Cruise lines typically fall into three camps when it comes to dinner seatings. Some lines do open seating, others offer set dinner times, and still others employ a mix of flexible and scheduled dining. [% 9823 | | Holland America %] just announced it’s switching camps from pre-set dinner seatings to a mixed plan.
Holland America ships currently have two dining rooms, each of which offers early and late dinner seatings. Guests are assigned a time and table and eat there every night they dine in the main restaurant. The new plan will feature one dining room with set early and late seatings and a second dining room with open seating from 5:15 to 9 p.m. each night.
If guests choose the flexible plan, they can either make dining reservations for a specific time each day or just show up at the restaurant whenever they’re hungry. Cruisers who choose the fixed plan will have to stick to their set dinner times. If these guests want a night of flexible dining, they’ll have to eat at the Pinnacle Grill or Lido restaurant or order room service.
The two-tiered dining system is currently available on the ms Noordam and will be rolled out throughout the fleet between October 2007 and May 2008. When the new ms Eurodam launches in July 2008, it will already have the new system in place.
The new dining plan not surprisingly matches that of [% 14460 | | Princess %], one of Holland America’s biggest competitors. The system is also in line with recent trends to make cruises seem less structured. I wouldn’t call Holland America cutting edge, but it’s always good to see a traditional line get a little creative now and again.