Carnival’s Your Time Dining: A Review

Carnival Cruise Your Time Dining - Monet Dining Room

On all of our past sailings with Carnival, we’ve always opted for dining in the late seating to ensure everyone in our group would be able to dine together – regardless of shore excursions, on-board activities, etc. that may run into the late afternoon making it difficult to herd everyone together for the early seating. Since the summer of 2010, Carnival has offered “Your Time Dining” on its entire fleet, and we decided to try it on our last cruise.

When booking, one has the option of early seating (6pm), late seating (8:15pm), or your time dining. Carnival’s literature indicates that your time dining is available from 5:45pm to 9:30pm, though from experience, the preferred time is between 6 and 9. On the first day, when our cabin stewardess introduced herself and reminded us about our dining choice, she indicated the best time was between 6 and 9 because of how the kitchen works. We’re not sure if she has friends in the kitchen that just prefer this, but this advice would likely serve you well in any land-restaurant, too. If you go in 10 minutes before close and spend two hours having dinner with five appetizers and two entrees (you know who you are), the staff may have some choice words for you – but they’ll still serve you with a smile.

Carnival’s dining options guide also says you may have to wait up to 20 minutes for a table. It was our experience, eating anywhere between 6:45 and 7:45 with a party of 7, we never had to wait longer than 5 minutes, and most night the longest wait was just getting everyone’s cabin number entered into their system (you can’t just walk in and say you’d like a table for 7, each guest must provide their cabin number before being seated).

The hostesses (assistant maître ‘ds?) can even take special requests – such as where you’d like to sit and if you prefer a specific waiter or waitress. We enjoyed sitting in the atrium area of the dining room, but we also requested a specific waiter a few times that we had on our first night who knew us by name. Even with special requests, the wait-time was minimal or non-existent.
We were very happy with the implementation and flexibility of Carnival’s your time dining. We rarely had any kind of wait, special requests were always accommodated with speed, and the flexibility was priceless – especially when traveling with a larger party.

Specialty Dining on Allure of the Seas – 150 Central Park

Living in Texas – finding cuisine that uses smoke as a main ingredient isn’t difficult – but finding it on a cruise ship isn’t as common. In the boutique restaurant 150 Central Park on board Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, chef Molly Brandt uses smoke to prepare her signature dish: Smoked Sweet Potato Soup.

SmokingGunAllureJust before the table presentation is done, Brandt uses a “Smoking Gun” to fill the bowl’s cloche (a cover typically used to keep food warm) with smoke. When the cloche is removed at the table, smoke is released creating a sensory trio as guests see and smell the unique presentation which has also infused the dish with a distinct flavor.

Check out the video to see how it’s done!

Dining Aboard the Regent Mariner

Part 5 – Cape Town to Rio on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner

Room Service Chef Salad
Room Service Chef Salad

There are two specialty restaurants on the Mariner, Prime 7 (steakhouse) and Signatures (Le Cordon Bleu). There is no extra charge for these restaurants, however reservations are usually required. You can book once in each of the specialty restaurants on line pre-cruise. However, you can also go there directly and ask if they have any openings; if you are lucky the table is yours. We were lucky to get into Signatures the day we boarded the ship just by asking since it wasn’t busy. The following night we asked again and we were also able to get a reservation in Prime 7.

The main dining room is Compass Rose and seating is open, you go anytime during its breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours and opt to sit alone or join a table of other cruisemates. The menu is varied and we were never at a loss for something good to order. Steaks and seafood were always on the menu, along with varied other choices like veal, lamb, and occasionally lobster tails. By virtue of not having “early” and “late” seatings like some cruise ships, you are never rushed away from your table to make room for the next seating.

La Veranda is open seating buffet for breakfast and lunch and Bistro and buffet at dinner. At dinner, you order your main course from the menu but can select your antipasto items and desserts from their buffet. Lobster tail seemed to be on the menu just about every night. A pizza kitchen operates in La Veranda during lunch hours.

The pool grill and patio has hot dogs, hamburgers, salads, etc. Adjacent to it is an ice cream bar featuring a selection of hand-scooped ice creams.

On sea days, there are also theme lunches at the pool grill, such as Tex-Mex, German, Asian, etc. One of the best was Brazilian, which featured a nice range of grilled meats and sausage.

In addition to these, Room Service is available 24 hrs. There is a room service menu but you can also order anything that is currently available on the menu from Compass Rose. Current menus scroll on the television. Room service delivers in about 10 minutes and of course there is no tipping. (Try the Macoroni & cheese!) The food and service has been consistently very good in all of the restaurants as well as via room service. We mainly used room service for late afternoon snacks (when the restaurants were closed) and breakfasts on days with early tours.