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We’re on Azura in September, and for the first time we’ll be on Freedom Dining. We intend to eat at a number of locations – probably in the MDR on many/most evenings, probably the Glasshouse, possibly the buffet if all we want is a light snack (our plans include the possibility of a good lunch ashore at Villefranche and maybe Ajaccio), and of course the speciality restaurants, Sindhu and The Epicurean.

These days it’s possible to make bookings (and pay for them) before we embark, so we’re into the “Guess the formal night” game. We think that for the first formal night at least we’ll definitely eat in the MDR – we’ve generally found the special Marco menu for that first formal night to be enjoyable. We’re also pretty sure on which day the first formal will be held – it’s almost always the first full day onboard which is generally a sea day. We’re also pretty sure about the last formal night – the last-but-one full day on board, which on our cruise will be a sea day. But I’m not sure on which days the middle two formal nights will fall. I know they’re generally on sea days, but the itinerary for this cruise is a bit odd – it starts sea day, Vigo, Lisbon, Gibraltar. Given that there won’t have been any sea days since the very first one it’s possible that they may decide to use the day of the Gibraltar call for the second formal night.

All of which is causing us some issues over the days we should book our meals in the speciality restaurants. We’ve decided that we’ll book two in advance, for the first half of the cruise, and possibly book one or two more for the later part of the cruise. We’ll also know the run of themed evenings in the buffet dining restaurant by then. That still leaves us with making reservations on evenings one of which may well turn out to be a formal night, and in all our cruises we’ve never gone to a speciality restaurant on a formal night.

Readers, what’s your experience and/or advice? Have you eaten in a speciality restaurant (on any P&O ship) on a formal night? And how did it feel? What would be your recommendations?

2 Responses to “Where to eat on Formal nights?”

  1. Mike says:

    To be we rarely eat in the main dining room these days. Having completed in excess of 100 cruises with P&O we have found the food and presentation somewhat lacking – particularly the plated variety. Also and this is really sad, where we used to love to go to ‘our’ table and be fussed over by the waiters, this hardly happens – I guess as they do not have to work hard for their tips any longer. That said we love the P&O experience and having been privileged to cruise on all of the companies vessels we find that we generally dine in the alternate restaurants especially the ‘now’ Epicurean on Ventura Azura and Britannia where the service is excellent and the food terrific. On a 14 night cruise we will perhaps dine in the MDR on the first formal as we like the Marco menu and the last formal as this is good as well. Other nights Sindu is great as is the Glass House and perhaps once in the Beach House. So – for a special formal occasion I would say Epicurean without a doubt.

    • Tom Burke says:

      Thanks for the comment, Mike.

      As regards the waiters – we think it’s the amount of work they have to do. I believe that each pair of waiters now has more tables to cover. We’ve certainly found on our recent cruises that the waiters in the MDR are very busy. If you start a conversation they’ll respond, but you can also tell that they need to get on. I haven’t done anything like as many cruises as you, but I also have fond memories of chats with the waiters in recent years, especially when we were on a ‘good table’.

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