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Cruise cuisine is one of the greatest treats of cruising. You can eat around the clock and work off the calories in the gym or on deck. Each night, the main dining room features different ethnic cuisine such as: Italian night, French night, Asian night and Mediterranean night. Lobster night is also a hit with most cruisers.
Some cruise lines have moved away from structured meal times; others still feature first and second seatings in the main dining room. For example, Princess Cruises currently offers traditional first and second seatings or “Dine Anytime.” Norwegian Cruises boasts totally Freestyle Dining. Most modern large cruise ships also feature alternative dining venues such as specialty Italian or Steakhouse restaurants, pizza parlors and casual buffets and bistros.
If only traditional dining is offered, you must choose to dine at the first seating (around ) or late seating (around ). Make your choice as soon as possible when booking your cruise. First seating fills fast on cruises with seniors and families with small children. Many seasoned cruisers prefer late dining. The advantage of late dining is time for a late afternoon nap after excursions rather than dashing off to dinner sometimes before sail-away. No matter what time you dine, productions shows are repeated and you won't miss entertainment.
With traditional dining, you may also request a table for two, four, six, eight or ten. Choices are first-come, first-served, so make your table size request when you book your cruise. Notes: At large tables, service is slower and conversation is difficult. At a table for four, if you have nothing in common with the other couple, meal times drag. A table for six offers the best opportunities for commonalties and conversation. Finally, don't despair. If your table mates turn out to be bores, discreetly notify the dining maitre d' and request another table.