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Having trouble justifying the dining package with new pricing. Anyone else?


L1211
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We're planning our next NCL cruise - it has been a couple of years since we've sailed them.  We've only done specialty dining in our prior three cruises - we have young adult daughters who love getting dressed up and going out to dinner with us and specialty dining seems to really make the evening, well, special!  We love the smaller venues, better service and have found the food typically very good.  But, at $40 PP now, it seems difficult to justify buying a package.  My daughters are not big eaters and I just can't see my family of four finding a way to say spend $160 at Los Lobos and of course, Tepanyaki is only $39pp any way - again, no reason to have a dining package.   So,  I guess we'll use the "free at sea" package then purchase al la carte for the remaining nights.  Others making that choice too?  Anyone finding value in the dining packages any longer?  Thanks!

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After  paying for your food in the cost of your cruise fare there is no real value at all with the new specialty dining costs added to what you paid already. NCL hopes that most people don't figure out that you're essentially paying twice and that is for food that is good but certainly not outstanding .......

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If you have the "free" SDP included already & charged for the 20%, by all means - don't waste it, go enjoy.  Just a word of caution, you are limited to 1-1-1 and the entrees can now be up to $35 ... servers are sometimes not catching up with all the changes spinning out by NCL corporate.  

 

At $46 now for Tappanyaki, it is - IMHO - no longer an "upcharge" but rather, paying full retail prices for surf & shrimp (no more frozen lobster tail) - and not a good buy or value.  

 

The side(s) these days are incredible "petite" in size and calories - but, at least the bread (and butter) is free, included at no extra charge (LOL ... just a joke) if you want more.  For LL, LeBistro or Cagney, there is no minimum "cover" charge to spend per person, you can order starters for the adult daughters & maybe one entree to share for them - that should keep the costs down a bit.  Most servers will bill/charge us for the least expensive (extra) starters not included when we dine.  We stopped getting a glass of soda for like $4.25 each - free ice tea or water w. a sice of lemon for us these days, plus, we bring along our comp'd bottle of wine for Platinum/+ members.  

 

Checkout the MDR menus for the day and there is always the buffet for assorted dessert, and O'Sheehan's for nightly specials - not the same dining "experience" but also free of 20% extra charges to go thru a 3-course-meal in 90 minutes.  To each her/his own, others will disagree & spin in differently - but we've been sailing mostly NCL for 20 years, and knew a thing or two about the historical changes  

 

 

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Los Lobos is a good choice for sharing meals.   Their servings are good sized.  

Without the SDP promo or OBC to spend, we would only be going to our Platinum dinners.  We can find plenty of good choices in the MDR.   

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58 minutes ago, L1211 said:

We're planning our next NCL cruise - it has been a couple of years since we've sailed them.  We've only done specialty dining in our prior three cruises - we have young adult daughters who love getting dressed up and going out to dinner with us and specialty dining seems to really make the evening, well, special!  We love the smaller venues, better service and have found the food typically very good.  But, at $40 PP now, it seems difficult to justify buying a package.  My daughters are not big eaters and I just can't see my family of four finding a way to say spend $160 at Los Lobos and of course, Tepanyaki is only $39pp any way - again, no reason to have a dining package.   So,  I guess we'll use the "free at sea" package then purchase al la carte for the remaining nights.  Others making that choice too?  Anyone finding value in the dining packages any longer?  Thanks!

There have been a few other posts on this topic in the past month. As we all know value is in the eye of the beholder. The prices period for ship specialty dining is getting almost out of hand,but then when you start comparing it with better land dining it doesn't seem so awful. I will add, I would not waste money on Los Lobos because I love truly good Mexican food the Los Lobos isn't really good to some of us that have spent many years eating really good, authentic Mexican food, but that is just me. I know a lot of people love Los Lobos. 

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16 minutes ago, mking8288 said:

If you have the "free" SDP included already & charged for the 20%, by all means - don't waste it, go enjoy.  Just a word of caution, you are limited to 1-1-1 and the entrees can now be up to $35 ... servers are sometimes not catching up with all the changes spinning out by NCL corporate.  

 

That sounds like the restrictions for the platinum meal, rather than the SDP.

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2 hours ago, mking8288 said:

If you have the "free" SDP included already & charged for the 20%, by all means - don't waste it, go enjoy.  Just a word of caution, you are limited to 1-1-1 

 

 

 

 

I wish folk wouldn't post such misleading stuff on here, it is so unfair to people who have not taken the time to read the NCL T&C. The 1-1-1 is a platinum restriction, getting or buying the SDP dining perk you can have as many starters and puddings as you want. You are def not limited to 1-1-1. 

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There is nothing stopping you dressing up and having a meal at the included restaurants - as some one who has chowed down on a Coney Island hotdog whist wearing a tiara - a special evening is made by the company not the price IMHO. If you arrive at the MDR in your splendorous attire my experience is the staff will treat you splendidly.

 

(other valid opinions are equally valid) 

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Do you mean paying for the package vs the gratuity on the perk? I don't sail until next Sunday and am not new to cruising but new to NCL. The gratuity on the dining perk was inexpensive for the 3 meal package, has this gone up? Or are you just talking purchasing throbs kave? Or paying per restaurant without a package?

 

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2 hours ago, KeithJenner said:

That sounds like the restrictions for the platinum meal, rather than the SDP.

 

I stand corrected, that is for the comp'd meals but we had been told otherwise when dining together as a bigger group, with others using SDP and also paying "full" a la carte prices (before the "lastes" increases, most recently) - was told one thing but when the final bill came, outcome was different.  Not going into fine details about the waived/courtesy "comp'd" as no charges - we much rather give a cash tip directly to the team than for corporate to touch the bucks.  

 

The mix-ups and confusion about what's included or not, etc. are never-ending ... fine prints in the T&C from NCL not always current or updated, the caps & limits, just the same.  CC's lousy search function & results, post- 2018 website changes, not helping - here, I will bump this one up for others on your efforts to keep things "current" 

As a side note, given the "huge" portion size of the sides for the dishes in LB or Cagney lately that the gallery "dressed" up the entrees with - or the starter items for the matter, getting an extra one or two, really - IMHO - not going to make a difference in our "perceived" value for the money, unless it's a package deal, not really free.  Another way of answering OP's question - we, too, have trouble justifying the costs. 

 

Edited by mking8288
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3 hours ago, L1211 said:

We're planning our next NCL cruise - it has been a couple of years since we've sailed them.  We've only done specialty dining in our prior three cruises - we have young adult daughters who love getting dressed up and going out to dinner with us and specialty dining seems to really make the evening, well, special!  We love the smaller venues, better service and have found the food typically very good.  But, at $40 PP now, it seems difficult to justify buying a package.  My daughters are not big eaters and I just can't see my family of four finding a way to say spend $160 at Los Lobos and of course, Tepanyaki is only $39pp any way - again, no reason to have a dining package.   So,  I guess we'll use the "free at sea" package then purchase al la carte for the remaining nights.  Others making that choice too?  Anyone finding value in the dining packages any longer?  Thanks!

I have no idea what you are talking about. As a la carte prices rise, there is more value in the dining packages not less.

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8 minutes ago, gmbhardy said:

I have no idea what you are talking about. As a la carte prices rise, there is more value in the dining packages not less.

The dining package prices have gone up as well. If you are buying the dining package at full price then it has reached levels which are harder to justify for some, although the reference in the OP's post to paying a la carte for nights after the free package is a bit confusing, I'd agree.

Edited by KeithJenner
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I guess the value is relative.  To determine if I should buy for my 12 DD, I reviewed each menu and did a mock order for her of what she would eat.  Then compared it to the cost of the package.  My DD has very expensive tastes when it comes to food.  The package was well worth it for us.

 

If the person is just as happy with pizza, a hamburger or the MDR menus, the package is probably not a good idea.

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3 hours ago, Sand and Seas said:

Los Lobos is a good choice for sharing meals.   Their servings are good sized.  

Without the SDP promo or OBC to spend, we would only be going to our Platinum dinners.  We can find plenty of good choices in the MDR.   

Our girls love Mexican and the menu looked like we'd never spend the $160 to cover the cost of the package - definitely a al la carte night! Thanks -

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54 minutes ago, Catchum said:

There is nothing stopping you dressing up and having a meal at the included restaurants - as some one who has chowed down on a Coney Island hotdog whist wearing a tiara - a special evening is made by the company not the price IMHO. If you arrive at the MDR in your splendorous attire my experience is the staff will treat you splendidly.

 

(other valid opinions are equally valid) 

Catchum, you sound like a good time waiting to happen!  Attitude tends to make a cruise great and I'm sure you know how to have a good time!!  We may try the MRD this time.  We've done lunch in Taste and Savor and that was nice - dinner feels like "banquet dinning" to me and I've run events/communications for some very large brands - not my favorite vibe...

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13 minutes ago, Shoppie124 said:

I guess the value is relative.  To determine if I should buy for my 12 DD, I reviewed each menu and did a mock order for her of what she would eat.  Then compared it to the cost of the package.  My DD has very expensive tastes when it comes to food.  The package was well worth it for us.

 

If the person is just as happy with pizza, a hamburger or the MDR menus, the package is probably not a good idea.

It tends to be more the experience of the MRD that we don't like - feels like banquet dining.  Just trying to decide between al la carte dining or purchasing the dining package.  Just not sure my girls will order $40 worth off the menu.  I guess I need to see the new menu prices!  I may be thinking of prices two years ago...

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10 minutes ago, L1211 said:

It tends to be more the experience of the MRD that we don't like - feels like banquet dining.  Just trying to decide between al la carte dining or purchasing the dining package.  Just not sure my girls will order $40 worth off the menu.  I guess I need to see the new menu prices!  I may be thinking of prices two years ago...

 

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17 minutes ago, IrieBajan54 said:

There are people who will find value in dining at the specialty restaurants regardless of price. However, in my case only with Platinum Plus certificates. 

I'm one of those people, as I don't like eating in the MDR, as I haven't had good experiences with the food and especially the atmosphere.

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I think most of the MDR food is just ok and the specialty is half a notch above that. At regular restaurant prices on top of what we have already paid for the cruise, I'd rather skip the specialty. I'd rather spend that money at home at an actual nice restaurant. 

 

We still enjoy our time and our meals, and occasionally dress up just for fun even if we don't think the food is great. 

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14 hours ago, mdwcruises said:

The only justification is because the included food is so bad, not because the extra cost food is anything special. 

MDR  certainly you realize how good or bad the food is depends on each individual's taste. Though we do not eat often in the MDRs I would not say the food is bad. Our problem is more the service, but the food is pretty much what one would expect now days. Not to mention there are many places to eat on the ship that do not require paying extra. I am a believer in each person deciding for themselves what is the best way to spend their money.  For some it is specialty dining, some the spa, some excursions and others do not spend anything extra and still have a good cruise. 

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On 7/20/2019 at 11:55 AM, L1211 said:

We're planning our next NCL cruise - it has been a couple of years since we've sailed them.  We've only done specialty dining in our prior three cruises - we have young adult daughters who love getting dressed up and going out to dinner with us and specialty dining seems to really make the evening, well, special!  We love the smaller venues, better service and have found the food typically very good.  But, at $40 PP now, it seems difficult to justify buying a package.  My daughters are not big eaters and I just can't see my family of four finding a way to say spend $160 at Los Lobos and of course, Tepanyaki is only $39pp any way - again, no reason to have a dining package.   So,  I guess we'll use the "free at sea" package then purchase al la carte for the remaining nights.  Others making that choice too?  Anyone finding value in the dining packages any longer?  Thanks!

 

Don't short change the main dining rooms, they are as nice as the specialty restaurants.

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9 hours ago, outtoseacruise said:

I just got off the Escape today and prior to boarding purchased the 7 Meal Dining Package. When you compare it to a nice restaurant at home $178 + Gratuity isn't much for a week of dinners. It was well worth it and I would do it again.

This is something everyone needs to consider. Too many of us remember back when the food in the MDRs was one of the reasons we all loved cruising. Those were the days when we gained 10 lbs on every cruise. Today's cruising is very different. When I see people say we are paying for dinner already in our cruise fare I understand but I have never looked at it this way: I look at it: we are paying an amount to cruise that is it. Again, don't anyone get me wrong, I am not happy with the increase in specialty dining every year  it seems, but it isn't going to stop us from cruising and enjoying the experience of upscale dining like in the olden days when it was included. .

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