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Crystal Announces a Change to Specialty Restaurants


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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.

i agree with you - some of the MDR menu's are indeed there for years without major changes exception made for some desserts 4 years ago. .

the caviar service is also not "classy" anymore - must be served in a chilled bowl and condiments only served if the clients wish those;

blinis are not so difficult to prepare -

still done on SB , for many years history on SS

on the other side i must admit that top quality caviar ( from the 3 countries around the caspian sea ) simply does have an outrageous price level.

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Keith

You are right that there a pluses and minuses for each cruiseline, and it is good to have choice. But that is not the point so many of us are making. To many of us (not all) this change by Crystal undermines the All Inclusive promise by instituting a fee.We see it as a betrayal.

This fee undercuts the feeling of being at home on Crystal, and is in my mind not needed to control access. We care, as you do, about Crystal, and we think this policy has hurt its brand, its reputation, and we don't want that to be. We urge Crystal once again to rescind this fee, at least until they have allowed the Maitre D' to control access and backed him up when he says no to a guest who wishes to dine at Prego and Silk Road every night.

Gloria and Steve

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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.

 

Tmcmullan, I was on the Black Sea cruise on the Symphony this past summer and I echo your thoughts. The ship was full. We had no trouble getting a reservation in either specialty restaurant as long as we were flexible as to day and time. We don't make our reservations on line because we like to wait until we get on board to go to the specialty restaurants with new found friends. Interestingly, Nobu was on board for this cruise which put an extra demand on Silk Road but we were still able to get a reservation. Again the key is flexibility and working with the maitre'd. In all of our 6 cruises to date on Symphony, we never had a problem as long as we maintained some flexibility and were willing to be waitlisted.

 

Taking Crystal at its word that the new fee is a crowd control policy, I think it is a classic example of a few passengers abusing a privilege resulting in a rule that harms the large majority of passengers. I think the maitre'd is very capable of identifying the abusers and can manage the reservations accordingly without the need for any fee. While I was pleased to see that Crystal did take note of the high level of protest to the fee and made some adjustments, I am concerned that they will feel that the problem is now solved and will not consider further adjustments or elimination of the fee completely. I also share the concerns of many that this is a sign of the future and that the great Crystal product and experience is gradually being diluted so that Crystal will no longer be unique and special.

 

Clearly, looking at the volume and content of comments that have been posted since we all learned of the latest adjustments, Crystal has still not eased the concerns of their loyal following. I only hope that they continue to monitor this board.

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Gloria and Steve, I wasn't really talking about the pluses and minuses. Rather you had asked how much this item had impacted the Crystal Brand and I said I didn't think it would have an impact and then I gave examples of other lines that have had their share of controversies during the past year as well. In other words, controversies have occurred on all of the lines with lots of posts where people didn't care for a particular litem. I was only addressing your question and not discussing pluses and minuses. :)

 

Even on Regent there have been controversies with high emotion and banter too about various issues.

 

And the same is true on just about every cruise line board too.

 

Keith

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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.]

 

Tmcmullan, I was on the Black Sea cruise on the Symphony this past summer and I echo your thoughts. The ship was full. We had no trouble getting a reservation in either specialty restaurant as long as we were flexible as to day and time. We don't make our reservations on line because we like to wait until we get on board to go to the specialty restaurants with new found friends. Interestingly, Nobu was on board for this cruise which put an extra demand on Silk Road but we were still able to get a reservation. Again the key is flexibility and working with the maitre'd. In all of our 6 cruises to date on Symphony, we never had a problem as long as we maintained some flexibility and were willing to be waitlisted.

 

Taking Crystal at its word that the new fee is a crowd control policy, I think it is a classic example of a few passengers abusing a privilege resulting in a rule that harms the large majority of passengers. I think the maitre'd is very capable of identifying the abusers and can manage the reservations accordingly without the need for any fee. While I was pleased to see that Crystal did take note of the high level of protest to the fee and made some adjustments, I am concerned that they will feel that the problem is now solved and will not consider further adjustments or elimination of the fee completely. I also share the concerns of many that this is a sign of the future and that the great Crystal product and experience is gradually being diluted so that Crystal will no longer be unique and special.

 

Clearly, looking at the volume and content of comments that have been posted since we all learned of the latest adjustments, Crystal has still not eased the concerns of their loyal following. I only hope that they continue to monitor this board.

Edited by jssabs
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Keith

You are right that there a pluses and minuses for each cruiseline, and it is good to have choice. But that is not the point so many of us are making. To many of us (not all) this change by Crystal undermines the All Inclusive promise by instituting a fee.We see it as a betrayal.

This fee undercuts the feeling of being at home on Crystal, and is in my mind not needed to control access. We care, as you do, about Crystal, and we think this policy has hurt its brand, its reputation, and we don't want that to be. We urge Crystal once again to rescind this fee, at least until they have allowed the Maitre D' to control access and backed him up when he says no to a guest who wishes to dine at Prego and Silk Road every night.

Gloria and Steve

 

Agree wholeheartedly, very well said

 

Caryll

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Keith

Yes there have been controversies with other lines as there have been with Crystal in the past. Sometimes they are trivial things like chocolates on the pillowe or doilies in the wastebasket, but what we think is that this is different. This is a major betrayal of AI, and we don't know what's next. We are very disappointed with Crystal management, and hope they rescind the fee as an indication that they intend to maintain the unique position of Crystal Cruises in the industry.

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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.

 

Tmcmullan, I was on the Black Sea cruise on the Symphony this past summer and I echo your thoughts. The ship was full. We had no trouble getting a reservation in either specialty restaurant as long as we were flexible as to day and time. We don't make our reservations on line because we like to wait until we get on board to go to the specialty restaurants with new found friends. Interestingly, Nobu was on board for this cruise which put an extra demand on Silk Road but we were still able to get a reservation. Again the key is flexibility and working with the maitre'd. In all of our 6 cruises to date on Symphony, we never had a problem as long as we maintained some flexibility and were willing to be waitlisted.

 

Taking Crystal at its word that the new fee is a crowd control policy, I think it is a classic example of a few passengers abusing a privilege resulting in a rule that harms the large majority of passengers. I think the maitre'd is very capable of identifying the abusers and can manage the reservations accordingly without the need for any fee. While I was pleased to see that Crystal did take note of the high level of protest to the fee and made some adjustments, I am concerned that they will feel that the problem is now solved and will not consider further adjustments or elimination of the fee completely. I also share the concerns of many that this is a sign of the future and that the great Crystal product and experience is gradually being diluted so that Crystal will no longer be unique and special.

 

Clearly, looking at the volume and content of comments that have been posted since we all learned of the latest adjustments, Crystal has still not eased the concerns of their loyal following. I only hope that they continue to monitor this board.

 

This has been my experience as well over 21 cruises in the last 15 years, not always the exact day or time but always available except for one head waiter in Silk Road years ago who literally only spoke to Asians. That was easily skirted with Sushi Bar evenings and I haven't seen him around recently.

I too hope Crystal is listening and reviews their policy, while I was pleased to hear initially that WC guests would be exempted (since I am looking forward to my first WC in 2015) I now feel that it is just as unfair as only allowing those with $$$ to burn to dine in these venues. I still feel an equitable solution would be 1 reservation (either venue) for each 5 nights (or 4 nights or 6 nights) on board and after day 2 (or 3 or whatever) open the bookings to all. Someone might have to grow a backbone and learn to say no but .....

 

Caryll

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I find all this talk of fairness interesting. I'll first digress a bit with a story. I sailed the Celebrity Solstice on a transatlantic 18 months ago. I was truly not impressed for several reasons but one that stands our was a feeling of being discriminated against as a first time Celebrity Cruiser. If you have followed my cruise reports you know I enjoy sunrises and will usually be out on deck to photograph them. Sometimes if it's windy or the like I will want to watch from inside. On the Solstice the equivalent of Palm Court was closed to all but Elites nearly all morning for their breakfast. That left a taste in my mouth that has forever soured me on the brand.

 

One of the things I have always loved about Crystal is that everyone, form a first time cruiser in an E cabin to a regular in the Crystal Penthouse is treated like royalty. It isn't perfectly so (Things like butlers and room service from Prego/Silk Road) but the experience is still very uniform. Even though I now have many Crystal cruises behind me, that's still one of the things I love about Crystal.

 

In reading the comments by LAFFNVEGAS and others I was beginning to get the impression that a significant distinction was beginning to develop here--- not from action by Crystal, but from the de-facto distinction that those with a number of Crystal cruises (like most who post here) know how to work the system to their advantage while those on their first few Crystal cruises don't and are likely to have difficulty getting reservations. Crystal didn't intentionally create this distinction, but I think it's real, and may detract from the experience of the relatively new Crystal cruiser. While the new proposal has some issues, I think it could be a good starting point in reversing this trend.

 

With regard to the latest changes, I have mixed reactions. I think at the 50-cruise level, the number of people who will be exempt from the new fee will be small enough that it will have little impact on the rest of us. I am a bit concerned about the World Cruise exception; I hope that doesn't reignite the full WC vs segmenter debate. I think there should be some additional modification, especially for people on multiple segments.

 

I would also like to see a more gradual implementation of any fee, perhaps $10 for the second reservation, $20 for the 3rd, and $30 for any additional.

 

I hope I make at least a little sense here.

 

Roy

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I would like to share my point of view from my experience. Some of you would consider my DH and I "abusers" of the system for the specialty restaurants. From the first time that I read one of Keith's blogs, I believed that Crystal might be a good fit for us. I knew that Silk Road would be a restaurant where we would be thrilled to dine and we were happy to pay the cover charge. We made the one reservation allowed before we boarded the ship and we made it for one of the first few days of our cruise. While we were dining in the restaurant, we commented on how much we loved the service, food, etc. and we were invited, at that time, to make another reservation. We did and, while we were dining the second time, we were asked if we would like to return again. We did. We were also invited to a hosted dinner in Silk Road.

 

On our second cruise, we once again made a single booking for Silk Road before we boarded. After the dinner, we asked if there was any space available before the end of the cruise for us to dine in Silk Road again. We were able to have a late reservation a couple of days later. Upon our return, we were, once again, asked if we would like another reservation later in the cruise. We accepted as did other people we had met.

 

I do not believe we abused the system; we simply used the system that was in place. We did not take dining times away from people who were already booked and, if by day 5 of a cruise a passenger has not made a booking, I do not think that we can be held responsible for him/her not getting a reservation.

 

We would not have had any issue adhering to a policy for dining just as we have no issue with dress codes, etc.

 

Despite being gold and having lots of perks, we left Regent after the cruise line decided to implement policies that treated passengers differently outside of their cabins. I truly hope that this will not be the case for Crystal. Up until now, the Crystal experience has been fabulous!

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Hi Folks; I have been reading these, it seems like thousands, posts and I certainly understand if folks don't like this change. Six months ago I probably would have not been happy with any change at Crystal, but once again my perspective has changed. Where I was in 1967 changed much for me. Crystal has been very good for my wife, Mary and me. I lost Mary four months ago and of course my whole life is up-side-down. We forget, in real life, the changes Crystal has made, is a stub of the toe. If we didn't have this what would there be to talk about? That's it folks! Soap Box closed. ROY

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I too hope Crystal is listening and reviews their policy, while I was pleased to hear initially that WC guests would be exempted (since I am looking forward to my first WC in 2015) I now feel that it is just as unfair as only allowing those with $$$ to burn to dine in these venues.Caryll

 

I agree - you do not make an unfair policy fair by adding even more ways for certaing catagories of guests to avoid its implications.

 

I still feel an equitable solution would be 1 reservation (either venue) for each 5 nights (or 4 nights or 6 nights) on board and after day 2 (or 3 or whatever) open the bookings to all. Someone might have to grow a backbone and learn to say no but .....

Caryll

 

Now that is what I call a fair approach - fancy a senior positon in Crystal?

 

BTW - mariners - I for one do not at all hold the guests who were using the previous policy responsible for this change - it is for management to introduce a fair policy and advise guests of it - not for you the guest to guess the problem .....

Edited by tmcmullan
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If that's so, then why let the preferred group off the hook? You can either make one reservation or you can make more but it should be equal to all guests. The policy has ALWAYS been one reservation per cruise, it just wasn't enforced (kinda like the dress codes of old) by the maitres d'. Crowd control can be achieved without a monetary penalty. Crystal knows about the people who eat there every night and they are just giving them a pass. They are the ones taking the tables from people who haven't gone at all.

 

Because it's yet another loyalty reward (of which Crystal already has many for guests at that tier, and when you spend that much money with a company that is expected). I think you're seeing my point if they're giving free passes to the only big group who would be paying the $30 fee to begin with.

 

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.

 

Sorry about my misinterpretation on that one -- I took that way too granular. I'm still not sure if I like it varying between voyages though, can you imagine the complaints from passengers When they were charged one fee one week and a different fee the next? (Or worse yet their friends were charged $20 last week and they got charged $30 this week, but if they had sailed next week it would be $10?) A it is we see complaints that it's getting waived as a loyalty reward, and that's an open perk available to all of us in time. But at least that was a creative thought to be more customer friendly.

 

Vince

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Hi Folks; I have been reading these, it seems like thousands, posts and I certainly understand if folks don't like this change. Six months ago I probably would have not been happy with any change at Crystal, but once again my perspective has changed. Where I was in 1967 changed much for me. Crystal has been very good for my wife, Mary and me. I lost Mary four months ago and of course my whole life is up-side-down. We forget, in real life, the changes Crystal has made, is a stub of the toe. If we didn't have this what would there be to talk about? That's it folks! Soap Box closed. ROY

 

Roy, I am so very sorry about Mary.

 

I so enjoyed meeting you both on voyage 0226 and I will always remember our early morning workouts in the Fitness Center and the talks that you, Chuck and I and from time to time a couple of others from this board had.

 

Your thoughts about perspective are very much appreciated.

 

Best to you.

 

Keith

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It is hard to consider dropping Crystal over the $30 charge. New to Crystal folks may have experienced from premium/mass cruiselines reservation fees of $25+ charges for specialty restaurants, and therefore, are less likely to blink at the Crystal $30/.

On a Harmony cruise, we had invited a couple to dinner and as our guests we signed for the $7/person tab. They still remember this! Many folks would not go to the specialty restaurants because of there being a gratuity charge. Having experienced AI, the restaurants were definitely busier.

We will make a concerted effort to do the pre-board bookings to ensure that we have our 2 bookings. As to whether or not we make additional reservations with the $30/ charge? Who knows.
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[quote name='BWIVince']Because it's yet another loyalty reward (of which Crystal already has many for guests at that tier, and when you spend that much money with a company that is expected). I think you're seeing my point if they're giving free passes to the only big group who would be paying the $30 fee to begin with.
Vince[/QUOTE]


Sorry I can't agree with you on this one. The loyalty benefits by and large do not affect other guests - shipboard credit, room upgrades (IF AVAILABLE), special dinners, etc. This benefit is to the detriment of others and that is why it is not fair. I know life isn't fair but this really creates a class system and it could, and probably has already, caused resentment from some guests toward others. This looks more like an effort to mollify a certain group at the expense of others rather than an reward for loyalty. Even the airlines don't give upgrades unless space is available. Edited by suzeluvscruz
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This policy is not Crystal clear. What is clear,is this has upset many loyal Crystal cruisers.

If this policy comes to fruition.....everybody should abide by it regardless of what suite you have or how many cruises you have under your belt. This has turned into such a debacle.

Penny wise pound foolish.
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[quote name='rafinmd']
In reading the comments by LAFFNVEGAS and others I was beginning to get the impression that a significant distinction was beginning to develop here--- not from action by Crystal, but from the de-facto distinction that those with a number of Crystal cruises (like most who post here) know how to work the system to their advantage while those on their first few Crystal cruises don't and are likely to have difficulty getting reservations. Crystal didn't intentionally create this distinction, but I think it's real, and may detract from the experience of the relatively new Crystal cruiser. While the new proposal has some issues, I think it could be a good starting point in reversing this trend.


Roy[/quote]

Roy, I really enjoy reading your posts and following along on all your various journeys - I wish I were as adventuresome as you! However, in reading the above paragraph, I think you are being a little unfair to those of us "experienced" Crystal cruisers on the board. Comparing our board to others on CC, I think we are very open with all the perks and "secret handshakes" that make a Crystal cruise even more special. Keith's opus for first time cruisers tells all. I think it's just a case of new cruisers have so much information to digest, that things get missed until after a few cruises and they feel comfortable on the ship. But that's a common problem with anything new. For example, I just started going to a new grocery store. My shopping trips take much longer now because I am not yet used to the organization of the new store, but in 6 months, I'll be zipping around it just like I did my previous store. I don't blame the store or other shoppers for my difficulties, nor do I expect either the store or other shoppers to change to help me. I just know I need to adjust to a new situation. But again, I feel the experienced cruisers on this board are extremely helpful to "newbies", and try to advise new cruisers as much as possible on all the ways to "work the system".

Phyllis
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Dear Roy, Please accept our deep condolences on your Mary's passing.

Ray and I have fond memories of our cruise from Costa Rico, sharing a van and being the first to arrive at the port and having to wait to board.
Then when they notified you that they didn't have Mary's passport on board just before we were to land in Miami......They had given Mary back her passport (an error on their part) which she placed in her traveling purse, the same as anyone would.
Also thanks to you, the fast transfer through the airport and telling us about the AMEX lounge. I remember as if it was yesterday.
Again, we are so sorry about your loss.....Till we meet again on another Crystal Cruise.

Pat and Ray
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[quote name='PaulaJK']Bodogbodog,

Have you attended Crystal Society parties.....where many guests have accrued quite a total of cruises? Especially on segments of the WC?

This newest version of this new policy is ' class 'making on Crystal, something that didn't previously exist. When you sail segments of a WC you already pay a higher per diem. This will also make joining 'new' friends far more challenging.

Clearly I am disappointed in many of the directions Crystal is taking.[/QUOTE]

No - I have not been on a WC segment - keeping things in perspective WC segments are a minority of total cruises anyway and I still maintain the 50+ cruisers are in the minority

I disagree it's "class making" - like I've already said the net incremental cost is minimal against the overall cost of the cruise when an additional one or two extra dinners are added in the specialty restaurants - and the good news is supposedly guest will be able to secure those bookings easier than before

If you are disappointed then you have the ultimate power - and that is to exercise your choice of cruise lines. Personally I'll be staying and I'd place a bet that 99% of those who have posted here and threatened to cancel cruises or move all their business to other lines will, at the end of the day, remain Crystal customers

Human nature 101 is an inherent resistance to change and rejection of "increased costs" - no matter how trivial it is (and let's be realists - $30 pp say 2 times in a cruise ie $60 is trivial!)

It's a storm in a teacup - but makes for entertaining reading

I'm just looking forward to when the STEX thread's popularity is usurped by a "trading" thread for unrequired specialty restaurant reservations - eg I'll sell you my Prego entitlement for $10 or I'll swap you a night in Prego for a night at Nobu (I wonder if the market determines them to be of equal value!). It's sure going to confuse the staff when Mr Jones turns up to be seated for the Miss Smith reservation! Edited by Bodogbodog
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[B]Keith,[/B] has shared a world of information which has helped me to become more of a passenger who knows how it works and less of a person who misses things due to lack of knowledge.

Crystal is still a very good value for money in my thinking especially when compared to a host of other travel options.
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[quote name='Bodogbodog']No - I have not been on a WC segment - keeping things in perspective WC segments are a minority of total cruises anyway and I still maintain the 50+ cruisers are in the minority[QUOTE]

The WC accounts for about 25% of one ship's annual voyages, which is not insignificant. As for the 50+ cruisers, I believe you are mistaken. Not all are mentioned at every Crystal Society party, only big milestones. Crystal has been around for 20 years and there are many people from cruise #1 who are still cruising, and many segments at a time too.

[quote name='Bodogbodog'] I disagree it's "class making" - like I've already said the net incremental cost is minimal against the overall cost of the cruise when an additional one or two extra dinners are added in the specialty restaurants - and the good news is supposedly guest will be able to secure those bookings easier than before.

Cost is not the point, the point is charging some and not others. It does set one group aside as more privileged than the rest. Edited by suzeluvscruz
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[quote name='marienbad']Keith
You are right that there a pluses and minuses for each cruiseline, and it is good to have choice. But that is not the point so many of us are making. To many of us (not all) this change by Crystal undermines the All Inclusive promise by instituting a fee.We see it as a betrayal.
This fee undercuts the feeling of being at home on Crystal, and is in my mind not needed to control access. We care, as you do, about Crystal, and we think this policy has hurt its brand, its reputation, and we don't want that to be. We urge Crystal once again to rescind this fee, at least until they have allowed the Maitre D' to control access and backed him up when he says no to a guest who wishes to dine at Prego and Silk Road every night.
Gloria and Steve[/quote]

Keith, You are the best spokesman and PR man Crystal could ever have! Good for you and you deserve all the accolades on this board and hugely helpful for new Crystal cruisers. But you are so ever wrong on this one.
We also urge Crystal to rescind. Right on point and absolutely correct. This is a betrayal. When we booked and paid in 2013 for 2 cruises in 2014 we expected to be able to eat at the specialty restaurants without charge. I think this is a breech of contract. We have booked predicated on what we expect to have as advertised in 2013 that the specialty restaurants are all inclusive...no fees!
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[quote name='suzeluvscruz']
The WC accounts for about 25% of one ship's annual voyages, which is not insignificant. As for the 50+ cruisers, I believe you are mistaken. Not all are mentioned at every Crystal Society party, only big milestones. Crystal has been around for 20 years and there are many people from cruise #1 who are still cruising, and many segments at a time too.[/QUOTE]

So that's 12.5% of all voyagers if your data is correct - as I said that's the "minority" (I didn't use the term insignificant)

On the question of 50+ cruisers - I must hang with a different crowd than you as the vaster majority of cruisers I met on my last Crystal cruise were either first timers or below 10 cruises. I don't think I met anyone who was a 50+

[quote name='CruiserM1']When we booked and paid in 2013 for 2 cruises in 2014 we expected to be able to eat at the specialty restaurants without charge. I think this is a breech of contract. We have booked predicated on what we expect to have as advertised in 2013 that the specialty restaurants are all inclusive...no fees![/QUOTE]

That I agree with - those with existing bookings and who are fully paid up should have the contract honoured. Although in reality I suspect it's just too hard administratively to handle. They should certainly be able to cancel without penalty if they are that upset about the change as Crystal have shifted the goal posts on them. Edited by Bodogbodog
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