Saving Tables at the Buffet: Fair or Foul?

June 21, 2011 | By | 164 Comments

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One of the fun fringe benefits of visiting my folks in West Palm Beach is that they live in a place rife with travelers who have a passion for cruising. Recently, while hunkered down at a local café with a bagel, I eavesdropped on a raucous but good-spirited argument about the relative merit of cruise lines’ Lido buffets. It’s a bit like seeing a thread on Cruise Critic (“Which ship has the best buffets?”) play out in real life.
The debate took me right back to this note we received from Rick Barry: My question regards seating in the Lido dining area. Often there are long lines waiting to get your food. Then when you finally get it you spend a longer amount of time finding a place to sit and eat it. A part of this problem is those who immediately claim a table when they enter the dining area. My thought is that you should not occupy a table until after you have gotten your food. . . . There are also those who think it is acceptable to carry on a leisurely conversation after they have finished their meal with no regard for those seeking a table. . . . This is becoming a bigger problem as the number of passengers on some of these ships increases.

Here’s the thing: Isn’t cruise travel all about eating leisurely if you want? While we’re all for encouraging passengers to be considerate of their fellow cruisers, Rick’s point, while well-taken, is directed at the wrong villain. Point the finger at the cruise lines that spend millions of dollars to refresh older ships, adding swanky cabins. And yet, even as they’re adding capacity, they’re not necessarily expanding fee-free restaurant spaces, like the lido buffets, in which to dine.
In major recent refurbishment projects on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas, Carnival’s Evolutions of Fun, Princess’ Grand or even Holland America’s Signatures of Excellence rehab, we have heard a lot about splashy spas, indulgent adult sundecks, trendy cocktail lounges and new suites and lanai staterooms. But did any of ‘em make a big fuss about overhauling the buffet or main dining rooms?

That’s important because the style-of-the-day for lido restaurants on ships designed before the mid-1990s had – and have – a cafeteria setup, in which you wait in a long queue to get a bit of salad, then meat, then pasta, then dessert. (Cunard, inexplicably, is one of the few lines whose new ships still are cafeteria-style). The more radical “station” concept, pioneered by Norwegian Cruise Line to look more like a food court at the mall, means that stuff’s split up – pasta on one side, salad on another. These lidos, which you’ll also see on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity’s newer ships, are an ode to efficiency.
So when cruise lines add capacity to their ships without also adding seats in the lido. . . well, congestion is their responsibility. At the same time, we all have to cruise with each other, right?
One thing that members of the West Palm Beach Visual Cruise Critic Forum agreed on is this: Be considerate of your fellow passengers. Don’t, they advised me, hog seats by the window, commandeer a four-top to play solitaire during mealtime and selfishly dominate a table for 12 when you’re only a two-some.
I’ll add one more buffet pet peeve: If a waiter’s not around to take away your discarded tray, clean up your own mess.
Have a pet peeve you want to see addressed via Sea-Mail? You’ve come to the right place. Send your question to lido@cruisecritic.com.
Check out how we’ve addressed other blood-boiling topics like lounger hogs and bad balcony behavior.
Learn how to indulge without overdoing it in our guide on how to eat healthy on a cruise ship.
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    Comments

    164 Responses to “Saving Tables at the Buffet: Fair or Foul?”

    1. Leigh-Ann
      June 21st, 2011 @ 10:48 am

      My thought is this, we are all in the same boat, so to speak, we all want to get food – find a place to sit – enjoy – visit and do it at our own pace.

      I don’t like to save tables, and I am also willing to share a table.

      My bigger peave is this, people who save tables and grab chairs from other tables, making them nul and void for others to use.

      I hate seeing one person at a table with 7 chairs around it, especially when they have grabbed 3 chairs from neighboring tables that people now can not use.

    2. Terri aka Black Chick On tour
      June 21st, 2011 @ 10:49 am

      I agree with the Editor. And, to answer the question, I think it’s fair. I’ve never really experienced not being able to get any seating in the buffet areas, but I’m not a buffet person. In fact, in “real” life I typically hate a buffet (unless it’s a fabulous champagne brunch buffet).

      Both my husband and I on quite a few occasions will grab a tray, load up our food, and take it back to our cabin and eat lunch in peace on our balcony.

    3. Nicole
      June 21st, 2011 @ 11:21 am

      Fair.. but pool chairs are a different story.

    4. Gloria
      June 21st, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

      Fair

      When you are traveling with a family and they are in line getting their food I see no reason for a complaint about one or two people sitting at a table and holding it til their family can bring their food to the table.

      Deck chairs ARE another matter.

    5. Happy Cruiser 6143
      June 21st, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

      I agree with the editor that it is the ship’s responsibility to provide adequate seating. We quickly learned on our recent cruise on the Eclipse that if we didn’t get a table first, we’d never see the rest of our party again and we wouldn’t find a place to sit. It’s just too big and too busy. People who are hollering about a small number of people at a big table should inquire if there’s room for others at the table. We often shared a larger table with others.

    6. Barbara
      June 21st, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

      We just returned from a cruise and a few times were forced to find a table and have one of our group sit there while the rest of us got our food. If we didn’t do this, we would have all been standing around with trays and no place to sit. I agree that the ships should address the problem of seating. Cruising should be a relaxing time not one hunting for a table :-)

    7. Debbie
      June 21st, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

      I think it is okay to find yourself a table first – it’s not like you are going to hog the table just for the day as in the case of pool chairs – you are in line getting food. I am not comfortable carrying several plates and a large drink on a tray and I do not feel my young children are capable of doing so without spilling their pop over on someones’ shoes, so we always grab our drinks first, find a table and then go for the food. The only time we had trouble finding a table at the Lido was at lunch the day of sailing and breakfast the last day – and that only required walking around for 3 or 4 minutes before finding one.

    8. leo
      June 21st, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

      in days of old in new york city they had a chain of automated cafeteria style restaurants called Horn and Hardart. It was common and expected to share a table.
      I make no bones about asking if i can sit at a table for 4 with two people. Sometimes they will say they have people coming,but normally they will invite you to sit down. I smile and say “i promise not to talk to you” the tension is broken and we all laugh
      grabbing a table or “holding a spot online” is strictly High School behavior and yes i have spoken up when a group of 7 to 9 people cut the line when they have a person “holding a spot” Having food at different islands is no problem since first i will have a salad then decide if i wish to get anything more.
      Since a cruise is a place to chill out people should be more laid back and not “stake out their territory”. Today it seems many people have lost the art of conversation.
      Happy cruising
      leo

    9. Julie M
      June 21st, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

      I have often cleaned my table off after finishing lunch on Lido; much to the astonishment of the servers up there .

    10. Dee
      June 21st, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

      I have no problem with people saving tables at a buffet as long as they are waiting for someone who is getting food. People should not stay there if they will not be eating and should leave when they are finished eating.

    11. Gail B
      June 21st, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

      Problem is solved on Oasis and Allure.. Never have to go to the cafeteria with Johnny Rockets, Solarium, MDR, Park Cafe and Promenade Cafe all serving breakfast for free.. We do Johnny Rockets every morning with eggs anyway you want them plus whatever else you want..being and being waited on also no lines. Plenty of free lunch venues also.. Never had to line up and dine in the Windjammer the past 3 cruises.. love it.

    12. DEE
      June 21st, 2011 @ 8:32 pm

      When you cruise with your 91 yr old Mom you have to seat her first and save a table as the 4 of us help fill her plates as she sees what we are choosing..
      We all (four of us) help gather her food and drink while she converses with all the neighbors..It’s a ‘social event’ for her and us too!

    13. George
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 6:41 am

      On our cruises, we have rarely eaten at the buffet but when we have, we always tell the waiter that we are “happy to join” a table. If they give us our own table and the place looks busy, we tell them that we are “happy to share”. We met several folks and had had many pleasant conversations doing this and never had to wait.

    14. Michael
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 6:58 am

      I agree that it can sometimes be disheartening to finally get your food after a 30 or 40 minute wait in line to only find out that there is no where to be seated. However, I must say that for the most part, after I get my food, I really do not want to sit in a crowded restaurant, rather, if it is during the day when the sun is out, I like to take my food to a nice lounge chair. Now finding one of those during a sea day can be a much more difficult proposition. If it is during a midnight buffet, again, I typically like to take my plate and return to my suite or balcony where I can eat outside with my wife on our own private verandah.

    15. Homer
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 7:10 am

      It is one thing to use a table for eating as they are intended. It is quite another to sit for hours with no food in site reading or computing. This happens not only on ships but in airports and food courts.
      I have no problem with anyone enjoying their food. I encourage that.
      To hog a table for other than what it is intended is egregious.
      When you are not eating, move on!

    16. Li
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 7:24 am

      Finding a table took so long our food became cold and unappetizing. I feel its ok for one person to find a table while the others grab their food. I feel its important to leave the table as neat & clean as posssible once you finish your meal. Many people stay at the table and/or leave behind in a huge mess. I dont feel that is fair.

    17. Jon
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 7:28 am

      I don’t see a problem with saving a table while the remainder of the group goes for food; my problem is the ever growing number of passengers who claim Lido deck tables for card playing, board games or just reading a book during meal times. While a family walks around looking for a place to sit and enjoy their meal, grandma and grandpa are taking up a table to play hearts. There are tables and chairs on other decks that could be used for that.

    18. Ed
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 7:30 am

      When you say- “Saving Dining chairs is fair game but pool chairs are not”, what you are saying is, you only care about what effects YOU personally, or what YOU personally find to be important… to YOU. My parents taught me that was selfish. My parents tried to teach me how to be decent, moral and have a concern for others.
      I recall one Halloween when they ran out of candy to hand out. There weren’t that many more people to come, but seeing that my Brother & I had 2 huge pillow cases full (each of us), my Dad asked us to hand out some of our candy to the last few Trick or Treaters, rather than disappoint some other young kids. (That’s the way my parents were) So we handed some out, they didn’t take our candy and do it, WE did, and it felt great. So today, MY family will be the ones on the side lines, staring at all the beach towels that people get up hours before they decide to go to the pool and lay out, so they can “save a seat”. My kids asked me once why WE don’t do that, and my Wife & I told them why. We will be in the lobby of the Theater, waiting for another couple to join us BEFORE we take our seats, and we will not be the ones who show up at the buffet and grab a table for 6 when there are only 2 or 3 of us. A few of us have decided not to be decent anymore, and it has had a chain reaction, effecting all of us… “everybody’s doing it, why should I lose out”. Sadly, we are overwhelmed by parents today teaching their kids that “it is all about them”, That- it’s ok to “raise the gangplank, I’M aboard!”, and “I got mine… how you do’in’?” Well, this is one family that teaches their children well.

    19. JackTarver
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 7:34 am

      The cruise lines create or at least contribute to the problem. On a recent cruise on the Norwegian Jade the buffet seating arrangement had an inordinate number of 6 tops, generally occupied by no more than 2 people,too few 2 tops with predominantly 4 tops with 2 tops added making 6 tops here again generally occupied by only 1 or 2 people. Cruise lines need to hire restaurant planners and designers to alter their table arrangement.

    20. Linda
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 8:12 am

      Would be nice if there were trays. HAL does not have them anymore, so when looking for a table you may have two arms full of food as well. Makes it far more difficult.

    21. Ron in NC
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 8:13 am

      We started our cruising “career” after retiring in 2006 and after our 14th cruise this April have seen it all on several lines. First, chair hogs by the pool should be thrown overboard…er, at least their “stuff” should be removed and have to be reclaimed in lost and found in a room named “chair hog hell” (hopefully with slow moving lines). In the Lido, we have often shared our table and encourage others to ask to share with others who are usually more than happy to do so.
      As the article pointed out, it is the renovation happy cruise lines to blame for the antique design of the cafeteria lines in the Lido and increasing cabins, lengthening ships and removing trays in the Lido that caused a lot of these problems. So, do not eat at prime times…….go early if possible or if not wait until after main rush is over.
      Chair hogs on the other hand should not get to eat on the ship at all and forced to go to the “chair hog hell” room to retrieve their precious stuff at dining hours!!!

    22. floridavet
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 8:27 am

      Geez, was there nothing left that we could whine about? On many occasions when I have visited the buffet alone, I have asked different folks if they minded if I joined them – if there were empty seats at their table. Guess what? No one ever said no, and on many occasions it resulted in wonderful conversations and meeting new people. Why make this such an issue? I certainly don’t see it as one.

    23. B.l. kloss
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 8:41 am

      We choose smaller ships so there are less crowds of people but no matter where you go on
      any line rudness can prevail. Being older with
      bad knees makes saving a table easier for us.
      Not standing around looking lost when finding a
      table. Hubby loves ncls way of laying out a lido for the reasons stated in our blogs. Just get what you want and go back if need be.

    24. Buck Naked
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 8:50 am

      I myself seek out a table first when my wife and I get to the buffet. I do not take large tables and if we happen to get a 4 perosn table, we are more than happy to share.

      Last January, my wife and I did a cruise out of Baltimore on Royal Caribbean. When we went through the check in process and finally got our stuff to the room, we decide to go get something to eat. I did my normal hunting around for a table while my wife lagged behind. Finally found a 4 person table, jumped in the seat and signaled my wife to go fill up her plates.After we got our first plates of food, I did not this woman cirlcing around our section looking for a seat. There was no empty tables available since most passengers were waiting for their room to be ready. She walked by and I asked her if she wanted to sit with us and she said yes and would we mind if her husband sat with us to. I told her that was fine.

      Come to find out at dinner that night that they were also our seating partners in our group of 8 people.

      It is alsways good to be nice to others. You never knwo who in the hell you will be siiting with for dinner for 9 days….

    25. Jill Guthrie
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 8:54 am

      Yes we have also occasionally had problems finding a seat in the buffet, but when we have learnt a lot about people who cruise – their not always the “cream” of society. Our pet hates – people who sit in the buffet area and play cards while people wishing to eat are forced to go elsewhere – people who take two mattresses for their sunlounge and leave other people to sit on hard plastic and yes, those that ‘book’ their sunlounge early in the morning (even though they never turn up to use it) and now the delicate one, people who are perfectly mobile onboard ship but all of a sudden become invalids when they see an opportunity to get off the ship quickly or to get help to carry their luggage….. But then there are all the good fun things that happen on a cruise and the adventure of visiting all those ports. Its hard to have a bad cruise no matter what happens or who is onboard. If only we could afford to do it more often.

    26. Julie E
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 8:54 am

      There is so many food choices on board, from buffet to Dining room for all 3 main meal times. Even the Piazza area has some great choices. The only negative comment would be minimize seating time in the Buffet area after you have finished your meal. If you have a big table, then expect to share some of the extra chairs at the table you have chosen. Cruising is all about relaxing fun and oh yes EATING!!!!

    27. Paula
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 9:02 am

      As long as they are saving for people in line getting food I see no issue at all. I have no problem sharing my table nor should they. When most of the tables are for 4 or more my hubby and I usually sit at a larger table as that all that is available. People should not in a uproar about that, in fact I would welcome anyone that would want to join us. What I do have issue with is people holding a large amount of seats in theater. Holding one or two is ok but I have seen people hold a whole row. If the show is about to start and no one is there they should not save at all. As for deck chairs, I am just thankful I am not a sun bather.

    28. Tim
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 9:05 am

      Is it fair to save a table? It depends on the situation. Families with small children probably need to have one parent find a table and save it for their family so that they are not wandering around looking and risking food or drink spills by their children, which is a safety concern for all. It is also legitimate for larger groups (8+) who want to sit together. I have never been refused when I have asked to share a table (my wife and I or back in the day with her mom and our young son). It’s a great way to meet someone from a different place and broaden your horizons.

    29. Barbara Sullivan
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 9:09 am

      Bring a book or magazine to the buffet (not to read, but to show occupancy). Put the reading material down, grab a couple of glasses of juice/coffee and put that down on the table, and then go get a small amount of food. Keep going back in shifts for other courses. Try to leave one person at the table. If you can only find a larger table available, when you see people looking for space, invite them to share the table with you.

    30. Sandie
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 9:22 am

      Not only does the food get cold while circling for a table, there are those who have many “extra” cups of coffee to have a view of the ship arriving at port. We go to the main dining room for breakfast, where you get your food to order, be served by a waiter, AND always find a seat while others are moving about the buffet, searching for an empty, clean table.

    31. Kathy
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 9:26 am

      We have been on many cruises and different lines. We have learned to order room service first thing in the morning for our coffee and a small bite to eat. Then, we wait for the crowd to lessen and go for a late breakfast/early lunch. That way, we also have the chance to have an afternoon “snack” before going to dinner that evening. It works well for the days at sea. I realize that the island days would be different, as people are wanting to eat and get off for their excursions. I would say, on those days, order room service for breakfast. A great time saver when you are on an early schedule.

    32. mk
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 9:27 am

      Cruised on the NCL Jade recently (Western Med) and we were all very disappointed with the “Free Style” dining. We felt like they did everything possible to make the buffets (a/k/a/mall food court) so miserable that you would just give up and go to one of their add’l pay restaurants.
      The lines were insanely long for every meal and we never got a seat w/o walking around the seating areas a few times. And, of course, our food was always cold before we got to eat it.
      So, if you can find a seat…save it!
      BTW- the “free” sit down restaurants were just ok, but the food was less than spectacular. (and, that’s being kind) Also, the menus were very limited, repetitive and the same at all of the “free” restaurants for each meal.
      We could have given in and gone to one of the add’l pay restaurants but, we all felt strongly that we didn’t want to encourage the cruise lines newest ways to extort more money from us.
      Cruises used to be something special..a place to get away from the ordinary and travel in style and be catered to. Now, it’s just an expensive way to be treated like cattle :(
      I guess I’ll just have to cruise less often so, when I do go, I can afford to go on a more upscale line where they actually seem to care remember what service means.

    33. Glenn
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 9:38 am

      I also agree with the editor. I saw this issue on Caribbean Princess recently out of NYC. Be considerate of others, this is not rocket science. Do not play solitair or dominoes during dinner time nor, you, the one person, do not hold a table for 4 for hours. Thanks “Terri aka Black Chick On tour” for the great tip! My wife and I will now bring our tray to our stateroom and eat on the balcony in piece and have a place to sit too!

    34. Phyllis Grayson
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 9:57 am

      I thought the whole purpose of the larger tables was so that people could share if necessary. We have never been turned down by those with empty seats. If you are too shy to ask, get a waiter to ask for you.

    35. Sher
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 9:57 am

      Kudos to Ed #18 above! I am grateful he shared his Hallowe’en candy story. So true….if there were more families like his, which taught this me, myself, and I generation a little more about selflessness and sharing, our society would benefit immensely. Sometimes I wonder where this competitive, self-concerned, egocentric generation is headed, but then again, that’s what capitalism encourages. Far better to inculcate values of co-operation and caring instead of cutthroat callousness and inconsideration for others.

    36. Robin
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 10:02 am

      I have been on 26 cruises I can’t complain about the buffets at all. Lines always moved at a good pace and I never had trouble finding a place to sit. No problems, even when my husband was wheelchair bound. Makes me wonder what cruise lines these people use??????

    37. Sylvain Forest
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 10:08 am

      I have read all the comments posted here. Let me chime in with my take on buffet tables. Coffee is just about ready in the kitchen as I write this. I made it all by myself from A to Z, like I do every morning. If I don’t prepare it myself, there won’t be any coffee. I can’t start my day without coffee.
      Then, if I don’t make breakfast, there won’t be any breakfast. That is my everyday life at home. I don’t have a cook, a chauffeur, a somelier and a majordomo. I wish I had a staff to pamper me. I can’t afford to live like that. When I go on a cruise, there is no way you’ll find me in line waiting to serve myself at the buffet for ANY meal, much less wander around with a plate of food looking for a table. On a cruise, I want to plunk myself down at a table, have a waiter bring me a menu, order whatever I want and wait to be served. When I am done with my meal, I’ll leave a few bucks on the table as a sign of appreciation and get on with my day. I can afford that and that’s what I do. I don’t do buffet lines in real life, or on cruise ships. Buffets are for the rest of the world who doesn’t get to serve themselves at home because the staff won’t let them do it. And there are a lot of those people on a cruise ship, apparently.

      Man, that coffee smells good today.
      SF

    38. Manya
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 10:37 am

      I would really like to know which ships have 30-40 minute waits for food in the Lido…

      I have yet to see this on any ship other than for the late night buffet on HAL after the Fuerte Amador return at 10:30pm when the Lido was caught a little off guard but the number of people wanting dinner.

      Someone please post any ships they have experienced this on so that the ‘powers that be’ from the cruiselines read about it.

    39. RT
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 10:51 am

      MK, your comments are so true. Mass market ships a.e. NCL selling $595.00 a week cruises has led to mass ignorance customers. The days of cruising being a truly special experience are now limited to only the very high end ships. You want cheap you get get people who act accordingly.

    40. Bob
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 11:14 am

      Try the dining room.

    41. Bob
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 11:36 am

      In the dining room they find a table for you.
      Then you order and they bring you the food.
      The only line is the one to get into the dining room, if there is one. And with so many people crowding the Lido buffet, there is seldom a line at the dining room.

    42. cruiser352
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 11:45 am

      The only times we’ve run in to problems finding a table at the Windjammer is for lunch after embarkation. Other than that we avoid the buffet at all other times unless we are forced to eat there – like port days.

      Anyway, on embarkation, you’re not only looking for lunch, the cabin isn’t ready and you are dealing with all of your carry on items. So it actually would be impossible not to grab a table to drop your carry on items before gathering your food. In this case it’s a necessity.

      It’s entirely a different problem when a group then stays in that area, long after they have finished their food, just waiting for their cabin to be available.

    43. Jay
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 11:51 am

      It’s fair to save a table while others are getting their food. If there are no tables when I have no food I can just come back later, but carrying around a full tray while searching is eventually going to result in spills. My pet peeve is on embarkation day when people stack their carryons on seats rather than put them on the floor so half the seats are unavailable.

    44. David
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 11:57 am

      On a recent Alaskan cruise it was almost impossible to eat a quick breakfast in the Lido cafeterias from all the “sightseers” using the the dining tables for their vantage points. Afraid they would get chilled on deck or the winds might disrupt their casual card games, they would sit there and remain there until we returned for lunch. I would suggest the cruise lines monitor the dining tables to be used for eating and the main lounges for the Pinochle games. Courtesy and discretion, but if you lack both, suffer the consequences.

    45. Maureen
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

      Eating with my family and/or friends on a cruise is my favorite part. While I would never hog a table, and really love to meet new people at meals, I’m also going to save the table for family and friends who I know are joining me. Why wouldn’t I? Am I supposed to wave and holler across the room to the people I’m traveling with? And do I linger over a second cup of coffee with them? Absolutely. This is MY cruise and I’m not going to be bullied away from my family because someone thinks it’s wrong to save a table. Actually, I’m sort of surprised at this thread, because it’s just common sense to eat with your family and friends.

    46. Joe
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

      So now we can not enter the buffet and secure a table so we can put down the usual stuff that most cruisers carry around on a trip like a bag or other item. We are supposed to queue up to the buffet stations with all this stuff slung over our shoulder which will most surely make getting out food harder. And we can’t leave that bag back at the pool lounge chair cause then we are accused of being a pool chair hog!

      How about this……. People not only on a cruise ship but anywhere need to realize that they are not the only inhabitant of planet Earth. Which means as to are walking around doing whatever look out for the other person, do not walk with your head down, I’ve seen many a “traffic accident” in the buffets where the one that isn’t looking where they are going crashes into someone who has a tray full of food and then promptly blames that person for the crash! If you are having troule deciding what you want politely inform those behind you that they may pass if they wish. Or just grab something and move on, you can always go back for more!

    47. Joe
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

      Sylvain Forest – I am so very sorry that you feel that the buffet is so beneath you!

    48. Julia
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

      To Robin: On our cruises (several times two, mostly four of us) when we do use the buffet line we’ve encountered minor problems finding a table (maybe not before food/coffee cools, but usually before the ice in water/tea glasses melts). We also often ask if we may join a half-empty table, offer seating when we see other people searching, and don’t spend after-meal time there–unless there are a number of empty tables around us.

      Our trips have been on HAL, Norwegian, and Princess (we prefer the latter, especially their ‘small ships’), and most meals are taken in the dining room, as my husband REALLY prefers being waited on. :) I noticed several posters mentioned the cruise lines they used, and wondered what line or lines you yourself cruise, that you never had problems. ???

    49. taxmarie
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 1:09 pm

      Try Azamara Club Cruises. They aren’t that much move expensive, but only 700 passengers. We’ve never had a major problem at the buffet and can even find a waitperson to assist my almost-blind husband when needed on rough days. BTW, we eat at the buffet because the servings in the dining room are too large for our senior appetites. At the buffet we can get small portions of just what we want.

    50. Am
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

      Would be a good idea for the cruiseline to have a host seat parties as they exit the buffet line. I’d imagine the cruiseship would want to do whatever possible to ensure a good experience (and less conplaints).

    51. Bob Bear
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

      Its selfish to save a table your not using, and if you haven’t got your food yet, you have no use for the table, you’re just a selfish pig!

    52. anita
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

      At home I always take my dishes off the table, at sea, what are the tips for if not for the waiters to do their job. let the ship hire more if there is not enough.

      Also, what cruise lines still have the Midnight buffet?

    53. dawnprincess
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

      TOTALLY Fair. This is just called planning ahead! There is nothing worse than having a full plate of food and nowhere to sit. However, DH and I just go up, get our food and come right back to the table. At times, we’ll take turns going back up for dessert or whatever. I can see being annoyed if someone saves a table and then engages ‘disappears’ for long periods of time.

    54. Bibi
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

      Wow! Live and let live while being courteous to others please. Problem solved. (In the dining rooms, the buffets AND on deck.) Enjoy your cruise!

    55. kitty
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

      Yes and No. I do not see anything wrong with an elderly person or some one with mobility problems sitting at a table and saving a seat for someone who has gone to get the food for both of them. My dad had parkinson and I would sit with him while my hubby would get his food then we would get ours. now for someone to save a table for people who are not ever there yet that is a different ballgame no to that.I think it is a case by case problem that must be handled that way.

    56. cora gero
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

      In a group traveling with seniors or handicapped Yes find and hold a table for them I travel with two my mother (93) and my cousin an amputee There is no way eiher can stand in line w/o upsetting other travelers I find them a seat and will request help from one of the waiters for help As for taking a chair ….

    57. Big Jack
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 3:11 pm

      If you came on the cruise to bitch, do so in your cabin!!! No one wants to hear you. If you don’t like saving tables and chairs, go the the open seating restruant and have the hostess seat you. No muss on fuss. Life is too short to worry about the small stuff, and it is all small stuff.

    58. tishavens
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

      I’ve always been on ships with “stations”, and almost have to save a table first, otherwise we have trouble finding each other once we’ve scattered to get our food. And we don’t want our food to get cold while we wait for someone to vacate a table. That said, we certainly try to move on in a reasonable amount of time when it’s busy… and when there are only the two of us rather than the larger family group, we generally try to share if we see large-top tables that are only partially occupied. (we’ve met lots of great cruisemates that way!)

      I think most ettiquette points on cruises comes down to recognizing that other passengers have neither less nor more right to enjoy their vacation as you… so you need to find a courteous balance.

    59. tishavens
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

      …I should also add that carrying a tray of food through a busy cafeteria on a moving ship is somewhat precarious… adding the need to wind around and hunt for a table to that mix is asking for an accident… even among those of us who are younger and more agile. I’m sure it’s that much worse for many of the older passengers who necessarily move more carefully.

    60. Avid Cruiser - 24 x and counting
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

      The problem clearly is: piggy people. Cruising was once a refined, sophisticated affair. On cruises past you could expect that everyone would be reserved and polite, now it is every man, woman and child for themselves. Pushing, shoving, and belching their way through the buffet line to plate pile more and more food to stuff their piggy faces. Not to mention the rude and crude greedy geezers who run you over their walkers trying to make it to the duty free to snap up bargains. And let’s not forget “those people” with sideways hats, baggy pants, chains, and tattoos roving in packs looking for something to steal. Yes. Cruising has changed, and not for the better. I agree with a lot of the comments on here about sticking to higher end cruises. I would rather cruise once a year on a more civilized line than go three times on one where I am the only one at the dining table without a tattoo.

    61. gail
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

      I do not mind if people have a table reserved while they are in the buffet line. What really bothers me are those that play cards for hours during the busy luncheon time. Find the card room!!

    62. Jaye
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

      After reading every post, I came to the conclusion that it is okay to save seats. And, if you are sitting at a table that can accommodate more people, sharing is the right thing to do.

      However, if your friends, familiy or whomever cannot fit at the table with the existing chair set-up, you need to use more tables. Taking chairs from another table is really not nice. And, it would be a good idea if there was some place where it was posted that card/game playing was not permitted in the area where people are eating. Suggestions can be given as to where they can go to play.

      Just my opinion.

    63. Jason Howard
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

      We saved seats at the buffet on our recent cruise for two reasons. First, we were traveling with someone who had mobility issues and needed a seat right away. Second, we learned the hard way on our particular ship that if you picked your feeding time wrong there would be no seating and you’d be standing around for a while. We got around that by visiting the buffet at less busy times or by avoiding it altogether.

    64. jerryo
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

      First of all; I dislike the Lidos that don’t use trays any longer. I’m sure it was an economy ploy to reduce the amount of food a passenger would take/waste. However; it makes the entire process a balancing act and often means more trips back and forth. This creates a need for a \home base\ table to return to. Having a minor but annoying knee disability also makes me uncomfortable standing in line or looking for tables for a lengthy time. At least if we pick a table first, that wait time is lessened. We could go to the sit down venues, but I like the variety at the Ledos. Of course, all that being said, courtesy is still a watchword. I agree that trhe cruise lines in general could have done more to make the Ledo experience more enjoyable.

    65. Joe
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

      Just because some of you organize a cruise with ten or fifteen friends and relatives, doesn’t mean that every place you go on the ship you are entitled to special seating.
      If the wife and I are walking around with a tray of food, looking for a place to sit right now, I don’t want to see someone saving a large table for people who are not ready to sit down and eat.
      Same goes for the theatre. Get together with your party of twelve in the lobby and when you are all there, march in and find some seats.

    66. Jan
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

      one often goes and finds a table and saves one place for the other getting their food, i dont see a difference in this or being seated first at a regular buffet and then told you can go get your food.
      if we are traveling with another couple, sometimes we do the same thing 2 of us go get our meal and 2 of us stay–pretty much like at home eating at a buffet.
      so i see nothing wrong with saving seats at the buffet.

    67. jan akins
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

      We just returned from a Russian RCCL cruise. It was always terribly crowded in the Windjammer because the upper deck and other open spaces were essentially closed because it was so cold.

      We usually grabbed a drink and something else and put it on the table and then got the meal. That worked ok.

      When we were desperate with food in hand we just went up to a big table with two people and asked if we could sit down. You can usually tell if people are expecting others. This worked out.

      Sometimes just as we were leaving friends of ours were coming in. We just hesitated until they moved into our table. This worked too.

      We did see some tempers flair — a half group was holding a table and some poor old man had to move his entire lunch after being worked over by a 20 something. Sad… like somebody said if you are together for 12 days, you surely can’t plan to eat together EVERY meal.

    68. Jan Cartwright
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

      I cruise allot and take groups. We often use room service for a light breakfast on the veranda and usually have lunch and dinner in the dining room. The Lido is more for snacks at various times. Relax folks and enjoy everything the cruise lines have to offer! Smile, it’s contagious!

    69. sandyh
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

      I wish the cruise lines would take a stand instead of asking their customers to fend for themselves.

      It’s bad enough that there is not a uniform consensus of opinions among Americans on this subject. We also have cruise passengers from around the world coming to our ports trying to figure out what is appropriate culturally.

      I personally would like to have everyone seated by a cruise employee before we go to get food with a card indicated that the table is occupied. That way you know where you should be and that your food won’t get cold.

    70. TOM BROLLINI
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

      We don’t go on a cruise to eat in a buffet. Especially since they arn’t very good, not much better than the Golden Corral.

      We always eat in the dining room unless we miss it due to excursions.

    71. Cigary
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

      My wife and I cruise a lot and over the years we’ve seen this take place on every cruiseline. Here’s the reality on this…there are different areas to have your meals and one is the Lido Area where food is served cafeteria style where you get your food and find a table…you’re on your own. There is the Main Dining Room where you can sit at a table reserved for you which you can eat by yourself or with a group. Where is the problem now? If you want a reserved table go to the main dining room…if you want something quicker then suck it up and go to the buffet…if you don’t like that you can always have room service. If any of these don’t float your boat then don’t cruise and stay home and cook a TV Dinner or eat at Wendys for crying out loud.

    72. Carol Mannchen
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

      My late husband and I took a wonderful cruise on the Crown Princess in Canada/NE last fall. We did have one unpleasant experience and it was in the Horizon Court. We got our food and sat down at a table, about the only empty table. It was a fairly large table and soon, a nice lady joined us. We had been there about 15 minutes when a guy came over and started yelling at us. There was a little jacket or sweater thrown over one of the chairs at the table that I had not noticed. Because of this, he was insisting that this was his table, reserved for several people, and that we had to leave. He did not believe me when I said I had not seen the jacket. We were already well into our meal and all three of us refused to leave. Eventually, he huffed off. It was quite unpleasant.
      So, I would say, if you must save a table, leave a person there, please.

    73. LOUISPHILLIPPE
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

      I don’t believe in eating fast and run.I’m on vacation and I expect to be dining with civilized people around or with me.I would NEVER EVER eat in such a manner regardless of the situation short of a war zone or an epidemic break out.Lido style dining is like feeding cattle or pigs: not fit for civilized humans.
      I find that custom abominable that became popular by the greed of the cruise companies to feed you and get rid of you as cheaply and quickly as possible.No more room??? Then…make some more!!!
      And I’m unanimous on that!!!
      ROFLMAO!!!

    74. Cher
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

      The one thing that really annoys me is when 4 people have finished eating and drinking. Then remain hogging a table just talking while people walk about with trays of food going cold,as they looking for a free table. why dont they move outside to talk and leave tables free for people that want to eat. thats what we do. We eat clear up and leave the table clean and free for other diners

    75. mal
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

      If you don’t like the lines/saved tables don’t ear at Lido unless forced by the cruise line. Try the main dining room where there is waiter service and table space as you are seated by a waiter/maitre d’.

    76. john
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

      I was surprised that the topic was ever raised and even more surprised by the Cruise Critic’s decision that it was deserving of discussion.

      You can only imagine my disbelief at length and breadth of some of the comments that that have been posted.

      I see this is a simple matter of old fashioned etiquette.

      1. It’s pefectly OK to have one of your party hold the needed dining seats while their friends/family make their first pass at the buffet, as long as the entire party has arrived.

      2. If there are additional seats at the table there should be willingess to allow others to be seated.

      3. Since friendly conversation over a lingering cup of coffee is part of the dining/cruising experience that is perfectly acceptable. But, holding the table for reasons totally unrelated to dining (e.g. card games, etc) are no no.

      For a moment I thought I’d misread the topic and the discussion involved really involved smoking….LOL

    77. MarciaJean
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

      If I see empty seats I just help myself and pretend like I dom’t understand English with a smile. Just sit down and see what happens. this group has never seen E.Post.

    78. Lee
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

      We cruise on the smaller ships now, can’t stand maneuvering among 3500 to 5000 people for the Lido evening shows and shore excursions.

    79. Kay
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

      Oh, Jill (comment 25), I must offer an answer to your comment. My family attempts to be ever thoughtful onboard but I am one of those who needs assistance to board and who tries to do without the wheelchair whenever and wherever I can. I have severely herniated discs and despite various types of medical and alternative treatments have yet to resolve the frequent pain and constant discomfort. I am able to walk down a hall and shop for short periods of time but simply cannot manage long periods of time standing. As I appear fit and fine, I now wonder if fellow passengers feel similarly to you. I promise youbthat it is no treat to sit on a chair at everyone’s waist-level and have kinder passengers inquire, fret or fuss. I am by nature a bit timid and want to disappear when I take the room of several in the elevator.
      Perhaps there are others with my predicament.

    80. cheryl
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

      I have been on 20+ cruises and have never had as bad an experience as on NCL last year. I now use a walker & made sure that was known when I made our reservations. NCL initially put us in a cabin that was on a floor without an elevator ( they did give us a different state room, but we had to move our own luggage.) This was not a good start to the trip, then we went to the Lido deck for food & I was told it was not “handicapped accessible” and “must” use the main dining room. When you have been on a day-trip, the dining room is not always an option. I would go in with my walker anyway and sat a table while my companion got their food and was treated very rudely by most of the NCL staff. The other cuisers were wonderful and helped me find a seat and would offer to get my food for me if my friend was not in evidence. I would move a chair over and sit on my walker so that people that needed more chairs could use mine and was told more than once by NCL personnel that I was taking up too much room and/or time in line trying to juggle plates with a walker and in future should use the main dining room. I have never had problems on other cruise lines with my walker and reserving a table for others has not been an issue, but on NCL if you are not in perfect physical shape you are treated like trash.

    81. Al Bundy
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

      Some of you folks need to get a life and find other things to gripe about. There are a lot more decent people on these cruises than meatheads. And most of these decent people are more than happy to share their table. Just be patient. There are always people getting up and leaving.

    82. Lynda
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

      I agree with some of the other readers – deck chairs are definitely a bigger problem. First, a point about the buffet. When you go to a restaurant that offers a buffet, does the hostess tell you to get your food, then she will find you a table? No, first you are seated, then you get your food. I think the same concept applies here. I typically have a sweater/jacket,a camera and other items that I need to put down before I can carry a plate.

      Now, the deck chairs are a huge problem. On a recent cruise we observed a number of groups leave towels unattended on chairs for hours. I’ve seen many people leave their towels while they go inside to eat, and not return for two or three hours. THAT is not proper cruise etiquette!

    83. Widespreadpanic
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

      It’s ok if one person saves a table while the other/s get their food. It is rude to take up lunch tables (yes, this means the tables OUTSIDE the lido area, on the deck) at the busy breakfast andlunch hours. And for those times when another couple asked if they could sit with us when we THOUGHT we were being joined, but ended up sitting alone, I am sorry I told you no, but it was not an intentional lie.

    84. Cheryl B
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

      Ok, this issue about locating a table before you get your food is just plain a no brainer. You need a table to eat. You intend to use the table appropriately 5-10 minutes after getting your food. If you have to do this, it’s obvious to you that it’s crowded and I think the majority of people will be aware that they are lucky to get the table, and will be aware of people still looking.
      I don’t want someone wandering around with a tray full of food. Accidents happen.
      As soon as we are finished, or nearly so, and we see someone looking, we tell them we are leaving and would they like to sit? Seeing one family getting ready to go, and clearing their dishes and another waiting to sit is the BEST way to give the server a clue to help. They always come running to help when you do this. They get to help two families at once.
      I know not all people are so considerate, but it’s the minority. And one can hope they will learn by example. Always try to be the example.
      No, I’m not touching the food until I have a place to put it. It’s a big Duh for me.

    85. CharlieTuna
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 6:33 pm

      having just returned from our Rome-Rome,Med
      cruise, we avoided the buffets completely
      ate smaller portions ala carte. And usually
      found a group of like minded travelors
      Most calorie,salt,fat,sugar laden items are displayed on the buffet tables. JUST SAY NO..

    86. Peej
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

      Despite how you feel about \holding a table\ or about how you feel when others do it, it’s simply a necessity.

      When you have your hands full of plates of food and glasses of liquids, exactly WHAT do you do if there is no place to sit?

      How long can you really stand there, holding those items, hoping that a spot will free-up?

      So, you may not like to do it and/or you may not like other people to do it, but it has to be a given.

      No one is going to be happy if you decide that you can’t hold these items, any longer and simply put them down on the floor and leave; this is the lesser of two evils!

    87. James
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

      I don’t even bother with the buffets anymore on any cruise line. They are too much a zoo for me. If I have concierge service, I go to the designated restaurant (as I cruise with NCL it’s Cagney’s). If not, I go to the main dining room or to Blue Lagoon.

      I will not cope with adults pushing and shoving as if they owned the place. I will not put up with people saving seats or hogging tables toplay cards or, or worse, reading. I will not put up with people leaving their dirty dishes behind. These are absolutely unacceptable behaviours.

      I don’t care that other people are on vacation and feel they have the right to do any of the above. I, too am on vacation, but I use the table for its intended purpose: to eat my meal and then promptly leave, claring away my mess when I leave.

    88. Lillian
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 6:50 pm

      Sail on ALLURE OR OASIS as there are so many venues to eat breakfast and lunch without struggling to find a seat at the buffet!!!

    89. Jay
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

      Agree with the above post…primarily because I don’t have time to read them all. The best way to avoid problems on the buffet is not use it!!! We do what others suggested…occasionally get a tray and take it back to our balcony cabin…or go find a spot on deck….or just go to one of the restaurants. Certainly no problem with pushing, shoving, saving tables then

    90. Joyce Mock
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 7:10 pm

      I totally understand the efficiency of using the stations instead of the old cafeteria style lines. The problem with stations is there is no clear indicator of which way the line is going. Usually, things like plates and silverware are situated in between stations so that doesn’t help you figure out which is the beginning of the line and you end up with a big free-for-all because people are starting from both ends. My suggestion for a quick an easy fix–if only the cruise lines would put a directional arrow on each station so we know which way the line goes.

    91. LOUIS PHILLIPPE
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

      I have a perfect way to deal with table/chair hogs.I just take a seat in one of the empty chairs without even looking at the \guard\.I place strategically a large Bible on the table next to my plate.As soon as the person/s guarding the seats tell me \Sorry…those seats are taken!\ with an empty look I ask them:\Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior??\.I normally use a very heavy French or Russian accent.I also fake a slight drunken stupor looking at some far away point behind my questioning fellow cruisers.It hasn’t ever failed that they all scramble faster than fast to colonize a different area.I would never make a line for food or be seated at a Lido deck to dine anyway because I feel that civilized well mannered people seats properly at a table to be served and share the moment with other well mannered civilized humans, particularly in a vacation cruise.I never hurry.Time is mine to enjoy as I see fit.Is there a need for more tables and chairs?? Then…put some more in.!!!!

    92. Elerie
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

      I don’t recall as much of an issue with the buffets as with the poolside. I have never once, after six cruises, been able to go out to the pool and find a chair. There were many chairs without people, but they would have \people’s\ stuff in them. I am absolutely not going to let it happen this time. I will…WILL take a chair that is sitting by itself, with nothing but a towel on top and I will sit my butt in it. If anyone says anything I will just say \Oh, I’m sorry\ However, I ill not get up. The problem I see is this, when I get up to take a dip in the pool, someone will take it from me and I can’t complain. So, once my butt gets in that chair, it’s going to have to stay there.
      Like others have said, there is always another place to eat!!

    93. shipaddict
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

      I generally visit the lido buffet “off peak” and I have never had a problem getting a table. If I see the line snaking out the door, I turn around and make another choice or come back in 15 minutes. Logic will tell you that if the line is long, you’re going to have a hard time finding a table.

      Something that struck me after reading all the comments — how many of you hold a grudge after a vacation! Sure, things have upset me while I’m on vacation, but rarely have they ever stuck in my craw so much that I was still complaining about it when I got home.

    94. Dino Henriques
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

      Back on the seventies and eighties i was a waiter, head-waiter and later dinning room-manager aboard some vessels of at that time top cruising lines…buffet was only used for mid-night or at lunch and in ports when most of our passengers were out in local excurtions…at all other meals you had your own personal table and your smilling waiter..Cruising should be kept that way ..at the end,every passenger used to rate their cruise a 5 star cruise. After reading and analizing all these comments about lido buffets..i am disappointed and surprised to learn how this industry has changed.These same today cruise lines, have been highly focus on the design of modern vessels which are indeed marvels in design but forgetting the main point which at the time was our main goal.. The total happinnes of the ones who pay for to keep afloat the vessels and dinning should be top priority including seating arrangements.
      Bernardino Lisbon Portugal

    95. Joe
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

      I really don’t see the reason for polite people to save seats.

      If there are six in a party, why should those six people find a table for six and then somehow claim the table by having one person sit at it or leaving books or bags at the table as they go get their food?

      Wouldn’t it be polite for the six to go get their food and then meet and THEN look for a table for the six?

      Why is it acceptable for people who are not ready to eat, hold tables when there are people standing right in front of them with food on their trays?

      Don’t be a pig. Get your food and THEN look for a table.

    96. Edward
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

      This subject is No Win for anyone. I’ve found since I started cruising the smaller ships that this problem doesn’t exsist. There always seems to be room for everyone, and no one Hogs tables,chairs or window seats. The new mega sized Love Barges are meant to treat you like a herd ( choose your animal ). Crusing on these ships is no longer something special, but something to go home and brag to family and friends that you had a great time. Never have I heard anyone say it was a Delightful Experience like cruising used to be. So to sum up all I’ve gotta say is if you want that certain table,deck chair or window seat, you had better be an early riser ( say about 03:00 ) if you want to stand any chance. If not just mill around like the rest of the herd, or be smart like me and cruise the small way and you’ll enjoy every monent. You’ll be glad you listened to me, and I’d love to tell you more but don’t have the space here to do so.

    97. Joe
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

      I really don’t see the reason for polite people to save seats.

      If there are six in a party, why should those six people find a table for six and then somehow claim the table by having one person sit at it or leaving books or bags at the table as they go get their food?

      Wouldn’t it be polite for the six to go get their food and then meet and THEN look for a table for the six?

      Why is it acceptable for people who are not ready to eat, hold tables when there are people standing right in front of them with food on their trays?

      Don’t be a pig. Get your food and THEN look for a table.

      I’ll try this post again.

    98. Sharon
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

      People, people! I think every single point has been expressed here–there’s just no reason to go on. Most of you are intelligent, wonderful, fun-loving people who are out to have a good vacation. So have it, be the best and most considerate cruiser you can be, no matter HOW someone else might act or what kind of food is available where. I don’t think name-calling is in order here.

    99. Yee Haw
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

      The worst I’ve seen was when I sailed on RCCL Mariner. On embark day a Travel Agent set up shop at one of the tables. Oh she was Miss High and Mighty. I had my lunch and left the dining area so others could have my table. I hope RCCL kicked her precious booty out of there!

    100. Chris - Gold Coast, Australia
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 11:12 pm

      Sorry Joe, but you haven’t got the message. I see no problem of one of the party saving a table while the others get their food and are avble to eat it hot, not getting cold trying to find a seat. I also agree that those playing cards, board games, or just chatting should be asked to move on by the Cruise staff it IS a dining area.
      Deck chairs really need policing. It should be policy that if a deck chair is not occupied for 15 minutes it is back to being FREE for others to use irrespective of what’s left behind. I have given up trying to get near the pool because of the selfish “beached whales” that occupy the area — in body or by leaving belongings on the chairs. As someone else said as fares reduce so does the clientele — and that is very obvious. As a side track – those people that load up their plates then leave half on the plate need to buy a book on manners.
      Other than that we have never had any problem sharing a table with others or asking to join a table.

    101. Kim
      June 22nd, 2011 @ 11:25 pm

      The West Palm Beach Visual Cruise Critic Forum said it perfectly! \Don’t, they advised me, hog seats by the window, commandeer a four-top to play solitaire during mealtime and selfishly dominate a table for 12 when you’re only a two-some.\ HOWEVER, I see nothing wrong with one or two people \holding\ a table for ten IF there are eight of their family in line filling their plates! Several others mentioned that if someone in the party didn’t grab a table, there often would be NO table and they’d be holding trays with food getting cold for up to ten minutes or more! In fact, this can sometimes apply to tables for four or less! But, YES, it’s rude to grab a table for eight when you’re a party of 2. Grabbing chairs from other tables is terribly inconsiderate, unless you return the chairs immediately if others are waiting for a table.

    102. Mike
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 1:07 am

      Fair…I don’t like standing around with hot food going cold while we look for a table. I find a table & my DW goes for her food & then I go for mine. If we have extra seats we don’t mind sharing. Generally there are tables somewhere. I think it’s rediculous to expect a group of 6 for example get their food and then wander around looking for a table. We were recently on the Ruby and at times the Horizon was busy but if you couldn’t sit inside there were lot’s of tables outside.

    103. Narelle
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 3:07 am

      I cant beleive some of the comments I have read on this topic. I’m actually insulted! My family are of the “Table Hoggers” group. Being a family of 8 (two adults and 6 children 14 and under) leaves us no choice, especially as we have a son with Cerebral Palsy who is only 6 and uses a mobility frame to get around. How else are we meant to eat together?? We have cruised several times and even when we hold a table for the little ones, we usually end up over two tables, which we try to get as close to each other as possible. We always leave one person per table to secure it. (We have never yet been able to secure a large table for us all to sit together). Does this make me inconsiderate for wanting a place for my chidren to sit? If it does, I would love for people to offer sugestions. As for the main dining room, this is an option, but the children find it very dull and dreary for every meal, so what is left? BTW, we have had other cruisers take one look at their dining companions (us) and asked to be moved, without ever experiencing how fantastically well behaved and refined our children are. Our children have immpecable manners, which are always commented on by others; they do not run around, shout, figit or carry on. We are not rich. It takes us a full year to save up for our cruise that we love to take as a family each year. But we are certainly not “cattle” nor second class citizens simply because we like to keep everyone in our family happy at mealtimes. People should realise there is always two sides to the story!!

    104. jen
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 5:04 am

      Joe, your idea to “get your food and then look for a table” might be polite in your culture, but in other cultures (including mine) it is viewed as more polite and refined to obtain a table first then get your food.
      Each to their own!

    105. dontpanik
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 7:45 am

      I always save a table at the buffet. We usually travel as a family of four and rather than having my elderly parents, myself and my husband wander around the dining area like overburdened nomads, I find a nice four top and wait for them to go through the line. I usually have everyone’s luggage with me as well since the only time I go to the buffet is on the very first afternoon when we board. Either my DH grabs some food for me, or I go back after they are seated. I find most people do this and I couldn’t care less.

      I agree that saving deck chairs is NOT ok, however. I almost never visit the pools, but there seems to be every chair with a towel or tote on them, about 6 people IN the pool, and a bunch of people wandering around looking for a place to lay out.

    106. T
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 7:58 am

      Deck chair saving is different than holding a table while the rest of the party grabs their food. People just park their things on a deck chair with the intention of not coming back sometimes for hours ( I have timed it while I sit in my deck chair-that I sit in the whole time and then give to someone else when I am done). One of the more capable people grabbing a table so that everyone has a place to come back to espically when you have children or elderly people who need some help seems reasonable. I think we more efficent when we do it.. I order the drinks while people are in line and then when the first person comes back I grab my plate as well. We then all tend to get done at the same time as if we did it the other way. It seems silly to me to equate the misuse of lounge chairs with trying to help those out in your party that might not naviagte as well.

    107. gweduck
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 8:41 am

      Cruising is not as enjoyable as it once was. I blame the cruise lines. My favorite was the guy who hogged the lounge because it had the best WiFi. Tank top and laptop, feet on the coffee table, and NO DRINK. Nice, but at cocktail time, he should of been asked to leave. Same goes for the card players on the lido deck. I again will offer my services as a professional \seat saver\ on my next cruise.

    108. Joe
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 9:04 am

      Why are people in large groups entitled to reserve large blocks of seats just so they can eat together or watch a show together?
      If you have disabled people or elderly or toddlers, I can see a need for special treatment, but a group of adults shouldn’t expect others to pass by empty seats waiting for someone when others are ready to sit and eat right then.

      Those who think the group of six shouldn’t have to walk around looking for seats while their food gets cold should realize that their saving a table means that someone else must walk around looking for a table while THEIR food gets cold.

    109. Buckeyecruiser
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 9:29 am

      With just my wife and me traveling, we don’t experience “having to find a table” as much as others. We are willing to sit down and share a table b/c we like to talk to people about their cruising experiences. The biggest problems with finding a place to sit down and eat are usually on embarkation when only the buffet is open and people do not have access to their rooms so they hang out in the “roof restaurant” and occupy much needed tables. It is unfortunate that people will sit and carry on leisurely conversations and tie up a table during the busier times even though there are a lot better places to go than at the lido buffet.
      I agree that the cruise lines are not keeping up the dining areas and are making upgrades to other places and, let’s all admit it, this is where they make money, not in the dining halls. If we all were considerate of our fellow passengers, we would leave the tables as soon as we are done AND at least clear them off when the wait staff is short. Some people just don’t get it.

    110. Chris A
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 11:19 am

      I am usually travelling with my dad, my mom, and two brothers. See as how we have five people in our crowd, it’s often hard to find a table to fit us (they’re usually fit for 4). We’ll often get a table and leave 2 people there while 3 go get their food and then switch it up so that we’ve got a place to sit. I agree that sticking around too long after your meal is rude and think that ought to be done outside of the buffet; especially on larger ships.

    111. Debra Mc
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

      I have no problem with folks saving a table. I also have no problem with 2 people at a table for 12 as long as they are willing to share – we have been & others we have met are as well. It may be that the table for 12 was the only open space when they sat down. Get the chip off your shoulder, ask if the other spots are taken & meet someone new. You may meet someone interesting & have a pleasant time. I’ve met some really nice people that way. I’ve even asked to sit at a table for 4 when only 2 people were there. We’re too hung up on our “private” space in NA. We need to learn how to share more.

    112. GLM
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

      Saving a table is fair and sharing a table should be no problem if there are empty chairs.

    113. Lex
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

      We grab drinks and a salad and get a table. They we go back for hot foods/deserts. If we had trays it would be easier to get everything and then find a table. As it is I am putting silverware and napkins in my pockets so I can carry a drink and salad.

      I think the problem is the people who sit around and play cards or shoot the breeze while people are walking around trying to find a place to eat. Or they will get a plate of cookies so in their mind they can justify sitting in the buffet area while they are playing cards at lunch time.

    114. Joe
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

      So Jen,
      Don’t you feel kind of guilty sitting there at a table, with no food in front of you and a bunch of empty chairs?
      And you having to tell people who ask, “No, these seats are all reserved for my friends”?
      Isn’t that sort of the same thing as saving deck chairs?
      “No, you can’t sit in any of these deck chairs, they are all reserved for my friends who went to the buffet”?

      Doesn’t it occur to you that when you save a table so your friends wont have to walk around looking for a table, that you are causing someone else to walk around looking for a table for themselves?

      And what kind of horror would it be if your party of eight couldn’t find an empty table so you could all sit together?

    115. angusm
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

      we have found it was easier to grab a table and one us goes and gets their food and the other goes a gets theirs we do not take extra space if we have any empty seats at our table we invite people if they need a seat to sit with us and we get to know more people that way
      the seat hogs are the ones that hold seats in theater often a whole row these are the greedy ones ???

    116. Teresa
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

      I will admit to saving a table. On my last cruise I sat my grand daughter at the table while I got our food. I was very quick. I tried to find tables there were for 2 but there usually wasnt any in the area close to the line where I could see her and get our food at the same time. If I saw people wandering around with trays and I had a table that would fit all of us, I would invite them to sit with us. And I had many people accept.

      It had nothing to do with being selfish. Me and my daughter do the same thing when we are not on board a ship. I will go sit down with the kids and she will go through the buffet lines and get hers and the kids food then when she comes back to the table I get my food. We do this, because the kids are young and I dont feel the need to subject them to having to stand in line and fuss. I will do this each time I travel with my grand children or at least until they are old enough to go through a buffet line on their own. And I dont mind sharing tables…I am a rather friendly person.

    117. Quail
      June 23rd, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

      Saving tables…hogging tables…stealing chairs..waiting in line for food??Are you people describing a prison cafeteria or a cruise ship?? I’m totally astounded than any of you would subject yourselves to all the abuse desribed above..all for the sake of a vacation? I must have missed something…my idea of a vacation is NOT going to sea, trapped on a ship with over 3000 other table squatting, chair stealing, bad mannered passengers…at ANY price.

    118. Cruisin'Col
      June 24th, 2011 @ 2:13 am

      To expect several people to get their food from different stations, then stand in the center of the lido dining room waiting for a table is not logical. They would be in the way of others & would probably spill, besides their food getting cold. It seems fair for one or two people to stay at the table with all the purses, bags, towels, cameras & wait for the others to return, then they could go get their items w/ someone always at the table eating. We have seldom waited for more than a few minutes for a table.
      However, we have been on cruises with as many as 45 people & saving many tables especting others to come soon is just wrong. The entire party needs to be present to save them a place on the table. Let’s be realistic.
      Deck chairs ARE a different story. I have been on many cruises where there was not one chair without a towel on it all afternoon, not once but the entire cruise.
      We had a big party of 17. We ALL went very early to the showroom & sat down, talking while we waited for the show. The only time anyone saved a seat was when someone had to leave to go to the restroom.
      To me…this is not the biggest problem on the cruise ship. The biggest problem for me is being forced to breathe other’s smoke when going to the elevator, in the dining room (because the doors to the cigar lounge are open – or because the dining table is downstairs from an open bar upstairs), or playing a game in a smoking lounge or walking the promenade deck. I have no problem with others smoking, but feel their right to smoke should not interfere with my right to breathe. Some cruise ships (Carnival) are the worst w/ their smoking policy. I’d like to address this.

    119. Cruisin'Col
      June 24th, 2011 @ 2:17 am

      One other thing. My bro in law & niece both use scooters. They prefer going to the dining room because it is easier for them not to be in the way of others or feel they are having a hard time maneuvering. I would recommend that if possible, if a person is handicapped, it might be easier for them to go to the dining room

    120. jen
      June 24th, 2011 @ 4:48 am

      “So Jen,
      Don’t you feel kind of guilty sitting there at a table, with no food in front of you and a bunch of empty chairs?
      And you having to tell people who ask, “No, these seats are all reserved for my friends”?
      Isn’t that sort of the same thing as saving deck chairs?
      “No, you can’t sit in any of these deck chairs, they are all reserved for my friends who went to the buffet”?

      Doesn’t it occur to you that when you save a table so your friends wont have to walk around looking for a table, that you are causing someone else to walk around looking for a table for themselves?

      And what kind of horror would it be if your party of eight couldn’t find an empty table so you could all sit together?”

      No I don’t feel guilty at all. It takes a couple of minutes for the rest of the party to join the person at the table. As others have said it is practical, sensible and in many countries accepted, polite practice. It is completely different from people who save deck chairs that are not used for hours or at all.

      I was simply pointing out that the view that is is rude or selfish is not necessarily shared by others. If someone abused me (or anyone) for minding a table while my family got their food, I would think them extremely rude. It hasn’t ever happened. By the way we are a family of three and we have shared tables often too. We always try to find a table nearest to our party size. If we can’t find a table, we wait patiently and without bad grace or anger.

      I suspect nothing would change your mind though and that is your right. I think this controversy comes from differences in culture and upbringing. I really don’t think that it is worth getting angry about.

    121. Joe
      June 24th, 2011 @ 7:21 am

      So how do you feel about having someone from your party stand in a line, holding a place so others in your party can cut in without having to stand in line the whole time like everyone else?

    122. jen
      June 24th, 2011 @ 9:11 am

      I wouldn’t stress about it – there are more important things in life and I would feel sorry for someone who gets so upset over something so minor. There are serious problems in this world and cutting in is not in my view a serious issue. regards.

    123. LDG
      June 24th, 2011 @ 9:18 am

      Our normal plan is that I will find a table and my husband brings food to the table. If a table for two is not available we sit at a table for four. When we see another couple wondering and searching, we have no problem inviting them over to occupy the other two chairs. We also don’t stay too long at the table after the meal knowing other people need the space. It’s all about being considerate of others.

    124. jen
      June 24th, 2011 @ 9:20 am

      oh and “people in my party” (ie. my family) would not cut in anyway. But if someone did it to “people in my party” I would not waste energy getting angry about it. I want my kids to be concerned about real world problems not perceived or trivial problems.
      cheers

    125. Joe
      June 24th, 2011 @ 10:59 am

      Jen,
      I’m holding an empty place here on this forum for my friends.
      But you can cut in and post since we are friends now. :-)

    126. Jeff C
      June 24th, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

      When we have a large group, we’ll claim a table so we can all sit together. One or two will stay behind while the others \load up\. I thing that’s fair. Then it’s just the tow of us and there are no smaller tables, we will sit wherever and never deny or even invite people to join us. There are usually seats/tables available, but people absolutly have to it near the buffet table even though there are seats/tables avilable in the next room. Totally agree about \deck chair hogs\.
      Now, what abbout the people who go to the theatre and leave jackets across 10 – 20 seats and then go to dinner? What would be fair, one person can save one seat, not one person save 10 – 12 seats.

      Happy Sails!

    127. MICKIE
      June 24th, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

      I think most people who enter the dining need a place to set down their stuff, (purse, book, sunglasses etc.) so they can get to the buffet line empty handed. It only makes sense to do this Before you get you food otherwise you couldn’t carry it all. Then, when we are sitted we see people looking for a table and invite them to join us.

      My biggest peeve is the folks who can’t make up their minds what they want to eat and stand around with their hands on their hips with both elbows sticking all the way out. No one else can get around them without getting poked.

    128. Stuart
      June 24th, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

      If the others in your party are on the buffet line I think its fair to save table and then get your food when one returns. This is especially true if yiu have small kids. It would not be fair if you or your group were Not planning to eat right then. I also think that once you are done you should leave the table and find another spot to continue talking, write postvards play cards, etc.

    129. Lee
      June 25th, 2011 @ 8:12 am

      I think its only logical that someone sit first to watch the personal belongings while the other person gets the food. But once you are done, move on.

    130. Dan B
      June 25th, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

      If someone is saving a table while they are on lounge chairs sunning at the pool, I do have a problem with that. If we see some-one looking for a spot to sit and we have room we always offer a spot and introduce ourselves. Saving a table so you can go get food is fine with me. If we decide to play cards or just hang out I don’t see the problem. I have never not found a table to sit and have my meal. we have also met some now longtime friends by simply asking them to join us.

    131. Dan B
      June 25th, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

      Let me add that if we do play cards we do not do it at dinner-times or in an area that is busy. There is a time and a place.

    132. Dali
      June 26th, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

      Across the U.S.(at least at the buffets I’ve been at – however, I have not been to every state), you are seated first, then get your food. Why would it be different at the buffet on a cruise? Is it done differently in other countries(a question not a slam)?
      As to sitting at tables at the pool & not eating, my family (because of skin cancer) doesn’t sit in the sun. On several ships there are only tables & chairs in the shade at the pool so that’s where we sit. We would gladly give up our table if there were recliners in the shade, and we do try to avoid cruising on ships that don’t have recliners in the shade on the lido deck.

    133. Lisa H
      June 26th, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

      I don’t see a problem with it, as if your family member/travel companion is in line getting their food and you want to go back and get your food, you need to have somewhere to sit. If I see a table with lots of empty seats I ask if they are all taken as I am happy to share.
      I hate it when people sit there for ages after they have finished eating though!
      I’m with others on sunbed hogging though. I have just come back from the Adventure of the Seas and at times removed towels from seats where people had been gone over 30 mins, so I could make use of the chair or stool.

    134. Rex
      June 26th, 2011 @ 7:38 pm

      Recently on Sun Princess waiters were waiting as you left the buffet area to take you to a seat, great idea, they even carried your plates. Maybe this idea would work even better if the waiters took you to a seat as you entered the buffet area. We also found that seats were often available in the central area rather than around the windows. In all honesty though, we found our body clocks shifted while cruising and the timing of activities meant that we ate at less popular times and never had a problem getting a seat. It’s our holiday – it’s easy to be accommodating, choose a different time or place to make it a great experience.

    135. Glenn
      June 27th, 2011 @ 10:37 am

      We have been on 5 cruises and booked for out 6th. We always eat in the morning and lunch on the lido deck. We do get our table first leave our stuff or one will stay at table while the other gets there food. We have NEVER waited in line for food more than 5 min. But in the past i have waited 15 or longer, holding my food (while food got cold) looking for a table.
      We always will share our table and clean up. Yes we have meet a lot of great people this way. When we are done eating we leave. There are a lot of other places to just hang out after eating.

    136. Donna W
      June 27th, 2011 @ 10:58 am

      I had the experience on the Oasis of the Seas last year of people saving tables for people who did not arrive at the buffet yet. I even had the same group of people TRY to save the table while we were sitting at the table. Personally, I think it is an ignorant practice.

      The other thing that irks the hell out of me is people playing cards or games during lunch time taking up tables during this time. There are plently of tables all over the ship to sit and play cards… try them during lunch time.

    137. lynn
      June 27th, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

      Yes I do save a table. After my husband and myself get the food, if there is no where to sit we are stranded. what we do is save a table and then go get the food. I am always willing and happy to share a table so that we can meet other people. I do not see any other say to do it. We do not save it and come back hours later. We just save it while we are getting our food.

    138. Long Ago
      June 27th, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

      Usually most of the people who go to the Buffet do so for one main reason – they are gluttons. They are embarrassed in a dining room being served if they ask for seconds or thirds.
      The other reason many go to buffet is for quick meals as they are on a tight time table for whatever reason. You can tell those people at the buffet as they are impatient in line if any delay.
      Another reason they go to the buffet is that there is much more leniency on dress code – real or perceived.
      Next reason is that the time span is longer for when you can eat at the buffet. The dining room has a much shorter time span when you can have breakfast, lunch etc.
      How much time you linger over breakfast at your table once finished in the buffet or dining room should be based on how busy it is.
      Be aware and be considerate.

      Imagine if the cruise lines went to just Vending Machines even though you still did not have to pay!

      Now if you want a real topic to discuss, how about launderettes on ships. Talk about frustration and angry people. Not all ships have them and I would like to here the Pros and Cons etc. on that topic.
      If going on a longer cruise (over 10 days) this is a feature we look for, even with us now qualifying for Free Laundry (wash or dry cleaning) on most major lines.
      Future Cruise Office is another frustrating experience, primarily due to their very limited hours open. Excursion desk can be a challenge also.
      Pursers desk also but so may people I think go there just to have someone to talk or complain to where justified or not.

    139. Fancy
      June 28th, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

      I will admit that I/family members have saved a table as we go to the buffet. What I find disheartning is those people who choose to sit for long periods of time, doing nothing, after they have finished their meal. Being considerate of other cruise guests, we gladly get up from the table so that others may enjoy their meal as we have. Everyone should be treat others as they would want to be treated.

    140. WeakieOne
      June 28th, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

      The need to even pose this questions is what has made cruising tackier over the years. What happened to people with real class? Now that’s the real question.

    141. Got2Cruise
      July 1st, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

      I don’t consider saving a table if you are planning to sit at that table and eat your meal an issue. If you go at a busy time, it is a necessity or you will be walking around in circles trying to find someplace to eat. I personally don’t like the buffets at all. I prefer the sitdown restaurants.

    142. Ray
      July 4th, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

      I do not have an issue with saving tables… when I am cruising nothing really bothers me… just enjoy!

    143. Vol Fan
      July 4th, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

      Fair.

    144. Joe
      July 5th, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

      Well…. when you are walking around looking for a table to reserve…Keep in mind that there are others walking around looking for a table to sit at right then and there.

      Why should you be able to reserve a table that others are willing to take right then?

      And then…of course are those big groups who are entitled to reserve lots of places wherever they go on the ship.

    145. Netcruizer99
      July 6th, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

      I agree with MK, especially NCL makes it miserable so you will go to the add’l pay restaurants. Also the more expensive the line or cruise the better things are. I’ve heard that the new Oasis is much better w/crowd managmeent and I agree with the editor it’s the remodeling of older ships that has caused some problems. But having said that, if you go with knowledge you can help yourself. I’ve pretty much done all the suggestions, it just depends on the cruise and line. First we only do buffet for breakfast, we try to get our coffee separate first thing in the morning with our own large cup. Or do room service very early with a snack. Then we head to the buffet at off peak times. If our kid is with us we may eat and take soem things back to her in the room (she likes to sleep late) Saving a table is ok as long as someone is getting food, sometimes you have to get a large table but be aware of others and if you see them looking for a spot, offer to share the other half of the table. I actually prefer the \cafeteria style\ since it’s not so frenzied and people have to wait until they get their food to sit down. But it is what it is, if you’re going on a \bargain cruise\ and the buffet is crazy, just make the best of it, you can always take it back to your room. Again I agree this is different from saving the lounge chairs as you are actually there eating. But lastly if you really hated it, be sure to let the restaurant managers know and the cruise line afterward. We took an RCL cruise several years ago and they asked me to take a survery and I laid into them about the buffet layout, then on the their newer ships (Oasis etc.) it looks like they’ve addressed this, not sure if it was an answer to my complaints but as we know the power of Cruise Critic forum is AWESOME so we need to learn to complain to the management where it really counts, not the worker bees, who only get to bear the brunt of everyone’s frustrations….LASTLY BE AWARE OF THE OTHERS AROUND YOU, IF YOU INADVERDANTLY DO SOMETHING RUDE APOLOGIZE AND TRY TO MAKE IT BETTER!!

    146. georgiane
      July 6th, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

      I have no problem with people saving a table. If they are traveling with family, why should that be an issue. I also have no problem sharing a table with strangers and will go up and ask if I can join a table, or if someone asks to join our table that is great. Love to meet new people.

      I do have an issue with people playing cards at the tables when you can see that every table is occupied with people eating lunch and people are wandering around searching for a place.

    147. Martin Slavin
      July 6th, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

      This is one of the reasons that we choose to cruise on a luxury ship. Besides having updated the Lido area along the lines of a food court, there is never a line for anything, from a lounge chair at the pool to a table at the Lido buffet.

    148. sherri
      July 6th, 2011 @ 7:57 pm

      What’s all this fuss about? I have only ever cruised from Australia and I never noticed it worried people too much to share. There were 6 of us and we saw no problem in finding a table, then one or two holding it while the others went to collect food. There’s nothing rude about that, in my opinion. It is just efficient, and a good way to have a definite meeting spot.
      Other times when I was on my own and it was hard to find a table, I just asked people if I could share when I saw half a table empty. No problem.
      Also, if two people are wandering around and can’t find a table, why shouldn’t they sit at a table for 4 or 6 if that is the only empty one around? That’s not rude either. People are entitled to sit to eat their food, they shouldn’t be expected to circle in a holding pattern for 20 minutes, waiting to land on a table precisely built for two.
      Other people can share it if they come along, you meet some interesting people that way.
      My pet gripe really is in the fact there should be more tables and better designed buffets.

    149. Joe
      July 7th, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

      “we saw no problem in finding a table, then one or two holding it while the others went to collect food.”

      The scenario can go one-way or the other.

      Your group of 6 can walk around for 10 minutes looking for a table that suits you and then having one of your group sit and hold that table while the remainder of your group goes to the buffet.

      Or

      Your group of 6 can get their food and then spent 10 minutes finding a table where you would like to sit.

      Either way your group of 6 will be walking around looking for a suitable table for the same amount of time.

      When you “reserve” a table there may be others who would like to sit down and eat the food that is on their tray. You must tell those people that the seat they want is reserved for someone who is not yet ready to eat.
      That will never be necessary if you get food first and then find a table.
      The most efficient way is to get your food and then find a table. That way no tables are sitting empty waiting for people.

      How about this?
      Would you hold an elevator at your floor while your companion catches up with you at the landing so you can go to the show?
      You know others are waiting for the elevator to come to their floor. Would it be fair to hold up the elevator for 30 seconds?
      How about 15 seconds?

    150. Don
      July 13th, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

      I think it is perfectly ok to secure a table before getting your food at the Lido buffet. If you don’t do this you will be stuck carrying a tray full of food ,which is getting cold, all over the Lido looking for a place to sit and eat. However once you have finished eating, the proper thing to do is to vacate the table so others can use it. It is not ok to sit there and socialize or play cards while others are looking for a place to eat. As far a clearing the table of dishes yourself, this is not advisable as cruise lines do not provide a place for passengers to place used dishes and are very particular about health issues. If I find a table full of used dishes, I get the attention of a crew member and ask that the table be cleaned. Table tops must also be cleaned. Finding a table is a problem especially to single travelers.

    151. Tina
      July 19th, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

      Wow Joe sounds like he has some issues. I’ve never been to a buffet where I didn’t sit down first, get a drink AND then my food (go to Vegas sometime)! I’m not going to risk walking around with a drink and dumping my hot food on a small child. I’m going to sit with my drink, then go get my food and eat it hot like it was intended to. Enough said!

    152. Joe
      July 19th, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

      I don’t have any real “issues”.
      I just think that when there are people walking around with trays of food ready to sit down and eat, it seems like it isn’t fair for one person sitting at an empty table, holding it, while telling those ready to eat that they will have to find some other place because I’m saving this table.
      It’s really just a different way of looking at it.

    153. Tour discounters
      July 20th, 2011 @ 6:42 am

      well said Linda
      John

    154. Jim moore
      July 22nd, 2011 @ 9:07 am

      You must be sailing on the wrong cruise line. We’ve been to some crowded cruise buffets, but never had to do more than two laps around the room before finding an unoccupied table or table where we could join another couple. Sometimes we would go out on deck with our trays (not in Alaska!) or take them to another enclosed area with tables. Oh, we sail with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity – sometimes with Princess. And I’m amazed at the tone of many comments – maybe cruising isn’t for some of you after all.

    155. Kim
      July 22nd, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

      To Joe, Jen and Tina (#151): Joe and Jen, you guys are making me laugh – reminds me of when my six middle aged siblings all get together – too funny! Tina, you obviously commented prior to, or instead of reading all of Joe’s comments…as he clearly said that there ARE special exceptions to his stance – and I believe the exceptions included those with disabilities, small children unable to assist themselves, and frail/elderly. As for six able bodied friends, what makes you so special that you feel it’s okay to label yourselves as “exceptional”? BTW, my comment to your post about Joe getting upset regarding those who cut in line and you thought he should focus on more worldly issues was GOING TO BE that there would be far fewer serious worldly issues if everyone started with the BASICS of being courteous and polite and to think of others AND that OF COURSE you would find it “trivial” that some were rude and inconsiderate, because YOU were one of that very category of people! However, you surprised me and gave me hope when you answered that you would NOT save a place in line so your family/friends could cut in. That’s wonderful, Jen! There’s hope for you afterall! Now, if you were simply able to see how table saving, elevator holding, and the other rude things folks do is in the SAME category as table saving, you’d be cured. Please note that these behaviors do NOT apply to small children, those with disabilities or difficulties ambulating, or any of the the people that REQUIRE and DESERVE to be treated with exception.

      While many may argue that Joe isn’t “right”, I defy ANYONE to claim that he isn’t courteous, empathetic, polite and fair. I’m truly sorry that YOU can’t claim the same attributes for yourself.

    156. TravelSmith24
      September 8th, 2011 @ 11:49 am

      I agree that the fault lies with the cruise lines. They are stuffing more and more people aboard without expanding the buffet facilities. Space planners should think about doing away with a couple of the seldom-used bars/lounges that sit empty all day long and converting these into additional buffets. In our earlier days of cruising (before megaships) I don’t recall this as being much of an issue. But now we are routinely forced to send one of our party to hunt down a table while others get their food. We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t have to….
      I would like to give kudos to the staff of the Ruby Princess, however. While their Horizon Court was always busy, they had the most efficient staff we’ve ever experienced on 15 cruises with a variety of cruise lines. Even the asst. maitre d’ who was in charge was bussing tables, which made for very quick turnover. We never had to go fetch our own drinks either.

    157. Stan
      September 8th, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

      On our recent Holland America cruises (Rotterdam, Amsterdam) we noticed that some groups continually (3+ hours) occupied large tables where they played cards. They were there from about 11a.m.- 3 p.m. Table space at the Lido was limited, people had to take their meals out to the deck and pool areas and appaarently cruise personnel did not ask them to move. I asked the Lido suspervisor about this and was told that policy was not to ask passengers to leave a table as long as it was in use, whether dining or not.

    158. Shiree
      September 8th, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

      Personally this is not a problem for me. I’m a night person and though family is onboard with me I love cruising alone. I have my own cabin and simply enjoy not having to “clock” myself to anyone or anything. The only thing I’m committed too is having dinner with the family and or friends on board every evening. Sort of like a checking in period to discuss or seperate adventures. First mistake is people being to embarrassed or whatever to ask the person who may be sitting alone if they can sit at their table. The worse thing they can say is, They are waiting for others or I rather you not. But more times than not they welcome the company or you both just utilize the table in companionable silence. I don’t meet strangers, I’m confident enough to speak with anyone about anything with only occassional language barriers making conversation limited, but unlike we rude Americans that don’t feel the need to learn other languages, usually everyone you meet speaks a little English. I also found eating alone I become the personal pamper pet projects of the crew staff of the cruise. I think they feel sorry for me because really who cruise without a companion or companions so they check on me alot and may spend extra time cleaning around the table so they can chat with me. Alot of time I see the ones that serve me at dinner with my family cleaning up in the buffett at breakfast and lunch, so they know I’m not really alone, but will start up conversations by asking about the rest of my family.
      A cruise I found is about doing everything or nothing at all. You paid good money to not fret over it. You don’t like the crowds take advantage of the free 24 hour room service and eat in you quiet room or out on your deck. Just make sure you take a stack of 5 dollar bills on board with you so you can tip right then for being added trouble. I usually only have one request my room steward. I don’t want them cleaning everyday because it’s only me and I will leave the card on the door in regards, but I do want fresh ice in the morning and before bed. I personally wish they would put out ice machines and soda machines one the floor like hotels.

    159. Ian Bosman
      September 21st, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

      My wife and I make a point of never saving places whether in a buffet or at the lido as we consider it selfish. I agree with Leo that where there is no empty tables but spaces for ourselves then we ask if we may use the vacant space. To date we have never been rebuffed. People seem to have gone down the route of “Me first”, forgetting that others may have greater needs than ourselves so that we have become a selfish nation on the whole (I am talking UK here)

    160. Susan Ward
      October 5th, 2011 @ 11:15 am

      The staff are never going to tell people to move on and take their books or card games with them. They rely on positive feedback forms to keep and advance in their jobs. You see how anxious they are for a good mention. Can you imagine the furor if someone’s card game was disrupted or viewing of the Alaskan icebergs? They would get complaints and lose their jobs. It is the same reason they don’t ask people to remove their children from the adult areas. It isn’t worth the risk as they know they won’t be backed up by the cruise lines. One thing about people and books in the buffet. I am single and if I travel alone I bring a book to read while I eat. I only read while eating and leave when the food is finished please don’t be too hard on someone that may be alone and shy. Thanks, no table hogging and always happy to share.

    161. Lacpprtop
      October 7th, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

      We were just on NCL Pearl/ Alaska…
      NEVER a problem finding a table, liked the buffets, would have brought the food back to our balcony room, but we had room forward, and buffets were aft! The only issue I had was with the window seats, there were many people NOT eating but using laptops and reading in the DINING ROOMS… people, if you are not eating WHY be in there? There are thousands of places on board with BETTER views then in a dining room!!
      And the chair hogs on deck by the pool, watch the chair for 15 mins, if no one shows up, MOVE THEIR STUFF! You may NOT “keep” a chair all day “just in case” you want to go sit there for a min. And Bob in post #18 .. THANK YOU, you are appreciated!
      We LOVE NCL and the ability to choose whom you dine with and when. Look at the boards, they will show you when there is no wait and where!
      Not into formal dressing on a cruise, I am there to relax and get out of formal clothes for a week!

    162. Doris Ganser
      October 19th, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

      I have taken quite a few cruises, US and foreign flag ships, and have no objections to people reserving seats. But, being a solo traveler most of the time, I do have a problem finding a seat after standing in line and loading a tray. This is not so on foreign cruises because it’s perfectly OK to ask whether a seat is taken but Americans keep a greater distance from each other and single travelers are suspect anyway — I can’t just go to a table for 4 occupied by a couple (although, by now being 76, it’s not so bad any more, I am beginnning to be able to play the “little old lady” although my appearance does not give me away yet, unless you get a close look.)

      After I do get a table, usually politely observing and waiting a while for an empty table for 4 on the deck outside the buffet area — outside is my choice, and there are few tables for 2, if any, I start eating. When I happen to have forgotten something like a cup of coffee, upon my return outside, my tray with my half-eaten food has often disappeared because the waiting staff picks it up, and I have to start all over again — somewhat annoying. Perhaps the cruise lines could issue a snip of paper or metal to place on one’s plate to indicate, “I’ll be back.”

      Moreover, single travelers appear to be a bit of an embarrassment to US dining room staff: On one cruise in 2009, the first night, 3 of us foreigners were assigned seating on a raised table for 10 right by the door but still a bit out of the view of the rest of the passengers. The next night, the newly married Dutch couple did not show, and I was placed on that table all by myself and though solicitously treated by the staff, hidden. I checked the third day, going to the dining room about 7 minutes after the official seating time, and they had intended to hide me again, so I went to eat by myself elsewhere and ate in the cafeteria the rest of the time where I could take a book along and read at the table while eating.

      On an earlier trip on the Carnival Conquest, one of the few with a (female) friend along, we were again placed on a table to 8-10 with two other elderly ladies. When my friend decided to change to an earlier seating because she liked to go to bed at 21:00, while I am a night owl, the other lady did not show, the staff also left me to eat by myself.

      Similarly, this past February, there were two of us elderly ladies, and we could not be seated with my son’s large organized dance group (only my room-mate belonged to it, I do not and she was polite enough to stay with me) because he was obligated to seat two of his clients, which filled up the table, they made us wait some 45 minutes before a table for two because available while groups of 3-20 persons were seated as soon as they arrived (they were assigning seats as people arrived, not reserved tables.)

      Although some efforts have begun, most of them not by cruiselines but rather by travel event organizers that offer some single trips a year (some in Europe restricted to an upper age limit of 50-60, which leave me, for instance, out), it would be nice to have better and more arrangements for single travelers who often already pay for 2 persons, in order to have a stateroom by themselves. Why not place them together at dining room tables? If someone wants to be seated solo, then that could be a special request.

      Sunbeds outside: Equip them with simple kitchen timers for up to an hour, just like parking meters. Once the time has run down, they are free for all.

    163. Doris Ganser
      October 19th, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

      whoops, “because” above should have read “became”

    164. GiGi
      December 11th, 2011 @ 2:04 am

      I prefer to dine in one of the full-service dining rooms or on my own balcony, but I also sometimes just go to the buffet. It does irk me to see so many four-person tables being occupied by two people but I would never have a problem asking to share. People are more accomodating than some would think. I also helps to go during non-peak times. Common sense, friendliness and good manners go a long way.

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