Dining Debate: Why I Choose Flexible Dining

June 6, 2013 | By | 2 Comments

Norwegian Epic Moderno Churrascaria
Even in the Cruise Critic office, our staff disagree on which is better: flexible, anytime dining and assigned-seating, traditional dining. Bring up the subject, and the discussion will get heated! In this pair of blogs, two Cruise Critic editors go head to head, debating the two sides of the dining dilemma. To read the opposing argument, click here.
When I was between the ages of 5 and 17, adults told me when and where I could eat lunch on weekdays. If I was hungry beforehand or afterward, it was tough luck for me. And, in my household, dinner — every day of the week — was when Mom and Dad said it was.
Then came college and adulthood, and though I’ve had to schedule around class times or work, I have pretty much been free to pick whatever time I want to eat my meals ever since. So why on earth would I want to go back to being told when I can eat? The answer is, I don’t.

I like making my own decisions.
I also like flexibility.
I like knowing that I can grab a last-minute 5:30 massage because I don’t have to be in the dining room exactly at 6:30 to get seated for my assigned dinner. I like knowing that if I’ve skipped lunch for whatever reason I can head down to the dining room at 5:30 and still have a full choice of menu items.
Proponents of assigned seating will say, “Oh the lines for unassigned dining are always so long. I like knowing I’ll be seated right away.” Or, “I like having the same waiter every night.”
And the truth is, they have a point — up to a point.
I am an early diner. I rarely choose to eat after 7 p.m. So that makes getting a table during an open seating fairly easy. Most people on cruises seem to enjoy eating later, so the competition for tables at 6 or 6:30 is pretty sparse. I’ve never waited longer than five minutes for a table.
Additionally, I frequently cruise in such a way that I get concierge service. Obviously, not everyone can take advantage of a concierge. But if you are in a cabin class that gets a concierge, you never had to wait for a table; you can make a reservation for any time you want — even a late reservation.
The above holds true for having the same waiter every night. If I go to the same main dining room early enough every night I can almost always get the same table and waiter. If I use my concierge to make a reservation, I’m pretty much guaranteed the same.
So again I ask, why on earth would I want to be pigeon-holed into eating at 6:30 or, horrors, 8:30 every night?
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    2 Responses to “Dining Debate: Why I Choose Flexible Dining”

    1. Jenn
      June 6th, 2013 @ 10:10 am

      Flex dining freestyle cruising NCL

    2. Nancy
      June 8th, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

      I tried flex for the 1st time, March on Allure. We had a wait night 1, but walked in after that, but, they gave us the same staff everynigth at 6 or 8 – we would have liked a change of pace – staff were good, but wanted some varity.

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    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.

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