Just wondering if anyone has any comments/experiences with "As You Wish Dining"on Holland America. We are thinking of doing a 30 night South Pacific cruise on the MS Statendam in February 2014. My husband and I are not fans of traditional dining or of being seated with strangers every night. We generally like to eat in the main dining room and we definitely prefer a table for two for the entire duration of the cruise. We have read that with "As You Wish" dining you are required to make a reservation each day for a table for two. However, we have also heard that the catch is you get stuck eating early because the tables need to be turned over...? We definitely prefer to eat at the later times.
On other cruiselines (Celebrity and Royal Carribean) we have had the experience of being promised a table for two for the duration of the cruise when we booked the cruise, only to find that this was not the case once we were ON the cruise. This eventually got worked out after having to make a fuss and involve the dining room manager, but this table for two thing seems to be an issue on all the cruises lines. Any comments would be appreciated.
Most of the major cruise lines are more alike than different from each other.
Most have some version of open dining, called by any number of different names.
All have the same percentage of passengers (65%) who prefer this open dining concept.
All experience variations on this percentage depending on the length of the cruise, the itinerary, age demographics, and the time of year.
All the ships have the same challenges with tables for 2. When the ships were designed and built, the big demand was for large tables. So the dining rooms were designed and built with a high number of large tables in them. Now most of middle America has decided that they prefer small tables instead. But the ship dining rooms cannot be retro-fitted with small tables without losing a substantial percentage of seating capacity.
So we all have a shortage of tables for 2.
In a few years time, all the new ships will have plenty of tables for 2, but by that time, Middle America will get friendlier and all decide they all want large tables again.
We are never going to win this battle.
All cruise ships built since the mid 1980s do not have the capacity to assign a dedicated dining table to each cabin, like we did in the good old days.
Instead we now must feed you in shifts - like in a factory - in order to get everyone fed.
As a result, nearly every table in the dining room must be used at least twice each evening - and some must be used 3 times per night.
Now we have a problem. It seems that nearly everyone in America wants to eat dinner at 7pm or 7:30 pm every night.
But that is not possible. If we try to give everyone a table at 7 or 7:30, only half the passengers will be fed at that time, and the other half will be forced to eat either at 5pm or 9pm.
Giving you a table at 7pm forces another couple who wants a table for 2 to choose either very early dining or very late dining.
Forcing you to take a table for 2 one hour earlier or later than 7pm allows another couple to also use that table only one hour earlier or later than they wanted. This explains why very few dining room tables can be given out at 7pm or 7:30 pm.
The story I have recounted above describes how things work most of the time. But then we have some other challenges.
If it is a very long cruise, we get many very old cruisers who are lined up at the dining room entrance by 4pm so they can eat, see a show, and get to bed by 8pm.
If it is a family holiday cruise, we have all the grandparents who WANT to eat early and go to bed early - with the addition of all the grandchildren who MUST eat early and go to bed early.
If the ship is carrying Europeans - many of whom prefer to eat much later - we have similar problems. If nearly everyone shows up at the dining room at 9pm for dinner, many will have to wait.
Once again, today's cruise ships do not have the capacity to feed everyone at the same time. Some people must eat earlier; some must eat later.
We normally prefer traditional dining, but on our last two HAL cruises we did open seating.
Like you, we also prefer to eat late. We usually will show up about 1/2 hour before they stop seating people!
On both of the last two cruises, which were 11 and 12 nights, we never had a problem with getting a table for 2. And on both cruises, the Matre'd came by and told us he would be happy to set up a standing reservation at the same time every night for the same table. We chose not to, but it was definitely an option. But you do not have to make reservations every night, you can have a standing reservation if you prefer. At least that's the way it was on the Noordam and the Eurodam.
If you tend to show up during the rush for dinner and don't have a reservation, there may be problems getting a table for 2, but talk with the Matre'd and I know they will try and accommodate any requests you may have. HAL is very good about that, which is why it's one of favorite cruise lines.
__________________ Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!