Yep, they are pricey, too! But, after cruising only the Caribbean, it will be such a totally different experience for us and we want to absorb as much of Alaska as time, and money, will allow. Decisions, decisions!
My agent just told me she was successful in getting us confirmed for early seating - she had to pull more than a few strings. No reason given on why early seating was such a challenge.
This is a prime example of why having a good long-term relationship with an agent is so important. I cannot imagine this level of effort being done on my behalf if I had booked directly with the line, or had used some "1-800" cruise seller.
When we did the Alaskan tour, we had late seating but every one else wanted early. The couple we sat with the first night had asked for early seating and managed to switch. By the 3rd night the 2nd seating was quite small and our waiters had only us and another table. Of course, we got great service and had a chance to talk to them quite a bit.
We actually preferred the later seating. Afterward we would stroll along the deck watching the sun set (around midnight)