Regarding My time dining. Not able to get a reservation before 8:30pm which may not work for my two kids! Thoughts? If you show up at dining room is the wait terrible?
We will be a party of 8.
Our Allure cruise last year we had set the early dining time.
So I have no personal experience with my time dining as we enjoying eating at late seating after we drop our kids off at the kids club, but this is what I would recommend.
First thing I would do is head over to the Main Dining room on embarkation day, (I would say once you've stopped to get some lunch first because I know how grumpy my kids get when they are hungry) and see if you can make any reservations for times that may not have shown up when you tried to book your reservations online. If you can't get any for times that work for you and have to instead wait in line, I would aim for eating early, (around when the dining room opens) or late. From others that I have talked to, the time period between 6:30 and 8 is the busiest time, so you should expect the longest waits during that period.
I would imagine that you will have at least some success making reservations when you get on board, but in the mean time, just keep checking your cruise planner and see if any other dining times happen to open up!