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Early, Late or Anytime Dining? Choosing my Cruise Dinner!


How do I know if I want early, late or anytime dining?

How do I Choose my Cruise Dinner?

It’s my first Cruise! I have no idea what I want or why?  If this is you – Welcome!  and Congratulations you are about to discover the most convenient, safe and affordable way to do International Travel!

Our Favorite – Cruising!

Cruise Ship Dinner

When you Travel Like an Architect – most of your pictures are of Buildings!! You know the people, so you don’t need their picture! I did find this one from 2015, with my eyes closed!

I could go on and on about how great cruising is…..  but I want to stick to the topic here: How to choose your Cruise Dinner preference when booking.

Most Cruise Lines have three choices, Early, Late or Anytime Dining.  The Cruise Ship Dining Room is HUGE.  The Maitre d is in charge.  If you need help once you get on the ship, go to the host station and ask for the Maitre d’.  But right now in order to book your Cruise, you need to choose a dining preference for your booking.

There are dozens of debates going on online about eating early, late or at anytime.  People talk about entertainment schedules, food, children, bedtimes and even indigestion!!  When it comes to choosing your dining preference we have some expert advice as real people.  We talk about something that is just a little different. I mean seriously – we are sure that you already know what time you usually eat dinner and why, but this is your VACATION!  You won’t be watching your favorite TV show, or eating your usual fare. Your kids won’t need to go to bed early, or get to Soccer practice, if you even brought them with.  Cruise Dining while on vacation is totally different from dining at home.  You won’t want to think about it in the same way.

We suggest thinking more about who you wish to DINE with at your Cruise Dinner – than what time you will arrive….

Early or Late? – Big Table or Small? – Other People or NOT? – Anytime at all?

Choosing between Early or Late is simple.  Just ask yourself if you will be ready for dinner Early or Late, most of the time! What kind of people do you like, the kind that eat early or late? No matter which you choose you are not required to show up.  If you decide to eat in the buffet or a specialty restaurant one night no will care!  If you are hungry early but don’t want to dine until late, pick up an appetizer at the buffet or order something from room service.  If you want to eat early dinner early but need a snack later the same applies!  No worries – food is plentiful and available on any Cruise Ship at almost ANY time!

Anytime Dining is self-explanatory.  It means you can show up in the Dining Room with your party at any time.  They will ask you if you want to share a table or not.  You decide.  Many of the people who select Anytime Dining do so because they want a table for two.  So don’t be surprised or offended if you ask for a Sharing Table and no one else joins you.  If you want to be guaranteed a sharing table each night, then have your travel agent request either Early or Late Seating.

If you choose either Early or Late Dining you will be assigned to the same table for dinner each night!  Your waiter will be expecting YOU.  He or She may even memorize your name and your favorite beverage.  You will pretty much wait for everyone assigned to your table to arrive (within reason).  You will dine together each night of your cruise.  If for some reason after your first meal with these people you really feel uncomfortable you can visit the Matre’d and ask for a switch!  As you might expect, by dining together for the duration of the cruise you will really get to know each other!  This is usually our preference and we have made life long friends this way!

When choosing Early or Late the other thing you will be asked is your preference for a large table or small.  Tables in a Cruise Dining Room range in size from 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 seats or more!  But the booking engine will ask your travel agent “large” or “small”.  The Cruise Line considers the 4 seat tables to be small and tables that seat 6, 8 and up to be large.  Many times there are round tables for 6.  To get a Table for two you need to select “Anytime Dining”.

Yes – We can arrange for your group to dine together each night!  You will have your own table reserved just for you.  It will be the same table for the duration of your cruise.  Just make sure to tell your travel agent that you want to do this, and they can arrange it.  They have to cross reference you for dining in the booking 🙂

Yes – you can get a large table even if you are traveling as a couple or even alone.  Just ask your travel agent to request a large table on your booking.

Yes – you can make new friends and then dine together if you all have Anytime Dining!  We were recently on a fathom cruise where we made so many new friends that there wasn’t a table big enough for all of us!

If you are traveling with your children you may want to sit with another family….   You can control this to some extent.  If you want to dine with another family so that your kids make some friends – you should first ask your travel agent to select a “large table”.  Then the minute you get on the ship pay the Matre’d a visit at the main dining room and ask if there is another family he can seat you with.  He will probably be happy to accommodate this, because many people will ask him not to seat them with children.  So if there is another family dining – he can put the two families together!

Cruise ship dining with kids

One time when we showed up with our Daughter in tow they seated us in the “Kids Section” of the restaurant! Off to the side where we couldn’t bother anyone except other people with kids. Sigh – both Suzee and Robbie from the table next to us were well behaved kids but you just never know I guess.

If you are traveling with your children and you do not want to sit with another family, you will want to make sure your children, mind their manners.  Once we were traveling with our daughter – and the mature people we were being seated with on the first night cringed when they saw her coming.  At the end of the cruise we had all become acquainted and everyone was complimenting her for behaving like a young lady….  But at first they were scared!  One grandfather told of his grand-kids that “patrolled the dining room” meaning that they didn’t stay in their seats and went wandering all over.  He was ashamed of them, and especially their parents.  Cruise Dining is a good experience and a way for young people to learn to dine with adults that they don’t know but you will want to spare yourself the embarrassment of children with unacceptable behavior.

If you are traveling with your spouse and you eat, sleep, and work with him all day, every day, you may enjoy some strangers to dine with!  Ask me how I know!

If you hardly ever see one another because you both work long hours or one of you travels for your job you may want to have a romantic dinner together every night!  To get a table for two you should probably select “Anytime Dining” and they will find a table each night when you arrive for just the two of YOU!

There are a few cruise lines now that ONLY have anytime dining.  Norwegian Cruise Lines, fathom Travel Cruises, and Azamara Club Cruises tout that Anytime Dining is all they offer!  It comes with a more casual atmosphere, like no suits and ties or formal nights.  Just report to the host with the size of your party each night and you are seated promptly.

Tip:  To be sure that you don’t have to wait, arrive with everyone who is dining with you and ask for a sharing table.  We guarantee that you will meet new, like minded friends who love to cruise each night!  Pretty soon the ship will feel like your home town or neighborhood!  You won’t be able to go anywhere without seeing someone you know!

We always choose a large table at late seating, because we like to spend as much time in the destinations as possible exploring the Architecture – you know checking out the bathrooms and looking a door knobs, ceilings and floors!  Once we get back on the ship we love to take some appetizers, a glass of wine or a cocktail, back to our cabin while we shower and dress for the evening!  Our waiter learns on the first night that we need real coffee after dinner and before desert!  Because we are headed out on the town to dance the night away or sing in the Piano Bar!

After your first Cruise – you will know what you prefer too!

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Thank You in Advance!  We hope you enjoy EVERY Cruise!

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