This question was answered on our Q & A Wednesday show on August 2, 2017.
On most ships today, you will have many dining choices including the main dining room, specialty restaurants, a buffet restaurant and others. When it comes to the main dining room for dinners, you can typically choose between the traditional seating and an open seating option. Traditional seating offers guests a pre-set dining time and a specific table every evening of their cruise. There are usually at least two times to choose from. One will be an early seating and the other a late seating. Traditional dining will appeal to those that like to eat dinner at the same time every evening, while also guaranteeing the same table and wait staff. You may be assigned a table seated with other guests, but a request can be made onboard if you prefer your own table. With open seating, you will be able to dine within certain hours, which on most ships this is 5:30pm to 9:30pm. This offers more flexibility with your time to participate in activities both onboard and ashore without needing to worry about being late for dinner. Depending on the cruise line, you may also be able to make a reservation for a preferred dining time every evening. Unlike traditional dining, with open seating, you are not guaranteed to have the same table and wait staff, but the dining room will do their best to accommodate your requests.