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Crystal Announces a Change to Specialty Restaurants


LAFFNVEGAS
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Actually, ....... Those that really want to dine there can do so, but at a cost and then they decide if the extra cost is worth it; those that have been using the specialty dining venues as their daily Main Dining Room will be discouraged, but not prevented, from doing so. Maybe this system will not work, but it is worth a try. Although there have been a lot of complaints on this board, I think it is much ado about nothing. Someone thinking of switching from another line to Crystal (or thinking of cruising for the first time, and is considering Crystal) will get one free meal in each dining venue as part of the all-inclusive cruise price, and will understand they have to pay for some things as extras, including the Vintage Room and extra meals in the specialty restaurants........

 

Agree 100%.. wow.. over food... or ambiance.. or whatever... all this fuss over $30... sad

Jim

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The hogging that you mention can be easily flagged and controlled by the maître d. without a service charge. Even if it were true that a service charge might control demand, then this is even more insulting to guests to have to hear this from Crystal.

 

This is their official explanation on the website: "The $30 fee is a reservations fee that is intended to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the specialty restaurants equally. We have found that many guests enjoy the specialty restaurants and book every evening in their favorite venue. Unfortunately, that does not allow all of our guests to enjoy these restaurants throughout the voyage. With this policy we hope to ensure that all our guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the Specialty Restaurants during their cruise. Note: There is no additional charge for the food, the all-inclusive wine, spirits and beers, and gratuities"

 

Just control the reservation system Crystal...Don't feed us the BS about how a fee will control our purchasing behavior. This is insulting. . Keep up the good fight Commodore Dave!

 

Thank you CruiserM1.

 

Those of us who agree that Crystal's surcharge is wrong on so many levels need to continue to speak out. And yes, Crystal WILL back down and modify the surcharge if enough of us take our business elsewhere.

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Agree 100%.. wow.. over food... or ambiance.. or whatever... all this fuss over $30... sad

 

Jim

 

It's not really over $30 - not for most at least - it's really over the philosophy and the insult of thinking it's the customer's job to control their booking issues (telling us this gives us "more control"......BS! It makes things easier and cheaper for them).

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It's not really over $30 - not for most at least - it's really over the philosophy and the insult of thinking it's the customer's job to control their booking issues (telling us this gives us "more control"......BS! It makes things easier and cheaper for them).

 

So true. Well said.

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I will chime in on this unfortunate change. I don't like it one bit. Further, since the laundry rooms' use can be very heavy at some points during any cruise, will charging for the use of the laundry machines rooms be next? I am happy to have sailed on Crystal when they were truly a luxury line. I never expected Crystal to disappoint even when I considered that it is a money making venture.

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The hogging that you mention can be easily flagged and controlled by the maître d. without a service charge. Even if it were true that a service charge might control demand, then this is even more insulting to guests to have to hear this from Crystal.

 

This is their official explanation on the website: "The $30 fee is a reservations fee that is intended to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the specialty restaurants equally. We have found that many guests enjoy the specialty restaurants and book every evening in their favorite venue. Unfortunately, that does not allow all of our guests to enjoy these restaurants throughout the voyage. With this policy we hope to ensure that all our guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the Specialty Restaurants during their cruise. Note: There is no additional charge for the food, the all-inclusive wine, spirits and beers, and gratuities"

 

Just control the reservation system Crystal...Don't feed us the BS about how a fee will control our purchasing behavior. This is insulting. . Keep up the good fight Commodore Dave!

 

Crystal's proposal addresses two problems though, not just one. Flagging and controlling, which Crystal did to both previous systems as well as the new policy, is only half the issue, as we have discussed here extensively. While it may serve some here to just ignore the other half of the problem, in the real world ops people have to sometimes cast a bigger net then the customer plots out in their own minds.

 

That said of course, everyone is welcome to book the product that best suits their style -- I have no problem with anyone who feels strongly enough about this issue to book away -- either because they don't want to participate in a product like that, or because they think that Crystal will see a boycott effect.

 

It's not really over $30 - not for most at least - it's really over the philosophy and the insult of thinking it's the customer's job to control their booking issues (telling us this gives us "more control"......BS! It makes things easier and cheaper for them).

 

I don't like the $30 fee, but I can't call this point BS... It does put the choice on the consumer, which is more consistent with Crystal's "never say no" philosophy.

 

Old System: Other passengers determined your fate for additional reservations

New System: The passenger themselves choose whether additional visits are worth spending $30 a pop for. If they do, they're almost certainly in.

 

Vince

Edited by BWIVince
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I don't like the $30 fee, but I can't call this point BS... It does put the choice on the consumer, which is more consistent with Crystal's "never say no" philosophy.

 

Old System: Other passengers determined your fate for additional reservations

New System: The passenger themselves choose whether additional visits are worth spending $30 a pop for. If they do, they're almost certainly in.

 

Vince

 

I disagree - other passengers can still determine whether or not I can get an extra seat at the table, because there is no limit on how often a passenger or group of passengers can dine there. Truly giving me the choice would put limits on that, either in numbers (how often a passenger can dine there) or on time (after a limited number of reservations, it's first come first serve or same-day reservations only). This system may discourage some people from dining there too often, but the option to dine there is still unlimited and passengers could still be shut out of additional spots (beyond the one they make on the PCPC, if they choose to).

 

If they truly wanted to limit the number of times passengers could eat there to allow everyone a chance, they could have done that, but they chose not to. They've chosen to make money from people wanting to dine there, not chosen to fairly make it available to everyone.

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I disagree - other passengers can still determine whether or not I can get an extra seat at the table, because there is no limit on how often a passenger or group of passengers can dine there. Truly giving me the choice would put limits on that, either in numbers (how often a passenger can dine there) or on time (after a limited number of reservations, it's first come first serve or same-day reservations only). This system may discourage some people from dining there too often, but the option to dine there is still unlimited and passengers could still be shut out of additional spots (beyond the one they make on the PCPC, if they choose to).

 

If they truly wanted to limit the number of times passengers could eat there to allow everyone a chance, they could have done that, but they chose not to. They've chosen to make money from people wanting to dine there, not chosen to fairly make it available to everyone.

 

 

I believe this is at the core of the frustration that so many of us are feeling about Crystal over this issue. There was no attempt to bring in another method of reducing over-booking and providing more opportunity for everyone to have a chance. As result, whether Crystal intended it to be so or not, it looks like they took the most financially convenient path for them rather than truly putting the passengers' interests first.

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I will chime in on this unfortunate change. I don't like it one bit. Further, since the laundry rooms' use can be very heavy at some points during any cruise, will charging for the use of the laundry machines rooms be next? I am happy to have sailed on Crystal when they were truly a luxury line. I never expected Crystal to disappoint even when I considered that it is a money making venture.

 

I share your opinion, as do many others.

 

It is interesting that this issue has so far generated nearly 1,100 comments and over 51,000 views on this single thread. That's a lot of people getting the impression that Crystal is no longer an all-inclusive cruise line that many feel has gone a bit too far in nickel and diming people.

 

Hopefully, this won't be lost on Crystal.

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There is no need to design a new system, they have a system in place that can flag your second visit and charge you 30$. All they have to do is just say no unless there are empty tables! I have also heard that all this started when they took away a 7$ charge, why not just make it 7$ again instead of 30$? I can guess this will also start problems in the restaurant when people show up who do not understand all this. As for canceling trips, I had three booked with deposit paid, I have canceled two and gotten my money back because of the limited choice's for dinner besides the MD.

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It occurs to me that the passion on the side of those against the $30 extra-dinners charge and those, like me, who are sympathetic with Crystal and think it is a fair system to regulate demand may not be about the money but the perception of Crystal's motives. I believe that the change really is to help create a fair system for allocating limited space and that the charge beyond the first dinner is not inconsistent with the "all-inclusive" label. Others clearly view this as a money-grab by Crystal or a lazy way of handling a problem that could be handled by other means (which they have recommended) or that there really is no over-demand problem. After all the laudatory comments about Crystal I am surprised that so many people, including apparently long-time customers, are so quick to assume the worst of the company. I know there are a lot of complaints about mainstream and even premium lines "nickel-and-diming" customers--adding charges for what should be free (such as access special quiet areas of a ship (a charge also imposed to limit demand), caviar, room service after certain hours, etc.)--so perhaps people are right to try to nip such movements in that direction in the bud on Crystal, but I still think this is a reasonable means to control demand and I am giving Crystal executives the benefit of the doubt.

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I disagree - other passengers can still determine whether or not I can get an extra seat at the table, because there is no limit on how often a passenger or group of passengers can dine there. Truly giving me the choice would put limits on that, either in numbers (how often a passenger can dine there) or on time (after a limited number of reservations, it's first come first serve or same-day reservations only). This system may discourage some people from dining there too often, but the option to dine there is still unlimited and passengers could still be shut out of additional spots (beyond the one they make on the PCPC, if they choose to).

 

If they truly wanted to limit the number of times passengers could eat there to allow everyone a chance, they could have done that, but they chose not to. They've chosen to make money from people wanting to dine there, not chosen to fairly make it available to everyone.

 

While I agree there is a possibility that there will be very rare nights when demand may still all the remaining extra slots with $30 diners, I think if this thread has shown anything, it's shown that few people are willing to pay $30 to dine there a second time. (I won't pay it.)

 

But here's another stroke of brilliance -- if this doesn't curb demand enough, the exact same system can be adjusted to $45 (or whatever) to cut demand by X% more if this doesn't quite cut demand enough and they still get too many requests. Likewise, if tables go empty, I would expect the fee to be cut to $25 or $20.

 

I agree the financial part is a shame, but unfortunately nothing alters a customer's behavior like money does.

 

I believe this is at the core of the frustration that so many of us are feeling about Crystal over this issue. There was no attempt to bring in another method of reducing over-booking and providing more opportunity for everyone to have a chance. As result, whether Crystal intended it to be so or not, it looks like they took the most financially convenient path for them rather than truly putting the passengers' interests first.

 

I can hardly blame them for that...

 

And besides, when you have to make an unpopular change, you make it in as few steps as possible. The second cut is never accepted as well as the first one was, even if the first one practically burns down the house. I also don't blame Crystal for addressing both sides of the equation with one policy change instead of trying half of it first, and then having to make a second change later if/when demand still overran the slots. Not only are people angrier the second try, but it makes management look clueless to have to keep slashing on the same policy point over and over again.

 

Vince

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There is no need to design a new system, they have a system in place that can flag your second visit and charge you 30$. All they have to do is just say no unless there are empty tables! I have also heard that all this started when they took away a 7$ charge, why not just make it 7$ again instead of 30$? I can guess this will also start problems in the restaurant when people show up who do not understand all this. As for canceling trips, I had three booked with deposit paid, I have canceled two and gotten my money back because of the limited choice's for dinner besides the MD.

 

The issue goes back further than AI, and really is much bigger than the $30... The $30 is just the best Band-Aid that Crystal's management can think of, if I had to guess.

 

When the general arrangement of Crystal Harmony was set, there were few if any cruise lines offering alternative themed dining venues. The closest thing was probably Kloster's extra-fee venues (Le Bistro on NCL and the Royal Grill on Royal Viking Sun), but in both cases the cost to dine there was far more than just a tip. Freestyle Dining and concepts like that wouldn't come along for decades.

 

The results were mixed. People who have been sailing since Harmony's infancy may remember you practically had to give blood to dine in Prego, while Kyoto could have been used as a bowling alley without impacting dinner service one bit.

 

Changes were made, and designs were altered when it came time to build Symphony. And so the process continued to evolve with each newbuild, and sometimes with refits in the interim.

 

So what's the problem with the $7? The issue is that Crystal's passengers have changed, their expectations have changed, the industry has changed, and the capacity has not. Especially on Symphony, you're dealing with a ship designed 20 years ago, when alternative dining was a cool experimental fad. Now, passengers demand a variety of places to dine, just like you mentioned. The $7 that controlled demand in the 90's was already losing control before AI, and since AI has come completely off the rails.

 

From what we've seen of Crystal's last attempt at new ship designs, the references are to multiple, large, open dining venues above/adjacent to the main dining room, so this seems to be an issue that Crystal knows it has to address in newbuilds, but I think the $30 fee shows their options on the existing fleet are pretty limited given the change in the world around them.

 

 

 

Whatever happened to the relative new "All inclusive" policy ?

 

See above. All Inclusive has caused a few adjustments (in many different parts of the hotel department) to help keep things running smoothly. The fee for extra nights in the alternative restaurants is one such example.

 

Vince

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Interestingly, I keep seeing ads for Oceania at the top of this very page touting (in large print) no fee specialty restaurants!

 

Just 1 little problem: Red Ginger is nowhere near as good as Silk Road and Toscana is about Olive Garden level. Jacgues is pretty good but Polo Grill was boring. Just my opinion but I didn't think the food overall was as good on Oceania as it is on Crystal and the service was downright terrible. Not the fault of the waiters they tried so hard but just extremely slow I guess due to overcrowding at all venues.

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I have hesitated to bring this up for fear of getting flamed, but I can think of a reason why Crystal did not want to set a maximum limit on specialty restaurant visits.

 

It has been mentioned on this thread that Asian passengers seem to dine in Silk Road every night [and there were some complaints that the sushi chef seems to favor them with off-menu dishes]. Well, if I as an American were to sail on a Japanese ship where the MDR served almost exclusively Japanese food and there was a specialty restaurant with European food, I would probably want to dine there most of the time. And if the specialty menu didn't change, it would be very nice if the chef tried to vary things up since I would have run through the menu after a couple of nights.

 

The $30 policy allows anyone who wants Asian food all the time to dine in Silk Road every night, while still ensuring that all of us can get in once per segment. Viewed in this light, it's actually a very reasonable approach to limiting demand and ensuring a fair shot.

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While I agree there is a possibility that there will be very rare nights when demand may still all the remaining extra slots with $30 diners, I think if this thread has shown anything, it's shown that few people are willing to pay $30 to dine there a second time. (I won't pay it.)

 

But here's another stroke of brilliance -- if this doesn't curb demand enough, the exact same system can be adjusted to $45 (or whatever) to cut demand by X% more if this doesn't quite cut demand enough and they still get too many requests. Likewise, if tables go empty, I would expect the fee to be cut to $25 or $20.

 

I agree the financial part is a shame, but unfortunately nothing alters a customer's behavior like money does.

 

Vince

 

So we can all look forward to Crystal auctioning off tables in the speciality restaurants for more or less money depending on how the current surcharge pans out? Hardly seems like a luxury, all-inclusive line to me.

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While I agree there is a possibility that there will be very rare nights when demand may still all the remaining extra slots with $30 diners, I think if this thread has shown anything, it's shown that few people are willing to pay $30 to dine there a second time. (I won't pay it.)

 

But here's another stroke of brilliance -- if this doesn't curb demand enough, the exact same system can be adjusted to $45 (or whatever) to cut demand by X% more if this doesn't quite cut demand enough and they still get too many requests. Likewise, if tables go empty, I would expect the fee to be cut to $25 or $20.

 

I agree the financial part is a shame, but unfortunately nothing alters a customer's behavior like money does.

 

 

 

 

You've made my point that this is about making them money from a popular feature rather than simply trying to solve the problem in an equally inclusive way (i.e. equally available to all passengers, not just those willing or able to pay more). Yes, money does alter people's behaviour, but that's supposed to not be a factor on an "all inclusive" luxury experience, and it's hardly something to crow about in a press release or think it will make you any friends other than your shareholders. Controlling people's behaviour by raising the prices doesn't take any management skill or savvy, so I don't give Crystal any respect or admiration for this move.

 

Nevertheless, I probably will partake of a couple of more dinners in Silk Road this trip. I didn't on my last voyage, but it was my first Crystal cruise and I wanted the experience of the MDR, to try it out. Now, suitably unimpressed by the venue, I will be more willing to eat elsewhere. This charge won't change my behaviour on board a Crystal cruise, but it might change my choice of cruise lines in the future.

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The $30 policy allows anyone who wants Asian food all the time to dine in Silk Road every night, while still ensuring that all of us can get in once per segment. Viewed in this light, it's actually a very reasonable approach to limiting demand and ensuring a fair shot.

 

Actually, I don't think it does ensure everyone a single dinner in each restaurant per segment, since on short segments I still think the capacity of the ship is greater than the capacity of the restaurants. You could find yourself still unable to make a reservation, even via the PCPC - even if you are flexible with the time and date.

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Actually, I don't think it does ensure everyone a single dinner in each restaurant per segment, since on short segments I still think the capacity of the ship is greater than the capacity of the restaurants. You could find yourself still unable to make a reservation, even via the PCPC - even if you are flexible with the time and date.

 

If that's the case, no policy will solve the problem so we're wasting our time here.

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If that's the case, no policy will solve the problem so we're wasting our time here.

 

I think the issue is how best to mitigate the issue in a way that fits the definition of a luxury, all-inclusive cruise line that values all of its passengers. Copying solutions from lines like NCL, Costa and Carnival are not the solution. The competition is Regent, Seabourn, Silversea and SeaDream, and Crystal would do well to realize what market it competes in if it wants to survive.

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You've made my point that this is about making them money from a popular feature rather than simply trying to solve the problem in an equally inclusive way (i.e. equally available to all passengers, not just those willing or able to pay more). Yes, money does alter people's behaviour, but that's supposed to not be a factor on an "all inclusive" luxury experience, and it's hardly something to crow about in a press release or think it will make you any friends other than your shareholders. Controlling people's behaviour by raising the prices doesn't take any management skill or savvy, so I don't give Crystal any respect or admiration for this move.

 

Nevertheless, I probably will partake of a couple of more dinners in Silk Road this trip. I didn't on my last voyage, but it was my first Crystal cruise and I wanted the experience of the MDR, to try it out. Now, suitably unimpressed by the venue, I will be more willing to eat elsewhere. This charge won't change my behaviour on board a Crystal cruise, but it might change my choice of cruise lines in the future.

 

Absolutely correct. Crystal has shown no interest in finding a smart and passenger-friendly solution. Instead they have opted for the simple cash grab disguised as a solution to over-booking, which it definitely is not. Even their top booking agency believes it runs contrary to the all-inclusive model.

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The results were mixed. People who have been sailing since Harmony's infancy may remember you practically had to give blood to dine in Prego, while Kyoto could have been used as a bowling alley without impacting dinner service one bit.

 

Was "Jade Garden" called "Kyoto" originally? Now known as "Silk Road"?

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