Most ships will give you a choice of seatings. There are advantages to both. Early seating might mean you have to get up earlier (although most ships have open seating for breakfast and lunch). It also means that you might have to rush for dinner if you are on a shore excursion that lasts until the late afternoon, or can't tear yourself away from the beach or pool. The advantage to early seating is that you can then go to the shows after dinner and have more time for nightlife before bed.
Late seating allows you to have plenty of time to get ready for dinner. However, if you don't finish dinner until after 10:00 pm, you might either miss the show or part of the night life.
Open seating is available on more and more cruise lines such as Norwegian Cruise Lines, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, and SeaDream Yacht Club. Most mainstream cruise lines offer both fixed seating and open seating. When booking your cruise, you will need to select one of these options.
Another note about dining. On a ship with assigned seating, you will also be asked what table size you prefer. Most ships have tables for two, four, six, or eight (and sometimes ten). Oftentimes, the numbers of "two-tables" are limited, so if you "want to be alone", be sure to tell your travel agent or cruise line in advance.
Ten Questions to Answer When Planning a Cruise
- Who is going on the cruise?
- How much money have you budgeted for your cruise?
- How long is your vacation?
- When do you want to travel?
- Where in the world do you want to cruise?
- What types of things do you like to do?
- What type of cabin do you want or need?
- When do you like to eat dinner?
- Do you like to dress up?
- How do you plan to get to your cruise ship?