a result of that cruise (and similar issues on some  prior cruises) we decided to avoid Fixed Dining on future cruises.  Since that time we have cruised over 1000 days exclusively in anytime or select dining schemes.  We simply go to dinner when we please and ask (at the door) to share large tables.  It is an effective way to avoid the issue of nobody showing-up and open dining gives us an opportunity to make many new friends at dinner.  On longer cruises we will often form our own tables (after a few evenings) with others we have previously met at dinner.

 

We remain puzzled at the OP's topic.  There are already several options including Fixed, Open Sitting, dining in the Lido, or dining in various alternative restaurants.  I am not sure what else could be reasonably added to all these options.  

 

Hank

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54 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

We had a similar situation about 15 years ago, while on a RCI cruise.  We enjoy sharing a large table and in those days Fixed dining was still the norm (although some lines had started anytime dining).  The 6 others at our table never showed-up for an entire 7 day cruise.  The maitre'd did make an inquiry and discovered that they were all friends and only dined at the buffet...but wanted to keep their MDR seats "just in case."  Our seating was entirely full and there was no where to move.

 

Partially as a result of that cruise (and similar issues on some  prior cruises) we decided to avoid Fixed Dining on future cruises.  Since that time we have cruised over 1000 days exclusively in anytime or select dining schemes.  We simply go to dinner when we please and ask (at the door) to share large tables.  It is an effective way to avoid the issue of nobody showing-up and open dining gives us an opportunity to make many new friends at dinner.  On longer cruises we will often form our own tables (after a few evenings) with others we have previously met at dinner.

 

We remain puzzled at the OP's topic.  There are already several options including Fixed, Open Sitting, dining in the Lido, or dining in various alternative restaurants.  I am not sure what else could be reasonably added to all these options.  

 

Hank

I believe the OP's issue is what if someone never intends to use the MDR, but is assigned something. Let's say it is the open seating that you wanted, but now you are shut out of it because of lack of it being available..

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Perhaps instead of adding yet another category that new cruisers may not know about or understand,  the lines could just make any time dining the default MDR assignment. Those who actually want fixed dining would have to actively opt in. Simply shrink the fixed seating section of the MDR to fit. That should make the OP happy, and the rest of us don't have to decide weeks or months in advance when and where we might feel like dining on any given night.

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32 minutes ago, mom says said:

Perhaps instead of adding yet another category that new cruisers may not know about or understand,  the lines could just make any time dining the default MDR assignment. Those who actually want fixed dining would have to actively opt in. Simply shrink the fixed seating section of the MDR to fit. That should make the OP happy, and the rest of us don't have to decide weeks or months in advance when and where we might feel like dining on any given night.

That is similar to an earlier suggestion of mine, make the traditional dining area smaller, (so that they still have enough seats) as needed.

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5 minutes ago, MicCanberra said:

That is similar to an earlier suggestion of mine, make the traditional dining area smaller, (so that they still have enough seats) as needed.

But on some cruises on some ships the most popular choice is early traditional. On most of the Princess ships,  those that have three or more MDRs, one dining room is solely traditional dining, at least one is solely anytime dining, and at least one starts as early traditional then switches to anytime at 7:30pm. I'm not sure what the split is on Diamond or Sapphire which have four small MDRs and one large - the large one was used for traditional on the cruise we did on Diamond.

 

The mix may change depending on the region too, late traditional was always full on the Med cruise we did, but is not as popular on Australian cruises.

 

I do think allowing people to opt out of MDR dining would be sensible though. 

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26 minutes ago, OzKiwiJJ said:

But on some cruises on some ships the most popular choice is early traditional. On most of the Princess ships,  those that have three or more MDRs, one dining room is solely traditional dining, at least one is solely anytime dining, and at least one starts as early traditional then switches to anytime at 7:30pm. I'm not sure what the split is on Diamond or Sapphire which have four small MDRs and one large - the large one was used for traditional on the cruise we did on Diamond.

 

The mix may change depending on the region too, late traditional was always full on the Med cruise we did, but is not as popular on Australian cruises.

 

I do think allowing people to opt out of MDR dining would be sensible though. 

All true but the suggestion was that if Anytime was the default setting, (instead of having the no MDR option), then each cruise can allocate the required number of tables for early seating (Early is usually more popular than Late) and the rest would be for Anytime and as the early seating finishes some of those may even revert to Anytime.

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2 hours ago, ontheweb said:

I believe the OP's issue is what if someone never intends to use the MDR, but is assigned something. Let's say it is the open seating that you wanted, but now you are shut out of it because of lack of it being available..

I guess that has happened to some.  But we have booked an awful lot of cruises (from far in advance to the very last minute) and always been able to get Open Seating (on all the lines upon which we cruise).  Most of the time the choice was still available at booking.  A few times it was "closed" but we were easily able to get switched to Open Dining the day we boarded (by simply going to the Maitre'd).  A few lines do guarantee open sitting in certain classes.  For example, on Celebrity you have open dining if you book Aqua Class and on Princess you will have open sitting in Club Class.  On MSC it is available in various "experiences."

 

Hank

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, MicCanberra said:

All true but the suggestion was that if Anytime was the default setting, (instead of having the no MDR option), then each cruise can allocate the required number of tables for early seating (Early is usually more popular than Late) and the rest would be for Anytime and as the early seating finishes some of those may even revert to Anytime.

Anytime is the default setting on Princess and has been for some time. Assuming you book early enough, that is.

Edited by OzKiwiJJ

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8 hours ago, Hlitner said:

I guess that has happened to some.  But we have booked an awful lot of cruises (from far in advance to the very last minute) and always been able to get Open Seating (on all the lines upon which we cruise).  Most of the time the choice was still available at booking.  A few times it was "closed" but we were easily able to get switched to Open Dining the day we boarded (by simply going to the Maitre'd).  A few lines do guarantee open sitting in certain classes.  For example, on Celebrity you have open dining if you book Aqua Class and on Princess you will have open sitting in Club Class.  On MSC it is available in various "experiences."

 

Hank

Before anytime on the cruise we booked the latest, we were assigned late despite choosing early. We did get it changed in the long line at the Maitre'd. (We were better off than the person in line who had no dining assigned!)

 

Even if by your experience it would rarely apply, where is the downside?

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12 hours ago, mom says said:

Perhaps instead of adding yet another category that new cruisers may not know about or understand,  the lines could just make any time dining the default MDR assignment. Those who actually want fixed dining would have to actively opt in. Simply shrink the fixed seating section of the MDR to fit. That should make the OP happy, and the rest of us don't have to decide weeks or months in advance when and where we might feel like dining on any given night.

I think this is what actually happens on most lines - we have occasionally been told assigned dining is not available when we book close to sailing date.  We have also been able to get assigned to a table when boarding by talking with the MDR manager. Finally,we have also been able to get reassigned from large tables when others do not show up.  

 

My experience is that if someone does not show up at assigned table for first two nights, their seats can be reassigned. The idea of someone regularly eating in the cafeteria wanting to keep his assigned seat in MDR “just in case” is absurd.

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17 minutes ago, navybankerteacher said:

...The idea of someone regularly eating in the cafeteria wanting to keep his assigned seat in MDR “just in case” is absurd.

Completely agree but that's the crux of the problem.  Too many passengers want that  "just in case" option.  They'll argue that they paid for it and are entitled to use it should they be in the mood to do so. 

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1 hour ago, BlueRiband said:

Completely agree but that's the crux of the problem.  Too many passengers want that  "just in case" option.  They'll argue that they paid for it and are entitled to use it should they be in the mood to do so. 

That situation causes a real dilemma for the Dining room management.  What are they to do?  In the old RCI case we mentioned, the Maitre'd took that extra step of contacting the missing group who made it clear they did not want to give up their reserved MDR seats (which were never used during the entire cruise).  Can you imagine the outcry if the Maitre'd simply took away their seats (for failure to show up) and then they decide to come to the MDR for dinner?  One solution is to simply eliminate all Fixed Dining and switch to a open sitting scheme where one could make daily reservations.  But those that love Fixed Dining (and there are still some of those folks) would be very unhappy.

 

We do find it interesting that the luxury lines do not have any Fixed dining.  It is all open dining with some lines accepting reservations.  In a sense they operate like a decent land-based restaurant with reservations and walk-ins acceptable.  Nearly all the mass market lines now use a similar scheme for their higher paying suite customers and certain other cabin categories (i.e. Aqua Class, Club Class, Yacht Club, etc).  Personally I think that Fixed Dining has outlived its usefulness on cruise ships (some will flame me for saying this).

 

Hank

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Posted (edited)

We feel that assigned seating is a throwback to days of old.  

 

Our preference is always for open seating.  I can well understand why the premium and luxury lines have gone this way.  They seem to be the first to react to changing customer tastes and demands. Perhaps because they tend to have smaller ships or perhaps their target demographic is more demanding.  Look how long it took a HAL to deal with the smoking issue or the demand for casual issue.  Not so with the premium and luxury lines.  Same with a few of the other mass market lines.  Times are changing.  I suspect that there is less and less blind loyalty to a cruise brand.  If one of the large mass market lines moves away from assigned seating I suspect that others will follow.

Edited by iancal

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FREESTYLE CRUISING on NCL, come if you desire, don't if you prefer.  Anytime of day food is available somewhere.

 

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Posted (edited)

To date, we have never had a problem securing anytime dining on Princess, RCI,  or Celebrity.  Celebrity has been by far the easiest to obtain and the most flexible when it came to reserving specific dining times.

 

There have been a few times when we were not able to secure anytime dining prior to embarkation.  On those occasions we lined up with others on the afternoon of boarding and had our assignments switched from fixed to anytime.  Simple.

Edited by iancal

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