HAL - "Open Seating Notification"

Feb 4th, 2017, 07:59 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 464
HAL - "Open Seating Notification"

We are scheduled to sail on the Eurodam in mid-March. We selected "open seating" as our dining option.

This morning we reached this message from HAL:

We would like to advise you of a change to the open seating option offered in
the main dining room aboard the ms Eurodam sailing on March 11, 2017. Open
seating will be offered as normal; however, due to the number of guests
requesting to dine at 8:00pm, available seating will be limited after 6:00pm.
Should you wish to dine later and space is not available in the dining room,
complimentary dining is always available in the Lido Market after 5:30pm, or
for a nominal fee we invite you to make reservations at our Canaletto, Tamarind
or Pinnacle Grill Restaurants. We regret any disappointment this change may

This is only our 2nd cruise so we are rather inexperienced cruisers and are not sure what to do in this situation. Our 1st cruise was a 14 night Baltic cruise also on HAL. We had open seating and generally ate around 7:30 or 8:00 in the MDR. Actually our delightful server reserved our table for 2 on a window for the entire cruise on our first night of dining in MDR. We were very pleased.

We were looking forward to a 2 top probably around 7:30ish and don't feel we should have to pay a supplement to guarantee this. Any experienced cruisers ever encountered a similar situation? Any advice? We called the 1-800 provided but the office is closed on Saturdays.

We appreciate your help.
Bette is offline  
Feb 4th, 2017, 09:03 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,312
I prefer open seating too, like to eat on my own schedule, but with open seating, you can never be guaranteed to get a set time, or table and you may have a wait. It is reasonable to realize that if many people choose the same set time, which are the only times actually guaranteed, there will be fewer seats available for open seating during that time. For a guaranteed time, you would have to choose one of the set time options. That is how it works on all ships. However, they will always seat you, just maybe not at the exact time or specific table you would like, or with a small group if you would like to be seated sooner. We often take whatever is available to be seated more quickly.

Please don't let this be an issue for you. It is a little thing, and is like any restaurant. A reservation (or in this case, set dining time) will have you seated sooner than someone showing up without a reservation. Like any restaurant, when seats are filled, they are filled. They can't add more people right then.

There are over 2,000 passengers on your ship. They can't all eat at once. However, at the beginning of the cruise, you can go directly and make reservations for each night. If they have it available, they will give you the time you want. They do try to give you what you would like, but it is not always possible.

On some ships, there is only open seating. On some there are only set dining times. On some they offer both. On ships with older clientele, it seems to me anyway, that more people opt for set times, so fewer open seats available then.

Have fun on your cruise.
Sassafrass is offline  
Feb 4th, 2017, 09:14 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,426
Well the "nominal fee" is $15.00 to $35.00 per person! I do wonder if this is a ploy to get passengers to opt for these extra fee restaurants. Hmmm.

We have cruised 15 times but not on HAL but its been my experience that once on board the Maitre'd will do his best to accommodate your wishes. This has been true of CCL, X, Princess and RCI so I imagine they will do their best to help you.

Try going to cruise critic and ask this on the HAL board. I am sure you will get more information there. I think the mods over there can help too. They are more active and participatory and should have helpful information.

Good luck, Larry. .
jacketwatch is offline  
Feb 4th, 2017, 11:31 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 464
Sassafrass and Jacketwatch,

Thank you both for taking the time to respond. I value both your opinions as experienced cruisers.

Certainly, we understand that 2,000 can't dine all at the same time. We will certainly check in once we arrive on the ship and I'm sure they will do their best to accommodate us.

Funny, I had the same thought when I first read the email - is this a ploy to get us to book in the extra fee restaurant!

I will also check on Cruise Critic; and, yes, this is a small thing and it in no way will ruin our experience. I will try to report back once home.
Bette is offline  
Feb 4th, 2017, 12:13 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,426
Ok. It would nice to see how things worked out.

Cheers. Larry .
jacketwatch is offline  
Feb 5th, 2017, 06:06 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 7,337
Also keep in mind that there are few two top tables. So you are asking for a prime table at a prime time.

One of our great pleasures is to share a table at open seating. We always ask for six. Eight can be too big. In twelve cruises with HAL with about half on open seating we have never had a bad table mate. Many of them will be Europeans so we always enjoy our conversations with them. Unfortunately on our last cruise (two weeks ago) we spent a lot of time explaining the American election process. And some have been amazingly interesting people. So you might want to rethink your choice.
fmpden is online now  
Mar 20th, 2017, 08:16 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 464
Sassafrass and Jacketwatch,

We are just back from a wonderful 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise.

I wanted to follow-up with you both regarding the situation I posted about above. By reviewing Cruise Critic prior to our trip, we found out there was a group onboard (about 800 people). This group had an 8pm dining time. I called Ship Services a few weeks before our departure to request an 8pm fixed time. I was told that was not available (I was not surprised but thought I would ask).

We boarded around 11:45am. Dropped our bags in our cabin and went directly to Dining Reservations. We explained our situation to Chester, Asst Dining Manager. He again re-iterated that open seating was only available very early in the evening. He did indicate that he had a handful of 2 tops available for 8pm and would that work for us. We were quite happy to be guaranteed a table for two at that time so immediately took the reserved time for the week. We had wonderful service the entire week in MDR. We also opted to try Canaletto and Pinnacle Grill on two evenings.

Can't wait to plan our next trip. Thanks for the advice provided above.
Bette is offline  
Mar 20th, 2017, 08:45 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,426
Thanks so much for the f/u and glad to hear it worked out for you. They usually try to accommodate people. A happy customer is more likely to be a repeat customer.

Good stuff!

Larry. .
jacketwatch is offline  
Mar 20th, 2017, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,312
Thank you for the report. It is really nice when people come back to tell their experience. Glad you had a good time and seating worked out. We have not taken a HAL cruise, but it sounds great!
Sassafrass is offline  

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