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Early dining slot and shore days


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I'm currently booked for the early time slot (5:30 PM), which means that on most shore days my dining time is going to be before the ship is leaving port (6 PM departure from St. Kitts, 5 PM from St. Maarten, 9 PM from San Juan, and 5 PM from Labadee).

 

How does the ship's departure time compare to when we actually need to be back on the ship ("all aboard" time)? Will I typically be back early enough that making it to the 5:30 dinner won't generally be an issue? I remember someone on another thread I posted saying that with a 5:30 time slot, I'd actually need to be on line around 5:00, so I assume that means I'd want to be back on board by 4 to have enough time for everyone to shower, change for dinner, and walk to the MDR.

 

The only day I'm thinking this will be an issue is when we're in San Juan, since that day is from 3 to 9. I kind of figured we'd just find a nice local place for dinner that day and sample the local cuisine. But the other days, I'd prefer to have dinner in the MDR since we arrive at the islands early and I think can still get in a pretty full day. My wife isn't terribly interested in the specialty restaurants, and I saw the advice here for first-time cruisers to not worry about it anyway, so I was just figuring that at most we'd have lunch in Giovanni's Table one day, and lunch at Sabor one other day. Saves us money doing lunch instead of dinner, while letting us still sample the restaurants.

 

The other thing related to this is the experience of actually watching from the deck as the ship departs and seeing the island slowly disappearing from view. We'd obviously miss that by sticking to our dining time, since from what I saw the MDR has no windows, but is it a big deal? Apart from getting a few photographs of the islands, it doesn't seem like there's really a need to do that. Again, San Juan would be the exception; but I see it being a better thing there, because it would be full night time and all the city lights would be on for a more interesting view.

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