My Time Dining

Royal Caribbean My Time Dining versus Traditional Dining

In:
05Sep2018

Royal Caribbean offers its guests two choices for enjoying dinner in the main dining room: My Time Dining or Traditional Dining. 

Each option allows for a style of meal aimed at the individual cruiser's preference and if you are wondering if My Time Dining is a better choice or if traditional dining is the way to go, then this blog post should help sort it all out.  

Traditional Dining

Traditional dining is an option for dinner where you choose between an early or late seating (sometimes referred to as "first seating" or "second seating").

In traditional dining, you are assigned the same table to dine at for each evening of your cruise and you will have the same dining time, table mates, and wait staff for each evening of the cruse.  

In some cases, you may be seated with other guests from the cruise (especially if you are traveling in a smaller group).

The advantages of traditional dining are:

  • Simple planning: Same time each night for dinner, so nothing to plan ahead
  • Personalized waiter service: Since you will have the same wait staff each evening, they will make an effort to get to know your habits.
  • Great for larger groups.
  • Evening show times are often scheduled around traditional dinner times.

My Time Dining

My Time Dining is a choice you have to have dinner at the Main Dining Room, where there is no assigned time or table.  Rather, you have the choice of making reservations in advance or simply showing up and waiting for an available table.  

You can make reservations for My Time Dining either before the cruise on Royal Caribbean's site, or once you are on the ship.  My Time Dining is a lot like dining out in your local town, where you can opt to call ahead and make a reservation or walk up to the restaurant and see what availability there is.  Moreover, the flexibility in dining times means being able to eat dinner on your schedule.

With flexibility comes responsibility, as it is up to you to make reservations when to dine.  While you can show up and wait for a table, we highly recommend making reservations in advance to limit wait times.  

If you like, you can request the same wait staff each evening, but it may result in a longer wait for an available table.

The advantages of My Time Dining are:

  • Greater choice of dining times: My Time Dinner is available each evening between the hours of 6:00 and 9:30 p.m.
  • Great for scheduling around shore excursion plans.
  • Getting a table is simple for smaller groups.  
  • Less likely to be seated with other guests.

Choosing between My Time Dining and Traditional Dining

Ultimately, the decision of which option is better will come down to your personal preferences, as well as some other factors related to your group.

In a nutshell, My Time Dining offers greater flexibility in what time you eat, but there can be waits for to be seated.  Sometimes the wait can be as long as 45 minutes during peak times.  This can be mitigated by making reservations in advance, although for some people planning ahead defeats the point of My Time Dining to some extent.

Traditional dining is a simpler approach to dinner in the main dining room since it requires very little work up front.  Traditional dining requires you to adhere to one of two dining times, which may be too early or too late for your taste. Moreover, you may be seated with other guests and that has been hit or miss in terms of personalities clashing.

Larger groups (more than six people) will find it significantly easier to stick with traditional dining so that they can have the same table assignment each evening.  Getting larger groups seated near each other at the same time in My Time Dining is not a simple task.

If you place a high priority on seeing the shows each evening onboard, you can go with both, but traditional dining times are usually already scheduled around the entertainment.

Both My Time Dining and Traditional dining adhere to the main dining room dress codes each evening, which includes formal night.

Your thoughts

Which dinner option do you prefer? Is there an advantage to one over the other, in your opinion?  Share your experiences and post your questions in the comments below.

What you need to know about Royal Caribbean's My Time Dining

In:
04Jun2015

For guests that want to experience the Main Dining Room without the formality of having a set time, Royal Caribbean offers My Time Dining.  It's a simple program where you get to eat in the main dining room on your own schedule.  Here's what you need to know about My Time Dining.

What is My Time Dining?

Essentially, My Time Dining is a program where for dinner in the main dining room, you can select times to eat between the hours of 6:00 and 9:30 p.m.

You can choose a different time each day, so you can fit dinner around the rest of your onshore and onboard plans.

There is a maximum of 10 guests per reservation.

How to opt-in for My Time Dining

Booking My Time Dining is simple, you can select it as your dining option when making your cruise reservation or at any time prior to your cruise by contacting Royal Caribbean or your travel agent.

To use this option, you must pre-pay all gratuities in advance.

Booking dining reservations

It is recommended that you make reservations in advance of your sailing if you prefer to dine at the most popular times, between 6:30pm and 8pm.

You can make reservations onboard your ship, although there will be less reservations available by that time and typically the crew members will try to steer you to keeping the same time each night.

In general, the larger the group, the less flexibility you have to modify your dining time.

If you don’t get the time you prefer initially, keep checking back to see if you can change your dining time.  Even during the cruise, time slots open up.

Onboard your cruise

On your Royal Caribbean ship, there is one deck of the main dining room dedicated to My Time Dining.  

You arrive at the main dining room at your reserved time to be seated.  You can optionally arrive without reservations, but you should be prepared to wait for a table. Often, this wait can be up to an hour.

If you are more than 5 minutes late, your table may be given away to a stand by group

Who is My Time Dining good for?

Generally speaking, My Time Dining is great for those that think dinner before 6pm is too early and 8pm as too late. Additionally, My Time Dining is good for those that may want to change their time for dinner depending on their plans for the day.

The evening shows aboard the ship are more structured for those in early and late traditional seating.

The challenge is to try and book way ahead to get the limited number of slots available between 6:30pm and say 7:45pm.

Does My Time Dining "favor" small groups or large groups?

Smaller groups provide the greatest flexibility. There is usually just a few tables for 6 or more when you’re asking for a table for just your group.

As an example, on a cruise on Independence of the Seas last year, there was only one table for 10 guests, so there was not much wiggle room for changing times.

How important are reservations? 

Without reservations, how important reservations are depend on your table size.

If you are up to two guests, you may not have much of a wait to get a table.  Groups of 4 or more and you have to wait 30-60 minutes until a table is ready.

The crew members will give you a pager to let you know when your table is ready but going to dinner without My Time Reservations is a gamble in terms of how long you will be seated, especially if you are trying to eat during the prime hours of 6pm to 8pm.

Is it possible to get the same waiters every night with My Time Dining?

If you make reservations for the same time every night, it is more likely you will have the same wait staff.

You may request a certain waiter each night, although it may increase your wait time, even if you have a reserved time.

Altering your dinner time will increase the change substantially of getting a different pair of waiters in our experience.

A big thank you to Ken Slusser for assisting in writing this blog post!