Forum Fire: Why Late-Comers to the Main Dining Room Leave a Bad Taste

August 2, 2011 | By | 23 Comments

In the grand old days of cruising, dinner in the main dining room was a highlight of the day. But as ships get bigger and bigger, dinner for some is just a pit-stop on the way from a shore excursion. When the two contrasting attitudes collide, more toes get stepped on than at a beginners’ dance class. We all know that dress codes and screaming kids can rankle at dinner, but we dove into the Cruise Critic message boards for this intriguing mealtime conundrum from clean1owner, who griped about late-comers delaying service for her table at the 6 p.m. seating. The result: They were late for a show.
In addition, “these people came in late every night. I think the earliest they ever arrived was 6:20.” When she complained that “late-arriving people [were] messing things up,” she was told that guests “have to be accommodated” — even, apparently, if they arrive after an alleged cut-off time.

Let’s solve this problem right now: Get to dinner on time in the main dining room, ok? There’s nothing fun about not being able to do what you want because other people’s bad habits are throwing a wrench in your plans. You don’t want to send a hungry person out into the cold, but it’s pretty easy to find food on a cruise, and the lines should adhere to cut-off times.
In this regard, Clean1owner has many fans on the message boards. Kathy/PH8 writes: “I, too, wish there was a cut-off time when they close the doors. I remember them doing that years ago, but now, ‘It’s their vacation and they can do what they want’ mentality. They (staff and crew) don’t want to upset anyone … (never mind those of us who are inconvenienced).” For her part, DonnaK longs for the good ol’ days as well, noting that “I remember … when the dining room doors were closed 15 minutes after dinner starts, and if you were late, too bad.”
Coast2coast concurred, writing, “Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of people out there with an attitude of ‘It’s all about me, especially when I’m on vacation.’ No regard to others.”
CodyC815 had the same trouble, but not the same outcome: “The waiters were good, they quietly asked us if we wanted to go ahead and get out desserts or wait. We opted to leave sooner and they didn’t slow us down at all. I guess it just depends on your waitstaff.”
The less sympathetic suggested that clean1owner should have changed tables or skipped dessert over what may seem like a minor quibble to some. Perhaps, but . . . it’s the principle of the matter, right? Can’t we all get along at mealtime? How hard is it to show up on time? But then again, it all goes back to the fact that life is generally better when everyone treats each other with some modicum of respect.
We’ll give the last word to CA girl in TX, who sounds like the kind of person we want to have at our table: “Rules and guidelines are in place for a reason, and that is because while one issue may seem nothing to one person it may be a very big deal to somebody else. Therefore, as a courtesy to other travelers and the staff everyone should follow the rules and guidelines that are in place.”
Read other Lido Deck postings on kids running wild, saving tables at the buffet and bad balcony behavior.
Now that we have you thinking about mealtime, check out this collection of upcoming food and wine cruises.
Show off to your friends: Sign up for your own Lido Deck subscription.
    Please share this post!


    23 Responses to “Forum Fire: Why Late-Comers to the Main Dining Room Leave a Bad Taste”

    1. jenny
      August 2nd, 2011 @ 11:10 am

      If you use Norweigan you don’t have this problem! Eat whenever you want!!!

    2. laura jones
      August 2nd, 2011 @ 11:49 am

      one lady at the table behind us (luckily not my table) often came an hour late! this behavior messes up the waiters – they mentioned that often that course was already gone in the kitchen.

    3. Pam
      August 2nd, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

      When we traveled with Princess and someone was late to dinner, the waiters would ask us if we wanted to start without the rest of our tablemates, because they knew we would still want to catch the shows afterwards, and we were never late!

    4. Lillian
      August 2nd, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

      Always get a table for 2= Therefore no problem!!!

    5. Barbara
      August 2nd, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

      What’s the etiquette if you opt to go to an alternate dining room instead of your assigned table in the MDR? We did that once, and were upset the next night when we discovered that the table had waited for us. We didn’t know our tablemates so didn’t think, or even know how, to let them know we had other plans.

    6. Eleanor
      August 2nd, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

      If you are not going to eat in the DR, you should tell your waiter so he knows and the others at your table are not incovenienced

    7. Stuart
      August 2nd, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

      On a recent cruise our table mates informed us that they would be eating elsewhere the night before they did so we knew. They also informed our waiter.

    8. Jeffrey Clinard
      August 2nd, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

      The only time I’ve been late was during the last night of a 9 night cruise. It was because the progressive trivia ran REALLY late because of the social host (I won 2nd). Fortunately, I was at a table with only two other people and the wait caught me up. I was 20 minutes late, and mortified about it.

    9. m steve
      August 4th, 2011 @ 9:42 am

      That’s another reason we book a table for 2 or 4 if traveling with friends.Rather than anytime seating I would like to see one dining room serving at 6 and 8 and the other at 5 and 7 so most preferences could be accomidated.

    10. Deborach C
      August 4th, 2011 @ 11:51 am

      This is exactly why I book a table for my party size. I don’t wish to put up with the being late, or having late arrivals.

    11. Bob O
      August 4th, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

      At the first dinner we always inform our table mates and our server that if we have not arrived within 10 minutes of the scheduled dinner time the to order and eat.

    12. Jen F
      August 4th, 2011 @ 10:37 pm

      We try to be considerate and let our waiter know if we don’t plan to be in the dining room. The last time we cruised, my husband and I had “babysitting” duty one night for my niece and she had crashed out. It was rather last minute. We didn’t have time to tell them ahead of time. I went down and spoke to our waiter. He had already made her a fruit salad and gave it to me to take back to the room. She was super excited to wake up and find her fruit bowl from Aunario a/k/a “Oreo.” She gave him a big hug the next night.

    13. Simon
      August 5th, 2011 @ 9:00 am

      Disagree with enforcing a rule of you MUST DINE AT THIS TIME … cruise lines should ditch traditional seating then everyone would be a winner.

    14. Theresa R.
      August 5th, 2011 @ 9:52 am

      I like Bob’s idea of telling them to start if we’re not there within ten minutes. But since we’re usually there it hasn’t been an issue in the past. And if we aren’t going to be there we always tell our tablemates and dining staff that we won’t be there the next night.

      As for those saying book a table for 2, that’s often easier said than done. I always book my cruises the moment they become available which can be up to 18 months before sailing. I ALWAYS ask for a table for 2. Of my 7 cruises we’ve only had a table for 2 given to us upon boarding ONCE. All other times they’ve put us at tables for 4, 6 or 10. I’ve tried to get switched to a table for 2, but it has never been granted. We’ve been lucky so far with considerate tablemates, but if I ever end up at a table with dining room staff who won’t serve me within the first 15 minutes of seating I will ask to change tables or start eating in the buffet. Why should the latecomers be accommodated over me who is already sitting at the table? Again, this has never been an issue.

    15. Sonya
      August 7th, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

      We the anytime dining month on Carnival and it worked for us. If you late then do the lido or room service. Don’t let dinning time stop you from haveing a good time.

    16. Tom Pecena
      August 7th, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

      If they are late, start without them. When you need to leave for the show, then leave. Don’t worry about leaving them alone at the end of the meal, they certainly didn’t have you in mind when they showed up late. Once maybe, every time…they are rude. The “it’s all about me” attitude is what has ruined everything. Its all one way now. “You” wait on me attitude toward the waiter…but not knowing how to be waited on. Oh, I wish they taught etiquette in school.

    17. Mrs Oliver
      August 7th, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

      If a guest signs up for traditional dining room service, they should be prepared to dine at the time they choose and be considerate of their table-mates. We too, let our waiters know if we won’t be at dinner on a particular night. It’s selfish for guest to think “its my vacation so its ok if I’m late”.

    18. flamom
      August 7th, 2011 @ 10:09 pm

      On our very first cruise we had late dining and showed up on time everytime, we were at an assigned table with our cruise critic friends. However, on elegant night as we were waiting to go into the dining room a gentelman from the crew came up to us and out of the blue asked us to sit at the Captain’s table. Of course we accepted the invitation and assumed they had informed our tablemates and/or waiter why we have not shown up, but that didn’t happen and we felt bad that they waited for us. So, things do come up that you cannot control as far as telling your going to be late or a no-show.

    19. Kate Fitzpatrick
      August 8th, 2011 @ 3:48 am

      My husband and i are booked on the Azura next April(2012. We have booked the Freedom sitting and are now having second thoughts and were wondering whether to change it to 6.30 sitting. What would the critics recommend ??????

    20. Joe
      August 10th, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

      Anytime after the 1st night if there are lateniks at our table we tell the wait staff that we would like to start at the appropriate time. Not when the lateniks arrive.

    21. sakamochi
      August 22nd, 2011 @ 12:50 am

      Well, I strongly disagree that getting to dinner on time is important. We’ve been told numerous times that if the majority of the table shows up 20-30 minutes late it HELPS the kitchen and those guests. Who said so? The section manager and on one occasion the fnb mgr. How? Because when all of the rest of you “on time” folks are jamming the order system, getting orders rushed in a waterfall, we get freshly prepared and to order meals. Why? Because then they don’t have to try to jam out 1,000 meals all at once. Ours is a little later, and not rushed. We always laugh at all the people waing in long lines to get into dinner – geez, you’d think that they’re giving away free food:-)

    22. Roberta Gerlach
      September 1st, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

      We prefer to have a table for 2 and “freestyle” or any kind of choose your own time dining. We like to mingle in the tours, in art auctions, and about the ship, but we want our own dining space, and that way we do not create any stress for others. It is, after all, a VACATION.

    23. Richard
      September 8th, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

      If you can’t get to the table at the proper time, you should expect your tablemates to have already started eating. If you want to catch up with them, skip the starter, salad, whatever course you need and go directly to the same course as the rest of the table. Otherwise, go to one of the alternative dining venues.
      As for the people that say to go to the “Freestyle” cruise lines that don’t have a set dining time, I have done that before. Hated it. It was like going to Applebee’s. If there wasn’t a table available for my party size, we were stuck at the door waiting. I want my table waiting for me, not the other way around.
      As for getting a table for 2 and not having to worry about it, I am a single traveller. I really don’t want a table for 1. Part of my pleasure of going on a cruise is meeting the other people at the table. Even if I was part of a couple, I still wouldn’t want it to be a table for two. I would be sitting across the table from my partner all the time, again I would want to be able to meet others at dinner.

    Leave a Reply

  • Please follow & like us


  • About the Lido Deck

    The Lido Deck is written by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, reporting from ships and ports around the world. The daily blog covers cruise news, reviews, advice, and hot topics from the Cruise Critic message boards. Please note: When commenting, Cruise Critic's community guidelines apply.

  • Facebook

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories