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Diamond Class: Format of Alternative Restaurants?


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There's another robust thread going on about the casual restaurant that occupies Marketplace in the evening.  On that thread an interesting discussion arose as to what other concepts Crystal might implement in that space for those who are not fans of meat on skewers.  That discussion is necessarily circumscribed by the physical realities of the space: a retrofitted function in a retrofitted space necessary to accommodate a function, open dining, the ship was never designed for.  It did get me thinking about a related and, I think, interesting topic (which has been kicked out a bit on the board, but not I believe in a single thread.)

 

On the new Diamond class ocean vessels, what will the number/themes/ambience of alternative restaurants look like?  If you don't care to try to read the minds of the ships designers, what would you want this to look like? 

 

(Let's assume, for the sake of this discussion, that Crystal does indeed drop new ocean vessels while we're all alive and (semi) ambulatory. There are already plenty of threads on if/when.) 

 

I feel it's safe to assume the big three soldier on pretty much as we know them:

 

Wside

Prego (with substantially more modern decor)

UmUm (maybe an enlarged sushi bar)

 

I could see the Wside menu being refreshed, but I'm quite confident the menus in the other two would receive at most a bit of tinkering.  Both restaurants carry many, many menu items that are iconic to Crystal cruisers (eg imagine, "Where's the Nobu Box?  What happened to the mushroom soup?  Where's my pitchfork?")  

 

After that, I'm still forecasting a Silk-like space.  Under Genting ownership, this offering, maybe with continued menu tweaks, will continue.

 

Now, from here on out, things get really fuzzy (and fun!)  My Crystal ball (see what I did there?) says:

 

There will be two more evening dining spaces, and they will move in opposite directions:

 

The Formal Room: intimate, elegant, luxe.  Think tableside service from rolling carts. All the BTO menu goodies every night.  Standard cabins get one rezzie a cruise here, PH/PS get two, CP unlimited.  Jacket and dress pants at minimum required for the gents.  No jeans! (One complication: this starts to overlap the Vintage Room.  Two ways to go: make the Formal Room an additional charge starting with your first reservation, or reconcept the VR to take it even more upscale (that is, make every VR availability more similar to today's Ultimate VR experience.)  

 

The Casual Space: an indoor/outdoor space to satisfy the the alfresco crowd (outdoor is partially sheltered so you don't need perfect weather to keep it open.)  Dress code: come at you are. Yes, a space that satisfies the needs of the "I'm too tired after touring to change one more time, but dread the thought of eating in the cabin" contingent.  And also doesn't put the restaurant manager in the awkward position of explaining the "ship's dress code that is not rigorously enforced in this venue" to confused diners.  

 

Well, that's what my Crystal ball tells me.  How about yours?
 

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10 minutes ago, Texas Tillie said:

Aren't I remembering that Umi Uma has already eliminated the Nobu Box? I do believe that you can still get all the items that came in the box, just no box!! 😱😳😎

 

Patty

That's how it was last month on Symphony, very sad. 

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27 minutes ago, Texas Tillie said:

Aren't I remembering that Umi Uma has already eliminated the Nobu Box? I do believe that you can still get all the items that came in the box, just no box!! 😱😳😎

 

Patty

 

That was kind of a blessing for me on my last cruise...  It was the kick in the rear end I needed to finally try more new things (which were all better than having the box for the umteeth time.) 😊

 

Vince

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Well one thing I am sure of they will call it Waterside not Wside.

 

I like surprises so we'll see what Crystal announces.

 

I don't see menus in Prego nor Umi Uma nor Waterside changing because of a new ship.  They will change when they need to be changed.

 

Umi Uma was changed (enhanced IMHO) following the respective dry-docks of Symphony and Serenity.

 

I would imagine there will be a couple of new restaurants which are incremental to those on Symphony and Serenity.

 

Time will tell although my guess is we will hear something in the months (not years) to come.

 

And yes, you can create the Nobu box from the items that are on the menu today either as appetizers or entrees.  

 

Keith

 

 

 

 

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A casual alternative that seems to work on Azamara is the Patio at night. Casual format, soups, make your own salad, grilled fish,etc. Service is generally quicker than main dining room and dress is casual. Generally since it started we see more use in this format later in cruise for various reasons.  

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8 minutes ago, late2cruisin said:

 

What was in the Nobu box? And were the items all worth ordering?

The Nobu Box was a sampler with three popular Nobu signature dishes of beef, black cod, and rock shrimp. 

 

It was a nice way to try three items.  You certainly could order half portions of these.

 

The Black Cod is very unique.  It is marinated overnight (lots of sugar included in the marinade.

 

At the same time there are many other items to consider.

 

Keith

 

P1020984.thumb.jpg.834cd19293a86030fb6a127ad4490319.jpg

 

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I can't imagine a formal attire dining room.  That isn't the way the world is going and there are enough issue getting people to dress for current (see 1,204,403 threads on this).   I don't see having people pay for locations especially since competition advertises about no-cost alternative restaurants.

More causal like the grill open at dinner and maybe expanded Bistro for casual.

I'd like to see more non-Asian - a French or even a Steak restaurant. In addition of course to current locations.

Time will tell.

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On longer cruises I find there are days I just want something quick, light and easy to eat for dinner which is why a casual restaurant similar to Trident with maybe a great salad bar would be wonderful. And even in a PH I prefer not to eat in my room as it still feels like I'm eating in my bedroom. 🙂

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21 hours ago, ragesinn said:

A casual alternative that seems to work on Azamara is the Patio at night. Casual format, soups, make your own salad, grilled fish,etc. Service is generally quicker than main dining room and dress is casual. Generally since it started we see more use in this format later in cruise for various reasons.  

 

For better or worse, that's what the thought process on the Churrascaria was supposed to be -- except making it a little more upscale by making it a little more elaborate than salads and burgers (since that makes a lot of people feel jipped at this price point). 

 

Casual alternative, drop-in seating, eat as much or as little as you like, quick service items that don't require wait on prep, etc..  The balance between the "I just feel like a burger" crowd and the "I paid thousands of dollars and expect something better than a burger for quick service" crowd is of course a whole different thing -- as others mentioned above.  :classic_smile:  In practice, nothing about the Churrascaria feels like grabbing something quick or light, even though it can definitely be both if you choose it to.

 

Vince

 

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3 hours ago, ctjon said:

More causal like the grill open at dinner and maybe expanded Bistro for casual.

 

I can see where this could be a good option, but it would have to be run like Churra-whatsists with a Maitre D' to assign tables. There is nothing more frustrating/distracting than people circling the room with their tray looking for a seat. 

 

Our golf club, which is private, but by no means ritzy or "exclusive" has a clubhouse kitchen that covers the gamut from nacho platters to steak dinners, and executes them well, all served in a comfortable ambience. Something like that would be ideal, and might even appeal to the "it's not luxury" crowd! 

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We ate at Churrascaria on a BTO night and I felt the urge either to shed the jacket or return to the room for more casual attire that would not be in the BTO standard.  In my opinion I found the steaks and fish on the Patio on Azamara at night to be better in taste and equal quality to the same product served in the MDR. In our 30 cruises we have encountered plenty of people who never go to the MDR and are content with buffets or room service. I think one casual venue may be a positive and should not offend the purists. I would  surmise the percentage of guests would patronize this venue as those for the formal tea time. Each venue has its place on the ship. Also this may appeal to a younger demographic or travelers that like to travel without packing formal attire.

 

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2 hours ago, BWIVince said:

The balance between the "I just feel like a burger" crowd and the "I paid thousands of dollars and expect something better than a burger for quick service" crowd is of course a whole different thing -- as others mentioned above.  :classic_smile:  In practice, nothing about the Churrascaria feels like grabbing something quick or light, even though it can definitely be both if you choose it to.

Yes - I love Churrascaria, but it certainly isn't a place to grab something quick and casual.  I think it would be great if there was something like the Trident Grill open for dinner, or even self-serve soup and sandwiches in The Bistro. 

 

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I do not care for buffets for dinner  but as far as buffets go I think Oceania has  a good one

It has a grill to order station where you can get  Fish/steak/lamb chops/pork chops/shrimp/lobster  +  nightly

plus many other options 

Yes Oceania is not a luxury line  & some people do not like  the fact you cannot self serve  there  but  it may be  a good option for  a more casual  dining experience

Just saying

Plus you can eat outdoors  when the weather permits

https://www.cruisecritic.com/photos/ships/riviera-607/terrace-cafe-311054/

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1 hour ago, LHT28 said:

Yes Oceania is not a luxury line  & some people do not like  the fact you cannot self serve  there  but  it may be  a good option for  a more casual  dining experience

Plus you can eat outdoors  when the weather permits

https://www.cruisecritic.com/photos/ships/riviera-607/terrace-cafe-311054/

 

Thank you for sharing the link. A very comprehensive photo journal. Much appreciated!

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2 hours ago, Roland4 said:

Our golf club, which is private, but by no means ritzy or "exclusive" has a clubhouse kitchen that covers the gamut from nacho platters to steak dinners, and executes them well, all served in a comfortable ambience. Something like that would be ideal, and might even appeal to the "it's not luxury" crowd! 

 

I'm quoting Roland4 but his idea and the subsequent posts sharpened my thinking: the Trident already churns out burgers, chicken sandwiches, pizza and a few other items in a pretty modest cooking facility.  So expand out that infrastructure to include a steak, chop, and decent piece of fish.  Maybe a few grilled skewer items (which are just the above with some veggies added.)

 

Serve this in a sit down, table service space. All the country clubs (as Roland mentioned) in our area have a room just like this that seems to satisfy the grab something casual crowd while still reassuring them their monthly dues are worth paying.  One key is because there's a much more formal room to dine in when you want to dress/are in the mood, which Crystal has covered.

 

Now add to that Calliopecruisers ideas about grab-and-go food.  There's an interesting thing going on in some newer restaurants in the US: a hybrid just like this.  I'm thinking of a newish, well-reviewed restaurant in LA called APL.  It's basically a high-end steak house, charging high-end steakhouse prices.  Which means it has to be kind of ritzy.  Here's the thing: it also has a walk-up window that sells premium sandwiches at lunch.  So configure the kitchen for this space on the ship so the dining area is on the port side, kitchen in the middle, then the other side of the kitchen serves a menu similar to today's Trident out of some type of limited access area on the starboard side.  The two different customer sets can come and go independently: no walking thru a dining room to pick up a grab-and-go, no excess foot traffic for seated diners looking for just a little more formality.  

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I have to say, I think I'm going to miss Tastes when we sail Serenity again in December.

This was in some ways our favorite restaurant onboard.  We love dining outside when the weather is cooperative.  When we invited a guest onboard in SF, we all dined there and had a lovely, more casual (think sundresses and cardigans and sandals, not dirty t-shirts and cutoffs) and fun evening.

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Personally, I would like to see two things:

 

1) A really nice French restaurant.  Why have two Asian restaurants on one ship?  I live in a huge metropolitan area and I can eat really good sushi on literally every street corner of my city.  I totally realize that is not true for all, but Asian food is getting pretty mainstream.  Ditto Italian.  French is harder to specialize (if done correctly).

 

2) An outside venue that is upscale casual.  At sea, why would you NOT want to eat outdoors.  It is so nice under the stars.  Maybe an upscale buffet (served by the staff so we aren't all touching the utensils) or a grill like Oceania has with lobster and steak.  Not burgers and hot dogs.

 

Just my 2 cents.

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2 hours ago, Cruise-y said:

Personally, I would like to see two things:

 

1) A really nice French restaurant.  Why have two Asian restaurants on one ship?  I live in a huge metropolitan area and I can eat really good sushi on literally every street corner of my city.  I totally realize that is not true for all, but Asian food is getting pretty mainstream.  Ditto Italian.  French is harder to specialize (if done correctly).

2) An outside venue that is upscale casual.  At sea, why would you NOT want to eat outdoors.  It is so nice under the stars.  Maybe an upscale buffet (served by the staff so we aren't all touching the utensils) or a grill like Oceania has with lobster and steak.  Not burgers and hot dogs.

 

Just my 2 cents.

 
2 hours ago, Cruise-y said:

 

Nobu is different than just good sushi. It's Japanese with Peruvian influences. Now having said that, I'm thinking the reason for both is originally Crystal was owned by the Japanese and was recently sold to Genting which is Chinese. They get a lot of people from Japan and China cruising on Crystal and wish to appeal to everyone.

 

Yes there's lots of good Italian, but they are always a favorite and this restaurant leans more Northern Italian. 

 

French food is very rich (although delicious!)

Steak is available in Waterside nightly and if you want Lobster all you have to do is put in your request 24 hours before. To my way of thinking there are enough fancier restaurants with sauces, rich foods, etc in the other venues which is why I suggested something with food that is a bit more simple for those nights when you don't want a "fancy" meal.

 

And that's my 2 cents which shows each of us wants different things.

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57 minutes ago, AtA said:

 

 

French food is very rich (although delicious!)

Steak is available in Waterside nightly and if you want Lobster all you have to do is put in your request 24 hours before. To my way of thinking there are enough fancier restaurants with sauces, rich foods, etc in the other venues which is why I suggested something with food that is a bit more simple for those nights when you don't want a "fancy" meal.

 

 

 

Not necessarily so, as in most cuisines there are differing levels of intensity.  A Brasserie would be my choice too - typically smart but casual restaurants that serve traditional or regional dishes, often 'family style', that are not heavy or rich at all but highlight fresh and/or seasonal produce.... Definitely don't need a French haute cuisine style venue with formal service and dishes that tend to be on the rich side, I think those are dying out these days anyway....

 

Anne...

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1 hour ago, Jayayeff said:

 

Not necessarily so, as in most cuisines there are differing levels of intensity.  A Brasserie would be my choice too - typically smart but casual restaurants that serve traditional or regional dishes, often 'family style', that are not heavy or rich at all but highlight fresh and/or seasonal produce.... Definitely don't need a French haute cuisine style venue with formal service and dishes that tend to be on the rich side, I think those are dying out these days anyway....

 

Anne...

Yes agree.  French food doesn’t have to be rich or formal.  Bistro style is what I always have, even in Paris. 

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Or they could at least start with a restaurant that changes type of food from one night to another - French one night, steak another etc.  Eventually, they could determine French night was crowded and the others not - do only French.

 

Who wouldn't want to dine outside - well that would depend upon weather and location.  If in a port with a lot of flies around ??

Or cold and rainy.

 

I was one who liked fixed dining and didn't really want to see open but it has worked out very well.    We never had to wait and  after a couple of asking for a specific waiter the head knew and assigned a specific table to us as we checked in.  I think this has worked out very well.

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I must have woke up in a bad mood this morning, because I only have negatives to add this morning.

 

Regarding outdoor dining -- I'm often not a fan...  This isn't to say that it shouldn't be done (because I know I'm in the VAST minority on this) or isn't a great idea, but when actually eating a full meal (as opposed to something social around drinks) I always prefer sitting inside.  I don't like competing with heat/humidity/cold/rain/bugs/birds/etc. when it comes to big meals.  I'll take a more controlled environment any day.  Again, that's not a vote against the idea, I'm just answering the normally rhetorical question about who wouldn't love eating outside.  :classic_smile:

 

Also, I see the attraction in the rotating themed venue, but personally I'd prefer more fixed-theme venues to choose from considering the types of cruises I usually book.  I personally prefer to pick from the same options on nights I can get away from Waterside, but I'd hate to have to line up the free nights with the theme I want to hit.  I'd also be frustrated to have to miss aardvark night (for example) just because it fell on a fancy night in Waterside.  When I shift and look through this idea through the lens of an extended voyage like a world cruise, though, I think there are a lot fewer disadvantages.  You have a lot more opportunities to catch the theme you want another time when it works better for you, much more than you would on a 7-12 day cruise.  You also have a greater need for more variety.

 

Vince

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Adding my 2 cents worth...

 

Sometimes we would like a quick meal, especially on a port intensive cruise with lots of full day excursions getting back at 5pm or so.    Waterside is out.  Unless you like Silk you are out.   Room service is a possibility, but I hate eating in the room.  Market Place or whatever the new ship's venue will be is a huge waste of space in the evening.  

 

Certainly a quick grab a "good" meal venue with soup, salads, a grill for steak, fish or chops, or even heavens forbid a buffet with some of the entrees being served in Waterside would be welcomed by this cruiser.

 

 

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