Cruise travelers on either side of the dining debate will soon have more fodder for discussion: Carnival Cruise Lines will begin a flexible dining trial on Carnival Legend, beginning with the June 29 sailing.
Legend passengers will be able to choose traditional main seating, traditional late seating or flexible dining as their dining preferences. If flexible dining is chosen, cruise travelers can dine in the main dining room any time they wish between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. If traditional dining is chosen, passengers will be assigned a table and tablemates. Carnival cruisers must indicate their preference prior to departure, and that choice will be in effect for the entire cruise.
Carnival has not yet announced an end date for the trial nor revealed any plans to introduce flexible dining on other ships.
This is the first time Carnival has ever tested out a truly flexible dining system. Under its current Total Choice Dining program, passengers can choose one of four possible seating times for dinner in the main dining room or opt to eat in an alternative venue, such as the Lido Buffet or Supper Club. But they're still assigned tablemates.
Carnival is one of the last holdouts for the traditional dining system. Royal Caribbean began flexible dining trials last fall and plans to implement a similar program to Carnival's later this year. NCL, Holland America and Princess already offer some variation of flexible dining.