Open Dining Plans

Old Jul 22nd, 2010, 10:09 AM
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Open Dining Plans

We have booked a seven day cruise in early September from New York to Bermuda on Holland America Line's MS Veendam. We have opted for the "As You Wish" dining plan as Holland America terms designates its open dining plan rather than their early or late assigned dining plans. I'm sure other cruise lines have equally catchy names for their non-assigned dining plans. Have you been satisfied with choosing an open dining plan? What are the advantages/disadvantages to these plans? Any suggestions as to likeliest time to avoid crowds in the main dining room?
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Old Jul 22nd, 2010, 10:47 AM
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We are going on a cruise in September and opted for the "anytime dining". Why be stuck into a time everyday unless you always eat at that time. We may not be hungry at 5 pm and would prefer eating later. Or perhaps we skipped lunch and are hungry now - not at 7pm.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2010, 11:43 AM
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We won't go on a cruise witout open dining. Early is too early, late is too late, and we don't want to eat at the same time every day.

Some people like getting to know their wait staff, but that doesn't matter to me.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2010, 10:37 PM
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As a single HAL Cruiser, I have embraced it.

As prev. stated, I can eat whenever I wish within the time frame & can request a large table (with no kids) so that
I may meet others which enhances my cruise.

Since HAL enjoys a professional wait staff, have never
felt the need to "know" waiters.

Also when prev. assigned a specific table & dining table, got
stuck w/boring tablemates.

You will enjoy the experience.
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 12:58 PM
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We HATE the open seating many ships now have. We have been given a beeper to notify us wheh they have a table for us and waited 20 to 45 minutes minutes for a table. Often there is no place to sit and wait outside the dining room. We have seen people sitting and waitng on nearby stairs. We do like a waiter who knows what we want. We do not like having to ask for more water or coffee. We like getting to really know other tablemates. We have taken 5 cruises with a couple who were our tablemates on one cruise and we both have the same B2B booked this fall. If we had an open seating we never would have gotten to know them. We have also visited tablemates in FL, Canada and PA. This doesn't happen with open seating. You can do that for breakfast or lunch!
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 10:12 AM
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We have just been on our third cruise with open seating. Most people seem to choose early dining, so we went to the 7p.m. show, then to dinner, never had a bit of trouble being seated. I did see some open seating folks trying to eat during the early seating and they were given beepers because the staff had to seat those that had chosen the set dining time/table, so, naturally, if there was room left over, the ones without prior seating arrangements had to be seated last. Just go to the last seating and you won't have a bit of trouble.
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Old Jul 27th, 2010, 06:02 AM
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I was on HAL last fall and had an as-you-wish dining plan (on the Eurodam, though, not the Veendam). It worked fine for me. My partner and I had to wait about 15 minutes on one night for a table for two. When we were willing to share we could always get a table without a wait, but I found that dinner at an eight-top table took about twice as long as dinner at a two-top. We normally at during the 7:30 to 8:30 period, when the dining room was the busiest.
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Old Jul 31st, 2010, 11:36 PM
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I absolutely like open dining.

On a beautiful evening, I don't even want to be in an inside dining room. I'd rather go to the buffet and sit outside, looking at the sunset or islands as we leave a port.

I also prefer to eat with different people sometimes, rather than being stuck with a particular group. They may even be very nice, just have nothing in common with me. If I've met somebody during the day that I want to know better, we can make plans to eat together.

Sometimes, there is a particular show I want to see. I may not be hungry before the show, or feel rushed to finish eating before the show starts. Freedom, that is what I like.
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Old Aug 1st, 2010, 12:44 AM
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Advantages - you get to eat anytime you want; different waitstaff every night

Disadvantages - if you eat at peak time there is a wait; you mostly eat with your traveling companion - you may like eating with and getting to know others; different waitstaff every night (note this can be a + or -).

Crowds - on port days people tend to eat later. On 2 cruises with flexible dining, we found everyone ate at 7 PM many nights. One strategy we liked was to walk to dining room, inquire about wait time, put name in, go change or have a drink. We always found actually walking to and talking to the dining room staff more successful than calling.

We like choosing the later dining time - gives us more flexibility and we are not late night/see a show type people. This way if we are especially hungry we can grab a snack somewhere on the ship earlier. But main reason is that there are very few free-range kids at later seating.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2010, 05:15 AM
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Many thanks to all who replied! I now feel more comfortable with our decision to go "Open Dining". Sure there may be some minuses (wait times for the more popular dining times and not having the waitstaff becoming familiar with your particular wants and quirks). We are looking forward to this cruise and hopefully many more in the future.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2010, 06:17 AM
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The one thing you could do on HAL is to ask to be seated in the open-seating dining room at the same table every night. That way you'll get the same waiter. This can be accommodated in many cases if you like the idea of getting to know the staff better.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2010, 08:33 AM
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We are early diners, and I didn't like Norwegian freestyle - half the time ended up eating by ourselves. Even if there was somebody to share the table, a new couple each time, it's always where are you from, how many cruises - gets old really fast.

And every time we had to repeat several times to different servers: no, we won't have dessert, nothing wrong, we just don't want dessert.

But this will not stop us from cruising freestyle - and my husband liked it anyway.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2010, 09:23 PM
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I agree with bratsandbeer. When we go out, we hardly follow our day to day food habits. With this plan you can enjoy food at your convenience.
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