Early/Late Seating for Dinner on a Cruise

Tips and cruise advice from previous visitors aboard Prow's Edge about early seating in the cruise ship dining room.

cruise ship early/late seating for dinner
photo courtesy Cunard

Tips and Advice About Which Seating is Best on a Cruise – Early or Late Seating

Depending on the type of cruise you select, seating options can make or break the cruise for you.

Most of the contemporary and premium cruise lines still offer two seatings in the dining room for dinner.

Early seating can be anything between 5:30 and 6:15, and late seating between 8 and 8:15pm.

The advantage of the early seating assignment is obvious for those who prefer to retire early or for those with younger children. The disadvantage is that the service may be more rushed to make sure the dining room is set for the late seating diners.

For some, eating the main meal of the day at 6pm may simply be uncomfortably early. A romantic candlelit dinner just doesn't feel the same with the sun still streaming in.

For others, a late seating is a disadvantage in that it means all the after dinner entertainment can make the evening very long.

The main problem with the two options however is that most cruise lines require you to make your preferences before the cruise, and they do not guarantee that your choice will be honored.

Not all is lost, however, should you arrive on board and find that you have been slotted into the wrong seating.

Passengers have told Prow’s Edge that the thing to do is to see the maitre d' as soon as you board the ship and request a change. You will not be the only one in the line-up at the dining room, but be encouraged that not everyone there is looking to change to the same seating time of your choice - on the contrary, the couple in front of you may well make a swap with you.

Some passengers prefer to wait until after the first dinner before requesting a change. The advantage of this is that you will be able to see what your fellow dinner guests are like – and remember that on some cruise ships you will be dining with them for the whole cruise - and this may influence your decision to change your assignment or not.

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 Ship's Doctor

Medical expert and travel enthusiast Joe Springfield offers some tips and advice about typical travel concerns.

• cabin fever
• cold climates
• food poisoning
• jet lag
• norwalk virus
• seasickness
• tropical concerns

For more information about early or late seating on a cruise, take a look at the Prow's Edge Cruise Forums and Cruise Message Boards and see what fellow passengers have to say about early or late seating.

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