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SargassoPirate

Is Specialty Dining Goin' Beggin'???

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7 hours ago, Iamcruzin said:

I work for a retailer. We are closing one of our stores due to a rent hike. Business has never been better in that branch since they put the going out of business sign up. This small volume store is doing double digit increases while the rest of us struggle. This branch is selling the items at the same prices as the rest of the chain but since they have the signs up people assume they are getting a bargain and are just loading up.

 

Interesting how the psychology works.

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I would love to do specialty dining. However having had gastric bypass 11.5 years ago, I don’t really eat a whole lot. So in my case, not really worth it. I am also a very plain eater and feel like I am going to have a hard enough time eating on the cruise to begin with. I don’t eat any seafood at all or condiments, sauces, gravies. But hey as long as I can find decent pizza, chicken, and fresh fruit I will be okay. And snacks to keep my sugars up.

 

I thought about it for hubbys sake though. He really enjoys a good meal and a great steak. This is our first cruise so I figured we’d  just go with the free stuff and decide if it would be worth it for our next cruise. 

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We listened to the sales pitch for a few minutes,

but the times available would not have worked

for us because they interfered with show times.

 

The specialty dining quality is not as good as 8 years ago,

when we started cruising with Royal.

 

The menu of Chops is loaded with purines...if you ever

had a gout attack...you know.

 

High salt...chefs love salt, they put salt on salt, lol.

 

Cost has doubled, or more, in 8 years.

 

We just don't see specialty dining as good value anymore.

 

Have fun.

 

 

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On our TA aboard the Jewel last month we decided to eat at Giovanni's on night 8.  We are D+ and could have had a BOGO on the first 2 nights--but, we wanted to have a simple dining experience those nights.  When we went to the restaurant in the afternoon to see if they had any times open.  She said yes and we signed up and she quoted the typical price.  Then I asked if they had a current special price.  Imagine my surprise when she said yes it as 50% off.  If I had not asked I would have paid full price. . . . and 50% off is a huge deal.  The food and service were good.  . . . So, always ask for a discount even if they have quoted a higher price. 

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4 hours ago, Froggy1369 said:

I would love to do specialty dining. However having had gastric bypass 11.5 years ago, I don’t really eat a whole lot. So in my case, not really worth it. I am also a very plain eater and feel like I am going to have a hard enough time eating on the cruise to begin with. I don’t eat any seafood at all or condiments, sauces, gravies. But hey as long as I can find decent pizza, chicken, and fresh fruit I will be okay. And snacks to keep my sugars up.

 

I thought about it for hubbys sake though. He really enjoys a good meal and a great steak. This is our first cruise so I figured we’d  just go with the free stuff and decide if it would be worth it for our next cruise. 

 

That is very sweet of you ❤️   If you find the steak options in MDR to be lacking, perhaps see if they will let you order a child's portion (not sure if RCCL does this, some lines do) since you are unable to eat as much.  Regardless, you can consider the specialty restaurant for the intimate setting, more personalized service, and better quality ingredients (even if you can't have as much quantity).

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3 minutes ago, pacruise804 said:
4 hours ago, Froggy1369 said:

I thought about it for hubbys sake though. He really enjoys a good meal and a great steak. This is our first cruise so I figured we’d  just go with the free stuff and decide if it would be worth it for our next cruise. 

 

That is very sweet of you ❤️   If you find the steak options in MDR to be lacking,

 

Your hubby should be able to order a Chops steak - usually Filet Mignon I think -  in the MDR. Cost vary by ship but it'll be $15 - $17 extra, much cheaper than the $80+ it'll cost the two of you to go to Chops.

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TBHH... I can understand all the fuss about new ships... All the fuss on drinks packages... And all the fuss about the odd new feature or venue out there!... By I can't understand all this fuss about speciality dining!... At the very best scenario, speciality dining can seat some 5% of the ships guests per night at full capacity for both the sailing and the venues. So what? If a venue is full and there is the odd refusal to book another one that won't to be a problem... But if now and then some additional 10% of the cruisers started to week after week to book the specialities that were all full... Here I think the cruise line would certainly to take some measures to avoid both reputation and operational risks. Do not have illusions!... That so called bad food on the MDR mantra we're reading here, while subjectively true for some might not be objectively true considering the majority of the guests at any given sailing!... It is also true that the future on the mainstream cruise industry will go towards the buffets. A win-win for all. Cut cost on the cruise line; fasten the meal experience on the cruisers... Specialities will continue to be those things for those special moments. No more no less!... And if the product is not attractive now, they will revamp it tomorrow!... Again: Do not have illusions!...

 

So now: Would I personally to go to any speciality? Well: Only in 2 situations: Given such a once in a lifetime personal event like a birthday and if the speciality in cause has such an unique experience to live about. And considering RCI's fleet there is only 3 specialities that might come to mind and only one with no doubt, being the others just at certain extent. Wonderland with no doubt. 150 Central Park and Jamie's Italian at certain extent. All the others are things that I can have as good or even better than the available aboard any RCI ship at walk distance from home. And the MDR food might not to be 5 star Michelin starred food... But I don't pay upfront for 5 star Michelin starred food on RCI cruises! Just for some nice food that feed me to the day!...

 

Have a nice day!... 🙂

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7 minutes ago, Nunagoras said:

 It is also true that the future on the mainstream cruise industry will go towards the buffets. 

Virgin disagrees with that.

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11 hours ago, Froggy1369 said:

I would love to do specialty dining. However having had gastric bypass 11.5 years ago, I don’t really eat a whole lot. So in my case, not really worth it. I am also a very plain eater and feel like I am going to have a hard enough time eating on the cruise to begin with. I don’t eat any seafood at all or condiments, sauces, gravies. But hey as long as I can find decent pizza, chicken, and fresh fruit I will be okay. And snacks to keep my sugars up.

 

I thought about it for hubbys sake though. He really enjoys a good meal and a great steak. This is our first cruise so I figured we’d  just go with the free stuff and decide if it would be worth it for our next cruise. 

 

Plenty of fresh fruit always available, especially in the buffet. MDR usually has a chicken option on the menu too.

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19 hours ago, Iamcruzin said:

I work for a retailer. We are closing one of our stores due to a rent hike. Business has never been better in that branch since they put the going out of business sign up. This small volume store is doing double digit increases while the rest of us struggle. This branch is selling the items at the same prices as the rest of the chain but since they have the signs up people assume they are getting a bargain and are just loading up.

 

I remember in college when my club used to advertise to other students in campus setting up tables with banners and a  bunch of free stuff from our sponsors to other students so we can grow on campus. Our table was always empty unless they wanted more information about the club. One day they stated selling what was originally free and they were able to find even the end of the year banquet. 

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21 hours ago, Biker19 said:

Virgin disagrees with that.

...And believe me or not; Virgin as far as we can know for now is far from mainstream cruising (or 4 stars equivalent to the land European Hotel experience). Big ships, yes, but... Catering for an all adult audience, and somewhat upper in the market scheme... Maybe: They will be a niche market company leading towards the Premium market.

 

TBHH: There are only 4 big ones on the mainstream market: Carnival (which European branches are Costa and Princess), RCI, NCL and MSC. And that is it, and that will be for the next decade to come at least.

 

Have a nice day!... 🙂

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1 hour ago, Nunagoras said:

TBHH: There are only 4 big ones on the mainstream market: Carnival (which European branches are Costa and Princess), RCI, NCL and MSC. And that is it, and that will be for the next decade to come at least.

What are HAL, Disney, Tui, Celebrity, Aida, P&O, etc?

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Thanks for the advice on getting hubby a good steak! I’ll see what we can do for him in the MDR. And if he really wants, we’ll do Chops. Who knows, some non cruise restautarants let me order off the kids menu. Maybe chops will let me have a kids meal!! 

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36 minutes ago, Biker19 said:

What are HAL, Disney, Tui, Celebrity, Aida, P&O, etc?

 

As far as service goes, Disney is well above NCL, RCCL, and Carnival. Haven't sailed any of the others, so I can't accurately compare. 

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Size does not disqualify them from being mainstream - a bit niche perhaps, like Tui, which will have a good sized fleet by the middle of next decade. I foresee Virgin also being "mainstream" but much smaller and with an adults only focus - I don't see them command prices above say Celebrity Edge.

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We were recently on GoS (12/1 12 night S Carib.) and after some serious issues in MDR (another thread) had several dinners in the 3 specialty restaurants.  I have to say the service in all 3 was excellent, and the food quality significantly superior (arguably as good or better as we've experienced in MDRs on multiple lines going back to 1990s).  Worth the upcharge?  YMMV.

 

They were hawking the specialty dinning throughout the cruise, and had some special deals (esp. on the port days) and on the last 3 at sea days.  Never saw any of them crowded, either.  

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On 12/17/2018 at 8:11 AM, SargassoPirate said:

We have a cruise departing in a couple of weeks. I have just received a third email from RCI offering a fifty percent discount on specialty dining. She Who Must Be Obeyed mused that they must be getting desperate to fill the specialty venues.

 

 

Nope, it's nothing new, not desperate. Even on board they usually will sell "50% off"....everything

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On 12/18/2018 at 1:21 AM, grandgeezer said:

 

The pricing I've seen lately is a long way over Walmart type pricing.

Agreed. I feel the base prices have gone up especially on the mega ships. 

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Many of the specialties are what the MDR food and service used to be.  Windjammer has gotten a lot better recently.  Especially for dinner.  MDR is near awful experience; purposely designed to get you to go to specialty.  Rushed, chaotic service, mediocre food, not much ambiance. 

 

It won't be long before new cruise ships do not have MDR's.  Buffet will be included, or pay for specialty.  Those MDR's and their massive wait staff will become more cabins and smaller amount of cabin attendants.  I don't think they'd retrofit current ships this way; but you'll see more of that design in the next decade and already exists for some lines. 

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I love the MDR on most ships. Not five star but it’s nice to sit and chat after a long day exploring ports.

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2 minutes ago, LMaxwell said:

Many of the specialties are what the MDR food and service used to be.  Windjammer has gotten a lot better recently.  Especially for dinner.  MDR is near awful experience; purposely designed to get you to go to specialty.  Rushed, chaotic service, mediocre food, not much ambiance. 

 

It won't be long before new cruise ships do not have MDR's.  Buffet will be included, or pay for specialty.  Those MDR's and their massive wait staff will become more cabins and smaller amount of cabin attendants.  I don't think they'd retrofit current ships this way; but you'll see more of that design in the next decade and already exists for some lines. 

I tend to agree with this. NCL will probably be the first since they are already shifting the passengers towards the restaurants by offering them as part of the booking price. However, I don't see this happening on Royal Caribbean due to the high price. You have to get people to buy in to specialty restaurants  before you can change the dining model.  Just cutting the MDR food quality and service will only push them to another cruise line if they have to pay an exorbitant amount extra for something that was once included in the price. One of the main reasons I like to cruise is because I can easily be served a decent meal. It's too much work and not relaxing at dinner having to get up and down filling your plate and looking for a table.  It's fine for breakfast and lunch or a snack but I would rather cook at home than go out to dinner at a buffet. At least once the meal is prepared you can sit down and enjoy it.

 

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1 minute ago, Iamcruzin said:

I tend to agree with this. NCL will probably be the first since they are already shifting the passengers towards the restaurants by offering them as part of the booking price. However, I don't see this happening on Royal Caribbean due to the high price. You have to get people to buy in to specialty restaurants  before you can change the dining model.  Just cutting the MDR food quality and service will only push them to another cruise line if they have to pay an exorbitant amount extra for something that was once included in the price. One of the main reasons I like to cruise is because I can easily be served a decent meal. It's too much work and not relaxing at dinner having to get up and down filling your plate and looking for a table.  It's fine for breakfast and lunch or a snack but I would rather cook at home than go out to dinner at a buffet. At least once the meal is prepared you can sit down and enjoy it.

 

Look at this board; there are people who would full on break down in tears and hysterics if you gave them a free cruise on another line; they would NOT be able to take it, they would be CHEATING on Royal Caribbean.  They talk about the company like a family member.  They defend every policy, never question anything that would improve their experience, and line up to pay for everything, over and over and over and over and over and over.  There are plenty of people Royal would never push to another line even if they heaved them over the railing.  

 

I used to feel just like you; I've paid for a nice sit down meal and service, so why pay more?.  But lately the food isn't very good, the service is borderline awful, and the experience is NOT relaxing.  We found the WJ at night to be much quieter, have larger variety, and offer many things never found on the new "3 course" MDR menus.  I was very surprised.  I had to admit that WJ had surpassed MDR for food and experience.  And once I realized and accepted that, and looked into how some European lines are already doing this, you can see the writing on the walls.  They can fit dozens of cabins and hundreds of guests into those MDR spaces.  Probably get rid of 200-300 staff while adding that many paying guests.  

 

Now, RCI needs to do something about Chops.  Quality way down over last few years, prices way up.  they have mastered cutting costs and raising prices.  But that's another story.  Anyways, bookmark this, pull it up in about 10 years when they have designed and are building some new class of ships; I would be surprised to see an MDR included in the fare.  Buffet included; a la carte specialty dining, or take a package for the whole cruise. 

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43 minutes ago, LMaxwell said:

Many of the specialties are what the MDR food and service used to be.  Windjammer has gotten a lot better recently.  Especially for dinner.  MDR is near awful experience; purposely designed to get you to go to specialty.  Rushed, chaotic service, mediocre food, not much ambiance. 

 

It won't be long before new cruise ships do not have MDR's.  Buffet will be included, or pay for specialty.  Those MDR's and their massive wait staff will become more cabins and smaller amount of cabin attendants.  I don't think they'd retrofit current ships this way; but you'll see more of that design in the next decade and already exists for some lines. 

 

 

And THAT is when my money will be spent elsewhere.

 

If not for the fact my upcoming cruise is with Mother, Brothers, Sisters, I might already have been looking at options other than RCCL.

 

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29 minutes ago, Iamcruzin said:

I tend to agree with this. NCL will probably be the first since they are already shifting the passengers towards the restaurants by offering them as part of the booking price. 

 

This is an interesting perspective I never thought of. I just figured it was a way to get people to actually use the specialties, since the novelty has worn off and revenues are declining.

Perhaps Oceania has the model of the future where the base price of the cruise is higher, but you can choose any dining venue on the ship with no upcharge. 

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22 minutes ago, LMaxwell said:

Look at this board; there are people who would full on break down in tears and hysterics if you gave them a free cruise on another line; they would NOT be able to take it, they would be CHEATING on Royal Caribbean.  They talk about the company like a family member.  They defend every policy, never question anything that would improve their experience, and line up to pay for everything, over and over and over and over and over and over.  There are plenty of people Royal would never push to another line even if they heaved them over the railing.   

 

 

There is no doubt in my mind that Royal will be left with nothing but Diamonds and Pinnacles unless they cut the free drinks and lounges from the loyalty program.  There will also be those who will pay for dining packages. However if the MDR is cut than there will be a lot more people at the buffet making it impossible to turn out good food and the line will be massive on a 6000 passenger ship. I will not be part of that soup kitchen line. Not being loyal has it's privileges as well.

 

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