Thursday, April 2, 2009

What time is dinner? It's "Your Choice" on Carnival Cruise Lines' Ships

Instead of rushing to make dinner at a fixed time, Carnival Cruise Lines offers another option. The line has launched "Your Choice Dining" which provides a selection of three different dinner seating options for guests aboard the line’s 22-ship fleet. In addition to Early or Late assigned seating, the cruise line is rolling out "Your Time" open seating to accommodate individual guest preferences. Also, under the new Your Choice Dining program, dining assignments will be confirmed at the time of booking.

"We have been experimenting with an open seating dinner option on a few ships since the latter part of 2008," said Roberta Jacoby, Carnival’s senior vice president of hotel operations. "Exceptional guest feedback to the pilot program and an indication from the vast majority of those participating that they would choose that option again has prompted the decision to extend open seating fleetwide. At the same time, we felt it was important to also enhance the dining program overall by confirming dining assignments at the time of booking. We believe that our new Your Choice Dining Program will prove to be an extremely popular enhancement to the Carnival vacation experience," Jacoby added.

Your Time open seating, currently available on five ships, will be implemented one vessel at a time over the next several months as modifications in dining room table configurations are completed on each ship. An additional eight ships are scheduled to be converted by the end of year and the balance of the fleet by summer 2010.

"In making the decision to introduce Your Time dining, we felt it was imperative that we be able to offer guests the option to sit only with those individuals they prefer and that requires reconfiguring a section of the dining rooms on each ship to incorporate smaller table arrangements," said Jacoby. "This is an important distinction as some lines still group people together under their open seating programs."

Confirmed dining assignments are now being offered fleetwide. At the time of booking, guests will be asked to choose from among Early dining at 6pm, Late dining at 8:15 pm or Your Time dining which allows guests to dine at any time between 5:45pm and 9:30pm (if applicable depending on ship and sailing date). Dining assignments will be accommodated on a first-come, first-serve basis according to when guests made their reservation. If the preferred dining choice is not available, guests may confirm an alternate choice and be placed on a waitlist for their first preference. Waitlists will be cleared prior to sailing and guests will be notified via email of their confirmed seating assignment. As Your Time dining is implemented on each ship, guests already booked will be contacted via email or through their travel agent and provided the opportunity to switch to Your Time dining or retain their original choice.

Your Time guests are able to request any table size or waiter and are typically seated immediately when arriving at the dining room. However, if a modest wait time is required, guests are given a pager so they are free to relax elsewhere on the ship until their table is ready. Additional options available under Your Choice Dining include extensive poolside eateries offering a wide variety of cuisine choices in a casual environment and, on a number of ships, elegant, reservations-only restaurants serving fine quality dry-aged U.S.D.A. prime steaks and other dishes in an intimate, upscale atmosphere.

Here is the timetable for the introduction of Your Time open seating throughout the Carnival fleet:

• Already implemented: Carnival Legend, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Miracle
• End of April: Carnival Conquest, Carnival Elation, Carnival Pride
• Mid-June: Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Spirit
• Late September: Carnival Dream
• Mid-October: Carnival Ecstasy
• Mid-December: Carnival Glory
• February 2010: Carnival Fascination
• By summer 2010: Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Valor, Carnival Splendor, Carnival Freedom, and Carnival Victory

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