According to a company press release, "As You Wish" dining was pre-launched (piloted, if you will) onboard the line's newest ship, the 85,000-ton, 1,918-passenger Noordam -- and due to positive feedback will be rolled out fleetwide over the next year.
Here's how As You Wish works: At the time of booking, guests can choose between set-time, set-seating dining and a completely flexible schedule. One level of the two-tiered restaurant will offer the open dining service from 5:15 until 9 p.m. daily; the other will host a traditional early seating and later seating. Guests who have chosen As You Wish dining can make reservations daily during their cruise up to 4 p.m. -- or simply walk up anytime tummies start rumbling. The only downside? It's not possible to switch dining plans once the cruise is in progress.
As You Wish is now fully operation onboard Noordam and will be introduced on Holland America's remaining ships on the following schedule:
10/11/07 - Ryndam
11/13/07 - Volendam
12/18/07 - Statendam
01/05/08 - Oosterdam
01/27/08 - Rotterdam
02/03/08 - Zaandam
02/24/08 - Westerdam
03/15/08 - Zuiderdam
04/06/08 - Veendam
04/24/08 - Maasdam
05/16/08 - Amsterdam
05/23/08 - Prinsendam
07/05/08 - Eurodam (upon delivery)
Another line eyeing anytime eating is Royal Caribbean; a spokesman for that line tells us that a similar program will be test-piloted on Freedom of the Seas between October and December of this year. There are no long term plans at this point, but we expect to hear something definitive in the new year (once the line has time to gauge the success of the test run).
--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor