Early Dining vs. Late Dining

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by Kdl, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. Kdl

    Kdl Earning My Ears

    Jan 24, 2010
    We currently have the early dining for our 5-night July 25 cruise. Thinking of switching to the late dining due to the "dine and play" for our 7 year old. Also, I think that 5:45 may be too early for dinner if we are off the ship in port - may be too rushed for us. Any thoughts? Which do you prefer and why?
  2. HallsofVA

    HallsofVA DIS Veteran

    Feb 24, 2005
    We currently do the early dining mainly because it's the same time we eat at home, and we're concerned that the late dining would be too late for us. While it can be a little rushed to be dressed and ready for dinner (especially if you want to do any of the photo opps before dinner) it's nice to be able to keep everyone on their regular schedule. Plus after dinner we have time for other photo opps or to change clothes if desired before the show, then it's off to bed for the kids.

    Early dining is also a bit too close to High Tea at Palo if you do that, and to some of the better availability of spa treatments.

    We haven't had too much trouble getting back from excursions or port trips. The closest we came to having a problem was in St Maarten, when I decided to buy a ring and have it sized after our beach excursion. I got back on the ship to shower and get dressed, then hurried back off to pick up the ring and make it back before dinner. My inlaws have picked excursions in Key West and other ports that arrived back later, but that was the only way to see the sunset!
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  4. kcashner

    kcashner DIS Veteran

    Dec 4, 2003
    It's really not an issue with port stuff--you're either going to be back for dinner, for the shows, or for the "all aboard" time.

    The issue is what time eating works for you and your family. 8:15 can be late for little ones if you are from the Eastern time zone, but you can always do an afternoon snack. I don't think Dine and Play is a reason to choose late--parents have been doing their own version of that for years regardless of seating. You tell server to bring kid food ASAP. Then between adult entree and dessert, you excuse yourself and take kids to Club/Lab.

    Pro early=main....many of the best kid activities are during late seating including teen time in the fitness center as well as stuff for younger kids. If heading for bed, dinner is over. Keeps to at home schedule

    Pro late--fewer kids in dining room. Better if traveling from Western US (keeps on time schedule). Don't have to take kids out of dining room to go to Club/Lab cuz CM will pick them up.
  5. su_kraft

    su_kraft If I plan it, will you come?

    Sep 21, 2008
    There is no right or wrong answer, you have to go with what feels right for your family. You know your schedules and what everyone will tolerate.

    For us, we have done both and late worked out better for us. Our schedules at home have us eating between 6:00 and 7:00. But, we are very flexible.

    When we did early we missed every show as I wouldn't leave our DD (13 months at the time) alone in the cabin, and she was tired and cranky and just needed to go to bed. Our DS was fine - he was in the club nightly. Part of this was age - and I get that. It was what it was and we had a great cruise.

    Our latest cruise, we did late seating. We were able to get to all the shows, and our daughter was awake for all of them. Our servers were awesome in getting drinks for the kids on the table right away, and the couple of nights that our DD (5) fell asleep curled up in a chair in Lumieres she had gotten to dress up, meet and greet with about 6 charactors, and eat dinner before crashing. But, the main reason I liked the late seating is that we were never feeling rushed to get back onboard after a day in port. Now that the kids are older (12 and 5) we were able to do longer port days, and we liked that option. (We didn't like running back to the ship in Cozumel, but we were back at 4 on the dot...)

    I am sure which ever way you go you will have a great cruise!
  6. tvguy

    tvguy Question anything the facts don't support.

    Dec 15, 2003
    I always tell folks to consider the following in selecting a dining time:
    1) What time you eat at home.
    2) What time zone you live in, and how much you try to shift your body clock if you live in a different time zone than the cruise is in.
    3) Whether you tend to eat later, or earlier on vacation.
    4) On Disney only, it impacts when your show time is.

    We're west coasters, and when we cruised DCL we had 2 kids who played after school sports. That meant dinner at home was rarely before 7 or 7:30pm. And we tend to eat later on vacation. So, late seating was like eating at 5:30 pm to our bodies, early seating would almost be lunch time for our bodies. We also missed the lack of a nightly midnight to 1:30 am buffet on Disney for an evening snack. And we didn't care for the late dining show at 6:30 pm, one reason we like late seating and a show after dinner is so we don't have to rush on port days to get ready.
    Just some things to consider.
  7. LovesToRun

    LovesToRun DIS Veteran

    Oct 4, 2009
    We just got back from a 7-night eastern on the Magic, and for the first time tried late dining. We have 2 children ages 7 & 9.

    We chose late dining this time because when we've done the first seating (5:45), it just felt too early for us (we are from the West coast), and we felt rushed, especially on port days, to get ready for dinner, plus we often just were not very hungry by 5:45 becaue we found we'd eat a later lunch because we weren't hungry for lunch until later because we ate a big breakfast. ;)

    We did love the late dining for many reasons: 1) we loved the dine-n-play. that was great... the kids ate their dinner while we ate our appetizers, and the counselors came at 9 PM to get the kids... our kids and my DH and I loved that. 2) we were hungry by 8:15 PM and ready to eat! 3) we didn't feel rushed to get ready for dinner.... the show for the late dining begins at 6:15, and so we would get ready by 6:15 for dinner (in terms of how we'd dress...). But, also, the show ends around 7:15, so you have a full hour between the end of the show and dinner, so you can also just go to the show in whatever attire you want, and then get ready for dinner between 7:15 and 8:15 if you don't want to feel rushed before 6:15 to get dressed for dinner, which is nice, too. We did that a few times when we didn't have time to get dressed in the appropriate dining attire by 6:15.

    BUT, the one thing we did NOT like about the 8:15 seating is we would feel so full by the time dinner was done that by the time we were ready for bed (which seemed to be around 11 PM for us each night), we STILL felt so full, and for us, it just is hard to sleep on a full stomach. So, I had a hard time getting to sleep each night.... a few times I just went down to deck 4 at 11:30 PM and just walked several laps just to feel less full.

    SO, though we liked a lot of things about the 8:15 seating, the fact we just felt SO full so late at night and didn't like that feeling and it caused us to not be able to get to sleep easily each night, we decided we'll go back to the early seating for our next cruise (which is the 15-day Panama Canal Jan. 2011), because we'd rather deal with the issues we didn't really like about the 5:45 seating over the feeling of feeling so full at night. What we'll do for our next cruise is just either make sure we eat lunch earlier (like for sure by 1 PM), or eat a very light lunch to make sure we are hungry by 5:45.

    (I know, we could choose to eat a very light dinner if we ate too big of a breakfast or lunch.. like skip the appetizer or salad, and/or dessert, but it's SO hard to do that because it all is SO good and we want the full experience of having all these courses. ;) ). We are not HUGE eaters to begin with, so this is why it's hard for us to eat big meals at every meal.

    So, yes, there are pro's and con's to both.... too bad there is not a 6:30 PM seating... that'd be perfect.

    We decided that for our next cruise where we are going back to the 5:45 seating, if we happened to have a late lunch, and just are not hungry, we can just skip the dining room that night, or we can go to teh dining room, and just tell our waiter we are not very hungry and only have a main course. Also, if we want a more "quiet" meal, we can put our kids in the kid's club a few times during dinner, which will make up for not having the dine-n-play option.

    Hopefully you can figure out what is best for you... it really is up to you and your family, and what you think will work best for all of you. What works best for one family may not work well for another family.
  8. crafty91

    crafty91 DIS Veteran

    Dec 17, 2008
    I have only done the late seatings so I can't speak for that time slot only that I know I'm not ready to eat dinner that early. We are East Coast and dinner varies based on kids sports, etc. Kids were 9 & 7 on the last cruise and late seating has always been fine for them. I do like doing the early show, then having an hour to just do nothing down at Diversions, just have a casual drink then head to dinner. For our family, late seating is the only way to go! (SHHHHHH, btw the pools are deserted around 4:30 as the early seating people go get ready!)
  9. NancyIL

    NancyIL DIS Veteran

    Aug 19, 1999
    I tried late dining for the first time in December and would not choose it again. Dinner ended between 9:45 and 10 p.m., and that's just too late to eat, unless you normally go to bed at 2 a.m. Whether you go to the early show or have early dinner - something is going on in the early evening.
  10. carmie3377

    carmie3377 Hi, I'm Carmen and I'm a Disneyholic.

    Feb 28, 2005
    We had late dining in Dec. We thought we'd like it because it would give us extra time to get ready for dinner on port days, ect. HOwever, DS was so worn out by then that he feel asleep EVERY night at dinner. We woudl try to get him to nap during the day but he wouldn't. We decided that for our 15 night PC cruise, we would go with main dining. There are a couple of port days that we may not make the dinging room but we can choose the buffet or room service if we don't make it back in time. I'd rather miss a couple of dinners in the dining room than to have poor DS asleep every night at dinner.
  11. ericamanda01

    ericamanda01 <font color=deeppink>Some people dream in black an

    Mar 23, 2004
    Coming from the west coast there is no way we can eat at early dining. It would be like lunch to us. We have done early dining once and we felt rushed in the afternoon. With late dining we can take our time getting ready, enjoy the show before dinner and never feel rushed.
  12. wjcsmd

    wjcsmd Earning My Ears

    Nov 20, 2008
    We had the late dining with 3 kids (6, 8, 10) and worked out great! This is what we did: we found the kids clubs had major activities after 7:30 pm each evening, so we fed the kids in our room around 5:30 pm (they got some down time too) via room service or counter service, we all went to the show together. After the show, they went to the kids club and the grown ups went to dinner, alone!
    Worked out so well for us, we are doing this again in October!
  13. tvguy

    tvguy Question anything the facts don't support.

    Dec 15, 2003
    They moved you through pretty quickly. We rarely got out of dinner before 10:30pm. But the last part of that was socializing with the servers, them doing magic tricks for the kids, in our case, our son doing magic tricks for them. We usually ended up with a crowd of servers and other guests around our table as the servers tried to top each other with magic tricks, and some of the other passengers learning those tricks from the staff.
    Given that there normally aren't any shows or other enterainment for families after late seating dining, we were in no hurry to leave. We usually strolled deck 9 after dinner, we spend a lot of time after dinner standing in front of the windshield in front of the sports deck. Then we'd play some shuffle board and ping pong.
  14. CyndiandChris

    CyndiandChris Mouseketeer

    Mar 24, 2009
    We would pick my DD up from the OC around 2 and let her get a late nap. Then we would take her back to the OC just before they ate so she had dinner and then she played until after we finished dinner. She really didn't want to spend time with us or eat with us so this worked better for us.
  15. jimmyc17

    jimmyc17 Earning My Ears

    Oct 12, 2009
    We are going to try that strategy on at least a few of the nights.
  16. mobopolo

    mobopolo Mouseketeer

    Jul 7, 2007
    We have the late dining. At first, I freaked and thought, there is no way the kids will make it until 8pm!! :scared1: Duh!... We live in Alaska, so 4pm here, is 8pm there...so it's still way early for us :lmao: I think it will be fine, and we won't feel rushed. :)
  17. Girly_Qs

    Girly_Qs Mouseketeer

    Jun 14, 2007
    As others have said - many factors to consider.

    Home Time Zone - and when that translates to w/ dinner

    Kids/Ages - will they want to dine w/ you? Or w/ the kids' clubs? Do you want to do the dine & play (or your own variation thereof)?

    For us: Length of cruise - on our 7-night we got adjusted to the late dining and then that 'threw' us when adjusting back to our 'normal' EST dining at home. Not likely to be as big of an issue on a shorter cruise (or more of one on a longer one, lol)

    We did late on our 1st last December, a 7-night Western. It seemed to work fine, as we simply fed the kids earlier and then took them to the clubs after the show. However, when it came to rebooking our next cruise on-board, my father specifically requested early, as it was causing issues with his reflux (eating so late, and so rich, meant a few rough nights, even with his prescription meds apparently).

    So, for our 4-night Dream next February, we'll be doing early. I'm not really worried about 'rushing from ports' as we're not all that interested in them (we're 'meh' on the Bahamas, and Castaway will likley be somewhat chilly in Feb - and more excited to check out the new ship!).

    Really, IMO, either's workable depending on your own preferences and circumstances.

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