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romesauce

[Symphony of the Seas] Ultimate Dining Plan TIPS & REVIEW

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Interesting experience with Playmakers... I think there might be a wee bit of potential staff naughtiness and P&L management here... or a change in policy could have occurred for Caribbean season (unlikely but possible).

 

Reason for this is that we had the ultimate dining package for the symphony TA to Miami and got confirmation from RCI centrally that it was included in the package (which we took with us on board).

 

We went for lunch for an NFL game ourselves and checked with (Mark?) the Manager of Playmakers from Canada and he stated it wasn’t included... but was then very quick to say he’d honour it and not charge us when we showed him the central RCI confirmation that it was indeed included.

 

It left a bit of a bad taste (no pun) as we felt that he knew it should be included but the start default position was to try to state it wasn’t... then to back down.

 

Again things might have changed but the default 2 months ago was it’s included....

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1 hour ago, BigRoger said:

Interesting experience with Playmakers... I think there might be a wee bit of potential staff naughtiness and P&L management here... or a change in policy could have occurred for Caribbean season (unlikely but possible).

 

Reason for this is that we had the ultimate dining package for the symphony TA to Miami and got confirmation from RCI centrally that it was included in the package (which we took with us on board).

 

We went for lunch for an NFL game ourselves and checked with (Mark?) the Manager of Playmakers from Canada and he stated it wasn’t included... but was then very quick to say he’d honour it and not charge us when we showed him the central RCI confirmation that it was indeed included.

 

It left a bit of a bad taste (no pun) as we felt that he knew it should be included but the start default position was to try to state it wasn’t... then to back down.

 

Again things might have changed but the default 2 months ago was it’s included....

 

Yeah that was the same manager that we talked to as well. Even the two waiters we talked to said automatically it was not included. There really should be signage or something visible for patrons to know that it's not included if that is their official stance.

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On 12/23/2018 at 7:03 PM, romesauce said:

My husband and I got off of the Symphony as we sailed the Eastern Caribbean on her for seven nights. We had purchased the UDP during their Black Friday sale. We planned on purchasing the plan regardless if we got the plan on sale or not. I just happened to see the price and purchased it then.
 

Cost: $152/person (this included gratuities)

What was included: Seven dinners at any specialty restaurant. Lunch on embarkation and sea days, which equaled out to four lunches. Total specialty meals: 11

 

Booking your meals: Our plan was to get onto the ship early and go directly to a restaurant to book our restaurants. We were on the ship around 11am and headed directly to 150 Central Park. There was only one person ahead of us and she was wrapping up her bookings. We did walk by Chops and Jamies and they had a decent line of people wanting to book their reservations. Booking reservations was super easy. Just come with a plan in mind with which restaurants you want to eat at every night and where you want to do lunch. I say this because I didn't come with a plan in mind as to where to eat every night but just with times so it lines up with the shows we had reservations for each night. The hostess just kept on saying okay which restaurant you want to eat at next and didn't offer suggestions. However, we did get reservations at the times we wanted at every restaurant we wanted to go to. We got 12:30pm lunch every sea day and 6pm dinners except for one night which was at 7pm.

TIP: I'd suggest going directly to Hooked on Deck 16 to do your bookings there. A lot of people don't know where this restaurant is or even know it exists yet. It's right above Solarium Bistro. There shouldn't be a line there. 150CP is also another great choice to do your bookings at.

 

Our meal schedule was the following:

 

Day 1 - Dec. 15 Day 2 - Dec. 16 Day 3 - Dec. 17 Day 4 - Dec. 18 Day 5 - Dec. 19 Day 6 - Dec. 20 Day 7 - Dec. 21
Miami At Sea At Sea St. Maarten San Juan Labadee At Sea
Lunch: Jamies 12:30pm Lunch: Playmakers* Lunch: Izumi 12pm      
Lunch: Hooked 1230pm
150 central park 6pm Chops 7pm Hooked 6pm Jamies 6pm  150 central park 6pm Izumi 6pm Chops 6pm

 

Why not Wonderland? We went on the Harmony in 2016. We experienced Wonderland on that ship and we decided that while we enjoyed the experience, the food, not so much. It was just okay for us. We understood that the Symphony has the Madhatter but we decided to just double up on other restaurants. HOWEVER, if you have not yet experienced Wonderland, you should not be deterred by my comment and you should at least experience it. Food is subjective. Just because we didn't like the food, doesn't mean you won't like it either.

 

*Playmakers: Be warned as we weren't. Playmakers is NOT included in the UDP. We thought since it's an a la carte place, we'd get the $35 dollars to use per person for lunch here. That was not the case. We were NOT told this when we mentioned to the hostess booking our reservations we wanted to do lunch at Playmakers on Sunday since it would be football Sunday. FYI, seating is super limited and gets crowded quickly. They also let people not paying for food or drinks just sit in the booths and watch whatever game is on. We came in for lunch and because there were no seats available in the main area, we sat at a booth in the arcade area. This booth did have the game we wanted to watch on the tv but no sound. We talked to the manager whom was awesome and asked if we could have audio for the game and he said he couldn't since the speakers in the arcade area is on a different system. We mentioned that we were charged for our food and we came here since we thought we would be covered with our UDP. He said that Royal considers Playmakers a "bar with food" and not a specialty restaurant and this is why it's not part of the UDP. He told us that this has happened quite a bit and there should be notice about it. He also refunded us the amount we were charged because of the confusion.

Why UDP? My husband and I LOVE going to specialty restaurants. We dined at Wonderland, Chops and Jamies on the Harmony and enjoyed it. We feel like the main dining on Royal was lacking on the Harmony. We decided to go with the plan this time around to try Izumi, Hooked and 150 CP along with going to Chops and Jamies. However, we also enjoy going to the buffet. We did feel like we were missing the buffet on a few days. We did go there for breakfast when we were at port. We also went there for lunch once. Honestly, we felt the buffet was lacking compared to Harmony. Breakfast had the same food every day. Same thing for lunch the one time we went. Again, this is subjective.

TIP: GET THE INDIAN FOOD. If you want authentic Indian food, get it at the buffet. My husband and I are both Indians, and we always tried their Indian options and yep, it's authentic. We had the chicken curry, dahl (lentils) at lunch and pao bhaji every breakfast we went to. All were delicious and authentic. This is probably because a lot of the cooks are Indian.

 

UDP vs booking restaurants separately: I think this is a no-brainer. We paid 152/person for the UDP. We got to experience all restaurants we wanted to. Here are the prices if booked separately: Chops Grille ($49), 150 CP ($49), Jamies Italian lunch ($25) dinner ($35), Hooked ($39), Playmakers (we spent $39 total for lunch), Izumi lunch (we spent $63 total), Izumi dinner (we spent $55 total). UDP total: $304 If we booked/paid a la cart separately: $747 (not including Hooked lunch as I can't remember what that cost was). If you want averages, the cost came out to be $13.81/meal or $21.71/night.

 

Was it worth it? YES! We believed it was totally worth it since we got to experience every restaurant we wanted to and we did not miss the main dining room at all. The only issue we felt was the slow service in a few restaurants. We felt like our time during the day was wasted a bit because of all the time we spent at these restaurants. Each dining experience took at least an hour with some being close to two due to the restaurant being busy or just slow service. The worst being Jamies lunch on embarkation day and the night we had Hooked for dinner. I say this because we were simply used to going to the buffet, eating our food and leaving. We'd be done within 30 to 40 minutes. Again, with some, the time spent in these restaurants won't be a big deal. It won't be a deterrent for us at all if we sail on RCCL again. We will most likely buy this plan again. Be warned though, you will be severely bloated, heart burn induced and sluggish at the end of your sailing but IT'S OH SO WORTH IT!

 

If you would like reviews of the food at the restaurants itself, I will provide them. I didn't in this initial post because food is highly subjective. There were some food items we did not enjoy but you may enjoy them. However, if you would like to know our thoughts on certain restaurants, I shall provide our opinions!

 

Thank you for the great detailed information about your experience with the ultimate dining package. My husband and I have purchased it for our upcoming Symphony cruise in April. 

 

I was not aware that the package includes lunch on our embarktion day. I thought it was only the sea days. That will be a nice bonus if they still do that especially  they initiated the new key program   

 

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We've had the UDP on a number of different ships over the last year and we have never been turned away at whatever specialty restaurant was open on embarkation day.

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Just curious, you said you purchased your UDP during a Black Friday special. How soon before your cruise did they offer this special, so I know when to start looking for it for our upcoming Symphony cruise?

Edited by barb65
Changed a word

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8 hours ago, RFerrington said:

We've had the UDP on a number of different ships over the last year and we have never been turned away at whatever specialty restaurant was open on embarkation day.

We were turned away at Christmas on the Allure.  Told it was a new policy that had just started.  

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5 hours ago, barb65 said:

Just curious, you said you purchased your UDP during a Black Friday special. How soon before your cruise did they offer this special, so I know when to start looking for it for our upcoming Symphony cruise?

It varies, you just need to keep watching as it can come and go. 

 

I bought ours for our Christmas cruise in 2019 during that Bkack Friday sale.  Currently it is no longer listed as an option.  

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Hi Rome... firstly, totally agree on the Indian food on many cruise ships...always EXCELLENT. The curries are delicious though some of the meat in them is sometimes way overcooked. Second... do you know if you can keep your early/late seating in the MDR AND get the UDP? I'm trying to do the math out for my cruise in August and we do enjoy spending time in the MDR in addition to the specialty meals.

 

Thanks in advance!

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8 hours ago, barb65 said:

Just curious, you said you purchased your UDP during a Black Friday special. How soon before your cruise did they offer this special, so I know when to start looking for it for our upcoming Symphony cruise?

Our cruise was in December and this deal was in November, so about three to four weeks before our cruise.

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1 hour ago, rbschultz said:

Hi Rome... firstly, totally agree on the Indian food on many cruise ships...always EXCELLENT. The curries are delicious though some of the meat in them is sometimes way overcooked. Second... do you know if you can keep your early/late seating in the MDR AND get the UDP? I'm trying to do the math out for my cruise in August and we do enjoy spending time in the MDR in addition to the specialty meals.

 

Thanks in advance!

I'm sorry, I wouldn't know since we always choose the Anytime/My Time Dining.

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On 12/23/2018 at 7:03 PM, romesauce said:

My husband and I got off of the Symphony as we sailed the Eastern Caribbean on her for seven nights. We had purchased the UDP during their Black Friday sale. We planned on purchasing the plan regardless if we got the plan on sale or not. I just happened to see the price and purchased it then.
 

Cost: $152/person (this included gratuities)

What was included: Seven dinners at any specialty restaurant. Lunch on embarkation and sea days, which equaled out to four lunches. Total specialty meals: 11

 

Booking your meals: Our plan was to get onto the ship early and go directly to a restaurant to book our restaurants. We were on the ship around 11am and headed directly to 150 Central Park. There was only one person ahead of us and she was wrapping up her bookings. We did walk by Chops and Jamies and they had a decent line of people wanting to book their reservations. Booking reservations was super easy. Just come with a plan in mind with which restaurants you want to eat at every night and where you want to do lunch. I say this because I didn't come with a plan in mind as to where to eat every night but just with times so it lines up with the shows we had reservations for each night. The hostess just kept on saying okay which restaurant you want to eat at next and didn't offer suggestions. However, we did get reservations at the times we wanted at every restaurant we wanted to go to. We got 12:30pm lunch every sea day and 6pm dinners except for one night which was at 7pm.

TIP: I'd suggest going directly to Hooked on Deck 16 to do your bookings there. A lot of people don't know where this restaurant is or even know it exists yet. It's right above Solarium Bistro. There shouldn't be a line there. 150CP is also another great choice to do your bookings at.

 

Our meal schedule was the following:

 

Day 1 - Dec. 15 Day 2 - Dec. 16 Day 3 - Dec. 17 Day 4 - Dec. 18 Day 5 - Dec. 19 Day 6 - Dec. 20 Day 7 - Dec. 21
Miami At Sea At Sea St. Maarten San Juan Labadee At Sea
Lunch: Jamies 12:30pm Lunch: Playmakers* Lunch: Izumi 12pm      
Lunch: Hooked 1230pm
150 central park 6pm Chops 7pm Hooked 6pm Jamies 6pm  150 central park 6pm Izumi 6pm Chops 6pm

 

Why not Wonderland? We went on the Harmony in 2016. We experienced Wonderland on that ship and we decided that while we enjoyed the experience, the food, not so much. It was just okay for us. We understood that the Symphony has the Madhatter but we decided to just double up on other restaurants. HOWEVER, if you have not yet experienced Wonderland, you should not be deterred by my comment and you should at least experience it. Food is subjective. Just because we didn't like the food, doesn't mean you won't like it either.

 

*Playmakers: Be warned as we weren't. Playmakers is NOT included in the UDP. We thought since it's an a la carte place, we'd get the $35 dollars to use per person for lunch here. That was not the case. We were NOT told this when we mentioned to the hostess booking our reservations we wanted to do lunch at Playmakers on Sunday since it would be football Sunday. FYI, seating is super limited and gets crowded quickly. They also let people not paying for food or drinks just sit in the booths and watch whatever game is on. We came in for lunch and because there were no seats available in the main area, we sat at a booth in the arcade area. This booth did have the game we wanted to watch on the tv but no sound. We talked to the manager whom was awesome and asked if we could have audio for the game and he said he couldn't since the speakers in the arcade area is on a different system. We mentioned that we were charged for our food and we came here since we thought we would be covered with our UDP. He said that Royal considers Playmakers a "bar with food" and not a specialty restaurant and this is why it's not part of the UDP. He told us that this has happened quite a bit and there should be notice about it. He also refunded us the amount we were charged because of the confusion.

Why UDP? My husband and I LOVE going to specialty restaurants. We dined at Wonderland, Chops and Jamies on the Harmony and enjoyed it. We feel like the main dining on Royal was lacking on the Harmony. We decided to go with the plan this time around to try Izumi, Hooked and 150 CP along with going to Chops and Jamies. However, we also enjoy going to the buffet. We did feel like we were missing the buffet on a few days. We did go there for breakfast when we were at port. We also went there for lunch once. Honestly, we felt the buffet was lacking compared to Harmony. Breakfast had the same food every day. Same thing for lunch the one time we went. Again, this is subjective.

TIP: GET THE INDIAN FOOD. If you want authentic Indian food, get it at the buffet. My husband and I are both Indians, and we always tried their Indian options and yep, it's authentic. We had the chicken curry, dahl (lentils) at lunch and pao bhaji every breakfast we went to. All were delicious and authentic. This is probably because a lot of the cooks are Indian.

 

UDP vs booking restaurants separately: I think this is a no-brainer. We paid 152/person for the UDP. We got to experience all restaurants we wanted to. Here are the prices if booked separately: Chops Grille ($49), 150 CP ($49), Jamies Italian lunch ($25) dinner ($35), Hooked ($39), Playmakers (we spent $39 total for lunch), Izumi lunch (we spent $63 total), Izumi dinner (we spent $55 total). UDP total: $304 If we booked/paid a la cart separately: $747 (not including Hooked lunch as I can't remember what that cost was). If you want averages, the cost came out to be $13.81/meal or $21.71/night.

 

Was it worth it? YES! We believed it was totally worth it since we got to experience every restaurant we wanted to and we did not miss the main dining room at all. The only issue we felt was the slow service in a few restaurants. We felt like our time during the day was wasted a bit because of all the time we spent at these restaurants. Each dining experience took at least an hour with some being close to two due to the restaurant being busy or just slow service. The worst being Jamies lunch on embarkation day and the night we had Hooked for dinner. I say this because we were simply used to going to the buffet, eating our food and leaving. We'd be done within 30 to 40 minutes. Again, with some, the time spent in these restaurants won't be a big deal. It won't be a deterrent for us at all if we sail on RCCL again. We will most likely buy this plan again. Be warned though, you will be severely bloated, heart burn induced and sluggish at the end of your sailing but IT'S OH SO WORTH IT!

 

If you would like reviews of the food at the restaurants itself, I will provide them. I didn't in this initial post because food is highly subjective. There were some food items we did not enjoy but you may enjoy them. However, if you would like to know our thoughts on certain restaurants, I shall provide our opinions!

 

Thank you for your post!  This is exactly the information I was looking for!  I'm cruising in June on the Symphony - my first RCCL cruise.  Question:  At Hooked, Jamie's Italian, etc. is it still an "all you can eat" experience?  Like - ordering 2 appetizers if you can't decide etc.?  I'm not sure we're doing the Ultimate Dining Experience, but may purchase the 3 dinner package.

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35 minutes ago, RG0592 said:

 

Thank you for your post!  This is exactly the information I was looking for!  I'm cruising in June on the Symphony - my first RCCL cruise.  Question:  At Hooked, Jamie's Italian, etc. is it still an "all you can eat" experience?  Like - ordering 2 appetizers if you can't decide etc.?  I'm not sure we're doing the Ultimate Dining Experience, but may purchase the 3 dinner package.

 

Yes it is! You can still order as much as you'd like including two appetizers for yourself or two desserts for yourself etc.

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6 hours ago, rbschultz said:

Hi Rome... firstly, totally agree on the Indian food on many cruise ships...always EXCELLENT. The curries are delicious though some of the meat in them is sometimes way overcooked. Second... do you know if you can keep your early/late seating in the MDR AND get the UDP? I'm trying to do the math out for my cruise in August and we do enjoy spending time in the MDR in addition to the specialty meals.

 

Thanks in advance!

They did keep our MDR booking- unfortunately we forgot to warn the dining room that we wouldn’t be showing up, and they reached out to us about our no show.  And, sent us chocolate covered strawberries?!

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Just now, vacationlover_mn said:

They did keep our MDR booking- unfortunately we forgot to warn the dining room that we wouldn’t be showing up, and they reached out to us about our no show.  And, sent us chocolate covered strawberries?!

 

Great to know, thank you. 

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