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Large Group Dining


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We have 11 family members in our party for Oasis this June.  All first timers for RCL. We are currently scheduled for 5:30pm traditional dining each night, but I am really wondering if we should switch to MTD.  If so, I would make our reservations for 6:00-6:45 each night, 5:30 just seems so early.  Our TA is discouraging this change because of our party size.  I'm thinking that RCL would make good on our request, even if it required a phone call or visit to the maitre d when we board. And we do not want to sit at 2 tables.  Also, I do not want to find us moved to late traditional dining 8:30 becuase we forfeited early and then MTD didn't work either.

What have been your experiences with a larger group?

edited to add:  We have all 11 vacationed together many times, including 10 of us on another cruise line.  There will be no problem with us all eating together every night.

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I find 5:30 way to early...as with a group that large you will have to get everyone back to the rooms by about 4pm in all honesty.....hard to do on a day in port or even a sea day with so much going on and people participating and checking out different activities.

 

I would defn try to change it for sure to MTD and take your chances with it.

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We did a group of 13 on Freedom a couple of Thanksgivings back ... I think the biggest issue you are going to face is around your idea of "we do not want to sit at 2 tables". I think on Freedom there were about 2 tables that would fit a group that size ... not sure about Oasis but I would doubt there are dozens of pre-set tables that will fit a dozen people.

With that said I don't know if MTD vs 530 fixed is going to address whether or not you get assigned to a large enough table for you all to sit together or not. I would "think" that it would be easier to address on a fixed dining time where they can plan it out and set it up, rather than MTD on the fly seating but I don't "know" that to be true its just my assumption.

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 I understand that 5:30 as it is too early for us too. If you change to MTD, make sure you get reservations...I wonder if there is a way for your TA to see availability for reservations before you make the switch.  There are several large tables but not that many and I'd hate for you to make the switch and then not get the table or times you'd like. Just an FYI, for my last cruise (Liberty) and upcoming cruise (Harmony) I was not able to make reservations between 6:15 and 7.  Some people say they can but I've found I couldn't online or in person. 

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Think of my time dinning as walking in to any traditional land based restaurant and asking to seat 11 people, there is going to be a wait.

As @melski94 says, I have seen MTD blocked out for periods of time during the evening, usually in the middle times, seems like early and late are always open.

I agree with @Matt I think your best bet is to stay with Traditional dinning, they only have so many big tables on the ship/dinning room and I have noticed they are usually full, but you still have to decide between early or late.

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We cruised with a family group of 18 (teenagers to grandparents) on Indy over Christmas. We had a table of 10 and table of 8 side by side. We were worried that 5:30 traditional dining would not work for our group but it actually ended up being fantastic. Only one night of the nine were we missing anyone -- and that was due to too much rum punch on our excursion earlier in the day. Our waiters encouraged us to rotate tables every night so we were able to have dinner with everyone throughout the cruise. Most nights we had dinner, then went to the evening show together before the group split up for the night (teens made lots of friends and were usually out until the 1am curfew and the adults would hit the casino for a bit or head to bed).

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  • 4 weeks later...

I know the question was answered - but +1 for traditional dining with a large group. 

We frequently cruise with my husbands family, making 10-12 of us total. A set dinner time makes it easy for us to all come back together at the end of the day, even if we end up on different excursions. Plus, it keeps from yet another "what time are we going to meet" type of debate, and there is already a set seat for you with a waiter that knows each one of your group's preferences. When it's just my husband and I, we STRONGLY prefer MTD. However, large group - assigned dining is the way to go. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/5/2018 at 9:03 AM, KLAconQueso said:

I know the question was answered - but +1 for traditional dining with a large group. 

We frequently cruise with my husbands family, making 10-12 of us total. A set dinner time makes it easy for us to all come back together at the end of the day, even if we end up on different excursions. Plus, it keeps from yet another "what time are we going to meet" type of debate, and there is already a set seat for you with a waiter that knows each one of your group's preferences. When it's just my husband and I, we STRONGLY prefer MTD. However, large group - assigned dining is the way to go. 

Yeah, there's no one size fits all answer for all situations.  I think we're also going to prefer MTD when it's just the two of us (which is what we're doing for this next cruise), but we really liked the traditional experience when we sailed with family.  We did it the wrong way when we went with a large group of friends for a bachelor/bachelorette thing.  Everyone was mostly doing their own thing so everybody booked MTD intending to keep the scheduling more relaxed and flexible, but the bride-to-be who orchestrated the trip was stressing herself out to try and get most of the group together for dinner at the same time.  I think traditional would've worked better and people would just have to manage their own time to be in the same time and place together.  Nobody needs to be trying to corral kittens on their vacation.

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It has been my experience (and we travel with big groups a lot) that trying to get everyone together at one time and place on a cruise is an exercise in futility and will do nothing but frustrate anyone trying to be the "organizer".  I also agree that, if getting everyone together for dinner is a priority, then traditional dining has a  much better chance at success than MTD.  Of course, then you have to decide if early or late dining is the better option and you will have half that want to do one and half that want to do the other.  After MANY years of trying to make this kind of thing work, I have decided that it's not worth the effort.  Dan and I let everyone know when and where we are dining and if they want to come and join us - great !  If not, they will find food on their own.

This same sentiment also works for organizing the trip, itself.  Rather than trying to find a cruise line, ship, date and event that works for everyone (and trust me, there is NO SUCH THING), we just decide when we want to go and if other want to come along, they are always invited.  Sometimes we join others who have already coordinated a group event and sometimes others will join our group.  Life is so much better this way !

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