Guest Post: Behind the Creation of My Time Dining

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Adam: As much as I enjoy creating my own blog entries, once a week I intend to give over to one of the other leaders of our brand to speak in more detail about their respective areas. Of course, many of our readers’ interests are in the direction of what happens on the ships, so it is logical to give the first opportunity to Lisa Bauer, Senior VP, Hotel Operations. Thank you, Lisa!

Lisa Bauer

Lisa Bauer

Hi this is Lisa. My team oversees all of our entertainment; onboard shopping; casino; housekeeping; guest services and facilities; and food and beverage operations. I could write for days on each of these areas, but one of the key areas our guests really love is our food and dining service. In fact, the relationship that our guests develop with our wait staff in the dining room is one of the things that they tell us is a key highlight of their cruise. So I thought I would share some of the reasons we why have been so focused on how we could transform the main dining room experience.

We started to see a trend where our guests between the ages of 30 to 45 no longer wanted to dine in the main dining room, and were instead going to Windjammer or the specialty dining restaurants so that they could choose what time and with whom they ate. Also, being a family brand, we had a number of families with younger children that didn’t want to come to the dining room because of the time it took to enjoy that experience and the feeling that their children might negatively impact others. While one solution could have been to introduce open seating in the dining room, we also know that a very large proportion of our guests still enjoy the traditional first and second seating dining experience. So our challenge was to create a program that delivered the best of both worlds – the inspiration for the My Time Dining program. We also knew that we had the opportunity to offer a unique service for families, which was the driver of My Family Time Dining.

Before we roll out any new program for the brand, we always pilot many variations. One of the many benefits of having a fleet of 20 ships, is the ability to test different concepts and gather valuable guest feedback on what worked and what didn’t. So we tested My Time Dining and the final program that was launched fleet-wide was the result of guest and crew feedback from several ships.

MTD, as we refer to it, allows our guests to sign up in advance, or on the first day of their cruise. Guests can choose what time they want to eat, or show up anytime within a window of time every night. The program offers guests the flexibility to dine with service from the same waiter each evening, as well as the ability to be seated with their party, at a table with others or on their own. My Time Dining requires our guests to prepay gratuities.

My Family Time Dining allows our guests to bring their families to the main dining room where the children are immediately served with special dinnerware. At 6:45, our Adventure Ocean staff comes to the main dining room to pick up the children and take them to Adventure Ocean, leaving the parents to enjoy the rest of their dinner. This idea actually came from one of our travel agency advisory board members, Audrey Henley of American Express Travel. We get inspiration from our guests, our travel partners, our employees and crew, and this idea has instantly become very popular.

We also knew that we needed to make it easy for our guests to choose this program, so we made a considerable investment in upgrading our reservations and web systems so our guests could choose first or second seating, or My Time Dining. It also made it very easy for our travel agency partners to book dining as well and this went live on May 17th.

I wanted to end off by inviting you to hear all about the wonderful culinary offerings we have planned on Oasis of the Seas by joining our live chat at 2PM ET on June 24. Visit for more details. If Adam invites me to be a guest on his blog again, perhaps my next topic will be how to win in the casino. ;)

  • Ryan P

    Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing the ‘behind-the-scenes’ details! I would have liked to know more about how you tested MTD, or some statistics on how many people use MTD, etc. I think MTD is a great concept, and have used it myself. I will continue to use MTD in the future!

    One thing I didn’t like about your post, though… it seemed like 1/2 of it was an advertisement for MTD. (Yes, I know you are very proud, and I understand you want everyone to know about it.) I could be wrong, but I think most of the audience reading this blog already knows what MTD is, and are looking for some “behind the scenes” information that isn’t already being shared from other avenues of information.

    Thanks. Look forward to seeing more posts from you in the future!

    – Ryan P

    • Big John

      Personally like anything new on a cruise ship….. this MTD is one of them. But my concerns as I read theses posts is the wait times for the MTD. I have a party of 6 and I set up a reservation for 7:30 per say ( I want to finally see some shows this cruise) then get seated “possibly ” at around 8pm then why do it?

      I currently have my seating set up for 8:30 pm, is a 1/2 hr going to really matter if you want to see a show after dinner?

      Is there going to be time to see a show with a late seating? or should just change it to 6 pm???

      and I really don’t understand paying for the gratuities in advance? why?? are they afraid if your not happy with the wait staff you get that your not going to tip? doesn’t make sense.

      I have yet not tipped for poor service ( and my wife and I have gotten it !) we actually tip better if our wait staff and /or stewart goes above and beyond.

      I am a Diamond member of Royal and a very loyal cruiser to them (we have tried others and none can compare).

      We are cruising very soon and I am trying to decide which way to go.

  • Sandy Schubert

    Lisa thank you for the info. Makes picking your dining easier, still prefer main seating so please do not drop that option.

  • Linda cOOPER


  • Christine L Stone

    I know this is off topic…but don’t see a section on Shore Excursions.
    Saw the ad this morning for 5% discount on Alaska excursions and tried to book. Then realized it was before June 7. Although when you click on it it says between May something and June 7th (which frequently implies through the 7th).
    At any rate really think the ad should have been pulled once it was no longer valid!!
    Frustrated that we can’t get the 5% discount!!
    BTW-Did MTD on our last cruise and loved it!
    Chris Stone

  • Doreen lin

    Dear Mr. Adam Goldstein,

    Hello! I am Doreen Lin a resident in Taiwan but with Philippine passport. I always hear how great it is to be in cruise..its always sound the combination of fun and adventure that’ what human search for. Though i cannot afford(financially) to be part of your program i had this great desire since i had set my eyes on this blog to be a citizen of the nation of why not.. yes why not see myself working in your world. So i am using this system to reach out and i pray that you may notice this simple message and give me the dream that i deserve to get. I may be working in an entry level but i assure you of royal service and the best commitment a person can give.
    More POWER and more SUCCESS TO COME!

    Respectfully Yours,

  • Mandy

    We had cruised seven times previously, using traditional dining, and had met some great people through our dinner assignments. Therefore, we were somewhat reluctant to try MTD when it was offered by our travel agent for our recent Freedom of the Seas cruise. After trying MTD, we feel it was a fabulous inspiration and we thank you for providing this option! I never noticed before, but traditional dining can be somewhat stressful at times. Not wanting to hold up the rest of the dinner group if you’re running late or not being hungry at the appointed time, can make the dining experience feel pressured. MTD eliminates that stress by allowing passengers to plan their meals around their desired activities, rather than vice-versa. We absolutely loved it and have booked this option again for our next cruise on the Serenade.

    Thanks for keeping the experience new and fresh and offering us more choices. This type of innovation is what keeps us coming back to Royal over and over again!

  • carl springer

    adam— we just came off of the explorer of the seas on june 6 and we would like you to know that the cruise was excellent. one of your employees ardel who was the person seating us in the mytime dining on deck 5 was absolutely wonderful. she accommodated our group of six at 6:30 each night at the same table with the same wait staff. she was always smiling and joyful.
    this was our 36th cruise overall and 26th on rcl. we have four more cruises booked with your company and we are looking forward to them. they are nov. 12th ( our group will consist of 8 ), march 7th which is our 50th anniversary cruise, ( our group will consist of 8 again ) and consecutive cruises on the oasis starting on oct. 9, 2010. we will have at least 8 travelling with us. keep up the good work.
    catherine and carl springer

  • Robert M

    We enjoy main seating at 6pm do not want the MTD for ourselves what concerns me is the family time dining for those of us that do not wish to be surrounded by (screaming,crying, or those that cannot sit still) children. We like to feel and feel justifiably so that we are in a fine dining establishment at main dining and should not have to tolerate this type of behavior. To those parents that read this I know that many of you have your children well behaved, but even you have to admit that some parents don’t, and unfortunately RC is not responsible for those. I am a big guy who has bad legs and walks with a cane, I have been ran into by small children and nearly fell, with no parents in site. My concern if I were to fall I would probably survive but if I happened to fall on a small child at 400lbs the child might not.


    Thanks for the information. We just came back from the May 31st sailing of the Freedom of the Seas, and had a wonderful experience, but DID have some “hiccups” with my time dining.

    Our experience was, this is a very popular new feature (at least on freedom on our sailing), and the ship actually was not able to acommodate “my time dining” on “my time” if that makes sense.

    My time dining on My sailing was setup from between 6 to 9:30, however if you attempted to come down (even with “reservations” any time between 6:15 and 7:30 you had to wait approximately 20-30 minutes in a line.

    After experiencing that a couple of times, i attempted to make reservations for 7:45 on the last formal night, but when i arrived, there was again a 30 minute wait.

    I was told that Freedom will be increasing areas and staffing for later cruises for customers that wanted this option, however as you understand that did little for me.

    I DO want to state however that both the wait staff and the head waiter / hostess were doing everything they could… there was just not enough seating for all of the customers that selected my time dining.

    I think that my time dining is a wonderful option and hope that you continue it, with the idea that more people will like choices on their cruises going forward as the “internet generation” starts spending more money on these vacations.

    I do fit into the targetted demographic of 30-45 (im 42), and i expect that more people will want my time dining going forward than less.

  • Nancy barton

    We’ve cruised 17 times and have loved sailing with RCC. However, on our last cruise, the transatlantic out of Miami, did not meet expectations. How can you have a library with all books removed on day 2 of the cruise. Other lines have extensive libraries that enabled us to not haul heavy books in our luggage. Either add more books to your small library on the Jewel of the seas or limit guests to one book per person. Also, why did we have to endure Indian cuisine “each and every day on the cruise”. Doesn’t the chef know the cuisines of other countries are just as good, if not better. Even if catering to vegetarian guests, Asian choices would have been a nice alternative. All in all… we always considered RCC to have the best food… this time around it was appalling. Your chef and his choices of entrees, etc. leave much to be desired. To many of us it was like dining at Applebee’s every day. Very disappointing.

  • Bob d

    My wife and I recently got to try MTD in the Jewel of the Seas on a Baltic itinerary a few weeks ago. It was not really something to our liking. Perhaps, if we were new to cruising, it might be different. We simply are used to the routine in the traditional dining setup. We find it more comfortable to dine with people you already know. In MTD, we were placed in a huge table with total strangers and we all tried to act civil with needed chit chats while at the same time trying to enjoy the meal. It was not fun, definitely not convenient, and actually felt hurried. I agree with Sandy Schubert, please do not drop the traditional option.

  • P Webster

    We just got back from My Time Dining on Freedom of the Seas! We loved it! We arrived each evening without a reservation about 10minutes after late seating started. We were offed a table for 2, usually by an ocean window, and there was never any waiting. The service was extremely fast each evening, much faster than the traditional assigned dining.

  • H. Steele

    Good Morning Lisa…. my comment is directed to the food service.
    First let me compliment you on your awesome staff on the ships! We have met some wonderful Hotel Directors, and your staffs in the dining rooms and Windjammer are so professional, helpful and friendly… and we think the H.D., Maitre’D and Head Waiters on the MJ are the “best of the best”. My comment/suggestion is this: Now that you have added MTD please consider having one section for “adults”, or, say a minimum age of 12 or so. We prefer late seating and can’t believe that almost always there is a baby or small child within one or two tables that is very unhappy or very energetic and the parents answer is to let the child run around the tables.
    Our reason for selecting late seating is to have a “quieter” dining experience. The layout of most of your ships compliments this very nicely. Just as you have identified an area for MTD there could be a place on the opposite side and only for second seating. Surely this would provide a nice environment without offending anyone.

  • B. Phillips

    Hi Lisa,

    Thank you for the blog post…we are very excited to try MTD in December on the Navigator!

    I was wondering, are there plans to update the dining menus in the next year? It seems like during my first few years of cruising the menus changed each year, but I’ve seen very little change over the last two years. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great offerings, but if you cruise more than once a year it can get a little repetitive.

    Thanks again! :)

  • nicole

    Why do we have to prepay our gratuity for MTD? I’d love to try MTD but still want my option of when I pay gratuity.

    Thanks for listening.

  • Diana Cotton

    I am booked on the Oasis, I Loved the Movie Theatre on the Serenade. Will the Oasis have one as well. Thanks for offering that wonderful feature.

  • kathy M

    Good Afternoon Lisa…..

    I have cruised 6 times on RCCL and loved everyone of them. My only concern is as the years go by, the food keeps going down hill along with the dining service. Don’t get me wrong, the staff is friendly, but I really miss hearing “my pleasure” with a smile. Also, the food has been tasting like it was prepared on an assembly line. I’m sure serving 3,000 people it might be, but does it have to taste like it?
    I have to admit, my last cruise was on Carnival to see if they’re food was any better, and it was not.

    I will not let this come between me and cruising, but I thought I would let you know as I might have to start “brown bagging” it :)

  • Greg Mattson

    nicole, to answer your question, the reason that you have to pre-pay the grats on a cruise where you book MTD is because Royla’s needs to cover the grats for all servers that serve you over the course of the cruise. Think about the traditional dining arrangement. You have the same server, etc every night. At the end of the cruise, your gratuities are distributed among that staff that helped you each and every night.

    If you are using MTD and don’t have the same server every night, then Royal needs a way to ensure that their servers will be properly compensated at the end of the voyage.

    My one piece of advice to Royal would be to allow pax to pay for the pre-paid gratuities closer in to sailing. But other than that, I like the idea, and don’t mind spending that money today. That way I have less to worry about when I pay the final bill at the end of the cruise.

    I think MTD is a fantastic idea and look forward to enjoying on my next cruise. It will be great to have the flexibility of a 2-person table, or a larger table to chat with other guests.

    Keep up the great work with this blog, Adam and company.

  • Mary

    Hi! I have only been on 1 cruise on your line. We are going on the Oasis 10-09-2010 and can’t wait. We had the time of our lives on The Adventure of the Seas. My husband and I are people who don’t want to be seated with other people, we enjoy each others company(after 17 years)!. Please have more tables for 2 for guests like us, Thank you, Mary….

  • Carmella Hill

    I listened to the info yesterday 6/24 on new things with the Oasis of the Seas. They mentioned that they would post what restaurants you had to pay for and I can’t find it on the site. Can you help me? Thank you.

  • Lori

    As Diamond Plus members you know we’ve sailed a lot. We’ve tried the MTD on both the Monarch and the Grandeur. While we enjoyed MTD on the Monarch, we absolutely hated it on the Grandeur. It was so much more rushed, impersonal, crowded, and hectic. I think we’ll stick with main seating where it seems to be more relaxed and the waiter takes the time to know your name and interact with you. MTD waiters don’t have time to interact or know you’re name. They are too busy running back and forth to the kitchen to keep up with different tables……not for us anymore.

  • Eileen

    I agree with Mary. My husband and I much prefer to dine alone. As Diamond Plus members we are supposed to get preferred dining seating but rarely is our request for a table for 2 accomodated. This had caused us to forgo eating in the dining room at all on several cruises. There difinitely should be more tables for 2 and as Diamond Plus members, our preference should be noted and accomodated. We have 6 cruises booked between now and January of next year, so clearly this point does not stop us from enjoying ourselves, BUT the expereience could be even better if our wishes were honored.

  • gregg b

    Issue: I am a shareholder of many shares of RCCL along with many of our family members. Due to the changes Adam Goldstein and royal Caribbean has implemented we have reserved our last cruise with Royal Caribbean. We have cruised over 19 cruises with royal and will no longer stand for you making contracts and promises and changing mid stream. Besides all the cruising business you will be loosing, we will be canceling our visa credit cards. Until something is done about the promises you keep breaking when you expect to maintain loyal customers you will be no longer be receiving our business of any kind.

  • http://Susan Susan Kovall

    I receive e-mails from RCCL about savings certificates but cannot find them when I click on their icon…Why ? Offerings but we can’t cash in on them. This might seem small doings for the company but canceling the candies on the pillows !!?!!…it was a classy thing to do, everyone loved them and does it really save THAT much money ? also there are never enough bathrobes for those receiving them as a perk but if you want to BUY one there are plenty. You keep changing the rewards on your VISA card and the benefits of the Crown & Anchor Society……I have never sailed with any other cruise line only RCCL but now we are looking. I agree with Gregg B……promises, promise, promises….they are only good if not broken.

    • Adam

      Susan here is the best way to access your savings certificate:
      • Log in using your “My Cruises” user name and password.
      • On the Crown and Anchor page, under “Latest news”, click “Your Savings Certificates are here”
      Or you can scroll further down on the page and click “Special Offers”, and then click “Savings Certificates.”
      If you have the opportunity, please read my entry dated May 27, 2009 where I discuss some of the issues you raise. I expressed that we are very keen on maintaining the level of benefits we are offering. Also there are many enhancements that have occurred as well.

  • Lisa N.

    Hi there,

    I will be boarding a Royal Caribbean cruise in August with my family (which includes a 10 year-old). I just spoke to a customer service rep regarding the 2 night formal policy on the 7 night cruise. I was very dissapointed to hear that there is a possibility we will be turned away from the dining room if my husband and I are not in formal attire those nights.

    I am very disgruntled with regard to this policy. I am aware that we have the option to eat at the buffet if we would rather not dress up, but I would prefer to eat a nice sit-down meal, which we have already paid for and should be entitled enjoy.

    I would like to suggest that Royal Caribbean rethink this policy considering that the ship itself is geared toward families with children. It should be optional, at best.

    We just want to get away and enjoy ourselves… we do not want to have to lug along gowns and tuxedos on a caribbean cruise when we should be packing as lightly as possible.

    Is anyone in agreement with me?

  • pierre laframboise

    Can Royal Caribbean extend it’s waiver program to Canadians? It’s unfair for my daughter’s to give up their right to drink responsibly because our cruise is departing from a U.S. port. We are French Canadian & my girls were raised as I was; wine, beer, & spirits are food. If you over eat you get sick, you drink too much you get sick. We’re booked for a Cruise this winter on Royal Caribbean. My girls will be 18 & 19. We are comfortable with signing a waiver for them to be able to buy a drink on the ship just as they would be allowed to at home in Canada. It seems discriminatory to enforce a drinking age of 21 on other citizens simply because a ship happens to leave port from the U.S. In international waters the waiver program should apply on all your ships. It is simply a respect for other people’s differences in cultures and lifestyles. Your current drinking age rules on ship do not make me or my daughters feel completely welcome aboard Royal Caribbean ships sailing from U.S. ports. We have respect for other nations laws and customs when in their country, but in the Nation of Why Not? I asked exactly that, Why Not?

  • Pierre Laframboise

    Before dinner drink?, Wine with dinner? Would you like an degestif? I grew up with these options as a teenager as many around the world do. In most countries it is perfectly legal for parent to decide at what age their children can learn to appreciate this part of the dining experince. This is why I ask Why Not? on Royal Caribbean Ships. Can Royal Caribbean extend it’s waiver program to Canadians? It’s unfair for my daughter’s to give up their right to drink responsibly because our cruise is departing from a U.S. port. We are French Canadian & my girls were raised as I was; wine, beer, & spirits are food. If you over eat you get sick, you drink too much you get sick. We’re booked for a Cruise this winter on Royal Caribbean. My girls will be 18 & 19. We are comfortable with signing a waiver for them to be able to buy a drink on the ship just as they would be allowed to at home in Canada. It seems discriminatory to enforce a drinking age of 21 on other citizens simply because a ship happens to leave port from the U.S. In international waters the waiver program should apply on all your ships. It is simply a respect for other people’s differences in cultures and lifestyles. Your current drinking age rules on ship do not make me or my daughters feel completely welcome aboard Royal Caribbean ships sailing from U.S. ports. We have respect for other nations laws and customs when in their country, but in the Nation of Why Not? I asked exactly that, Why Not?

  • Bob D

    Response to Lisa N.
    Sorry but I am not in agreement with you. I believe traditional cruise rules have been set for the enjoyment of the majority of cruisers and not simply for the preferences of a few. If everyone agreed with you Lisa, there would be very few repeat cruisers since those rules have been around for a while, at least since we started cruising 11 years ago. I’m sure the major cruise lines would have changed course by now if that were in fact the mandate of the customers. Cruisers do enjoy dressing up a couple of nights, something out of the ordinary that you don’t do when you go to, let’s say, Golden Corral. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your cruise regardless, and go to the Windjammer if you prefer not to bring formals. The option is always yours.

  • Clarence merritt

    Re the added benefit of granting shipboard credits to customers who hold 100 shares or more of RCL, my most recent request for this credit(for our 12-night Mediterranean cruise out of Barcelona this coming August)was initially challenged because the required printed documentation of my RCL share ownership bore my brokerage account # and my first name but not my full name. When I replied that RC had rightly accepted this very same document several times before without challenge, and asked why RC would unwisely annoy a loyal Diamond member/stockholder in this manner, my request was granted without further comment. Question: since RC already knows by its own records that I am (1)a Diamond member,(2) a shareholder, and (3) the holder of a fully paid ($14,000)reservation, why doesn’t your Shareholder Benefit Team make its own confirmation via an internal records check, including a check for previously granted benefit requests, instead of requiring me and other loyal customer/shareholders to jump through this nonsensical hoop? As relatively young retirees, we have a lot of cruising ahead of us, and you should know that this shareholder benefit annoyance is the latest in a series of grievances which are eroding our loyalty to RC to the extent that we are actually considering future bookings with your competitors to see if they can do better.

  • Lisa Thomas

    We have done a few cruises already with other cruise lines but are looking forward to our first RCL cruise on Freedom in September. On reading through the comments re gratuities I can’t help but wonder why not only RCL but other cruise lines don’t simply include this in the cost of the cruise fare and leave it at that! Coming from Australia we tend to ‘tip’ when we feel service is exceptional, which is often the case when dining out, etc., but can’t quite understand the whole compulsory gratuity setup. I am sure I am not alone in making this comment as, outside of the US, gratuities are generally a personal reward and not something that is automatically expected. Perhaps wages need to be increased appropriately to cover this and the costs simply included in the fare. I, personally, would love to have a total figure that I need to pay, pay it up front, and leave it at that.
    I would be interested to hear other’s comments.

  • Deirdre

    Freedom to choose. I do not like the idea of a dress code on a cruise. I feal we should never be required to wear certain clothing in order to eat in the dining room. That is why I go on specialty cruises with a theme. You should look into what are your hobbies and go on a cruise with people who have the same interests. If you have a large group the cruise ship make allowances for your group. I have had many wonderful cruises and I will continue to do so.


    My husband and I are cruising on Oasis of the Seas in 2010 and we just switched to the MTD plan. However, I was told I could NOT make my preferred dining time known to the reservationist at that time and had to wait until I boarded the ship to select my preferred dining time, which I would have to do each day? I wish that I could have made my selection of a preferred dining time when I was on the phone making the switch to MTD.

    My reasoning to switch to MTD comes from experience of previous cruises. A couple of times when stopping in ports, we would have to race back to the ship to shower and dress for our 6pm traditional dining reservation. This was inconvenient. And quite honestly, I may not be hungry the exact time each night. We had to rush to dinner and rush through dinner to make show times and other events we had booked. This made the regimented 6pm dining experience one we soon started to have anxiety over. I hope the MTD doesn’t turn into standing in lines each night either. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I will remain optimistic.

    I like the idea of formal night. I have no qualms about throwing a dress or two in the suitcase.

    I wish RCL would have a deck dedicated to ‘dining with children’ so we could avoid that deck altogether.


    Somewhere I read in one of these blogs that the My Time Dining will be a mixed bag of people at the same table with some guests just starting dinner, some guests finishing up with dessert and the ups and downs of guests from the table. Is that true? That sounds very disruptful and not My Kind of Dining.

    • Adam

      Thank you for your comment. My Time Dining provides guests with the option to eat at any time between 6:30 and 8:30 pm. Guests are able to make reservations in advance or simply walk in. So to answer your question, there may well be guests who are either finishing or beginning their meal when you arrive. All of our guests still have the option to dine during our traditional main or late dining times, if they so wish.

  • Joe C

    Response to BOBBY D. Bobby your comment carries no weight as long as RCCL does not enforce their dress code 100% on all of their ships dining rooms at all times. I have seen people in all states of less than dressed for the occasion and the Maitre’ D & Head Waiters do zero about it.
    RCCL seems so willing to be accomodating to some groups why not the group that wants to dress comfortably every night in the MDR?

  • Bob D

    Hello Joe C. I have no arguments with your contention that RCCL does not always enforce what they suggest for dining attire. I’m sure the other cruise lines do not enforce it either except for those that do cater to the “better suited” bunch. I’m sure none of the mid-tier cruise lines want to alienate potential “repeat” cruisers. I highlight “repeat” because personally, I think those who take issue with having to dress up on cruises are really the least likely ones to cruise again, dress code or not. Most repeat cruisers we have met in over a decade of cruising, to include us, do not get overly preoccupied with this matter. We “go with the flow” and enjoy. We understand that ocean cruises were originally designed to be a refined experience, not woodstock. People got to like the cruise venue because it was an affordable elegance. A relaxation and pampering experience that is not of the ordinary. My point in a previous comment – why spend good money to go on a cruise just to have the same dining experience as the local bar & grill. If there is really a big push by a significant number of cruisers to go to informal dining altogether, although I’m not convinced that to be the case, maybe the MDR should be sectionalized between those that want the more traditional cruise venues and the other for “freestyle” cruisers, and, while at it, one for traditional dining and the other for MTD. I just don’t think it would be fair for someone to put on formal attire and sit beside one who is, to borrow your word, “comfortably” casual. It would ruin the dining experience for both. All RCCL ships have upper and lower level dining rooms. Why not make it happen. When you think about it, formal nights are potential “cash cows” for the ship’s photo department and cruise lines will have some reluctance to eliminate formal nights completely. Probably the only reason we have two formal nights in a 7-day cruise in the Caribbean or Mexico. So, does RCCL need to institutionalize freestyle everything – add screaming kids in the Solarium, etc.? I sure hope not. There are already cruise lines that offer “chaotic” cruising. NCL proudly advertise it and I am told Carnival practices it. We patronize neither. If the Royal Caribbean brand wants to become another Carnival somewhere down the line, so be it. Time for us to move on. We are already booked on the Oasis of the Seas next. We want to have that experience. The recent C&A benefit “modifications” has become a nagging issue with us that negatively affected our view of the Royal Caribbean brand. Going beyond Diamond is no longer appealing. Maybe it’s time to patronize those ships that cater to the “better suited” bunch. Who knows, they might even be just as affordable. Cheers.