What’s the difference between main seating and second seating on Disney Cruise Line?

Guests sailing with Disney Cruise Line will enjoy dinner during one of two assigned times – main seating or second seating. If you haven’t sailed with Disney Cruise Line in the past, this terminology can be a bit confusing. That’s why we’re here to help!

We’ll talk about the difference between the two dining times as well as the pros and cons associated with eating earlier or later aboard Disney Cruise Line.

*Note that specific seating times may vary depending on your itinerary.*

Main Seating

Main seating usually begins between 5:45pm and 6:15pm each night and represents the earliest opportunity to eat at one of the ship’s rotational restaurants. This is usually the more preferred option for guests with children.

Guests eating at the main seating can attend the second showing of the nighttime entertainment at the Walt Disney Theater.

Pros:

  • This is the ideal option if you’re trying to stick to a dining schedule that resembles the one you have back home.
  • The main seating format allows guests to follow the stereotypical “dinner and a show” format they may be used to enjoying.

Cons:

  • Main seating can be a bit noisier than the second seating due to the number of families with children.
  • You may need to end your afternoon fun a bit early to start getting everyone ready for dinner.

Second Seating

The second dinner seating usually begins between 8:00pm and 8:30pm each night. Guests can attend the earlier showing of the night’s entertainment in the Walt Disney Theater before heading to dinner.

Pros:

  • This seating is usually a bit quieter due to most families opting for the earlier time. You’ll still see plenty of children, but some will be literally napping at the table.
  • You don’t have to wrap up your afternoon fun quite as early. There isn’t as much of a rush to make it to dinner.
  • You may have better luck getting a private table (if you requested one) at the later seating.

Cons:

  • You will be eating pretty late at night, which can be a bit of a shock if you’re used to eating earlier. But, it’s worth remembering you are on a cruise ship and snacks aren’t in short supply.
  • You may not have as big of an appetite if you’ve snacked or had a late lunch to prepare for a late dinner.

Overall Thoughts

We personally enjoy the main seating even though we are two adults without children and it does carry with it some negatives. We have thoroughly enjoyed the routine of going to dinner, eating ourselves silly, catching a show at the Walt Disney Theater and then grabbing a snack before seeing some of the entertainment in the adult areas of the ship. The night seems to flow perfectly.

The idea that your afternoon will feel shortened in order to get ready for dinner might be a bit exaggerated. We have never cut any activities short because we had the first seating. The all aboard times at many ports grant plenty of time to wrap up your time ashore and still get ready for the main dining rotation. Any “missed” time is negligible.

It’s worth noting that special requests, such as asking for a private table, have been accommodated for us during the main seating. You just may have better odds of securing those types of requests at the second seating.

Which seating do you prefer on Disney Cruise Line? Let us know in the comments.

Related: What is rotational dining on Disney Cruise Line?


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