Cruise TipsDiningCarnival Anytime Dining: Tips for Your Time Dining with Carnival

Carnival Anytime Dining: Tips for Your Time Dining with Carnival

carnival my time dining
Carnival dining room

Carnival has recently rolled out “Anytime Dining”  or “Your Time Dining” on all of its ships.  It first began doing this in 2009 and many cruisers really liked the this flexible dining options so it was available on more ships.  I just wrote a post about Royal Caribbean’s My Time Dining so thought we would take a look how how Carnival does thins as well.

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With Carnival you choose whether you want the traditional assigned seating diner or the “Your Time Dining” while booking your cruise.  Whatever option you pick is what you will be stuck with for the duration of the cruise so choose wisely.  Of course you can always eat at the buffet as a secondary option no matter what dinner choice you decide on.

So what do we think of Carnival’s more flexible dining option?  I think it’s a great move by the cruise line, and it really shouldn’t get anybody upset.  After all, there is still the traditional dining available for those who enjoy meeting and eating with other cruisers on the boat, and the menu is exactly the same.

So how does “Your Time Dining” work?

You simply show up at your assigned dining room anytime between 5:45pm and 9:30pm and wait for a table.   The seating is on a first come-first serve basis.

Your room key card will show which diner option you opted for.  Sometimes the traditional dining eaters are in the same dining room on different floors and on the bigger ships the two dining options are completely separate in different dining rooms.

This is only for dinner times.  For breakfast and lunch, the main dining rooms are “open seating”.

You can request a “table for 2” (or whatever your party size is) and they can normally accomodate your request.  If you do not request this at breakfast, you will likely be seated with other passengers at the same table.

Is the service worse for anytime dining?

Some people have reported that the “Your Time Dining” option has worse service, but this is probably because there are sometimes longer waits before you are seated.  This is why it is recommended you have reservations even for the anytime dining option to ensure a table will be ready for your party.

Your service should not be any worse and you can potentially get the same waiter every night.  So it’s just like traditional dining without the hassle of worrying about getting there on time.  You can just eat at your leisure.

Do you get a different wait staff each night?

Usually you will sit somewhere different each night, but this doesn’t have to be the case.  You can request the same seating area to make sure you have the same waiter or waitress you had the night before so you can get to know the staff and have a more personal touch with the service.  Keep in mind that the same table is not always available but if you have a reservation it will help.

Many people have experienced being served by the same wait staff each night, so you really do have the same quality personal service as you do with traditional dining.

How do I tip with My Time Dining?

You can always prepay your gratuities ahead of time if you want, but if your wait staff was especially good you can always tip extra on top of that.

When you present your ship and sail card they can actually see who served you the night before and you can have the same servers if you want.

It’s nice not feeling like you are rushed at diner time with anytime dining options with Carnival, so give it a shot on your next Carnival cruise.  Remember that you can’t change your dining options after you make them, but you can always eat at the buffet if things aren’t working out.  But who wants to miss out on the incredible food in the main dining rooms, right?

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on 50+ cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor, 15-year writer on the cruise industry, and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 10 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
Cruise TipsDiningCarnival Anytime Dining: Tips for Your Time Dining with Carnival


  1. Went on the Pride in January. We do anytime seating. Never had a problem, I’m a server for over 30 years. So I am very judgmental of service. We enjoyed each and every time we ate in the MDR. Never had long wait to be seated or getting our meals. When we went on the Paradise same thing. So anytime seating is for us.

  2. Had anytime dining on the Valor in May and will again on the Ecstasy in January. I love being free to eat when I want. The service was spotty so I think I will request my server this time and see how that works.

    • Sunshine is the only one that makes you stand in line,get a pager and wait for it to beep before being allowed to go to another deck to stand in another very long line to get into the MDR!It was a disaster and I hope it changes quickly before someone gets hurt!NOT kidding!I never saw so many mad people at one tie in my 62 years..

    • Wow, we had a totally different experience the week after Thanksgiving on the Sunshine. We got there before 6pm each evening and was greeted as we walked up and never used a pager. I did have to go to another area to get the seating assignment each evening, then head down to the dining area for dinner. It was great, we were seated right away and all. I guess the times that one chooses to go could have something to do with the experience one receives. I don’t know if it makes a difference but we did have Faster To The Fun. However, others had advised us that this would have no effect on anytime dining. So, I don’t know if it did or didn’t.

  3. We chose late seating on the Carnival Imagination but was given the ” my time dining” which we
    did not like. We like having the same waiter every night. The service was okay, but the food was great
    and the ship was beautiful.

  4. We chose your time dining on the Carnival Pride and it was wonderful!
    We had the same waiter each night which Carnival was excellent at executing our request. We tipped on top of the prepaid gratuities for the excellent service. We got hugs from our waiter and his staff the last day of our trip and are hoping Randall and his crew will be there on our cruise next year. Kudos to Carnival!

  5. just got back from carnival valor and had “anytime seating” the service was definetly spotty. some nights, very good. other nights….not so much. long waits between courses was common. one night we were served our dessert and had to finally ask for our coffee to go with it. another night we get the coffee and its cold when the dessert finally arrives. i’ll take assigned seating from now on thank you.

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