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About Mattsudds

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  1. Mattsudds

    Majestic Princess: Harmony and La Mer restaurants

    You're absolutely right that the amuse Bouche is not normally a menu item and I wouldn't expect to choose them. It is however shown in the menu for La Mer. However when I have dined in such places before, if there was any dietary requirement, the chef usually has an alternative up their sleeve. This was certainly always the case on cruise ship restaurants, especially when they ask about allergies or dietary needs at the time of reservation several days in advance. In La Mer it as just a symptom of the attitude towards customers which is quite different than the rest of the ship. Ultimately the amuse bouche isn't going to make the difference between going to this place or staying away, I only mention it because it was below expectations - rather than exceeding expectations which cruise lines always want on the comment form.
  2. Mattsudds

    Majestic Princess: Harmony and La Mer restaurants

    I enjoyed the ship overall alot. By way of conparison, I also sailed on Royal's inaugural voyage. Overall most things were working well, it was only very minor matters of finish that i saw being done. This was quite a contrast to when Harmony of the Seas was introduced and she was a building site in places. Princess provide an impressive cruise product that just works. They have some superb live music around the ship, they do movies under the stars like no one else and in general their staff service is good. We were on anytime dining and the waiters on recognised us when we sat in the same section for a second time - pretty inpressive given how many people they must see. The ship is different to Royal and Regal and some things are actually better. The Hollywood Conservstory is quite a nice space, and unlike the sanctuary it is not extra charge. Of course i would actually rather the P&O version with a proper crow's next bar but you cant have everything. The aft lounge will seemingly become more gambling space in china but right now its just a secondary show lounge like the other ships. Perhaps the only other issue, was again food related but this time in the buffet. Even at the start of service with newly put out dishes, the food temperature wasnt really hot enough, and nothing seemed to be labelled. There probably was a logic to the layout but I couldnt work it out if there was. So it was a bit of a trek to examine all counters before choosing. But if that is the biggest worry, things are pretty good really.
  3. http://www.princess.com/news/news_releases/2016/11/Princess-Cruises-Announces-Partnership-with-Three-Michelin-Star-French-Chef-Emmanuel-Renaut.html Back in November last year, Princess announced the above innovations in the restaurant range aboard Majestic Princess. I'm just back from the preview of Majestic Princess and thought I would post a couple of observations. Please note that this was a preview cruise and as a result it was not possible to reserve these restaurants until onboard (at least not online or via Princess) and they did not all have the full range of items available yet. Harmony - This is in the restaurant space opposite reception. For a Chinese restaurant the decor is relatively muted. The service is very friendly and attentive. When operating fully there is a wide ranging menu, and everything my party of 3 tried was delicious. We actually went for a sea day lunch which was complimentary. Because the full menu wasn't loaded, the menu was reduced but oddly the lunch menu was better, in my view, that the dinner one. Perhaps the only thing that let this restaurant down was the menu of fruit drinks and smoothies. They sounded so great that we ordered 3 but they took 45 minutes to come and were served in plastic, take-away containers. A bit out of keeping with the surroundings. In my party we had the Peking Duck salad - absolutely delightful. Beef in Black Bean sauce and the cripsy chicken - again excellent. Desert at lunch is a fruit plate - very tasty and delicately arranged. Great service, would have been happy to pay for this if there had been a cover charge. La Mer - What a disappointment. This restaurant has so many things wrong with it for dinner. The cover charge of $35 was simply not worth it on this occasion. So what didn't we like? Well first things first. The setting is all wrong for this kind of restaurant. The supposed highest class dining experience on the ship is basically a through route at the top of the atrium. Other ships in this class have a bar or a tapas type place here which works much better. There is no Maitre D' point where you enter the restaurant so all arriving customers wander around aimlessly getting mixed up with people using the place as a corridor. The staff don't seem to pay attention to people obviously waiting to be served either. First impressions matter and this isn't great. Second problem. The layout puts some tables actually right in the corridor and others in a windowless dead end of the space. If you get one of the tables by the glass window port side, it is great. Otherwise not so much. We were initially offered a table way out by the door to the outside deck, clearly there as an after thoughts. The menu - decent french bistro food served with a modern style. But there was the 3rd problem. Any dishes which were cold dishes were pre-plated. And then refrigerated. I had the Pate en croute which was served straight from fridge on a cold plate. I don't expect pre plated food in a 'Michelin starred' restaurant. The same thing happened with any of the cold deserts. Next issue - the amuse bouches. These were shown on the menu but surprisingly there is no room for variation - its take it or leave it. If you have a vegetarian in your party they just miss out. I have dined in similar restaurants on many ships and take it or leave it has never been the policy. We ordered from a pleasant enough waiter but the overall staff training needs some work here. The waiter described the cooking of the dish - duck in the case of one of my party - as being partly raw. I'm sure it was a language issue but when the diner said they would prefer it medium, initially the waiter was going to refuse and say chef wouldn't allow it. I appreciate that in fine dining restaurants the chef has recommended ways of cooking things for optimum enjoyment, but they are rarely compulsory and never compulsorily 'raw'. The wine menu has wine by the Carafe but they didn't want to serve carafe's. They had both the wine we wanted and carafe jugs so we couldn't work out why. When the main courses came, one of our party had orzo as the side dish but it was almost cold. It took alot of effort to send it back and at first the waiter seemed surprised that we would want to. All we wanted was a hot side dish but the waiter seemed reluctant to get it done, and instead offered to bring something else. That was itself pretty good service in offering the replacement but it is worrying that he thought cold food was normal and seemed afraid to tell the kitchen. The Maitre D' also came over to see how the meal was going and when we mentioned the cold item, he also promised to investigate and come back and check the new one was ok. He never came until desert. The food came with a bowl of french style bread. I say style because it wasn't crispy like an actual french bread, and it was overall a very uninventive selection for a premium restaurant. Desserts were very good, although the cold ones on cold plate things did reduce the impact. The waiter brought the bill immediately after this course without asking if we wanted coffee or a digestif. On the bill we also had bottled water because, and I quote 'we do not have tap water in here' - I thought that was a policy only MSC had. Overall the design of this restaurant, the service, the temperature issues and the general lack of ambience made this an experience I would not recommend. On future cruises diners may well have a better experience as the waiters are better trained but there is not much can be done to fix this location which just feels very wrong for a premium dining experience. I recognise that everyone's experience will be different and this is how I felt about mine. By way of background, I am a frequent cruise traveller, and have spent alot of time in France, living there. I say this only so that other readers know what may have coloured my expectations. If you do go on Majestic Princess and want to try this restaurant, I would recommend considering lunch instead. Although the menu is simpler, it is also complimentary and would enable you to judge whether you want to spend the extra for the dinner experience first.
  4. From a Royal Caribbean Press Release: The newest class of ships from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and introduce the use of fuel cell technology, ushering in a new era of shipbuilding that will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The ships will join the fleet of Royal Caribbean International, an industry leader in innovation and breakthrough ship design. RCL said that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with shipbuilder Meyer Turku for the new class of vessel under the project name "Icon." The vessels will be delivered in the second quarters of 2022 and 2024. In the meantime, the company said, it will begin testing fuel cell technology on an existing Oasis-class ship in 2017, and will also run progressively larger fuel cell projects on new Quantum class vessels being built in the next several years. Royal Caribbean is already known for making steady progress on energy efficiency and reduced emissions through such technologies as air lubrication, which sends billions of microscopic bubbles along the hull of a ship to reduce friction, and AEP scrubbers, which clean exhaust gases before they leave the ship. Use of the new technologies will result in much cleaner emissions, as they produce no sulfur and significantly reduce the production of nitrogen oxides and particulates. "With Icon class, we move further in the journey to take the smoke out of our smokestacks," said Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. "We are dedicated to innovation, continuous improvement, and environmental responsibility, and Icon gives us the opportunity to deliver against all three of these pillars." "Our guests expect us to push every envelope we can," said Michael Bayley, president and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean International. "And on this new class of ship, we began by challenging ourselves to find a new approach to power and propulsion that is safe, reliable, and more energy-efficient than ever before." Bayley added that exciting and innovative new guest experience elements of the Icon class design will be revealed later in the development process. "Our partnership with RCL has created a number of groundbreaking ship classes, such as Oasis, Celebrity Solstice, Quantum, and Mein Schiff, and we are grateful that Royal Caribbean is again giving us the opportunity to partner with them on a new class of ships," said Jan Meyer, the CEO of Meyer Turku. The switch to LNG provides further momentum for the technology, which has begun making significant inroads in the maritime industry. "Increasing the commitment to LNG makes it easier for suppliers to make their own infrastructure commitments," said Fain. "As more ships are built for LNG, the number of ports that support it will grow." The Icon ships are expected to run primarily on LNG but will also be able to run on distillate fuel, to accommodate occasional itineraries that call on ports without LNG infrastructure. The introduction of fuel cells represents another dramatic step forward for the maritime industry, which has only made limited experiments using the technology. "We believe fuel cells offer very interesting design possibilities," said Harri Kulovaara, RCL's chief of ship design. "As the technology becomes smaller and more efficient, fuel cells become more viable in a significant way to power the ship's hotel functions. We will begin testing those possibilities as soon as we can, and look to maximize their use when Icon class debuts." Kulovaara said RCL had been eyeing fuel cells for nearly a decade, and believes the technology is now at a stage of development that justifies investment. "There is a long lead time for Icon class, and we will use that time to work with Meyer Turku to adapt fuel cell technology for maritime use." Kulovaara said that additional regulatory standards would also need to be developed for the technology. Because of the long lead time, Kulovaara said that many Icon design elements are in early stages. The Icon ships would likely accommodate approximately 5,000 passengers, he said, but details are still being worked out. Icon is the first new ship class announced by RCL since Celebrity Cruises' new Edge class, which debuts in 2018. The company is also expanding its fleet with new Oasis- and Quantum-class ships for Royal Caribbean International. Fain said the new ships are in line with RCL's strategy of moderate capacity growth. This order is contingent upon the completion of contractual conditions, including documentation and financing. Final contracts are expected to be completed by year end. Based upon current ship orders, projected capital expenditures for full year 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 are $2.4 billion, $0.5 billion, $2.6 billion, $1.5 billion and $2.0 billion, respectively. Capacity increases for 2016 through 2020 remain unchanged and do not include potential ship sales or additions that the company may elect to make in the future.
  5. Mattsudds

    How The Whiners Ruined Dynamic Dining

    I am not sure what you mean here when you say the galleys for traditional and MTD will be completely separate - do you mean that each 'Dynamic' restaurant would have a pair of galleys? One to serve MTD and one to serve traditional? I have toured the galleys on Quantum and Anthem and I don't remember that being the case but I apologize if I misunderstood. I do remember each 'Dynamic' restaurant had a separate kitchen, which was of course due to the fact that they each served different food. If all 4 restaurants now serve the same food, some very expensive reconfiguration could be done in order to merge the galleys. I don't know enough about kitchen layout etc to know whether that would be either necessary or useful. The big issue though is going to remain seating capacity. The only sources I can find online indicate that each Dynamic restaurant seats around 430 people. If that is correct, that is 1720 seats for a ship with over 4,180 lower berths and a 4,900 max capacity. By way of contrast, Royal's website has a page on Freedom of the Seas which lists her main dining room capacity as 2,100 with a lower berth capacity of 3,600 and a max capacity of 4,300. Of course these numbers aren't perfect, because they don't take account of Coastal Kitchen. And Anthem/ Ovation/ Quantum have more speciality restaurants. If this change is permanent, and irreversible, I wonder if Royal might send the ships for a rebuild of the dining room. Move the entrance to the dining room (you wouldn't need a pair of large hallways with a single dining room without the reservation lines), and perhaps reconfigure the kitchens in order to create space at the aft end of the dining room, and the capacity problem could be solved.Maybe they won't bother with the rebuild, but surely the Ovation 4 and 5 will have quite different dining room and kitchen layouts now that Dynamic Dining has gone.
  6. Mattsudds

    How The Whiners Ruined Dynamic Dining

    Agree 100%. I sailed on Quantum, Anthem and Ovation. And the problem with Dynamic Dining was not the concept but the implementation. I have seen NCLs way of doing it on multiple NCL cruises too, and there it works. With Royal, the implementation suffered numerous problems. It seemed like the IT system couldn't handle the bookings easily so the staff had nightmares with that, as did I when attempting to book at home for our party. For instance, 8 people on Ovation and it took, with the Maitre D onboard, 45 mins to book tables for the first 5 nights. And I had done it onboard only because the online system wouldn't work on any of the preceding weeks. All the 'Dynamic' restaurants missed the one crucial ingredient - an adjacent bar and a pager system so that you can have a drink whilst you wait. And the number of seats to passengers ratio was too low. I struggle to understand how an experienced company like Royal, which gets so many things right and innovates so much, managed to make such a mess of this. The one shame now is that the Quantum class all will have 4 separate dining rooms serving the same food, whereas the rest of the fleet will have a single more spectacular space with a greater seat to pax ratio. I wonder if, with this abandonment, Quantum 4 and 5 will be redesigned to bring back a single, large, spectacular main dining room.
  7. Mattsudds

    MSC Seaside transatlantic

    I think I saw on here, that some people were interested in a possible MSC Seaside transatlantic. The website of Palma port indicates a berth reserved for MSC Seaside on 4 Dec 2017, with a previous call at Malta and next at Barcelona. So it seems a transatlantic cruise is indeed planned. http://www.portsdebalears.com/25.php3?idioma=eng&puerto=4&diainicio=09&mesinicio=02&anyoinicio=2017&diafin=10&mesfin=12&anyofin=2017
  8. I would also recommend 'From Song to Sovereign' which was published upon the introduction of the Sovereign of the Seas, it is a good snapshot of the leap made at that time. It is written by John Maxtone-Graham. In general some cruise lines are better than others at the corporate history type books, usually for some sort of anniversary. There are a couple of good books on Celebrity Cruises history, Holland America. P&O and Cunard are excessively covered. Carnival has never, as far as I know, published its own corporate history. The book Cruise Ship Pehenomenon in North America was pretty good too.
  9. http://www.miamiherald.com/living/travel/article53682340.html The article above says the Superfast service has ended with the final return to Miami. The ship will be replaced by a 'more efficient', 'faster' ferry. Some sources say the ship will head to Germany for a rebuild before being used in Asia as a full scale gambling ship.
  10. Mattsudds

    BREAKING NEWS: P&O Australia to get a newly built ship

    It's great news to see P&O Australia having grown so much that such a large newbuild is possible. I look forwards to seeing artists impressions and deck plans of the ship. I am curious as to whether this is a genuinely new prototype design for the Carnival Corporation, or a version of something they already have. The dimensions are broadly similar to the Carnival Vista, but with quite a lot more cabins. I hope this means something new and innovative. If people were to design the new Pacific Expander (or whatever it will be called😉), what would they put on it?
  11. Looking at the Vista news, the ship certainly has some very nice spaces and new ideas. One which left me wondering was the main dining rooms and traditional, set time, dining. I don't see a description online of the mid ships dining room so it maybe that those still wanting set times eat there. However the aft Horizons dining room clearly says 'choose your time' and the installation of the bar implies a greater sense of fluidity in timing to me. The actual dining room size won't be enough to accommodate everyone at 2 sittings. So is this Carnival's first all 'anytime' dining ship? Incidentally the size of the dining rooms looks exactly taken from Costa Diadema, but without the Horizons bar and with fewer passengers in Diadema. On Diadema, part of the buffet is decorated in such a way that it becomes the formal dining room with waiter service and the same menu as the main room, but eating when you like. One thing you then miss out on is the singing waiters and sense of occasion from special nights because they didn't do it in the anytime restaurant, only in the fixed time version.
  12. Mattsudds

    Let the itinerary speculation begin!

    On the assumption that the calls are Tuesday's and weekly (I can't get the Rome port website to show me that but have no reason to doubt the OP), I would suggest that Barcelona is the embarkation port. That would give a close to weekend departure day from Barcelona, and a standard 7 day circuit. I would imagine calls will include Marseille or Toulon for Provence, possibly Monaco, Livorno (for Pisa).
  13. Mattsudds

    What Ships in What Ports When?

    I find Cruisetimetables.com to be fairly accurate and most importantly - free!
  14. Apologies for not being clear. What I meant was that the Dynamic dining venues in Oasis seem to be taking more or less the same amount of space as the current main dining room. That dining room could seat half the passengers. Collectively the Quantum's Dynamic venues can only seat about 1/3rd of the passengers. The proportionate higher capacity of the spaces on Oasis should at least mean that there is more chance of getting a sets quickly.
  15. It never ceases to amaze me how the big cruise groups apparently fail to learn from the different brands within the same group. On Carnival you can see Carnival Cruise lines failed attempt to introduce things to its newest ships which were properly done on the Aida sub-brand. It seems to me that like Carnival, RCI could perhaps use some advice from its own German subsidiary. In June 2014 Tui cruises introduced the superb Mein Schiff 3. With her came a new dining concept, not dissimilar to Dynamic Dining but with one important difference. Mein Schiff 3 is an approx 100,000gt ship and her main Atlantik restaurant is in fact 3 restaurants. On the upper level portside is an Asian restaurant, Starboard side is a Mediterranean restaurant. Their menus change after 3 nights. The lower level of the restaurant is the main restaurant which is a traditional cruise ship restaurant with a daily changing menu pitched somewhere around Chic and Grande on Quantum. All these restaurants are eat when and with whom you want without reservations. Rarely on a full cruise did I see queues. The mix enables people who want the traditional experience to have it, and those wanting an inclusive alternative to have it. The capacity is sufficient to prevent huge queues. In my experience the Tui Cruises operation is combining the key features of Dynamic dining but with style and delivery that makes it work really well. I think RCI could look across at what they are doing at TUI, which is after all part of the family, and take some inspiration to iron out the creases in Dynamic Dining. Incidentally I do feel that Dynamic Dining on Oasis and Allure has more chance of success by simple virtue of the higher capacity of the overall inclusive venues. If nothing else, that ought to make waiting less likely.