How to Get Your Preferred Dining Seating on a Cruise
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How to Get Your Preferred Dining Seating on a Cruise

Carnival CruisesWe love reader questions. Here’s a question from Dennis:

I booked a Carnival cruise through an agent in April and I asked for table for 10. What I got was 3 different tables. Carnival said the rooms were linked together. The travel agent said the table for 10 is only a request. Who is correct?

Dennis: we can’t speak to the particulars of your cruise experience, because we do not know all of the details:

  • How early did you make the booking before the cruise? (Early bookers tend to get dining priority), and tables for 10 are rare, as in there may only be two (or none) on a given ship.
  • Was the dining you requested CONFIRMED at the time of booking, or Waitlisted? Notes from the Carnival agent website:

“At time of booking, guests will be able to confirm their preferred dining choice. If their preference is not available, they may confirm an alternate time and be waitlisted for their preferred choice. Waitlists will be cleared prior to the sailing and guests will be notified by email. Parties traveling together who are waitlisted together will be cleared on the same dining time. Cross-referencing bookings does not guarantee parties will be eating together. They must be confirmed on the same dining time to ensure they will be able to eat together. Since bookings that are waitlisted for a particular dining time are not guaranteed to clear, make sure the guest is aware the entire party may not be eating together.”

Dennis, what wed can do is to offer advice for your future cruises on how to get the dining seating that you want.

3 Ways To Ensure Your Dining Seating on a Cruise Matches with Your Preferences

1. Book Early

One of the major benefits of booking early is to get immediate confirmation of your dining preference in terms of table size, timing of dining, etc.  Book 9-12 months before your cruise. Book even longer in advance if it is a long, exotic voyage.  If the price goes down or you need to change dates, generally you have until 76 days before departure to rebook or cancel your cruise. (Rebook if the fare goes down; just be sure your travel agent doesn’t charge a fee to do this

2. If You Are Sailing on Carnival Cruises, follow Cruise Director John Heald on Facebook 

John Heald is a long-time Carnival Cruise Director who also blogs and has a very popular Facebook page.  If you like his page, you will see his updates, and always be in the latest “know” for Carnival Cruises.  He also forwards special requests, such as dining for a 10-top, to the Maitre d on various Carnival ships.  Next time, send your request to John, as a confirmation, saying how your group is celebrating something special and wants to eat a one large table for 10.

3. As Soon as You Board Your Cruise, Find the Dining Room Manager to Confirm Seating

As soon as you get on board your cruise ship, find out where the Dining Room Manager is located, and seek him out. Generally, the hours and location are posted in the first day program, or the front desk should be able to direct you.  There may be a line, but it is worth the wait to make your dining preference change selection.  There are also people who have early seating who want late, and always late seating people who want early.  If it is a difficult request such as a table for 10, a good dining room manager will likely suggest you move to open seating with a set reservation very early – i.e. 5:45 pm or very late – such as 9 pm to accommodate your request.  Generally, they can’t change for the first night, but send a confirmation to your cabin for the second night, after all of the “dust settles.”

Thanks for the question, Dennis.

Carnival cruisers, what other advice do you have for Dennis? Please, share in comments below. 

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