Cruise lines understand that strict schedules do not satisfy the desires of all modern cruise passengers. Many cruise lines now include alternatives to the set schedules in the dining room, including open dining room seating, casual buffets, and specialty à la carte restaurants.
However, when you’re sailing on a traditional cruise with assigned dinner seating, your seating selection can set the tone for your entire trip. Which is best? Early dinner seating is generally scheduled between 6 and 6:30 pm, while late seating can begin from 8:15 to 8:45 pm. The best seating depends on you, your lifestyle, and your personal preferences.
Choose early seating if:
- You have small children accustomed to an early meal and bedtime
- You retire earlier in the evening and are an early riser
- You do not want to experience that full feeling at bedtime
- You want to attend the early shows, enjoy the casino and other activities, and take in the midnight buffet
Choose late seating if:
- You’re a night owl and do not mind finishing dinner after 10 pm
- Your itinerary is port-intensive and you don’t want to rush to get ready for dinner after a day of touring
- You like to sleep late in the morning or indulge in a late-afternoon nap
- You enjoy leisurely dining and linger over coffee at the end of the meal
Other factors to consider:
- Families and groups lean toward early seating, particularly when several generations are traveling together and ages vary widely.
- Older passengers tend to select early seating.
- Americans are more apt to select early seating than European and South American cruisers, who are accustomed to later meal times.
- Early seating diners are encouraged not to linger over dessert and coffee since the dining room has to be readied for late seating.
- Late seating is viewed by some passengers as more romantic and less rushed.
Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises