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.
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?