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Old 06-03-2013, 11:29 AM   #1
Diz Kids
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Second Seating with young kids - make or break decision?

Some background:
We have 3 kids (5, 7, 9). We were planning a 7 night Disney cruise for January. We also have the option of cruising with my in-laws during the same week on Carnival for about 1/2 the price of the Disney cruise (one child in their room reduces the cost vs. the family verandah on DCL).

We were willing to bite the bullet with the cost becuase we loved our 4-nighter on the Dream so much. I went to make our reservation and the only dinner time left was second seating. Our family tends to eat between 6 & 7 and the kids go to bed between 8-9, especially during this time of year, since they are in school mode.
Part of me is thinking it wouldn't be too bad, since during sea days we can sleep in and have a later lunch, and there is always the option of Cabanas if we just can't make it to the late seating. There was also at least once on our last cruise where we ended up doing a late lunch and then barely being hungry at our early seating, but there were also nights where the kids were asleep before 9. The other part of me is concerned with such a late time, and wondering if we should just go with our in-laws.

Any experiences with younger children and the second seating?
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Old 06-03-2013, 11:38 AM   #2
yajaira74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diz Kids View Post
Some background:
We have 3 kids (5, 7, 9). We were planning a 7 night Disney cruise for January. We also have the option of cruising with my in-laws during the same week on Carnival for about 1/2 the price of the Disney cruise (one child in their room reduces the cost vs. the family verandah on DCL).

We were willing to bite the bullet with the cost becuase we loved our 4-nighter on the Dream so much. I went to make our reservation and the only dinner time left was second seating. Our family tends to eat between 6 & 7 and the kids go to bed between 8-9, especially during this time of year, since they are in school mode.
Part of me is thinking it wouldn't be too bad, since during sea days we can sleep in and have a later lunch, and there is always the option of Cabanas if we just can't make it to the late seating. There was also at least once on our last cruise where we ended up doing a late lunch and then barely being hungry at our early seating, but there were also nights where the kids were asleep before 9. The other part of me is concerned with such a late time, and wondering if we should just go with our in-laws.

Any experiences with younger children and the second seating?
I was waitlisted for early seating on the Dream 3 night cruise 2 weeks ago. At around 2pm we went over to Royal Palace and they changed us to the early dinning. Our cruise was full, so I'm guess they leave a couple of tables available for switching. we had a table to ourselves.
We are also a family of 5 no litte ones but didn't want late seating (9,15,21)
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Old 06-03-2013, 11:58 AM   #3
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Wait, I'm confused. The late dining could be a deal breaker between Carnival or Disney?





Have you ever cruised Carnival before?
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by TwinPrincessMermaids View Post
Wait, I'm confused. The late dining could be a deal breaker between Carnival or Disney?





Have you ever cruised Carnival before?


We have not cruised Carnival before. It is really that the Disney is literally 2x the price for us, so when our preferred dining wasn't available I started thinking about the price again. We are still leaning toward DCL for sure. Anyone else have success moving to first seating once on board?
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:03 PM   #5
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My girls were 7 & 9 last year when we tried late dining for the first time. Wish we had tried it on our previous cruises - we liked it so much better than main dining, even though we normally eat around 5:30 at home and their normal bedtime is 8:00. We were all able to adjust very quickly to the new routine - just added a late afternoon snack to our day and all was good.
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:09 PM   #6
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We just booked a Jan cruise last week and are waitlisted for early seating. We did early last cruise and I liked it a lot, our youngest is 3 (will be 4 by cruise) so the late is just too late. I am hoping we get early seating by sailing but if not I'll go ask when we get onboard. Wont be the end of the road if we can't change but it'd be real nice to get early seating
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:16 PM   #7
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I booked 3 rooms 6 months before the cruise date, I was on a wait list for main dining, a month later we all had main dining.
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:22 PM   #8
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Our first Disney cruise, young children in tow, we had late seating and it was fine. We do prefer early, even now, years later, but it was no issue for us to change their normal routine. Get on the waiting list and if you aren't switched, just go and enjoy. It will be fine.
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:23 PM   #9
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Honestly, I wouldn't let this be a deciding factor. I took my son was 3 at the time of our first DCL cruise--we only could get second seating.

A-You can probably change it the first night
B-If your kids are starving take them up top to eat at the buffet or at the food stations around the pool before "dinner" (and they can either go to dinner or go to the kids club after they eat)
C-Because we grazed all day and ate such bigger meals, eating later was a good thing
D-You can leave your kids in the Oceaneers Lab they will feed them, go to dinner and then pick them up (presuming they don't want to go to the show)

Basically, you have lots of options. You can go get snacks or have room service bring you snacks. Sometimes having the later seating is better when you are out on excursions too.

If price is really the issue, pick a cruise date further out--the cruises are the cheapest when the dates are first released.

BTW I took my son at age 8 on the Dream this past Oct. We had main seating--I'm not sure it was any better than 2nd seating honestly.

No matter what, I personally would not go on a Carnival Cruise with my family. Norwegian or Princess would be my alternatives. But nothing has compared to DCL for us. Have fun whatever you choose to do!
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:24 PM   #10
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Clearly they have had success getting the times changed or had plenty of options...

I am a gold carnival VIP member. I can vouch for what they are about. I have done one Disney cruise and I do NOT intend to ever spend a dime with Carnival if it can absolutely be avoided again.

Of course, it's your vacation and your decision. We don't even HAVE kids and we are pretty dead set against Carnival. Check out the comparison threads going on. There is a lot of smokey casino Vegas thong-wearing style entertainment and atmosphere on their cruises, and that is their business model actually. yes they are cheap, because they know that when you need a coke (like I did after their Indian buffet gave me borderline food poisoning on day 3), they will get $2 PLUS gratuity every time you order one. They know that if they keep pestering you in the karaoke lounge (although that might be out for you unless you want to pay for child care perhaps? but parents can speak better regarding that) they will probably get you to order stuff so they can nickel and dime you. Their motto is to fill the ship so they can sell you all the bingo, drinks, jewelry stampede "specials", etc they can.

I am not even sure what to tell you because for years I had been told that once you cruise DCL, you will be spoiled, and it turned out to be VERY true for us. Especially since we got off the Carnival Dream on Mar 2 and get on the Disney Dream Apr 11. That close together, it was QUITE the comparison. I told my friend (who had been on DCL) that I was CRUISED OUT! DONE. Glad to be home. She said 'You are just Carnivaled' out. And she was right. I had no idea I would be back on a cruise 5 weeks later! But I was! And what a difference!

So if all you know is Disney, well maybe you should try the Carnival and see how much like Daytona Spring Break it can be and see if you still think its worth it for your family? They have great destinations but the cruise is a floating motel.

As far as entertainment goes, the singing is SO generic, there isn't any magic or creativity to it. This last one was all black and neon lights like they ripped off Americas Got Talent (so I hope you love that show, cuz that's all we got). It was the best Carnival show I'd seen in yrs... so that outta tell you something. (Although I have fun being in the Carnival Legend show the last day, but its been the same show for my past 3 Carnivals and I don't ever plan to be in it or see it again...I'm amazed people keep coming to it with the same offkey Madonnas and feather boa wearing Elton John segments...)

The food is very buttery or tomato like lasagna stuff. The soups are good. The appetizers ARE REALLY TINY! Shrimp Cocktail is 4 pcs. 4. I can eat that in about 30 sec. And our service on the last two was really bad (but I hear people have bad service on DCL which is a shame, ours was top notch and WAS late dining, which we absolutely LOVED!) Our dirty plates sat in front of us for most of the dinner (I mean, some of them were two or three bites so...) and our water glasses were sadly empty. Our service took so long, they were flashing the lights off and on to GET OUT for the next service, and we hadn't even had desert yet! And if we wanted to make it to the comedy show, we had to order our deserts to go and carry them up to it...

It is a real shame because I obviously used to be a fan of carnival. Prior to that, I cruised RCCL most of my life and I actually put the two of them on par for a while. Unfortunately CCL is cutting back A LOT. They are so desperate for people to cruise, they called me 5 weeks after I got off of their 7 day to book another! (I can see calling people who hadn't cruised in a yr, but in just over a month?)

Their maintnance was the final nail in the coffin to me. I had a lot of people ribbing us about sailing CCL after the whole Triumph problem. (That happened in Feb and we were sailing the end of Feb!) We hoped CCL would give us a room credit or something because we stayed with them despite all the bad press. Nope, they sent an email from the CEO instead. Still, my husband said "They will be even more careful now, so we are even better off as they will be checking everything." Well 1.5 weeks after disembarking their Dream, my Mom called and told me if that was the one we were on (it was), IT also had gotten stuck at St Maarten! My husband thinks it would be fun to fly back from there but i heard people's busses were breaking down etc. That made 2 ships I personally had sailed on ending up bad. At least the Triumph was 2 yrs earlier. But this was less than 2 weeks! That is too close for me.

When Dad decided to take a quick cruise for their 45th anniversary in April, he knew Mom would never set food on a Carnival. He booked Disney because of its reputation, and he was right. Mom felt MUCh more at ease because of years of going to Disney and their upkeep. That's how we ended up going on our first (and currently only) DCL a month after the CCL.

From the time we got to port, it was SO different. I absolutely 100% prefer late dining (because if I don't walk around after and if I sit at a show, I'll fall asleep and be done for the night) but if I couldn't get my preference, I would never never never consider cruising Carnival.

I just don't know what to tell you. Carnival is NOT going to be the same, not even close. And they still aren't THAT cheap, because we paid $1500 or so between room and tips on Carnival (granted it was 7 days but I couldn't wait to get off and plus we had to pay a whole lot more to house sitters cuz it was longer) and we paid the same per person on our Disney even though it was 3 days, but we had the BEST stateroom with a gorgeous veranda and separate bathrooms and movies on demand and incredible food and entertainment, Turtle Talk with Crush in AP etc. The broadway shows were a tremendous value, and Castaway was the real winner of the trip with food, snorkeling, volleyball, transportation, drinks, water slides, etc all included. I decided it was much better to cruise less days for the same price instead of longer mediocrity...

My opinion. Due what your gut tells you, its your money. But I would look up the comparisons. I'd do ANY line before Carnival! I'd do RCI before them! MAYBE possible NCL before I did another CCL. I just am so over having a casino be the entire promenade deck with all its smoke etc. Everywhere you turn, they try to 'get you' and you can tell!

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Old 06-03-2013, 12:26 PM   #11
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Another thing to also think about is the shows. Do the kids enjoy them? My son loves live shows but on almost every night of our last cruise fell asleep during the show since it was the later one at 8:30 since we have main dining. (He was only 4 at time of the cruise) He was SO upset because before the cruise he was so excited to see Toy Story and fell asleep about 10 minutes in or less. When he woke up next morning he was devastated! I have actually been considering switching to later dining for this reason. The kids love the shows and are not big fans of the mdr so we can eat anytime as a family on the ship but can only enjoy the shows if he is awake for them =)
So I would most definatley suggest staying with Disney either first or second seating..I know its expensive but so worth the price!!
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:32 PM   #12
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We did late dining with our then 13 month old on a 8 night RC cruise. We had no problems! We ordered a light room service (cheese platter/salad) around 4 or 5 so we were not starving at 8. The wait staff worked with us and they would have his food on the table when we walked in as we ordered the same thing every night They also brought his milk on a silver platter. If he got fussy one of us would take him to the room. We cruised with 2 set of grandparents and would highly recommend it! Once we booked our Feb cruise my mother and my in laws booked a couple of days later So if your in-laws will not cruise Disney that might make a difference to me but it depends on if you want to cruise with your in-laws
We are planning late dining again this cruise!
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:48 PM   #13
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We had the late seating on our June 2012 Dream cruise. Our kids were 6 and 8 at the time. We loved it! It was great to spend more time at the pool in the afternoon without having to worry about getting changed for dinner, and there were always options for snacks if the kids were hungry.
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:49 PM   #14
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I have had success twice calling and asking to be wait listed for main dining time after booking second seating and getting it long before the cruise.
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:52 PM   #15
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I think you have a good shot at getting early dining if you get on the wait list. We booked a January 2014 cruise on the Wonder, we booked it a year in advance and early dining was already full. We got on the wait list, and a few months later our TA notified us that we got moved to early dining. We were relieved!

But, if we weren't able to get to early dining, we probably would have fed our kids earlier and had them play at the clubs while we ate dinner. Our kids go to bed by 10 p.m. usually, and I think they would be too crabby at late dinner.

I don't think it has to be a deal breaker.
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