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How to book My Time Dining on Royal Caribbean

28 Feb 2023

Once you have decided on the perfect ship and itinerary, you are ready to move forward with the cruise booking process. Prior to checking out, you will have to make a decision on dining style. 

When booking a Royal Caribbean cruise, you have two options for dining: My Time Dining and Traditional Dining

Royal Caribbean main dining room

With Traditional Dining, you will have the same reserved seating each night of your cruise, and there are two seatings to choose from: first (early) and second (late). The early seating is usually around 5:30pm, while the late seating is around 8:00pm. The exact times, however, will vary according to your cruise itinerary. 

Some guests do not plan on eating in the Main Dining Room each day or would rather do so at the time of their choosing. With My Time Dining, you can simply walk up to the host stand to be seated or make reservations in advance for your preferred time. 

If you have selected My Time Dining for your next Royal Caribbean Cruise vacation, here's everything you need to know about how to book My Time Dining and secure your nightly dining reservations. 

What is My Time Dining?

Symphony of the Seas main dining room

My Time Dining is great for guests who wish to experience a flexible dining schedule onboard their cruise. If, for instance, you plan on staying late in port one day but still wish to eat in the Main Dining Room, you could make a reservation for later in the evening, rather than miss out on the experience because you have early dining. 

My Time Dining usually begins around 6:00pm and lasts until 9:30pm, giving you a wide range of times to choose from. The actual times, however, will vary by sailing. You will be able to see the exact times that My Time Dining is offered each evening once you book your cruise. 

Unlike Traditional Dining, you will not be seated at the same table with the same wait staff if your choose My Time.

Rather, you will be seated wherever there is availability. You can, of course, request a specific table and waiter, but they may not be able to honor this. 

Note that this only applies to dinner in the Main Dining Room. If you are purchasing a dining package or plan on eating dinner in one of the other complimentary venues, you may not find yourself putting too much thought into what dining style you'd prefer. 

Breakfast in the Main Dining Room is first come, first serve, regardless on whether or not you selected My Time or Traditional Dining. 

How to book My Time Dining?

When booking your cruise vacation


When you are reserving your cruise, you will be given the option to select "Traditional Dining" or "My Time Dining."

You will not be able to make your choice until the last step in the booking process; all passenger names will have to be entered first! At the same time, you will be able to add prepaid gratuities and vacation protection, if you choose to do so.

Even if you initially booked Traditional Dining, you can call your travel agent or Royal Caribbean directly to change to My Time.

You can even switch from My Time Dining to Traditional if you booked before understanding the differences, but you might end up with late dining depending on when you make the change, as early tends to book up quickly.

If you want, you can even try to switch onboard. Note, however, that this means you may not be able to have as flexible of a dining experience as you might be hoping for, especially if prime reservations have been secured in advance by other guests.

You also will not be able to switch after the second day, so you'll want to visit Guest Services and/or the Main Dining Room when you embark-- Guests can only participate in one dining style per sailing. 

Making reservations via the Cruise Planner


As soon as you place the deposit for your cruise, you will gain access to the Cruise Planner. This is where you'll not only be able to make your My Time Dining reservations, but also where you can reserve shore excursions, drink packages, and more. 

When you log into the Cruise Planner, all you have to do is navigate to the "Dining" tab and scroll down until you see "My Time Dining."

It is usually at the very bottom below the dining packages, specialty restaurants, and other exclusive dining experiences. 

From there, you can go ahead and make a reservation for each night of your cruise. You will have to make each reservation individually and add them to your cart one-by-one.

Upon checkout, you will be charged $0.00, unless you are also purchasing other add-ons. 

Women eating in main dining room

If you need to change or cancel a reservation for any reason, you will have to go into the specific order and cancel each reservation separately before you are able to rebook. 

If you have multiple people in your stateroom or travel party, you can make multiple reservations each evening to accommodate everyone's preferences.

If, for example, two people would like to eat earlier around 6:30pm, you would make them their own reservation. The others could make a separate My Time Dining reservation for 8:15pm. 

Reservations are highly recommended, as the wait time can be long if you choose to eat during the prime dinner hours of 6:30-8:00pm.

If you arrive as soon as the Main Dining Rooms open, you will be able to be seated shortly. The longer you wait to arrive, however, the longer you will have to wait for an available table. 

Having to arrive early, though, defeats the purpose of being able to dine whenever you'd like. The best way to fully take advantage of the My Time Dining program is to make your reservations before you board the ship!

Once you have made your My Time Dining reservations, they will appear in your cruise calendar, both on Cruise Planner tab and Royal Caribbean's app.

Unlike Traditional Dining, My Time Dining is only marked as lasting for fifteen minutes. When planning your other evening activities, make sure that you allot yourself at least 75 minutes for your Main Dining Room experience. 


If your My Time Dining reservation is at 7:15pm, do not make any other reservations until 8:30pm or later. You can, however, always tell your waitstaff that you have other plans, and they will do their best to serve you as quickly as possible. 

When onboard

You can wait to make your My Time Dining reservations until you board your cruise ship. Just head over to the Main Dining Room to speak with a head waiter, and they will assist you! Due to availability, however, you may not have as many times to choose from. 

Another method is to just simply show up at the Main Dining Room each night when you are ready to eat. Depending on when you go, you may have to wait until there is an available table. During peak dinner times, you may have to wait as long as 45 minutes for a table. 

If you have a smaller party, you might find that you do not have to wait as long as larger parties. It truly depends, though. 

This is why we recommend making reservations for My Time Dining, whether that be in advance via the Cruise Planner or onboard by speaking with a head waiter.

Throughout the cruise, you may be able to change your My Time Dining reservations on the app or by calling the dining hotline from your stateroom's telephone, but it is dependent on availability. 

Should you book My Time Dining for your next cruise?

The flexibility of My Time Dining comes with responsibility. If you are choosing My Time Dining because you are not a fan of either set dining times, you will need to ensure that you make nightly reservations as soon as possible via the Cruise Planner. If not, you might be stuck eating even later than the second seating!

It is possible to snag dining times around 7:00pm every night, but this is a highly desirable dinner time. The closer you get to your cruise vacation, the fewer reservations you may find. 

Additionally, if you are traveling with a large party, you might find Traditional Dining to be easier. It is more difficult for the Main Dining Room to accommodate larger groups with My Time Dining, as there are fewer tables set for bigger parties.

Online, you can only book My Time Dining for up to eight guests. If you are traveling with more than eight people, My Time Dining might become a hassle. You may find that you are split up at different tables that are not located near each other. 

Finally, the evening shows are often scheduled around Traditional Dining times with early and late showings. If you are unable to book show times in advance via the Cruise Planner when you are making your My Time Dining reservations, you may end up booking a dinner time that clashes with one of the shows. 

Royal Caribbean My Time Dining versus Traditional Dining

05 Sep 2018

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.

Royal Caribbean’s My Time Dining: What you need to know

04 Jun 2015

Royal Caribbean has a flexible dinner option called My Time Dining that is perfect for someone that wants to be able to have dinner at different times of the evening.


It's a simple program where you get to eat in the main dining room on your own schedule.  All of the mainstream cruise lines offer something like this, but Royal Caribbean has its own twist.

Here's what you need to know about My Time Dining.

What is My Time Dining?

Main dining room on Symphony of the Seas

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.

It differs from traditional dinner, where you have the same time, table, and waiters every night of your cruise.

With My Time Dining, you can choose a different time each day, so you can fit dinner around the rest of your onshore and onboard plans. You can pre-book a time or show up and wait for an available table.

For example, you could have dinner at 8:30pm on the first night of the cruise and then have dinner at 6pm on the second night. Just like traditional dining times, you can skip the main dining room all together and eat at a specialty restaurant or the buffet.

There is a maximum of 10 guests per reservation.

Are the menus the same for My Time Dining as they are for traditional dinner?

MDR food

Yes, it's exactly the same menu for both traditional and My Time Dining.

How to opt-in for My Time Dining

Main dining room family

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.

When selecting My Time Dining, you must pre-pay all gratuities in advance.

How to book a reservation


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.

Read moreHow to book My Time Dining on Royal Caribbean

Onboard your cruise

Main dining room

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?

Couple in main dining room

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?

Main Dining Room

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? 

Food in main dining room

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?

MDR on Navigator of the Seas

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.

Can I request a table for two people?

Table for two

Yes! That does not mean you will get a table for two, but the crew members will try their best to accommodate your request.

Just like at a restaurant at home, you may need to wait for a table for two to open up. 

Your best bet is to make reservations in advance, as those with a reservation already seem to get preferred treatment over people that show up and ask for a specific table.

If you want to have a table for two every night of your cruise, my advice is to ask the head waiter to assist.

Can I change to early or late dinner during my cruise if I don't like My Time Dining?

Main Dining

Possibly, but it all depends on availability. 

You could certainly book the same time every night of your cruise and effectively re-create the traditional dinner experience.  The "catch" is My Time Dinner starts later than early seating, so you would not be able to replicate quite as early a time window.

If you're not liking My Time Dining, the first thing to do is speak to the head waiter and address the problem.  In many cases, there could be a simpler solution that changing you to another type of dining.

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

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