My friends on all our other cruises picked early dining, and I just honestly was late on just about every port day (except when we had to leave Nassau at 1:30pm...which is lame) but anyway this time my dad booked the DCL with the 2nd seating, which is how our family normally goes, and I think I will have to insist on it.
It still is very rushed to come back at 4:30-5 and be ready for a dinner and show (and trying to fit Aquaduck in there while you still have your swim stuff on). But at least I could walk around the ship with some damp hair if I wanted (better than going to dinner that way.) The first night, the Golden Mickey's finished at 7:15 and we went back and had some predinner drinks on our veranda before dinner at 8:15. Turns out if you don't have time to completely get ready for dinner, you can still come back after the show (assuming you have late seating, which is what I'm referring to in this post.) However, the last night, we crammed in princess photos and a little bit of disney trivia in the Dlounge just before dinner and after the show, so it worked out to be ready already if that makes sense. There are still plenty of activities at that time 7:15-8:15.
One more reason I plan to request late dining for every cruise from here on out. On all our early dining trips, we eat and then go to the show and sit down. And its lights out for me. I get SO VERY tired especially after splurging on some of the 'finer' dinner food. However, if I sit down for the show, it's usually after a busy port day (at least on a 3 day cruise, it is!) and it was nice to relax with an exciting show, and then head down to a nice dinner. It was kind of a good way to warm up the evening. But the best part was that afterward, we would go to the DLounge for Fiesta dancing, or pose in Princess photos, or sing karaoke and walk around etc. I never got tired on this cruise! I was able to stay up til 1:30 most nights! I really think the difference is getting up and walking around after dinner.
It's going to be second seating for me from here on out. Get ready about 5:30 for show, do some activities or take some character photos, and then head to enchanted dinner, and enjoy the rest of my night with some fun games and karaoke or a little shopping, and don't even get me started on the fun pirate night after dinner.