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Crystal Announces a Change to Specialty Restaurants


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This is a very interesting change. Crystal has a great product and continues to try and reinvent themselves with different changes every year. The one thing I want to bring up is the fact that this change will be great for the people who really don't mind the extra charge. Other mass market lines that have extra charge restaurants like Celebrity work out great for me. I never ever eat in the main dining room because the food is just so so. Because they charge a fee to eat in the special restaurants the majority of the passengers refuse to pay the extra charge. I don't mind so I can get in anytime I want. In fact I have booked reservations for the entire cruise and never have a problem. Yes I pay more but get a more upscale experience and it is worth it to me on these mass market ships. The same will hold true for Crystal. Most passengers will use the free reservation and then just won't go again for the rest of the cruise. This will be the way they boycott the extra charge. That will leave plenty of reservations for the few who are happy to pay for it. Don't forget the fact that many of us end up getting quite a few hundred dollars of shipboard credits from our travel agent and the STEX program. This can be used to offset the extra charge. You either love the product or not. If you are unhappy you might not cruise with Crystal again. You do have to ask yourself this question. If Crystal feels they have to do this to make extra revenue then are they really in trouble as a cruise line? With only two ships and older ones at that they are really not keeping up with the industry standard for the luxury cruise lines, especially with the cabin size compared with other luxury lines. Crystal might not be around in a few more years. I will be going on my 10th cruise on Crystal in January. I more or less had to go early in 2014 so I could use my free upgrade before that program changed. Another take away. Yes I love the product but there are other good cruise lines out there to consider for the future.

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This change will be great for the people who really don't mind the extra charge. Other mass market lines that have extra charge restaurants like Celebrity work out great for me. I never ever eat in the main dining room because the food is just so so.

 

Here's a Crystal fan, in the middle of trying to defend this new policy, and it slips out that Crystal is now seen as just another mass market line. Also remember that when those other mass market lines started charging for their specialty restaurants, the food in the main dining rooms was considered to be pretty good. Then they started cutting the MDR budgets, with the excuse that you could always get really good food by paying for the specialty restaurants. Here goes Crystal down that slope!

 

You do have to ask yourself this question. If Crystal feels they have to do this to make extra revenue then are they really in trouble as a cruise line? With only two ships and older ones at that they are really not keeping up with the industry standard for the luxury cruise lines, especially with the cabin size compared with other luxury lines. Crystal might not be around in a few more years.

 

I'll bet that is a reaction Crystal didn't see coming!!! But you're right, this could imply that they really need that extra revenue. Of course, they'll never get enough $30 tabs to finance the much-needed new ship...

 

You either love the product or not... Yes I love the product but there are other good cruise lines out there to consider for the future.

 

I just went to Regent's website to check out their Value comparison tables. Clearly anyone who sails on Crystal can consider Silversea, Seabourn, Oceania and Regent. Since the bottom line cost isn't that different among them, unless one line can really distinguish itself as special there's no reason not to make itinerary the number one factor. If Crystal's dedicated fans begin to think that way, this $30 will be a very Pyrrhic victory indeed.

Edited by jazzbeau
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Hi Folks,

 

I'd like to add my view of this, I'm actually a fan of it. This only comes from one cruise on Crystal, but I could only get one reservation before departure, that was in Prego at 1030 pm. As I went through the cruise, I tried to make other reservations but both were full. I only got to dine in Silk Road thanks to a solo-traveler's shared table one night. Funny though, there were empty tables around us, as I would find out, from people that didn't show up.

 

These restaurants are small and very popular. The only way to ensure people show up for their reservations is to charge in my opinion. They will only reserve if they intend on coming. It would have opened up many more opportunities for me to dine in these restaurants.

 

ok...fire away!

 

Rob

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Keith,

 

Thanks for all you explanations of this new system.

 

Out of curiosity, do you mind if I ask what you think about the change?

 

I assume that Keith's silence (lack of stated opinion) on the subject speaks volumes. Hard to take a half-full view of this change IMO.

Edited by digtexas
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So I am away from this board for a while. Then recently I book one cruise with Crystal while thinking about another one or two we might want to do. I start keeping up with the threads again. Everything seems nice and quiet. None of the ranting and raving from times past, until suddenly this thread appears. Who says everything is changing? Seems like the good old days to me. :D

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Hi Folks,

 

I'd like to add my view of this, I'm actually a fan of it. This only comes from one cruise on Crystal, but I could only get one reservation before departure, that was in Prego at 1030 pm. As I went through the cruise, I tried to make other reservations but both were full. I only got to dine in Silk Road thanks to a solo-traveler's shared table one night. Funny though, there were empty tables around us, as I would find out, from people that didn't show up.

 

These restaurants are small and very popular. The only way to ensure people show up for their reservations is to charge in my opinion. They will only reserve if they intend on coming. It would have opened up many more opportunities for me to dine in these restaurants.

 

ok...fire away!

 

 

 

 

 

Will the charge go through if you don't show up for the reservation? I think you have to sign a charge slip before the charge goes through. If that is correct, the $30 charge will not change peoples' behavior.

As to getting a reservation before sailing, my advice is to reserve online as soon as you pay for the cruise.

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Maybe this will die a quiet death when the restaurants are empty and nobody's paying extra to go a second time.

 

As for keeping tabs on reservations - back in the olden days when we started cruising Crystal, and I'm talking 20 years ago, if you made a reservation for 4 people the maitre d' asked the names or stateroom numbers of the other guests so no one could get away with abusing the system. So it has been done without a "reservation" fee. This charge is a rather juvenile way to control people's behavior.

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A few random thoughts/questions to ponder.....

 

1. Will employees such as Officers, Sales/Crystal Society, etc still dine on a complimentary "space available" reservation basis while the paying customer is charged $30 for a "space available" reservation?

 

2. If I make an advance reservation in Prego via the PCPC for night #5 of our voyage, but on embarkation day am able to secure a reservation onboard for thatnight, will their system be sophisticated enough to switch my complimentary visit to night #1 and now charge me for night #5 which was originally set up to be at no charge? :eek::D:eek:

 

3. I agree with TER777's security concerns with regard to sharing booking numbers with other passengers. Even though you may be good friends with others you plan to dine with at a specialty restaurant, having access to someone else's PCPC is crossing the line IMO. You don't even need someone's booking number to sponsor them for STEX! To tighten security, I would think access to the PCPC would need to be changed to require a username and password instead of just a booking number and last name.

 

4. If I show up at Silk Road at 8:45pm without a reservation, with the restaurant seemingly winding down for night with many open tables in view, I don't think I'm going to swallow paying $30 for what Crystal has deemed as a "reservation fee".

 

We'll be aboard in January 2014, so it'll be interesting to see how this all plays out.

 

 

I retract my point number 2 now that I understand the PCPC changes... Ditto to your points, Beav.

 

On point number 3, that works ok for other people in my traveling party, but for friends I'd want to coordinate with, absolutely not.

 

On point number 2, I'd light-heartedly point out the new president used to work for one of the travel industry automation (GDS) companies. :D

 

Vince

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I don't have a dog in this fight, since I seldom eat in specialty restaurants more than once per cruise, so won't involve myself in the fray - already have enough on my plate regarding recent change in after-dinner dance music. However, can't help wonder if Crystal will charge me $30 for my next milestone special dinner in January if I already have an on-line resevation in the restaurnt! Oh, and wonder if the singles "table for eight" will disappear.

 

The new rules appear to be a great example of the old marketer's ploy of selling a "cost" to customers as a "benfit" !

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I just went to Regent's website to check out their Value comparison tables. Clearly anyone who sails on Crystal can consider Silversea, Seabourn, Oceania and Regent. Since the bottom line cost isn't that different among them, unless one line can really distinguish itself as special there's no reason not to make itinerary the number one factor. If Crystal's dedicated fans begin to think that way, this $30 will be a very Pyrrhic victory indeed.

 

The fares are obscenely high for single/solo travelers on most other line-200% most of the time and so no I can not look at any of the lines you mentioned as

1. I can't afford their fares for singles and

2. I am not paying for a second passenger when sailing alone!

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I assume that Keith's silence (lack of stated opinion) on the subject speaks volumes. Hard to take a half-full view of this change IMO.

 

I think there are several of us that have a half-full view of this change. I agree that I don't want to feel nickle and dimed (or I wouldn't spend thousands/tens-of-thousands on a cruise), BUT I generally don't dine more than once in the specialty restaurants. I AM hearing everyone complain in reviews that they couldn't get reservations and how Crystal wasn't doing anything to manage that problem.

 

If I get to hear people complain less here about getting reservations, and I don't have to pay to dine there, I'm ok with the trade-off.

 

I don't consider it a change I "like" because _I_ have never personally had trouble making a reservation before, so I don't see the need for a change, but it definitely falls into the "half-full" bucket for me.

 

Vince

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Yes. This rolls out in January of 2014. I never mentioned 2013 in either of my posts.

 

Keith

 

Nancy,

 

On the contrary, this is currently in effect. Because Sally included me as her guest in her two reservations, I was unable to make any myself on 3228.

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On the World Cruise I know people who eat in Silk Road or Prego most every night. I wonder how they will feel about this. It's not even the money, which can obviously mount up. It is about the loss of our old relaxed cruising. Maybe some cruise line will give up this frantic port to port to port cruising. Then maybe we can find a new cruise line which will be what Royal Viking and Crystal once were. By the way AI is hardly what it was advertised to be. It turns out to be a home wrecker much like the famous femme fatale.

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Maybe this will die a quiet death when the restaurants are empty and nobody's paying extra to go a second time.

 

As for keeping tabs on reservations - back in the olden days when we started cruising Crystal, and I'm talking 20 years ago, if you made a reservation for 4 people the maitre d' asked the names or stateroom numbers of the other guests so no one could get away with abusing the system. So it has been done without a "reservation" fee. This charge is a rather juvenile way to control people's behavior.

 

 

If think if tables go empty, the fee will be lowered first before they retract it.

 

That reminded me of another point -- a lot of people speculated about it being a revenue stream. Clearly there's a revenue component to this, but there's a difference between a fee designed to bring in some cash (without scaring anyone away, or the effect is lost), and a feee designed to change behavior and discourage people.

 

If this was a cash grab, the fee would have been $15. Few people who pay $3,000-$30,000 per person for a cruise are going to not book additional nights that they really want because there's a $15 fee. While the difference seems nominal, once you get in the $30-$50 range, consumers start to think twice and start ruling the idea out.

 

I'd be willing to bet if this was designed to only generate revenue, they would have made more money at a $20 or so price point than they will make at $30, even though most of Crystal's passengers could drop $30 on a cup of coffee if they felt like it.

 

Vince

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I don't "do" Facebook, so I'm curious if this subject is being debated over there as well? ;):confused:

 

I did post yesterday on Facebook's Home page that they were no longer All Inclusive but have not seen any other posts pop up, will check, maybe Crystal took it down. Still there but very difficult to find unless you're looking for it.

 

I also wrote to Crystal and complained (nicely) about the new policy. Some nameless individual copied and pasted the press release as an "answer." I have written back but no response as yet. Doubt if I ever will.

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If think if tables go empty, the fee will be lowered first before they retract it.

 

That's not what has happened at "the other mass market lines." Their specialty restaurants are always less than half full, but they RAISE the fees every year.

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I'm trying to find a open window after the closed door, for us to focus upon. How about resurrecting this thread, "Share your favorite special orders in the MDR" by SevenSeas70.

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1838552

 

I've read many say they were somewhat tired of the "same old" menus in the specialty restaurants. Let's look on the bright side and take this as an opportunity for more special orders in the MDR. Be creative!

 

Sure we are disappointed, but the C in Crystal stands for change, doesn't it?

Edited by crickette
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The fares are obscenely high for single/solo travelers on most other line-200% most of the time and so no I can not look at any of the lines you mentioned as

1. I can't afford their fares for singles and

2. I am not paying for a second passenger when sailing alone!

 

Carolyn,

 

I have sailed with Azamara and Oceania when they have reduced their solo supplements. You need to ask your travel agent to keep you informed of the special offers available.

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If think if tables go empty, the fee will be lowered first before they retract it.

 

That reminded me of another point -- a lot of people speculated about it being a revenue stream. Clearly there's a revenue component to this, but there's a difference between a fee designed to bring in some cash (without scaring anyone away, or the effect is lost), and a feee designed to change behavior and discourage people.

 

If this was a cash grab, the fee would have been $15. Few people who pay $3,000-$30,000 per person for a cruise are going to not book additional nights that they really want because there's a $15 fee. While the difference seems nominal, once you get in the $30-$50 range, consumers start to think twice and start ruling the idea out.

 

I'd be willing to bet if this was designed to only generate revenue, they would have made more money at a $20 or so price point than they will make at $30, even though most of Crystal's passengers could drop $30 on a cup of coffee if they felt like it.

 

Vince

 

I agree with a LOT of what you're saying here. There is definitely psychology involved with the "price point factor". While comparing Crystal to Celebrity is apples to oranges, how they price their specialty restaurants is always interesting to follow. They've steadily raised the fee from $20 to now $45 in their "top" restaurant over the past 10-12 years. With each $5 raise, they always lose a percentage of people who were previously willing to pay. In the meantime, a LOT of people over on the Celebrity board post about "deals" in the specialty restaurants once onboard ship for a given evening when bookings are light. We were board earlier this year and were "approached" while having lunch in the Lido with a 20% offer to dine that evening in a specialty restaurant. They also sell multi-night packages to the alternative restaurants that reduce the normal price. Even bartering with the Maitre'd goes on. One poster said the Maitre'd offered her 20% off the $45 price, she "countered" with 50% and he accepted. Crazy! I would hope if Crystal finds a drop in bookings for Prego and Silk Road they simply adjust the price accordingly and not resort to bartering eBay style! Hardly fitting for a luxury line.....

Edited by BEAV
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I hate to say but I had three trips booked, I just canceled two of them. I kept the other because my wife wants to go back to Iceland. Eating on this line is just too much of a hassle, with the ledo closed at night. These trips cost too much not to be able to eat when you want. I will stick with lines that have true open sitting.

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