Queen Mary 2 Britannia Main Dining Room Review and Advice

Transatlantic dining aboard cruise ships is a little weird. It’s due to the gradual five-hour time changes between New York and England. With two Main Dining Room seatings for dinner on Queen Mary 2, at some point you’ll be eating dinner really late or really early, according to your body clock.

On a westbound transatlantic crossing, dining gets sort of mixed up. Here’s why.

Dining Aboard Queen Mary 2

There’s sort of a rule of thumb when it comes to fixed dining times. Families and older folks tend to book the early seating, usually around 6pm. Europeans and younger (under 75) seem to opt for second, or late seating that begins around 8:30pm. Figuring out your dining time for Queen Mary 2 Britannia Dining Room is easy with a little insider info.

With a five-hour time change as you cruise from east to west, of the seven nights crossing, five nights will require that the clocks be set back an hour. This is usually done overnight, around 2:00am.

Nothing noticeable for the first day. But by the third time change, suddenly your 8:30pm dinner according to your body clock, is at 5:30pm. And so on until you reach New York and your internal clock is reset.

The same can happen to your sleep patterns too. Suddenly you’re waking up at 4:00am, until you remember that you’ve set your clocks back yet again.

That’s why I choose late seating on a westbound Queen Mary 2 transatlantic. From body clock adjustment to a less crowded dining room and sometimes, a livelier and younger group of diners.

Keep in mind that as more and more ships eliminate fixed seating in lieu of more alternative dining options and dinner-when-you-want-to-eat choices, the issue of choosing a fixed time will become less frequent. But tradition persists on this classic oceanliner.

Day 1: Queen Mary 2 Britannia Dining Room

By the end of my two months traipsing through Europe, once I’m onboard, I’m ready to relax, reflect and forget formalities. Despite this, I always request to be seated with solo travelers at the largest table. Almost always, I meet interesting people from various walks of life and from a wide age demographic.

But there is one horror that I dread; being seated at a six-seated table alongside people with whom I have absolutely nothing in common. That’s what happened on one particular crossing. Even though I was sure that the three people at my table were quite lovely, from the first “hello” I couldn’t understand them.

Months ago I had requested a table for eight to ten people, all solo passengers. As I was led to this particular table, the first thing I noticed was that it was for only six people. Three were seated. There was one couple from England and a woman who was either Dutch or German. Couldn’t quite decipher. All had very heavy accents and it was clear that they were not communicating with each other. I’m sure each was a very nice person but I wasn’t about to work at conversation through dinner for an entire week.

Read more:  How to Get to Queen Mary 2 from Amsterdam by Train

Good Vibrations

Plus, there was a noticeable vibration on the upper balcony where we were seated. Even the water in the water glasses jiggled. With a very polite, “Excuse me”, I was able to use that as my reason to bail and bolt to the Maitre ‘d stand.

I rarely ask to change an assigned dining table. But this time I did. I asked for a solo table. I should have known full-well that “solo table” would be interpreted as a table a solo passenger; a table meant for two people. As I was led to my new table, it was indeed solo…at an empty round table for six people. Back to the Maitre ‘d.

This time, I was led to a table for two (so far so good) except that it was literally two inches apart from another table for two. This would be fine if I was a “two” but as a solo, it’s extremely awkward for me to sit so close to another couple.

Back to the Maitre ‘d. Would three be a charm?

This third time, I clarified that I wanted to sit alone and was led to an empty four-top. All for myself. I was ecstatic. No one’s conversation to listen to or an awkward proximity to others. And to make this relocation even better, Satya the waiter and I remembered each other from past crossings. Three was indeed a charm.

After the dust settled, I felt empowered. Three uncomfortable Queen Mary 2 Britannia dining room situations were happily resolved and all it took was for me to speak up for myself. My mom would have been proud.

Vegetarian dining at Queen Mary 2 Britannia Dining Room

Once again I decided to try and keep a vegetarian regiment for the next six days. It worked great tonight. I ordered a kind of grilled stack of veggies. In the photo here it looks more like a bagel sandwich but it was a grilled onion on top of various vegetables. All nicely grilled, the stack included a slice of eggplant, zucchini, tomato, yellow squash, red and green peppers. Perfection.

Wrapping Up Day 1

Not much for me after dinner. I wandered, tired and aimless, through various shops and lounges. We were going to set the clocks back that night, so I knew I’d have the option to get an extra hour of sleep. Close to my 10,000 step goal, I did a couple of hall laps, exceeded my step goal and called it a night.

At 3am, we passed just south of Bishop Rock, the nautical mark for leaving the English Channel and the official entrance to the North Atlantic.

Our transatlantic crossing aboard Queen Mary 2 had officially begun. And I had conquered seating in the Main Dining Room without embarrassment. 

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  1. Hi Linda, thank you for reading my article and asking your question. I’m not quite sure what you mean by freedom dining, but I’ll guess that you mean something like dining anytime you’d want. The answer to that is no…not in the main dining room. There are fixed seating times in Britannia. You can show up at the King’s Court buffet at whenever time you’d like depending on the meal. If you’re in one of the Grills Suites, then you can choose your own dining time. Otherwise, it’s either choose main or late seating in the main dining room or the buffet or the specialty restaurant.
    Thank you again. I hope this info is helpful.

  2. Hi David,
    Thank you for reading my article. You raised a very good point. And I see what you mean about 11:30pm vs. 5:30pm by day 3. The way I see it, is that yes, I agree, technically it would be 11:30 back in the U.K. on day 3, for example. For me personally, it feels like I’m dining at 5:30pm probably knowing that my brain is already on New York time. Stomach hunger-wise, as you mentioned, it could be like being fed at 11:30pm rather than 8:30pm. I guess it’s all in the perception. You raised a very good point and might help others, too. Thanks again for your thoughts.

  3. Interesting point regarding the perceived dining time due to the clocks going back an hour a day. However, if the clocks go back an hour, then the time-adjusted 830pm meal would be an hour later every day than in the UK, not earlier, and will therefore feel later. In other words, by day 3, 830pm dining on ship time would have been 1130pm at home, not 530pm as you suggest. Not disagreeing with your own perception of hunger of course, just pointing out the relative times.

  4. I remember having late seating on both westbound and eastbound and yes, I agree. Actually, on many of my crossings in either direction, towards the end I seem to gravitate to King’s Court on my own schedule. That’s the fun part of your body adjusting slowly to the time change…figuring out when to eat!

    It’s funny…on mainstream cruises from the U.S. (Carnival, Royal, NCL etc) early seating dinners = families with little kids and as you call them “pensioners.” The late seatings are couples/solos of a wide age range who stay up late to party, visit the casino, see the late theatre shows etc.

    Thanks for taking the time to read the article and contribute. Much appreciated!

  5. I’d opt for the opposite, and choose early sitting going westbound, since while you start off eating dinner at 6pm, as the clock changes kick in, it ‘feels’ later and later. Choosing the late sitting would mean that by the end of the crossing your body feels like it is waiting until into the night for dinner. It’s very noticeable on the crossings that the body lags the clock in adjusting to the new times – for example, turn up in Kings Court for breakfast when it opens, and at the start of the westbound you’ll be in good company; by the last day you’ll be one of just a few. The opposite for an eastbound, when I would choose a late sitting.

    Your description of “younger” as being “under 75” is of course also telling – if you want to mingle with people below (or only just into) pensionable age, the late sitting is the one to choose.

  6. Hi J.A,
    Thanks for asking, but unfortunately, I have no idea where to find a diagram of the table numbers. Since you can’t confirm a table number assignment when you make your reservation, you could ask your travel agent to put in a request for second level, table for six, near tapestry. Other than that, and I’m sure you already know…check with the maitre d’ as soon as the station opens on embarkation day.
    Happy cruising!

  7. Sherry,

    I have travelled on the Queen Mary 2 previously and liked the location of one of our tables, on the second level. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the table number. It was a table for six and situated where I could see the beautiful tapestry. Might you have an idea where I can find a seat map with table numbers? Thank you.

  8. Hi Stuart,
    On formal nights in the main dining room, a coat and tie are pretty much required for men. I’ve never seen a man not properly dressed with a coat and tie on formal nights in the dining room. In fact, more men wear tuxedos than I’ve seen anywhere else.

    Alternatively, you can have dinner at the buffet without a coat and tie. Also, it is highly requested that jeans (men and women) are not worn after 6pm on formal nights, too.

    On non-formal nights (3 out of 7 are formal) you could wear your blazer and a collared shirt but that’s too casual for formal night with Cunard. I know all the other lines are becoming more and more casual but Cunard, even as a premium-level cruise line, maintains a throw-back dress code. But it’s the same on the ultra-luxe lines as well like Crystal, Regent and Silversea on their formal nights.


  9. Can a male passenger on the Queen Mary get away without wearing suit or blazer with tie on the Queen Mary 2, opting for a blazer and open collard shirt on formal nights and a nice sport shirt without jacket on other nights? The dress code is the one thing preventing me from booking Cunard as it’s been relaxed on most all other large vessel lines, including HAL and Celebrity.

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