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kathy884

Wait List for early 5:30 p.m. dining-chance of getting that and best plan B if not?

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Posted (edited)

Hello,  I just booked our first RCCL cruise for our family, and we have some extended family coming along too.  We were most interested in doing main dining room dining (early time) at a set time each night -- like that cruising tradition, makes it easier for us to have a set time for dinner each night, don't want to pay for specialty restaurant upgrades, and on other cruise lines have enjoyed meeting other passengers when our party was small enough not to require a really big table.  This cruise is on one of the bigger ships, the Harmony of the Seas, and still quite a ways off, February 8th, 2020, so I was actually surprised (to me it seemed like I was booking pretty far in advance) not to get the dining time we preferred (maybe not that surprised though with the other time so late).  Unfortunately for us when we booked, the 5:30 p.m. main dining room dining was already full.  8:30 p.m. is too late for at least two in our party who due to jobs are early risers, so we opted for anytime dining (yuck -- an added hassle to figure out the time to dine each night and make reservations -- easier with an extended family group to have a set time ahead of time, but maybe I can get anytime dining to work for us).

 

So some questions:

What is the chance do you think that we will be able to get early dining?  I put us on a wait list.  I'm sure we will be fine if we don't get it.  But unfortunately, a set dining time with the same servers we get to know, etc. happens to be something that my family / extended family really like about cruising, so will be disappointing.  How early in advance does one typically have to book to get this at booking time on the big RCCL ships?

 

Any tips for making the anytime dining experience as similar as possible to the regular main dining room experience?  What is my best bet for dealing with anytime dining?  Do I make reservations for the main dining room in advance of the cruise like we make reservations for shows even though this is no charge dining?  Can I make these for a set time for all of the nights?  I'm assuming 5:30 p.m. is not an option or is it actually?  If not, what is the earliest time I can get this?  My dad who is 82 also due to leg issues is not good with having to stand and wait, so this is another concern - not being able to just go to our table and sit down.  Maybe I bring a camping chair on the cruise, so when we go for dinner each night and have to wait that he can sit down? Or is there seating readily available at the main dining room while you are waiting for a table.  We are fine and enjoy being seated with other guests.

 

Thanks in  advance.  I appreciate any and all tips.

Edited by kathy884

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21 minutes ago, kathy884 said:

  Can I make these for a set time for all of the nights?  I'm assuming 5:30 p.m. is not an option or is it actually? 

Yes and yes, make a standing reservation for 5:30 every night.

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My Time Dining likely begins around 5:15 or 5:30 and yes, you can absolutely select the same time for everyday, as long as that time is available, which, if you do it early enough, it will be. And if you do that, you are pretty much guaranteed the same table and wait staff every night. 

 

Each time I've time MTD for a larger group, we've kept it at the same time and always had the same table and wait staff. When I've done it for 2, however, I've picked different times and so the table was not the same. 

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You don't mention the number of people you want to seat. If it's small, say 2 or 4, My Time Dining will be a breeze and the wait times are minimal. If you have a large party(8-10+) then expect to wait. It's the same as any restaurant on land.

 

My Time dining does begin seating at about the same time that traditional dining begins, so the 5:30 time shouldn't be a problem. If you go to the MTD person at the beginning, they should be able to accommodate you easily.

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Make sure you link your reservations, and make all times the same.  If you have a large group, they will probably not put others with you.  You will likely have the same table and wait staff each night. 

 

That being said, our experience with MTD on Oasis, Allure, and Harmony was not the greatest.  It always seemed like they were understaffed, and rushing you through dinner to turn over the tables. 

 

Our experience last month on Grandeur with MTD was more like it should be, and we had the best wait staff in a long time. 

 

If you used a TA, have them see if they can make arrangements for you. 

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Thanks so much!  This sounds like this won't be too bad.  We'll keep expectations low too.  I'll make the reservations for the same time each night in advance and link the rooms (didn't use a TA). 

 

So far, it is a small group, just four of us.  There are four others, though, who might end up booking the same cruise which would give us the more difficult to seat group of eight. 

 

How far before sail date on RCCL can one book "my time main dining room" reservations?  Is that the same date that one can start doing the bookings for shows too?  (Realize that I could call RCCL for this info too).  I'll put the date on my calendar and do reservations when that opens up sooner rather than later.  (I'm assuming that I'd be OK booking in the evening that day after work, etc. and that it's not a get up early or you won't be able to get a reservation).

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we have been wait listed for early dining many times but always ended up getting it in the long run. I hope that is the case for you.

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1 hour ago, kathy884 said:

How far before sail date on RCCL can one book "my time main dining room" reservations?  Is that the same date that one can start doing the bookings for shows too?  (Realize that I could call RCCL for this info too). 

No, you can't call for that info, or you can but you'll get some bogus answer, because it varies too much. Keep checking the planner and/or join the Roll Call thread for your sailing and someone in there is bound to announce availability.

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To note I just went through something similar on Harmony last week. We have a group of 4, and when we booked I don't believe early dining was offered so we both choose my time dining.

 

Once on the RCI website I was able to make reservations for my time dining (under dining, you add my time dining, and checkout like buying something, but of course it's free). Then you choose the time, but in my case it wasn't available to pick times earlier than 6:30PM.

 

I called RCI they told me that's the earliest I can schedule online and didn't offer any other options. They did say to contact my TA and they could switch me to early dining. So I called my TA and they switched me, and the other couple going with us. Our Harmony trip is this November so just under 6 months out this wasn't an issue. It seems like they hide early dining unless you really push for it. 

 

.02 

 

 

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1 hour ago, kathy884 said:

Thanks so much!  This sounds like this won't be too bad.  We'll keep expectations low too.  I'll make the reservations for the same time each night in advance and link the rooms (didn't use a TA). 

 

So far, it is a small group, just four of us.  There are four others, though, who might end up booking the same cruise which would give us the more difficult to seat group of eight. 

 

How far before sail date on RCCL can one book "my time main dining room" reservations?  Is that the same date that one can start doing the bookings for shows too?  (Realize that I could call RCCL for this info too).  I'll put the date on my calendar and do reservations when that opens up sooner rather than later.  (I'm assuming that I'd be OK booking in the evening that day after work, etc. and that it's not a get up early or you won't be able to get a reservation).

 

There is no telling when reservations will open up for MTD, just keep checking.  We just sailed Harmony and had MTD.  Dining opened at 5:15pm, there is a line for reservations and one for no reservations.  First night the line was crazy but was fine rest of week.  There are chairs at the top of the ramp in the middle, so I wouldn't bother bringing the camp chair, just send him up to sit while you are in line, greeter will help you with that.  We were able to get the same table and wait staff for the entire week.  I would go to the dining room on the first day after boarding and ask for the same table.  There was also a podium set up outside the Windjammer buffet the first day where you could also make reservations for dinner.  If you end up with a group of 8, they will assign you a table in MTD likely anyway,  we were beside 3 large tables that had the same groups at the same time every night.  We thought Harmony did a great job managing my time dining, better than any ship we have sailed in recent years.

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Posted (edited)

I was under the impression that MTD started after Early seating.  I know the Family MTD is the same time as Early seating though.  This is the current sailing of Allure and the MTD are all after Early seating.  I know times vary by ship and sailing so hopefully i can get in at 5:30 instead of my earliest told time of 6:00pm 

Screenshot_20190523-104606_Royal.jpg

Edited by Mr. Candyman

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4 minutes ago, Mr. Candyman said:

 This is the current sailing of Allure and the MTD are all after Early seating.  

I wouldn't assume those times are accurate.

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Biker19 said:

I wouldn't assume those times are accurate.

That's what is on the app for Allure sailing 5/19-5/26...I know the time for my 9/1 sailing were different.  I just remembered one of our Roll Call group passengers is on that ship now so I'll reach out to him to find out

Edited by Mr. Candyman

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Just now, Mr. Candyman said:

That's what is on the app for Allure sailing 5/19-5/26

And as I mentioned, I wouldn't plan my schedules based just on that - there are many reports of the app showing incorrect times. I would trust some previous Compass a bit more.

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, Biker19 said:

And as I mentioned, I wouldn't plan my schedules based just on that - there are many reports of the app showing incorrect times. I would trust some previous Compass a bit more.

For sure....I'm waiting for Allure to sail our same Western itinerary to gather a current Cruise Compass; which I believe is the current sailing this week.  The one I had was from last year which shows MTD started before Early.  If it stays that way, I'll be good

Edited by Mr. Candyman

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We’re sailing on Anthem in August with MTD and I was able to book dinner at 5:30 every night. Early dinner wasn’t available when we booked so we had to resort to MTD but I was pleasantly surprised to find availability at our desired time. I’m hoping we’ll get the same table and crew as well (party of 4).

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2 hours ago, Biker19 said:

And as I mentioned, I wouldn't plan my schedules based just on that - there are many reports of the app showing incorrect times. I would trust some previous Compass a bit more.

 Finding the correct answer is so frustrating sometimes. I reached out to the other OP and this was his response:

 

We were on the Allure last week and ate all our meals in the Coastal Kitchen..

 

If I remember correctly. The 1st seating in all 3 Main Dining Rooms started at 5:15 PM and the doors closed shorty after 5:30 PM. One of the dining rooms then opened for My Time Dining at 6:30 PM.

 

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Harmony MTD for April has been open for reservations for a couple of months, so February should be open now.  But everyone in your dining group needs to have MTD assigned - anyone assigned to fixed seating can't get in.  You can add people from another cabin if you know their reservation number.  Now currently reservations for Harmony MTD are only open for 6:30 and later, even though the dining room is probably open at 5:15.  Our plan if the reservation system doesn't change is to go to the MTD dining room when we get onboard and have them move our 6:30 reservations to 5:15 (normal opening time).  Took about 30 seconds last time I had a reservation for later than I wanted.  So far we have never seen MTD open later than early fixed seating, but if it happens then so be it.  

 

We see lots of large groups every cruise - they always just make reservations for the same time and they sit at the same table.  Sometimes they skip a night or two for specialty dining or a late stay in port and someone else uses the table.  Dining staff has no problem with this.

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We were on the symphony last month with my time dining. There were 7 of us. The first night we went around 5:30 and were seated right away. We loved our wait staff so much that we booked reservations at that same table every night at the same time. 

 

If if you can’t get the early time, do my time and just make reservations for the same time. I found it easier to make them on the ship then in the cruise planner.

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