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  #1  
Old January 13th, 2009, 11:24 AM
Dan Askin Dan Askin is offline
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Default Main Restaurant Maitre D's -- Good, Bad or Ugly

They stand at the dining room entrance, scanning the floor like hawks. The job of the maitre d' entails accommodating special seating requests, managing the entire serving staff, making sure the main restaurant is operating as smoothly as possible -- and generally making passengers feel welcome as they arrive at the main dining room for dinner.

The job is extremely complicated, no doubt, but many of us have run into one or two not-so-helpful maitre d's.

So we'd like your take.

*Have you always had excellent service when asking for dining room changes (for special occasions or otherwise)?

*Have you had an issue with an unruly maitre d', and if so how did you deal with it?

*Has the thought of the maitre d' not really even crossed your mind?

What say you?
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  #2  
Old January 13th, 2009, 11:48 AM
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*Has the thought of the maitre d' not really even crossed your mind?

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  #3  
Old January 13th, 2009, 11:52 AM
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We saw the maitre d' just once, when we were in a speciality restaurant, and I think he was coming there to eat, not to observe or function in any other way. We didn't see him (or anyone serving in that capacity) in the main restaurants at all. So I guess either he did his job so well that his physical presence was not needed....or we were just not observant!
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Old January 13th, 2009, 12:19 PM
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We always introduce ourselves to the maitre d' on the first night. If we'd like something special, we ask. All the maitre d's we've had were very pleasant although we're biased to Princess. The favorite maitre d' on the Princess line is Generoso. He remembers frequent cruisers names, stops by tables to inquire if everything is satifactory, and is just an all around nice guy.
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  #5  
Old January 13th, 2009, 12:51 PM
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The maitre d i had was fantastic, they were always trying to please us. 8/10 nights the maitre d gave us a table with our favorite waiter and a table for 2. In addition to that my bf worked with the maitre d to surprise me with a big plate of shrimp cocktail waiting for me in my cabin. all together i had three surprises all of which where thanks to the maitre d. =]
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Old January 13th, 2009, 12:57 PM
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On HAL -- they are now called Dining Room Managers.

We rarely see the dining room manager.

But many of the area captains are at the doors when the dining room opens for dinner -- and many speak -- some don't.
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Old January 13th, 2009, 01:10 PM
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OK, we have only been on two cruises (so far...# 3 coming up!) but I must say that on the Victory we never saw the maitre 'd...not even once. On the Jewel of the Seas, we not only saw him, he made a point of coming to our table every evening and saying hello and inquiring about our meals and our vacation! He even made arrangements to play table tennis with my DH as he had seen him play in a tournament earlier in the day. He was fantastic and made our dining experiences that much better. Big tip for him!
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  #8  
Old January 13th, 2009, 01:27 PM
Philip217 Philip217 is offline
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I was a Maitre d'hotel for many years on large and small ships.
I was required to be multi-lingual, to converse with passengers from around the world.
I needed extensive cooking experience and skills to make special food preparations in the dining room.
My wine knowledge had to be flawless, to allow me to recomend, serve, taste, and discuss exotic wines.
I had to be part psychologist and mind-reader, enabling me to skillfully match up dining table companions.
I had to be an accomplished host, setting up special dinner parties for Senior Officers and VIPs.
I had to study cigars, spirits, caviars, champagnes, and furs (handling and storage during dinner).

Today, more than anything else, the Maitre d'hotel manages a team of servers who know very little about the food they are serving. All the good waiters quit many years ago, as the tipping levels dropped with all the new mass market cruisers. The cruisers couldn't afford to tip any more. The good waiters couldn't afford to stay any longer.

At the door to the dining room, the Maitre d'hotel is now the bouncer, trying to chase away drunks and improperly dressed passengers.

The cigars, champagne, caviar, and furs are all gone. So are the exotic wines, the elegant dinner parties, table-side cooking, special menus, and multi-lingual passengers.

Most cruise passengers today cannot even properly spell or pronounce "maitre d'hotel", nor do they have any idea what his job is supposed to be.

Note: The missing accents circonflex are intentional.
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Old January 13th, 2009, 01:38 PM
SmerkyGrl SmerkyGrl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip217 View Post
I was a Maitre d'hotel for many years on large and small ships.
I was required to be multi-lingual, to converse with passengers from around the world.
I needed extensive cooking experience and skills to make special food preparations in the dining room.
My wine knowledge had to be flawless, to allow me to recomend, serve, taste, and discuss exotic wines.
I had to be part psychologist and mind-reader, enabling me to skillfully match up dining table companions.
I had to be an accomplished host, setting up special dinner parties for Senior Officers and VIPs.
I had to study cigars, spirits, caviars, champagnes, and furs (handling and storage during dinner).

Today, more than anything else, the Maitre d'hotel manages a team of servers who know very little about the food they are serving. All the good waiters quit many years ago, as the tipping levels dropped with all the new mass market cruisers. The cruisers couldn't afford to tip any more. The good waiters couldn't afford to stay any longer.

At the door to the dining room, the Maitre d'hotel is now the bouncer, trying to chase away drunks and improperly dressed passengers.

The cigars, champagne, caviar, and furs are all gone. So are the exotic wines, the elegant dinner parties, table-side cooking, special menus, and multi-lingual passengers.

Most cruise passengers today cannot even properly spell or pronounce "maitre d'hotel", nor do they have any idea what his job is supposed to be.

Note: The missing accents circonflex are intentional.
Such is life and business are changing with the times. Cruising is no longer a luxury vacation. Most people now just cruise to have fun Loosen up a bit
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  #10  
Old January 13th, 2009, 01:58 PM
karen sharpe karen sharpe is offline
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Doesn't really cross my mind other then a cordial greeting as we enter and the usual table schmoozing. My attention is more focused on our own table steward , the food sitting in front of me and the table conversation.
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  #11  
Old January 13th, 2009, 02:08 PM
Dan Askin Dan Askin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip217 View Post
I was a Maitre d'hotel for many years on large and small ships.
I was required to be multi-lingual, to converse with passengers from around the world.
I needed extensive cooking experience and skills to make special food preparations in the dining room.
My wine knowledge had to be flawless, to allow me to recomend, serve, taste, and discuss exotic wines.
I had to be part psychologist and mind-reader, enabling me to skillfully match up dining table companions.
I had to be an accomplished host, setting up special dinner parties for Senior Officers and VIPs.
I had to study cigars, spirits, caviars, champagnes, and furs (handling and storage during dinner).

Today, more than anything else, the Maitre d'hotel manages a team of servers who know very little about the food they are serving. All the good waiters quit many years ago, as the tipping levels dropped with all the new mass market cruisers. The cruisers couldn't afford to tip any more. The good waiters couldn't afford to stay any longer.

At the door to the dining room, the Maitre d'hotel is now the bouncer, trying to chase away drunks and improperly dressed passengers.

The cigars, champagne, caviar, and furs are all gone. So are the exotic wines, the elegant dinner parties, table-side cooking, special menus, and multi-lingual passengers.

Most cruise passengers today cannot even properly spell or pronounce "maitre d'hotel", nor do they have any idea what his job is supposed to be.

Note: The missing accents circonflex are intentional.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Krazy Kruizers View Post
On HAL -- they are now called Dining Room Managers.

We rarely see the dining room manager.

But many of the area captains are at the doors when the dining room opens for dinner -- and many speak -- some don't.
Interesting note about the name change. I think that "manager," at least to my ears, better reflects my perception of a maitre d's job on a mainstream line, say a Carnival or Royal Caribbean. Keep a 1,000 seat dining room running smoothly has to require an impressive logistical aptitude. Of course there's always a need to come up with creative solutions to problems, but a manning the cruise ship restaurants of today seems to necessitate less of the maitre d' as artiste that Phillip is suggesting. What do you think Phillip?
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  #12  
Old January 13th, 2009, 03:55 PM
Philip217 Philip217 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Askin View Post
Interesting note about the name change. I think that "manager," at least to my ears, better reflects my perception of a maitre d's job on a mainstream line, say a Carnival or Royal Caribbean. Keep a 1,000 seat dining room running smoothly has to require an impressive logistical aptitude. Of course there's always a need to come up with creative solutions to problems, but a manning the cruise ship restaurants of today seems to necessitate less of the maitre d' as artiste that Phillip is suggesting. What do you think Phillip?
Dan,
I agree completely with you. The problem is the title.
At best, a mass market main dining room operates very much like a very large, medium quality wedding reception dinner. This is a mass feeding exercise that requires very strong logistical talents.
The fellow who runs the show must have very good office and computer skills, strong scheduling talent and experience, and be very quick on his feet.
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  #13  
Old January 13th, 2009, 04:54 PM
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I don't get the point w/ respect to traditional dining. Once the logistics are complete before boarding & maybe the few passangers who need changes once underway, what does this person do? I can see it in freestyle where it changes every day but I just thought it was one more person I had to tip.
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  #14  
Old January 13th, 2009, 05:23 PM
marshacruises marshacruises is offline
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Smile Helpful Maitre D's

We have had a number of great maitre d's.

When our 20 year old daughter was in her vegetarian stage, the maitre d' on the Celebrity Century came over every night and discussed what she would have the next night. Sometimes, the offering sounded so good that others at our table asked if they could have it too. He was very gracious and attentive.

On one cruise (another Celebrity), we were at a table for 8. One of the couples was not very pleasant but the rest of us had a good time discussing everything from where we lived, where we visited, wine, food, and good times. On the third night the unpleasant man became very loud, and was banging his hands on the table and demanding that we stop talking about the food and wine. He seemed ready to explode. I immediately went to the maitre d' and explained that we needed to be moved to another table. I explained that I was scared of one of the diners at our table and could not sit with him any more. The maitre d' had one of the head waiters pick up my food and my husband's food and took us to a table where there were only four people. The next night, and the rest of the cruise, our original table only had the unpleasant couple sitting at it, and they weren't there on the last night. I was impressed by the speed that the maitre d' got us to another table, without any questions or hesitation.

On several occasions, we have had to ask the maitre d' to change our dining arrangement for one night, especially when we are in port during the evening and an excursion we purchased was going to be late getting back, or leaving early. We have always had very helpful maitre d's.

There have been other occasions where I was not aware of the maitre d', except to see him going from table to table asking everyone if they were enjoying the food, service, cruise, etc. Some people comment that they do that so they get a tip. I like to think they do it so they can see how the food and service are all over the dining room without just standing and staring.
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Old January 13th, 2009, 05:31 PM
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I spent 16 days on the Grand Princess (Oct. 07) and ate in the dining room 15 of those nights. I never once saw the maitre'd or if he was there his presence wasn't obvious. I spent 15 nights on the Diamond Princess(Jan 08) and it was very obvious that Salvatore was the maitre'd and knew what was going on in his dining room.
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Old January 13th, 2009, 05:45 PM
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I have serious shellfish allergies and have generally had a fair bit of attention from the maitre d'.

On X Summit last spring, the maitre d' was just fantastic. Every evening he brought me the next evening's menu (even the lunch menu if I asked), and he described what I could and could not eat. One night I wanted an item that had shrimp in with the rice, so he made a special request for plain rice for me. I felt quite secure that I wasn't going to keel over from analphylaxis on that cruise!! If we ran into him in the buffet he would walk me through the stations.

I think those of us with food "issues" tend to get more attention ... but then we may need it!
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Old January 13th, 2009, 08:43 PM
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On RCCL, they call the Maitre D, the Head Waiter. On our Vision Of The Seas cruise last November, our Head Waiter, Peter, was fantastic. He was always at our table at least 2-3 times a night, making sure everything was to our liking and giving us his dinner suggestions for the next night. He also carried a note pad with him to take down any comments of concerns we had...and he acted on them

1)RCCL does not serve french dressing. My husband said something about this on the 1st night...Peter asked us for the basic ingredients for the dressing and voila...the next night my husband had his own special dressing prepared by the chef. It was delicious!

2)After hours, there was no hot chocolate available at the outdoor station near the Windjammer. We like to have it before bed, so we asked why that was. They had coffee and tea available. Peter said, he'd look into it, and sure enough, the next day hot chocolate was available at the station after hours.

3)One night, my husband's steak came out rare not medium as ordered and he asked that it just be cooked a little more. Our waiter Emil, immediately had another one brought out. The 2nd one was rare also. My husband told Emil not to worry about it, as we didn't want to send another one back, but Emil went and got Peter who insisted my husband get another steak. He personally went into the kitchen and disappeared for about 10 minutes. When he came back out, be brought with him a perfectly cooked steak. Peter said that he watched the chef cook it this time to make sure it was perfect.

He just overall went above and beyond to make our dining experience wonderful. He was 1 of, if not the best, Head Waiters, we have ever had.
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  #18  
Old January 13th, 2009, 08:54 PM
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When I was a passenger I never really thought much about them, but once I started working on the ships I realized how important they are. A good one or bad one can really make or break the job for you.


On another note on NCL America they are now called Restaurant Managers and Asst. Restaurant Managers. They changed the previous Restaurant Manager title to Director Of Outlets.
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  #19  
Old January 18th, 2009, 06:50 AM
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I'm glad to read this and other really positive experiences iwth maitre d's...thanks for sharing! I also agree with the lack of food knowledge in the dining room "team" -- it's a joke, really, if you ask your waiter "what's the best thing on the menu" or what's special tonight? We had a nice waiter on Fantasia, he was great, but basically run off his feet (though the section wasn't crowded) and when we'd ask about what's good tonight, we get a Gallic-style shrug.

It's not a big deal but it makes me furious when cruise lines market their main restaurants as gourmet experiences. Whowever said "hotel reception room" was right-on. And that's fine, but call it what it is.

Carolyn

Quote:
Originally Posted by marshacruises View Post
We have had a number of great maitre d's.

When our 20 year old daughter was in her vegetarian stage, the maitre d' on the Celebrity Century came over every night and discussed what she would have the next night. Sometimes, the offering sounded so good that others at our table asked if they could have it too. He was very gracious and attentive.

On one cruise (another Celebrity), we were at a table for 8. One of the couples was not very pleasant but the rest of us had a good time discussing everything from where we lived, where we visited, wine, food, and good times. On the third night the unpleasant man became very loud, and was banging his hands on the table and demanding that we stop talking about the food and wine. He seemed ready to explode. I immediately went to the maitre d' and explained that we needed to be moved to another table. I explained that I was scared of one of the diners at our table and could not sit with him any more. The maitre d' had one of the head waiters pick up my food and my husband's food and took us to a table where there were only four people. The next night, and the rest of the cruise, our original table only had the unpleasant couple sitting at it, and they weren't there on the last night. I was impressed by the speed that the maitre d' got us to another table, without any questions or hesitation.

On several occasions, we have had to ask the maitre d' to change our dining arrangement for one night, especially when we are in port during the evening and an excursion we purchased was going to be late getting back, or leaving early. We have always had very helpful maitre d's.

There have been other occasions where I was not aware of the maitre d', except to see him going from table to table asking everyone if they were enjoying the food, service, cruise, etc. Some people comment that they do that so they get a tip. I like to think they do it so they can see how the food and service are all over the dining room without just standing and staring.
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Old January 18th, 2009, 01:17 PM
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Only once have I run into an unpleasant maitre d'hotel -- on NCL. We were on our honeymoon and had requested a table for 2. Went in and found out we were at a 10-top. My new DH went immediately to talk to the maitre d' to get this taken care of. We basically got a lot of runaround (nothing available now....maybe tomorrow....) with body language and innuendoes making it clear that if we were to cough up some money, the situation might change quickly. We didn't feel that was right, given that we did have confirmation of our "table for 2".

So we sat at our 10-top that night and looked around the dining room at several tables for 2 that were empty. (This was in the days before "anytime dining.") The next night we were told that there were no tables for us. We gestured to the still-empty 2-tops. My DH got a little testy. Eventually he said he would have something for us in a few minutes. He kept us cooling our heels for a good 20-25 minutes, then led us (with a smirk) to a tiny table for 2 in the very back corner right next to the galley door. It was horrid. We were young and inexperienced so we didn't take things any further, but we watched those empty tables for two every night for the next 5 days.....
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