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Raycin

Ultimate dining package question

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Not sure if it was a computer glitch or what, but I was just able to book the ultimate dining package for $250 for our 7 night cruise even though it said $24 per person per day!! Any 

way couple questions: Is gratuity included in this price or are we charged extra when we dine? Also we have all of our entertainment booked and I’m wondering if we can book our dinners right now or do we have to wait until we board? If that’s the case is it fairly easy to get into restaurants on a whim or should we book everything on day one?

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Need to wait till you get on board first two nights specialty are crowded so a little harder to get what you want . 

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Turkey day sale on UDP today.  Graphic wasn't updated and still says $24/$29.

 

With a dining package purchased in the cruise planner they will assign a restaurant for night one only.  Once onboard you book the remaining nights.

 

The Terms and Condition in the Cruise Planner explain gratuity:

 

"One reservation will be automatically created for the first night of the sailing. All other reservations must be made onboard and are subject to availability. Packages include service charge and food portion only for dinner and, when available, lunch service. "

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I was hoping there would be a sale on the ultimate drink package today too, but looks like $49 a person will be the best deal :classic_mellow:

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We had already booked the Ultimate Dining Package for our June cruise on Allure, so I cancelled and rebooked at the lower rate.  It was almost $40 a person less x 4 makes a good savings so it's like getting one person free.

 

I was really surprised at how much the price went down for our Harmony cruise.  All along it has been $203 per person and today it is down to $156.  That comes out cheaper for us than the 5 night package and a BOGO at Jamies and a separate booking at Hibachi.  I have heard that some people have been lucky enough to get to use their package at Hibachi and maybe we will have the same luck, but either way, we are saving.

 

The alcohol package for Harmony was $47 when it was booked, so that is still cheaper than now.  The price for Allure is $52 so I will wait on that as the Diamond Plus discount might end up better.  

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56 minutes ago, twangster said:

... Packages include service charge .....

So to be clear, yes tips are included, even though there will be a line on the bill for additional tip.

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Just now, TBone2K said:

So to be clear, yes tips are included, even though there will be a line on the bill for additional tip.

 

Yes.  The normal price of the UDP on most ships is $24 per day.  That includes the service charge or gratuity. 

 

When I get a free specialty dining offer from a travel agent I add a tip because I don't know how that billing works and I wouldn't want the wait staff to be left empty handed.  

 

Let's face it, $24 per day for dinner when you have already paid for dinner in the MDR is a very high price to pay.  A part of that high price is the gratuity (service charge) for the staff.

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

 

Yes.  The normal price of the UDP on most ships is $24 per day.  That includes the service charge or gratuity. 

 

When I get a free specialty dining offer from a travel agent I add a tip because I don't know how that billing works and I wouldn't want the wait staff to be left empty handed.  

 

Let's face it, $24 per day for dinner when you have already paid for dinner in the MDR is a very high price to pay.  A part of that high price is the gratuity (service charge) for the staff.

Interesting point about already paying for dinner in the MDR. This is a trip of a lifetime for us and I keep reading such bad reviews about the dining room food. Are the specialty dining restaurants worth the extra cost? My husband is a little disappointed we won’t be experiencing the main dining room aspect of cruising, but we’re huge foodies so specialty dining seems to be a no brainer if it’s truly tastier than the dining room. I did forget about formal nights and that chilled soup (!) Can we request lobster tails or chilled soup in a specialty restaurant if we know it’s on the main dining menu that night?

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8 minutes ago, Raycin said:

Interesting point about already paying for dinner in the MDR. This is a trip of a lifetime for us and I keep reading such bad reviews about the dining room food. Are the specialty dining restaurants worth the extra cost? My husband is a little disappointed we won’t be experiencing the main dining room aspect of cruising, but we’re huge foodies so specialty dining seems to be a no brainer if it’s truly tastier than the dining room. I did forget about formal nights and that chilled soup (!) Can we request lobster tails or chilled soup in a specialty restaurant if we know it’s on the main dining menu that night?

 

Food is personal so that is an individual perspective.  I cruise often and don't always buy specialty dining.  I'm okay with the MDR for the most part.  Some nights are not very inspiring so I eat in the Windjammer some nights.  I'm not a foodie but do appreciate a great meal now and then.

 

Speciality dining offers a nicer ambiance and typically better food but again that is subjective.  I've had very good speciality dining experiences and some just pedestrian or bad.

 

Generally speaking ignore bad reviews.  Some people believe themselves to be professional critics but are not.  One bad experience which was likely an incorrect  expectation on their part and the whole cruise was ruined.  They turn to the internet for revenge rather then taking ownership of their mistake.  I see it all the time.  

Edited by twangster

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3 hours ago, twangster said:

 

Let's face it, $24 per day for dinner when you have already paid for dinner in the MDR is a very high price to pay.  A part of that high price is the gratuity (service charge) for the staff.

 

Let's face it, when you're paying a miniscule $499 for a full 7 day cruise when on sale, food quality/service/presentation will not be 5 star. By offering cruisers the choice of dinners cooked a la minute (not 2 hours in advance with 3000 other people in MDR), personal calm service (vs. rushed/disorganized service in MDR), Intimate dining with better views and separation between tables (rather than tables 6 inches apart to others). Filet Mignon, Osso Bucco, Wonderland Experience just to name one of many experiences you cannot have in MDR, let alone you are not forced to sit at the same table, in the same chair every single night instead of experiencing the variety the ship offers,  then I guess it's up to the cruiser whether $24 per night is worth it to them. So instead of $499 now your cruise becomes $667 for the week... big deal!

 

Or you can sale on a luxury line for the same 7 days for $1999 and get all of that in your included fare.

 

1 hour ago, Raycin said:

Are the specialty dining restaurants worth the extra cost? but we’re huge foodies so specialty dining seems to be a no brainer 

 

If your statement in red above is truthful, I feel you will be disappointed with MDR. None of your meals will likely be memorable a few months from now.

 

Are specialty venues worth the extra cost to me? Absolutely. My GF is a major foodie.. we now never go to MDR anymore.

More often than not, for the reasons I mentioned above, as I'm sitting by my full floor-ceiling glass view window in Chops savoring my Forrest Mushroom soup & Filet (a dinner that is upwards to $100 on land), I often think about how I used to love MDR with no view sitting in the middle of the room, amongst the chaos of servers with massive trays basically running all over the place to keep up, the lukewarm very average food that is served since it sits there for a long time being served with the other 1000 guests at the exact same time as you. The only one thing I miss about MDR is the comaraderie of meeting new cruising friends. I have found this has not stopped me from having a multitude of friends on board from the CL/DL and various events/shows around the ship, let alone from the roll call.

 

Personally, I cannot remember MDR dinners other than the lamb rack I had on Quantum's Grande when Dynamic Dining was still on and the Indian Feast served to us on Indy out of the blue. However, I can still summarize many of the specialty dinners I have had, which ship and what was so great about it. You said this was a trip of a lifetime.... stick with specialty in my very humble opinion. Have a great cruise !

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2 minutes ago, Hoopster95 said:

 

Let's face it, when you're paying a miniscule $499 for a full 7 day cruise when on sale, food quality/service/presentation will not be 5 star.

 

Right.   Next Royal Sale: 7 Night Cruise $100!  *MDR purchased required at $195 per night.  

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2 minutes ago, twangster said:

 

Right.   Next Royal Sale: 7 Night Cruise $100!  *MDR purchased required at $195 per night.  

 

DON'T give Miami any more bright ideas!!! 😕

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With the sale we are now looking at the UDP but I have a question.  We are a party of 7 and I'm wondering how hard it will be to get reservations for our group.  Also, what does it mean by a $35 credit for a la cart places and which are these?  And another question - it says we can do lunch at the specialty restaurants for lunch on sea days does this include embarkation day?  Thanks

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4 hours ago, TBone2K said:

So to be clear, yes tips are included, even though there will be a line on the bill for additional tip.

Not so clear. We just got off Symphony and were told by the waiter that the service charge included goes into the ships  pool and not to the server. Our waiter said they get about $3.00 as a tip. Any tips that are left after service are kept by the waiter.  Waiter told us anything labeled service charge goes into the pool, tips are different and are for the server. Our waiter also said some of the venues also pool all tips and are shared by all waiters in a specific restaurant. 

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Is JR's considered a specialty restaurant?  Would it be included for lunch or dinner with the UDP?

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1 minute ago, molly361 said:

Is JR's considered a specialty restaurant?  Would it be included for lunch or dinner with the UDP?

 

Yes, it would be included.  Probably not the best value though.

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25 minutes ago, DVC4US said:

With the sale we are now looking at the UDP but I have a question.  We are a party of 7 and I'm wondering how hard it will be to get reservations for our group.  Also, what does it mean by a $35 credit for a la cart places and which are these?  And another question - it says we can do lunch at the specialty restaurants for lunch on sea days does this include embarkation day?  Thanks

Izumi has the hibachi and then an ala carte menu.  I guess if you order from the ala carte menu they will give you $35 credit.  I don't think the Hibachi is included in the UDP

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44 minutes ago, DVC4US said:

With the sale we are now looking at the UDP but I have a question.  We are a party of 7 and I'm wondering how hard it will be to get reservations for our group.  Also, what does it mean by a $35 credit for a la cart places and which are these?  And another question - it says we can do lunch at the specialty restaurants for lunch on sea days does this include embarkation day?  Thanks

1. Party of 7 shouldn't be an issue. Contact rcldining@rccl.com with your needs.

Also note the following 800# for group dining reservations

https://www.royalcaribbean.com/faq/questions/group-reservation-dining-accommodations

 

2. It looks like Izumi  Japanese is changing from A La Carte (pay as you go)_ to one set cover charge. Before, they would allow you to order up to $35 in that restaurant, and then you'd have to pay more after that. Sabor is now a cover charge, so that "$35 credit" is just old terminology and the website has yet to be changed.

 

3. Lunch on sea days... depends on which ship you are sailing on??

Giovanni's and Chop's are open on Oasis Class 12pm-1:30pm

I have just read several reviews that Sabor is open on embarkation lunch as well 12-3pm

Edited by Hoopster95

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1 hour ago, molly361 said:

Izumi has the hibachi and then an ala carte menu.  I guess if you order from the ala carte menu they will give you $35 credit.  I don't think the Hibachi is included in the UDP

 

Thanks, that's kind of what I thought but wasn't sure and it sounds like Izumi is changing so might not be an issue.

 

 

56 minutes ago, Hoopster95 said:

1. Party of 7 shouldn't be an issue. Contact rcldining@rccl.com with your needs.

Also note the following 800# for group dining reservations

https://www.royalcaribbean.com/faq/questions/group-reservation-dining-accommodations

 

2. It looks like Izumi  Japanese is changing from A La Carte (pay as you go)_ to one set cover charge. Before, they would allow you to order up to $35 in that restaurant, and then you'd have to pay more after that. Sabor is now a cover charge, so that "$35 credit" is just old terminology and the website has yet to be changed.

 

3. Lunch on sea days... depends on which ship you are sailing on??

Giovanni's and Chop's are open on Oasis Class 12pm-1:30pm

I have just read several reviews that Sabor is open on embarkation lunch as well 12-3pm

 

Thanks for the info, I will definitely be using the email and possibly the phone number to see if they can help out.  So looks like the A la Carte might not be an issue for us then.  Sorry I didn't mention it in my original post - we are on Oasis of the Seas so looks like we will have some options for lunch and I just read a review where the cruiser was able to eat at one of the specialty restaurants(I think Chops) on embarkation.  Thanks again for the info.

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13 hours ago, taglovestocruise said:

Not so clear. We just got off Symphony and were told by the waiter that the service charge included goes into the ships  pool and not to the server. Our waiter said they get about $3.00 as a tip. Any tips that are left after service are kept by the waiter.  Waiter told us anything labeled service charge goes into the pool, tips are different and are for the server. Our waiter also said some of the venues also pool all tips and are shared by all waiters in a specific restaurant. 

I do think it's minimal and we do get a good price for specialty bc get the package so we tip 5pp as long as service good and a dollar for any D drinks ordered.  It's freeing to know it isn't required by the term details or autocharged an extra amount when use the plan so there is an incentive for good service and we've been pleased with service even if a meal or two out of the kitchen wasn't the greatest.

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On the Symphony TA the wait staff I talked to were seasoned crew having worked multiple contracts and being picked for a new ship sail out.   They were so very happy to be heading to America because they make substantially more money.  

 

Why? Americans tip more even when gratuity is already included.  On drink packages and dining.  Americans are very liberal tippers.  That's not the case in other regions.      

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