Princess Cruises Rolls Out New Dining Time Options Fleetwide

Princess Cruises announced a change to how guests will eat in the main dining rooms across their entire fleet. They’ll be changing the options to reflect what’s available on its newest ship, the Sun Princess, giving guests three options for dining in the main dining room. Since everyone’s dining preferences differ, this new method provides something for everyone. 

Sun Princess’ new dining options are a hit with guests

When Princess Cruises newest ship, the Sun Princess, debuted a few weeks ago, it introduced a new way to eat dinner in the main dining room. The ship’s spectacular Horizons dining room is split into three different levels each with a different way to eat. 

The first level on Deck 6 is traditional cruise dining, where guests have a reserved table and time each night. It offers both 5 PM and 7:30 PM seatings. The second level on Deck 7 is for flexible dining, where guests can make a reservation for any time. The third level on Deck 8 is for walk-in dining only. 

On Sun Princess, levels one and two have the same menus, while the third level has more casual dining that includes all-day breakfast. 

“Our guests have been delighted with the dining flexibility aboard Sun Princess and we’re pleased to extend the concept to all the other ships in our fleet,” said Sami Kohen, Princess Cruises vice president of food and beverage. “Now whether guests prefer an early seating every evening, or change things up every night, or even change their mind, these flexible dining options ensure that their dining preference is effortlessly accommodated.”

Changes will roll out to the rest of the fleet this fall

Princess will roll out these new options across the fleet starting on September 14, with each dining room assigned a different option. Since Coral Princess and Island Princess only have two dining rooms, one will be split between reserved and open seating.

The three options will be:

  • Traditional – The dining room offers an early and late seating every evening. Guests will have the same table and wait staff each night.
  • Reservable – Guests can reserve a table ahead of time.
  • Walk-in Anytime – Guests can walk in anytime and request a table.

Guests sailing September 14 and beyond will have to reselect dining options

The transition to the new dining times will be a bit confusing to guests who already booked their cruise. 

Guests sailing before September 13 will not have to do anything and will have the time they initially selected. Guests whose sailings depart September 14 and after will have their main dining reservations canceled. Starting on June 17, they’ll be able to use the Princess’ OceanNOW app to select Traditional Dining or Flexible Dining (which will include both Reservable and Walk-in Anytime). 

This change does not impact specialty dining restaurant reservations.

Princess Cruises’ “something for everyone” approach might be the winner

In the old days of cruising, diners all had set-time dining where they’d have a specific dining table, wait staff, and fellow guests to dine with. Over the years, preferences have changed, especially with newer cruises. They want flexibility and don’t want to have to sit with strangers. The cruise lines have struggled to cater to both these segments at once.

Lines like Carnival and Norwegian offer set-time dining and the option to “check in” for a restaurant when you want to eat, much like you would at home. The second option offers the most flexibility but can mean a wait. 

Other lines, like Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, have set-time and flexible-time dining, but they allow guests to make reservations ahead of time for flexible dining. On Royal Caribbean, there are common complaints that the times before 8 PM are all booked before guests even step foot onto the ship, and the standby line spills into the Royal Promenade with waits of 45 minutes to an hour. 

Princess Cruises’ new strategy lets everyone choose how they’d like to eat, hopefully making dining on the ships more enjoyable. Hopefully other lines will take notice. 

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Randy Young

Randy Young is the founder and editor-in-chief at Cruise Spotlight. He has been in marketing for 19 years and has been cruising for just as long. Over the years, he's worked with products like TVs, copiers, light bulbs, and EV chargers, but cruising has always been his passion. There's nothing Randy likes more than the first couple of hours on a ship, exploring every nook and cranny and seeing how it's different from everything else out there. He's known for providing detailed and analytical coverage of cruising to help cruisers get a comprehensive picture of a ship's offerings.