Celebrity Cruise line is rumored to be experimenting with what they are calling “Celebrity Select Dining” on one or two of their ships. Rumors abounded when apparently verbiage indicating that the program was being fully implemented fleet wide was apparently posted in error on the Celebrity Website. Subsequent information posted in cruise chat rooms seems to indicate that this program is being implemented on an experimental basis on only a ship or two. The incorrectly posted information about “Celebrity Select Dining” has been removed from the Celebrity website.
“Celebrity Select Dining” would work similar to “Any Time Dining” on Princess. It would allow passengers who pre-pay their gratuity to choose open seating for their dining arrangements rather than a fixed table and dining time. This option would allow passengers to dine on their own schedule rather than at a pre-determined time and table. Theoretically passengers would show up any time the main dining room is open and be able to be seated in a short a mount of time. This would allow passengers more flexibility in their dining especially when returning from late shore excursions or after a long day when they want to dine early and go to bed early.
The difficulty is in putting the program into practice and accommodating all passenger preferences. Fixed dining times allow passengers to know that they have table and familiar waiter waiting for them. They never have to wait for a table, they just show up at their assigned time and seat them selves. On the other hand sometimes diners who prefer their meals in the main dining room find may find it difficult to make their assigned time, especially on port intensive cruises.
I actually prefer the assigned dining times and tables because I like to have the same waiter and table every night. There have been a few times when we had late days in port when we ate room service because we had missed our early dining time. On those few days it would have been nice to have more flexibility, however I don’t think I’d like to give up my assigned table on 14 night cruise, for one or two days when I would have enjoyed the flexibility.
However, I have heard from many cruisers who love this flexibility. A good friend recently took a Holland America cruise where she had booked open seating. That choice worked out perfectly for her when two of her children and their spouses surprised her and joined her party for their cruise. They were able to be seated at a table for 8 every night and enjoy their surprise fellow cruisers.
If Celebrity can work out the ratios for the open seating and fixed seating so that nearly every passenger’s wishes can be accommodated, this could be a great program. However, if those who prefer fixed seating are forced into flexible dining time, or those choosing the flexible dining program are forced to wait extended amounts of time, the program could result in more unhappy passengers than satisfied passengers.