Allure: MDR vs. Alternatives

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#1
22 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
I've been reading some reviews and it seems some people try to avoid the MDR while others don't want to miss out on a single meal.

I know I won't be missing the formal evenings for sure but I was wondering if there are any missable nights. Should I go to the alternative dining options during lunch? Are the lunch and dinner menus very different?

I guess I'm torn about paying extra for meals when I've already paid for them with the cruise. Any thoughts on this? I would like to hear about others experiences with their meal choices.
#2
Long Island, NY
16,496 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
We eat in the MDR every night. We refuse to pay extra for food when so much food is included. We actually like the MDR food, and the MDR traditional dining experience, and even our kids say that gathering in the MDR for dinner is something they look forward to.

In my opinion, the weakest menu is the last night's, so if I felt inclined to dine elsewhere, this would be the night that I would choose.
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#3
6,358 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by Ekim19
I've been reading some reviews and it seems some people try to avoid the MDR while others don't want to miss out on a single meal.

I know I won't be missing the formal evenings for sure but I was wondering if there are any missable nights. Should I go to the alternative dining options during lunch? Are the lunch and dinner menus very different?

I guess I'm torn about paying extra for meals when I've already paid for them with the cruise. Any thoughts on this? I would like to hear about others experiences with their meal choices.
Was on the Allure November 2012 and ate in the MDR every evening. Found it to be very enjoyable and always found something to my liking.

Re Lunch - Though the MDR lunch menu really doesn't change it's an excellent lunch option particularly the salad bar complete with all the shrimp you can eat ! There's way to many free options for lunch other than the paid alternatives.
  • The Central Park Cafe is a wondefull lunch option .
  • Also very much enjoyed having lunch in the Solarium Cafe... extremely relaxing and no kids running about.
  • The Promenade Cafe is another excellent lunch option
  • so is Sorento's for Pizza.
  • Oh don't forget the Cafe in the Spa for a lighter lunch option
  • Hot Dog Shop on the Boardwalk is also good.
All of the above are "FREE" options so really no need to dine at the alternatives that require an additional fee if you don't want to spend the money. If you want to deal with crowds there's also the Windjammer buffet and the there's hamburger, Hotdog, taco area right by the basketball court which is generally loaded with kids but it is another free option.
#4
va.
8,561 Posts
Joined Sep 2000
We like the MDR food also, but on our last cruise we only ate in there 3 times for diner, it was SR's the other 4 nights. We also used the MDR for breakfast and lunch,several times. Never went near the WC the whole week.
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#5
3,319 Posts
Joined Feb 2001
Originally posted by Ekim19
I've been reading some reviews and it seems some people try to avoid the MDR while others don't want to miss out on a single meal.

I know I won't be missing the formal evenings for sure but I was wondering if there are any missable nights. Should I go to the alternative dining options during lunch? Are the lunch and dinner menus very different?

I guess I'm torn about paying extra for meals when I've already paid for them with the cruise. Any thoughts on this? I would like to hear about others experiences with their meal choices.
The food in the MDR is subjective, but I find it, at best, adequate. We sometimes like a nice quiet, romantic dining experience with better food and an intimate atmosphere.Sometimes we don't feel like eating with 2000 other people.. The MDR has none of that. Chops is very nice and normally you would pay $125+ for a meal like that at Morton's, Ruth Chris,etc...while it may not be QUITE as good as those two mentioned,I think just the side dishes and the table for 2 by the window over-looking the sea is worth the extra $$ and my wife is worth it. Plus you have candle light dining to Sinatra, Elton,Streisand,etc....how can you not like that? BTW, I am the opposite from you, after 26 cruises, we don't attend the formal nights anymore- wearing a suit on my vacation is like the mailman taking a walk on his day off- not for me..we go to the alternative venues on formal nights now...FYI: You can get the dining menus at the front desk for all the nights you're on board and decide what nights you may want to skip in the MDR...just my opinion...

Big Al
#6
Chicago by way of Boston and NOLA
16,757 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
My goal on my upcoming Allure cruise is to try to have a meal in every restaurant on the ship. This will not be easy to accomplish, but we will do our best to achieve it! While you have already "paid" for your MDR meals, you have also "paid" for the opportunity to dine in the specialty restaurants - for the most part a similar quality meal at a land based venue would cost more than what the specialty restaurant is charging. I am glad that RCI has started rolling out some dining packages where you can book multiple restaurants at a reduced cost versus booking them a la carte.
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#7
NJ
720 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
The MDR is fine with us - we rarely do SR's - but we have booked a few specialty restaurants this time. The reasons are varied: for a more intimate change of pace from the giant dining room (Chops), to escape crowds on sailaway day (Giovanni's Table lunch), and to enjoy a special experience we wouldn't otherwise have (Chef's Table). We will also probably try Windjammer for a casual dinner one night.

On a ship this big, I'm thinking the opportunity for a few "small" experiences will break things up nicely. All the SR's are cheaper than a comparable experience on land, so we're looking at it that way.

...plus I work in Times Square, so big crowds for me are like Big Al wearing a suit on vacation - though I'm so looking forward to Allure, even with the crowds.

We sail in 5 weeks; I'll share whether I thought it was worthwhile after that.
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#8
Arlington, VA
527 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
Originally posted by mmcruise
The MDR is fine with us - we rarely do SR's - but we have booked a few specialty restaurants this time. The reasons are varied: for a more intimate change of pace from the giant dining room (Chops), to escape crowds on sailaway day (Giovanni's Table lunch), and to enjoy a special experience we wouldn't otherwise have (Chef's Table). We will also probably try Windjammer for a casual dinner one night.

On a ship this big, I'm thinking the opportunity for a few "small" experiences will break things up nicely. All the SR's are cheaper than a comparable experience on land, so we're looking at it that way.

...plus I work in Times Square, so big crowds for me are like Big Al wearing a suit on vacation - though I'm so looking forward to Allure, even with the crowds.

We sail in 5 weeks; I'll share whether I thought it was worthwhile after that.
I look forward to hearing back your thoughts. As far as missable meals, on a 7 day cruise, to me the first and fourth nights seem the least appealing.
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#9
California
3,332 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Many cruise critic posters have cruised enough they have eaten many of the items on the menu a number of times. And they are somewhat bored with the repeats. If this is your first cruise - check to see if someone has posted recent copies of the daily menus (they do not seem to change very much). You can then decide for yourself which day to go to one of the specialty restaurants.
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#10
Gainesville, VA
190 Posts
Joined May 2011
I ate in the MDR every night and really was not disappointed at all both times I was on Oasis. However, I did eat at Giovanni's once each cruise for lunch, and think that's a great place to eat lunch (or dinner). On the last cruise, had the idea of going there for lunch instead of Windjammer on embarkation day. It was not crowded, plenty of tables available and sure beat the craziness of Windjammer on embarkation day, which I didn't want to go through again after the first cruise.
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#11
Columbus, OH USA
26,068 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Originally posted by Ekim19
I've been reading some reviews and it seems some people try to avoid the MDR while others don't want to miss out on a single meal.

I know I won't be missing the formal evenings for sure but I was wondering if there are any missable nights. Should I go to the alternative dining options during lunch? Are the lunch and dinner menus very different?

I guess I'm torn about paying extra for meals when I've already paid for them with the cruise. Any thoughts on this? I would like to hear about others experiences with their meal choices.
One Man's experience - We had 2nd seating on Allure, Had a wonderful waiter with great service. The food was routine, what we are use to on RC the last few years. We booked specialty restaurants on Formal nights because we opted to travel without formal wear that cruise. Another option is to do the Windjammer on the nights you don't want to go in the MDR. On Allure we only ate one meal all week there because breakfast and lunch were so crowded, next year we may try a meal on formal night there once and one of the specialty restaurants the other.
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#12
Lafayette, IN
10,292 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
I really enjoye Giovanni's for lunch. I chose a sea day when I figured most venues onboard would be crazy and it worked out quite well for a nice relaxing meal. Of course, we were less than interested in dinner in the MDR that night from such a large lunch, but that was fine, too.
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#13
22 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Wow, thanks.for all the great input. I guess if you've have the MDR food a few times it can get pretty repetitive. I think I'll check out the menus onboard and see which nights well go elsewhere. Seeing as it'll be our honeymoon we might splurge a little for a night out or two, especially since the fiancee had their heart set on going to Chops.

Anyone try the dining packages? The Chef's menu sounds interesting so I'm wondering if it'll be worth getting a package since we're already thinking of going to two of the choices. Any thoughts on this?
#14
Kissimmee,Florida
279 Posts
Joined May 2008
Just booked the Central Park dinner package on Allure. Anyone experienced this. We had to book our first night at Gio's and then when on board we can book Chops and 150.
Does the C&A booklet still have the BOGO for dinner.
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#15
Southwest Florida
939 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
We've cruised many times and I have to say that we have never paid to eat in any specialty restaurant. The food in the MDR is just fine!
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#16
42 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
When are formal nights? We are on the western carib. in September and these would be nights I would be more than happy to miss.
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#17
vancouver
101 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by xxoocruiser
Was on the Allure November 2012 and ate in the MDR every evening. Found it to be very enjoyable and always found something to my liking.


Re Lunch - Though the MDR lunch menu really doesn't change it's an excellent lunch option particularly the salad bar complete with all the shrimp you can eat ! There's way to many free options for lunch other than the paid alternatives.
  • The Central Park Cafe is a wondefull lunch option .
  • Also very much enjoyed having lunch in the Solarium Cafe... extremely relaxing and no kids running about.
  • The Promenade Cafe is another excellent lunch option
  • so is Sorento's for Pizza.
  • Oh don't forget the Cafe in the Spa for a lighter lunch option
  • Hot Dog Shop on the Boardwalk is also good.
All of the above are "FREE" options so really no need to dine at the alternatives that require an additional fee if you don't want to spend the money. If you want to deal with crowds there's also the Windjammer buffet and the there's hamburger, Hotdog, taco area right by the basketball court which is generally loaded with kids but it is another free option.
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#18
Los Angeles, CA
276 Posts
Joined Sep 2011
I like the idea of eating at Giovanni's table on embarkation day for lunch. What time would you recommend for a reservation, or can you just show up? Do they charge $15 for kids also? We will have an 8 year old and a 3 year old with us
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#19
Gainesville, VA
190 Posts
Joined May 2011
Originally posted by silentbob007
I really enjoye Giovanni's for lunch. I chose a sea day when I figured most venues onboard would be crazy and it worked out quite well for a nice relaxing meal. Of course, we were less than interested in dinner in the MDR that night from such a large lunch, but that was fine, too.
I agree with that about Giovanni's for lunch. The food is really great and there is indeed a lot to eat, so the only minor issue is not maybe having as big of an appetite for dinner, but that's OK too! I did find that Giovanni's for lunch on embarkation day is a good way to skip all the crowds of some of the other eating places, especially the Windjammer which I made the mistake of going to on embarkation day on my first Oasis sailing. Giovanni's was not crowded at all and was a very pleasant way to start off the cruise.
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#20
Gainesville, VA
190 Posts
Joined May 2011
Originally posted by jenninlaca
I like the idea of eating at Giovanni's table on embarkation day for lunch. What time would you recommend for a reservation, or can you just show up? Do they charge $15 for kids also? We will have an 8 year old and a 3 year old with us
I think you could probably just show up, as it wasn't crowded at least for the January 28 sailing on Oasis. Just to be safe, I made a reservation for 1 PM though. I don't know if it was unusual or not, but for my sailing, they did NOT charge us for lunch at Giovanni's on embarkation day! I was surprised when the bill showed up and said $0.00, so left a generous tip to the waiter who was very nice, basically 20% of what it SHOULD have cost if it were $15/person.

We do not have any children, so even though on the first cruise we ate during the middle of the week at lunch, I don't know if they charge a fee for children or not.
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Oasis of the Seas - September 24 - October 1, 2011
Oasis of the Seas - January 28 - February 4, 2012
Anthem of the Seas - April 18 - 30, 2016

Upcoming:
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