"Anytime" Dining

red stripe

Well-Known Member
Many of us are now looking at the "choose your own time" dining options on cruises, and would like to pick the brains of those that have done this.

Yes, we can ask the individual cruise-lines, but sometimes the information on these things is not quite accurate. far better to get feedback from the passengers that have tried it.

On Princess. how does it work?

Do you have to pre-pay your tips if you want to book this option?

Can you ask for a specific time, specific table for your party?

how about if you want to set a specific time? Do you then have to pre-pay?

Or is it better to just get on board before trying to arrange table and time?

And I am sure that there are other questions that I do not know to ask.

So any feedback on this will be a great help.:thankyou:​


Well-Known Member
Red, we have done anytime the past 3 cruises with Princess and have it again in October. LOVE the flexibility. I will try to answer some of your questions.

Do you have to pre-pay your tips if you want to book this option? Your tips are left on your account as usual. No different than if you have traditional dining.

Can you ask for a specific time, specific table for your party?
Some have said they have made a set reservation for the whole cruise with the same table, server and time. Sort of defeats the purpose IMO if you were booking for the flexibility. When we have met other cruisers and knew we wanted to dine together that evening we have called in the morning and made a reservation. Other times we have just arrived and waited for only a few minutes before they had a table for us. If you are needing a large(8+) table, or more than one every night I would suggest talking to them at embarkation and setting a reservation. Those tables might be harder to come by or have a wait.

how about if you want to set a specific time? Do you then have to pre-pay? No, tips are as any other sailing. In place and divided amongst the servers and steward.

Or is it better to just get on board before trying to arrange table and time?
With anytime dining you cannot arrange things prior to boarding.

Are you wanting a certain time everyday other than the traditional times? If you are wanting to dine during the hours of 6-7:30 with a large table I would highly suggest talking to the Maitre D on the first day as per the Patters schedule to meet with him.

We don't make a reservation unless we know there will be X of us on formal night, etc. We chose anytime so that if we are at a port late there is no rush to get ready for dinner. If wanting to see an early show we can do so and have dinner late or an early dinner if there is something we want to do later.

Not sure what ship you are on but a little secret is the lower level anytime dining room on the larger ships is never as busy as the one on the upper level. Sometimes we were told there would be a wait at the upper level one and ran down one flight to the lower one and got a table right away. Just returned the pager to the other and went to dinner.

If I was traveling with a group (as we will be in 2012) I would stick with traditional seating. This way everyone knows what time to be at dinner and no one is waiting on someone, mix ups in where to meet, etc.

Please be aware that you will not get the same spoiled service as you do in traditional if you have different table/wait staff. They are not going to know you like a certain drink every night or a shrimp cocktail at every dinner. In exchange you can eat early one night and catch 2 shows or linger over a sunset and eat dinner later another night. The menu is still the same in all the dining rooms.


Forever Remembered
Red - adding to Marie's reply, whether or not you can get the same table, same wait staff, approximately the same time each evening oftentimes depends on the cooperation of the Maitre d' and also how many Personal Choice diners show up at the same time as you.

red stripe

Well-Known Member
Thanks Marie and Mary Ann.

The reason we are looking for a set time is because the group cruisers love to do it this way these days,
and all cruiselines do it differently.

We are running into a problem on this next Cruise Addicts group cruise, as RCI appears to allow you to set it up to sailing prior to boarding, but if you do it that way they deduct your tips right then. Plus setting it up in advance for a group this way seemed to be a problem.

On the last cruise we had no trouble just waiting until we got onboard,and seeing the Maitre D at once. We were the first in line.

So it worked out very well. everyone knew when to turn up.. the only change was that we were all eating at 7pm.

We also know that some cruiselines will only allow you to select a set time and table at the same time as the traditional restaurants.

I know that on the face of it, it seems silly to elect the "anytime" dining and then request set time etc.
But the reason we are looking into this is that this is the ONLY way that we can get a mingling of the people that usually eat early, and the late diners.

Our early eaters can not wait until 8.15 to eat. and the late diners hate to eat around the 5 or 6 mark.

So as this is a small group, we figured that we would try for around the 7 to 7.30 time.
This seems to be agreeable with both sides.

So as I needed the info on RCi.. I thought I would gather the latest info on this subject from the main cruiselines we seem to go with these days.

Thanks again for all the good information. We are now prepared when we next sail on Princess


Well-Known Member
Ah, I understand. I have been in a worry with the cruise in 2012 since we picked late traditional, how everyone would feel. So far everyone has been OK with it but I know someone is going to come along and say it is too late to eat. I just figured with a group going it was better to have a set time and picked late since we have late times at the ports and don't want to have to cut short our time to hurry back to get ready for dinner.

How nice that there is lots of flexibility for everyone!

red stripe

Well-Known Member
Marie, depending on what ship and line you are on, this might work out well for you.

So far the most difficult one to arrange this with seems to be RCI.
And naturally.. this is the line that the next cruise addicts group cruise is with.:biggrin:

and as for service. I an not sure.. but perhaps because on the last cruise our group had that same time and table.. we were treated more like the traditionals?? I can only say that our waitstaff were great, and deserved the extra tips they received.


When we went to Alaska in 2009 we chose anytime--We had a table of 10 the Matre D gave us a great table and wait staff. after dinner the first night we requested the same table and time . Worked out beautifully and with his assitance we had a great birthday cake and he sang happy birthday to her. We found they were receptive to the 15 after, 30 or 45 timeing rather than on the hour.


Well-Known Member
We love anytime dining, and have found that on many ships the 6ish and 8ish spots are busy, but 7:00 - 7:30 seem lighter.

We have made reservations the day of or if we happen to know some of the staff, especially a head waiter or Matre'd, they have told us, no bother, just show up and we will get a table.