Our family, with daughters 18 and 15, will be cruising on the Majesty and are interested in the pros and cons of the dinner seating options. First, I know that there are two meal times, but what makes people choose one over the other? We typically eat around 7pm at home, but my kids think that eating each night at 8 or 8:30 seems late. Second, we were offered a table for four or a larger group table. I think that meeting new people might be nice, but is it the same people each night? What happens if your tablemates are intolerable?
You will have the same table mates for the entire cruise. I am really not sure what makes people choose first or second seating for eating. To me, it's not a big deal because you can always skip the formal dinner and eat somewhere else at your own leisure.
We were assigned late seating on both cruises because we did not want to rush off the islands. We just "snacked" to our desire when we got hungry... there's a lot of options to choose from, up to the time of the dinner.
We've always chosen late dining. It seemed like it would be less stressful to have more time to get dressed for dinner on the days we're in port. I suppose the desire to eat with other grownups also entered into the equation.
I don't know if it's true but I feel like the last show of the night might be more lively than the first. I do amateur musical stuff and I hold back a little in the first show, trying to sustain energy for the second one. The pros may not have that problem.
This next cruise on the Mariner we have chosen early seating. Actually, we didn't really choose it, I messed up when I booked it. I could have changed it but we decided just to go with early.
I have to tell you that the "strangers" we have eaten with over the years have been absolutely delightful. When we remember our cruises, they play an integral part in the pleasant memories.
At home I usually eat around 7pm as well but on a cruise I always take the late seating. I also, no matter whom I am cruising with, ask to be seated at a large table so I can meet people. Only once in 27 cruises have I not liked who I was seated with and I simply asked to be moved to a different table after the first dinner. My request was happily met with and I got great new table mates. As a matter-of-fact I am off on another cruise in late October with 3 other couples - two of which I met by being seated with them on other cruises and we have maintained a great friendship through the years and now enjoy cruising together.
I prefer the late seating as it allows plenty of time in the day - whether at sea or an island to do whatever I want and not worry about rushing back to shower and change for dinner. Also at the late seating if you are enjoying the company of your tablemates there isn't a need to rush out for the next 'wave' of people - you can simply sit back and relax while you chat.
I have to agree with everyone's post. Generally, first seating passengers then go to an after dinner show, while second seating passengers are generally treated to a before dinner show. It has more to do with your vision of how an evening should unfold (and your day's experience). To me, the dinning experience is one of the things that makes a cruise, so I always opt for late dining.
The Maitre d' is your friend in all situations. If you want to be seated with another family with kids your own age, he can arrange it, if you want to dine alone, no problem.....whatever you want, just tell the maitre d' and it will happen. If you have specific requests, a generous tip will go a long way to making it happen when you first board the ship and let your requests be known by visiting the maitre d'.
First off I will admit that I have also never been on a cruise. However, this was my family's reasonning. We live on the West Coast and are cruising in the Caribbean and therefore, the time change would automatically put us at the later seating. We also considered the above reasoning. So, my recommendation would be to consider your time zones as well.
I just came back from the Serenade of the seas @ inside passage and Alaska, we got the second seat and i could say this was a great decision, because you dont have to rush off, you have time to relax, after a day of shopping and exciting tours, and you dont have to be looking at your clock because at 8: 15 you have to be out of there because there is people at 8:30. so I´recomend the second one.
We always do first seating and have never been rushed out of there for the second seating....Then we have the rest of the nite for our food to digest and do whatever we want...Have never felt rushed getting back from shore to boat to make the 6:15 seating! We always say if we are not back in time we would eat at the Windjammer but have never missed a dining room dinner in 3 cruises..