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Crystal Announces a Change to Specialty Restaurants


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As a new Crystal cruiser (having only the 2013 WC under my belt), I am mystified over a lot of the angst shown on this issue.

 

Most of my prior cruises have been on Celebrity and I really enjoyed them. Celebrity only had one specialty restaurant and the. "Gratuity" was $25-30. So a $30 fee on Crystal seems like a bargain for a second or more night there after a free meal.

 

In addition I view the chance to dine at the specialty restaurant to be something special to be looked forward to. If I went multiple nights on a short cruise it would be just another dining venue.

 

One of the reasons I selected Crystal was because of the reputation of the MDR. I found the food and service there to meet all my expectations. And then to also have the ability to order off the MDR menu and have the meal in your cabin was another bonus not available on premium cruise lines!

 

 

 

 

To top it off, there is Tastes. I found that in many ways I liked it better Than the specialty restaurants.

 

So all in all, as a newbie, the Crystal difference is apparent to me. I realize things have been changing for the veterans out there and many things they have cherished have disappeared but I hope they can still see the many things that make Crystal stand out.

 

Joe

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk -

 

We agree that the dining venues on Crystal are exceptional. We would differ with you on the comparison of Celebrity and Crystal. Celebrity, good as it is, is not luxury or all inclusive as Crystal is. We pay more in the fare for the all inclusive policy at Crystal, so we do not expect to pay for something that previously was included under AI on Crystal.

Glad you love Crystal. We do too.

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Just my .$02, but this makes a rough policy worse. I'd rather Crystal charge $30 (or even more) for dinner and do it consistently (even with elite tier exclusions) than have to also take on the task of bargain shopping for lower priced nights. We already play that game in so many facets of our lives, I don't think it's classy to have to do the same with dinner reservations, whether it saves us money in the end or not. It's a PITA that I'd rather pay a premium to not experience.

 

It's an electronic version of the haggling that Beav mentioned on Celebrity.

 

Vince

 

Just to clarify.....

 

My proposal of dynamic pricing (depending upon passenger load and cruise length) did not imply pricing would change from night to night. Instead, it would change from segment to segment and would be announced at the beginning of the cruise (before anyone can make multiple reservations). Crystal could say that the charge -- if there must be a charge! -- will be from $7 (a nice old figure) to $30, the precise charge to be announced on boarding. On a long cruise with low passenger load, the $7 charge would apply. On shorter cruises with heavier passenger loads, the higher charge would apply -- presuming that the charge is meant only to control demand and not to generate revenue.

 

I agree with BVIVince that a change from night to night would be unseemly.

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Interesting that the question of "walk-ins" has yet to be addressed by Crystal.

 

I think that management must think this issue through. If the $30 is a reservation fee and a party walks up the Prego maitre d', requests a walk in table and is seated, is there a charge? If there is not a charge, the NO ONE (except WC or 50+ cruisers) will make a reservation. Why bother? Let's just walk in and see what happens!

 

Kay

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From my point of view Crystal are quite entitled to manage reservations for the speciality restaurants such as to ensure guests who wish to make a reservation get the best opportunity able so to do.

 

My own experience over many Crystal cruises, including a virtually full cruse this summer, is that that I was able to make a number of speciality reservations without a great deal of difficulty provided I was prepared to be flexible on days/times.

 

However I quite accept others will have a different experience.

 

If some guest in the past have been so using the “speciality” options (e.g. dinning there every night) that it severely impacted on Crystals ability to allow reasonable access by other guests I would have expected a discrete and effective on-board management response.

 

As many other posters in this thread have eloquently pointed out Crystal had many options to choose from in seeking to capacity manage the availability issue. Crystal have stated that the the approch they have chosen was intended as “…a policy that we believed to be fairer”.

 

Like most posters here I do not have access to any data that allows me to come to a conclusion regarding whether the $30 charge was intended to be, or will turn out to be, revenue generating.

 

What I do have access to is a dictionary.

 

When I look up “fairness” I come across language such as “the quality of being reasonable, right and just” or being “equitable”. I do not find anywhere the notion that the concept of fairness can be overruled by those who have the means or the desire to circumvent it by paying $30 a throw thus obtaining the right to continue to act in what Crystal has implied is an unfair way.

 

So what I find so deeply disappointing about the introduction of this charge in preference to other management options is that it simply devalues Crystal's concept of fairness – a concept that that a premium brand should not really put on sale for $30 a pop.

 

The Crystal policy here is to seek to limit demand on the one hand in the name of "fairness", and then define a price point at which unfairness will be acceptable.

Edited by tmcmullan
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We have always put off the idea of trying Oceana because we are Crystal devotees since 2007. However after we finish our already booked cruises on Crystal in 2014, we would like to try other lines including Oceana . I think this is considered a premium line and not luxury like Crystal?

Does anyone know if there are extra charges for the specialty restaurants on Oceana? I am hearing great reviews on them. On Marina and Riviera they have Jacques (French)) Red Ginger (Asian fusion cuisine)

Toscana (Italian), and Polo Grill (Steak House). I know they also have exclusive venue restaurants like The Vintage Room on Crystal for extra $$.

I agree with the posters here that Crystal charging $30 pp for crowd control is totally disingenuous. I would suggest Crystal add more dining venues within the existing framework and then they may have an excuse to charge extra $$. They just have not been innovative in terms of cuisine since 2007 (except at Tastes with the Asian comfort food which is only on Serenity) when we first started on the line. Crystal's food quality has always been top notch but it is getting stodgy after seven years of mostly the same cuisine.

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i agree 100%, in fact they have just excluded a class of pass from the fee. How is that fair? Other lines have ways to see all get a chance to eat in all restaurants without imposing a fee. I also expect, walk in or not no matter how full the restaurant, if it is your second visit if you are the lower class you will pay 30$. Oceania has a system where all can go to each restaurant with no fee, additional visits are also included on a first come first serve basis. Also their lido is open for dinner, walk in, each night with grilled to order steaks and lobster each night. To be honest I am sorry I ever got involved with Crystal. I have canceled two trips, I am locked into the third however as I already bought the airfare to return from Iceland. As far as AI, they are except booze, for 54$ a day you can have all of that that you want to.

Edited by hypercafe
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I also agree with Buckeroot and calliopecruiser...We really enjoy tastes

on the Serenity, especially on very long cruises.

 

Does having to make a reservation for Tastes up set me? It certainly does!

 

This is the ONLY venue where you didn't have to make a reservation!!

To passengers who are used to"dine anytime or open seating" this it's an excellent option....like dropping into your favorite neighborhood restaurant....if it is full, you just wait.

 

Thankfully there are a great many passengers who have never eaten there, preferring to eat elsewhere and this is their prerogative.

Is it a deal breaker?.....NO it isn't, but it takes away from seamless enjoyment of cruising a bit.

 

I also agree with the posters who advocate per-registering for 1 reservation per segment and that then, after the first two to three days it is open to everyone on a first come first serve basis.

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i agree 100%, in fact they have just excluded a class of pass from the fee. How is that fair? Other lines have ways to see all get a chance to eat in all restaurants without imposing a fee. I also expect, walk in or not no matter how full the restaurant, if it is your second visit if you are the lower class you will pay 30$. Oceania has a system where all can go to each restaurant with no fee, additional visits are also included on a first come first serve basis. Also their lido is open for dinner, walk in, each night with grilled to order steaks and lobster each night. To be honest I am sorry I ever got involved with Crystal. I have canceled two trips, I am locked into the third however as I already bought the airfare to return from Iceland. As far as AI, they are except booze, for 54$ a day you can have all of that that you want to.

Hypercafe, Thank you for the info about Oceana!

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I have been watching this thread since it first posted. The reaction of Crystal's guests to this executive management decision has been as vocal and as prolific as was the reaction to Holland America's policy change earlier this summer concerning their guests' ability to bring aboard wine during initial embarkation day and at subsequent ports-of-call. After several days of intense reaction by HAL guests, the policy was amended. (Not to everyone's liking, but an equitable compromise to HAL's guests and to HAL, in general).

See thread http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1890524

 

From a purely personal perspective, Jim & I, as well as potentially 698 other full WC2015 guests are very pleased with this apparent "additional perk" for sailing on a full Crystal World Cruise. We had several other 2015 WC options to consider before we booked (nearly 2 1/2 years in advance) and were beginning to become concerned that the onboard amenities that were promised at the time of our booking might become compromised by the time we were onboard in January 2015.

 

TA voyage 3331 this December will be our 20th milestone Crystal cruise. There are six of us sailing and I have pre-reserved one night each in Prego and Silk Road for the six of us, on our preferred evenings and at our preferred dining time, as well as placed our name on the reservation list for the Vintage Room. We plan to try the "new" Tastes at least once during the crossing. That will place us in the MDR for 8 of the 12 nights onboard. We feel that will give us sufficient dining variety on this 12 night voyage that additional dinners in Prego or SR will not be missed (albeit though multiple reservations in both specialty restaurants are still included with no surcharge on this crossing).

 

As others have commented, some have had no difficulty dining in the specialty restaurants, some have had difficulty, some have dined on multiple occasions during the same cruise, and some do not dine at all in either specialty restaurant. All guest comments are valid and it appears as though there has already been some "tweaking" to this apparently sudden executive management policy decision. Based on our experience sailing on other cruise lines, I would expect that this remains a "work-in-progress" and I expect further fine tuning. We, too, will wait and see.

 

Rob & Jim

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I think that management must think this issue through. If the $30 is a reservation fee and a party walks up the Prego maitre d', requests a walk in table and is seated, is there a charge? If there is not a charge, the NO ONE (except WC or 50+ cruisers) will make a reservation. Why bother? Let's just walk in and see what happens!

 

Kay

 

Fair point. But I was actually referring to repeat visits as a walk in.

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The very people exempted from the repeaters' fee (WC ers and over 50 cruises) are the very people who are responsible for this problem in the first place. IMHO. So exempting them just continues the situation as it was while charging the rest of us if we dare try to go a second time on a slow night.

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We have always put off the idea of trying Oceana because we are Crystal devotees since 2007. However after we finish our already booked cruises on Crystal in 2014, we would like to try other lines including Oceana . I think this is considered a premium line and not luxury like Crystal?

Does anyone know if there are extra charges for the specialty restaurants on Oceana? I am hearing great reviews on them. On Marina and Riviera they have Jacques (French)) Red Ginger (Asian fusion cuisine)

Toscana (Italian), and Polo Grill (Steak House). I know they also have exclusive venue restaurants like The Vintage Room on Crystal for extra $$.

I agree with the posters here that Crystal charging $30 pp for crowd control is totally disingenuous. I would suggest Crystal add more dining venues within the existing framework and then they may have an excuse to charge extra $$. They just have not been innovative in terms of cuisine since 2007 (except at Tastes with the Asian comfort food which is only on Serenity) when we first started on the line. Crystal's food quality has always been top notch but it is getting stodgy after seven years of mostly the same cuisine.

 

I did a 38 day Marina cruise from Tahiti to NYC this spring. I am also a long time Crystal cruiser (21 segments and counting). There is no charge for the 4 Speciality Restaurants on Marina. Personally found the Steak house and the Italian venues very disappointing, no better than Outback and Olive Garden, nothing really wrong but certainly nothing on Prego's level. Red Ginger was interesting and better than Toscano or Polo Grill but not even close to Nobu. The Sushi was premade and mundane, the Miso glazed fish however was very good. All in all I would rate it at 90% of Nobu. Jacques was fabulous, easily on a par with "French" night in the main dining room. I found the attitude of the staff in Jacques to be somewhat aloof. This was unique among Marina venues, maybe they were trying to give us an authentic "French" experience. LOL. The "Vintage Room" venue was very good. I have never done this on Crystal so I can't compare but it was delightful. About 25 people, explanations of the wines served, etc. They even have a salt menu, smoked, red, etc. Really neat! The MDR on Marina was nice but tables were very crowded and service was extremely slow. There was no offer of special ordered items however waiters were willing to leave things off the plate and bring side dishes of vegetables etc. from other entrees. This had to be the hardest working group of waiters I have ever experienced. Everyone seemed to pitch in. The food was overall very good, not quite Crystal IMHO but very good. Unfortunately the bread and desserts were even better than Crystal's. Usually I can stay away from that temptation on Crystal. The cheese service in the MDR was pre plated and boring on Marina, in Jacques it was equal to Crystal.

The bars and lounges were virtually empty on Marina except for free drink nights. On those nights there weren't enough waiters to take care of people. Liquor is very expensive on Oceania, drinks are watered down, wine is even more expensive. The good news is that you can bring your own on board but that means the lounges are empty as everyone has a pre dinner drink in their stateroom. Oceania's Drink package is $55/person/day, I can't drink that much every day for 38 days! I think the most positive thing about AI on Crystal is the liveliness of the lounges since the inception. I sometimes have a drink before dinner and maybe 1 - 2 glasses of wine with dinner. A drink package doesn't fly and signing for each one annoys me (who knows why but it does)

We were on a food and wine cruise on Marina. The lectures on that subject were very poor, the wine tastings carried a charge, and the Chef's dinner was only offered in the Lido! (I don't like buffets) Overall the most disappointing thing was the 3 - 4 announcements a day by the cruise director usually about the upcoming Bingo games. Yuk!

The staterooms are about 40 sq feet bigger than Serenity's balcony cabins but are very poorly organized and felt smaller. Many of the drawers were so shallow as to be almost useless and one in the closet was over my head (I'm 5'10") so I couldn't see what was in it. The baths had closed storage next to the mirror which I really appreciated but no other storage. The much touted separate shower was so small as to be useless, I still used the one in the tub. Maybe it was a safety measure, you couldn't possibly fall - no room!

Would I do another Oceania cruise? If the fare were low enough and the itinerary was interesting, sure; is Oceania equal to Crystal, not in my opinion.

I will look forward to your impressions.

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latsyrc - you are totally "on the dot" with your comments on Oceania. While very nice in many respects, we found the Italian restaurant quite mundane, as you mentioned. I know a lot of people are upset and say they'll go try another cruise line and mention Oceania specifically. I have no bone to pick with Oceania, we enjoyed our 3 cruises, but remember that you are nickeled and dimed to death there. And I had forgotten about those incessant announcements! On one cruise there was some microphone problem and the CD was piped into our stateroom! No sleeping late! On the new larger ships, they offer cooking classes, but there is a charge. We found the evening entertainment to be infrequent (on the smaller ships, can't speak to the larger ones) and the lecturer/s were not great. It's a nice ship if you are on a port intensive itin but for sea day enthusiasts like us, it just doesn't cut it. And we would never use up the drink package so we would pay individually for all drinks and/or wine. On balance, Crystal is still a good deal - except for that pesky $30 "reservation fee" that annoys us all. I think the latest "explanation" was lame and shows they are squirming. I'll wager it goes away.

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i agree 100%, in fact they have just excluded a class of pass from the fee. How is that fair? Other lines have ways to see all get a chance to eat in all restaurants without imposing a fee. I also expect, walk in or not no matter how full the restaurant, if it is your second visit if you are the lower class you will pay 30$. Oceania has a system where all can go to each restaurant with no fee, additional visits are also included on a first come first serve basis. Also their lido is open for dinner, walk in, each night with grilled to order steaks and lobster each night. To be honest I am sorry I ever got involved with Crystal. I have canceled two trips, I am locked into the third however as I already bought the airfare to return from Iceland. As far as AI, they are except booze, for 54$ a day you can have all of that that you want to.

 

recently oceania increased it to 59.5$ and changed the brand of the champagne ( the real and french one )

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We are seriously looking at Seabourn. We have 21 cruises on Crystal which we adored but now we are thinking about a change. This is becoming a class ship sadly. If I can order on PH deck room service and not be charged.....why should I have to pay to sit at a table?

 

The MDR menus never seem to change. On formal nights we never go because of the noise level. The specialty venues are empty on these nights so that is where we head. Now you have to pay for caviar which I love but it is not top quality and served with Melba toast and not the Belinis.

 

More changes to come I am sure.

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As a segment sailor on the first leg of 2014 WC, I will feel like a second class passenger. I don't deny full WC passengers any of their perks, but how will this play out? Now hundreds of passengers can make no fee reservations and should I choose to pay the fee I might not be able to get a reservation. Aren't we back to square one?! Also, sitting at a table with full WCers and I am the only one paying......doesn't seem right.

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How much damage has this new policy done to the Crystal "brand"? A lot, a little or none?

I think a lot. What do you think?

 

I really don't think this has hurt the Crystal brand very much. I don't think the rollout of this change was well done very well, but the modifications that Crystal has made show they are listening to us. I still think the $30/pp charge is a bit much and that they could have accomplished their stated goal with a charge of $10 or so.

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How much damage has this new policy done to the Crystal "brand"? A lot, a little or none?

I think a lot. What do you think?

 

A LOT. Even if it is eventually reversed, it's a question of trust - a question of what's next? As Scott so aptly put it, it's not the $$, it's the betrayal.

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Latsyrc, we totally agree with your assessment of Oceania. They are nice ships, but the overall experience is not in a league with Crystal and once alcohol (horrible pour and lousy choice of wines by the glass) is included, the pricing is similar!!

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How much damage has this new policy done to the Crystal "brand"? A lot, a little or none?

I think a lot. What do you think?

 

Steve and Gloria, my sense is that I doubt it will have an impact.

 

Look at each luxury line and you will find a few items that happened in the last year or two that upset people but I don't think hurt their brand.

 

Let's see many of the point of contact items moving from Seaborn over to Holland America, and concurrent with that change the fact that when you book shore excursions in advance you have them immediately charged to your credit card and a different group being the point of contact for questions and a redesign of portions of the web site. All of this resulted in a lot of negative posts from the long term regulars.

 

Or the fact that Seabourn has been using a public room or two for kids and that a lot of kids are now on their ships in the summer and they don't have kids facilities and the problem seems to be upsetting many of the long terms guests.

 

Or there new smoking policy that when released was highly confusing and I believe varied by the two types of ships they have.

 

I am not picking on Seabourn. I just read their boards much more frequently than I do say Regent.

 

Or how about a couple of months ago Silversea had the issue of not only failing their inspection on one of the ships but the fact that they were doing quite a bit of horrible things with the storage of their food prior to any of the announced inspections. That should have really tarnished their product but not sure whether it did or not.

 

Or how about that Silversea began charging everyone's ship board account with a charge for some outside charity. Rather then asking you if you wanted to give to the charity they just charged you for it and to not have this done you had to stop by the front desk.

 

And I am not picking on Silversea either.

 

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the lowest I give it a 1 in terms of impact on Crystal's reputation.

 

Like it or not let me point out something about what transpired. A change in policy was announced. It angered some of the guests. Crystal revisited it and made revisions and then communicated the changes. And they did all of this within a couple of days of the release of the policy. While not everyone is pleased with this, at least they reacted quickly.

 

I would say contrast this with some of the examples that I mentioned. In the case of Silversea with the sanitary situation they started with almost no communication on what happened and when they first communicated it was by all standards horrendous. It took them quite a bit longer to go from there.

 

In the end, each person needs to figure out how important this is to them. My own opinion is see for yourselves how this ends up working out. And to me that includes the overall experience at the specialty restaurants. My own view is that when the restaurants are not jam packed throughout the evening that you receive an even higher level of service, and the overall ambience stands out even more. Conversely, when they are running at full steam service levels are not quite as high and the restaurants can even be on the loud side. So, as they say the proof is in the pudding. We will see for ourselves.

 

I do know that even on this board for the past year that some people complained that they could not get into one or both restaurants and I am sure that the number of complaints was significant for a new process to be developed.

 

Anyway, this is the process that will be implemented and like anything else my view is to see how it all unfolds.

 

I remember when dining by reservation was announced that there were all sorts of posts and threads about how disruptive it would be and how everything would change in the dining room and to me it has worked out very well.

 

And Anne Marie and I had discussed this the other night and that is before the policy was even revised that we would look at it as an opportunity to dine with others in the Crystal Dining Room assuming that Maitre d' could arrange this and also to dine in Tastes on the Serenity which is something we seldom do. And I am sure we will do some of this on the World Cruise even with the revised policy because we have friends who will be on for one or a few segments and they might prefer to do this. Our attitude is changing things up a bit can be fun too. And maybe when we dine with others in the dining room we will use that as an opportunity to have some type of special meal for the table something we might not do if it is just the two of us. In short, we will change things up and I am sure that will be fun as well.

 

We are just looking forward to being back home with Crystal in January.

 

In the end, each person needs to figure out what is important to them.

 

Keith

Edited by Keith1010
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Keith,

 

Correct me if I'm wrong but as I understand it those on the full world cruise are exempt from this restriction so you will not have to abide by the new rules.

 

LOL!!!

 

I do regret the creation of separate "classes" on board with respect to dining options, as those with many Crystal cruises have unfettered access to reservations. Hardly the fairness that Crystal claims to have been the motivation for the policy change. Apparently all passengers are equal, but some are more equal than others.

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Keith,

 

Correct me if I'm wrong but as I understand it those on the full world cruise are exempt from this restriction so you will not have to abide by the new rules.

 

Henry that is correct but you will note that I said that Anne Marie and I had discussed this before the policy is revised and because we have friends who will be on board for most if not all segments to make it easier all the way around we will change things up such as dining with them in the Crystal Dining Room and/or in Tastes. I would say on each World Cruise we change things up from a previous one whether it is the classes we take, or other things we do so we can be very happy and change things up as well. I am sure we will have as good a time with our friends in the Crystal Dining Room or in Tastes.

 

Honestly, to me it's all good being back on the ship and enjoying the time with friends or for that matter people who we will meet for the very first time as well.

 

Keith

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