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michelle-nh

So Frustrated! Dining!

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So please understand that I came to Royal Caribbean used to Norwegian's freestyle system. But what the heck?!!

 

We have a cruise planned with family next month, on the Allure. Six of us, three separate reservations that we made last spring sometime. My brother-in-law reserved first and signed up for 8 pm dining so the rest of us did too. Okay, I hate to be told what time and where I have to eat, but I can deal with it. We all booked within hours of each other, sharing our reservation #s with the agent who helped with booking so they knew we were together. 

 

Well, last month a professional association I belong to held their annual conference on Mariner of the Seas. It was just a 4-day short cruise and I promised family I'd report back on dining and whether we should pay for premium restaurants. I was signed up for any-time dining - this was a conference with friends/colleagues and I wanted the flexibility to enjoy dinner with these people that I only see once per year. Night #1 a group of 5 of us wanted to eat together; 4 of us were any-time dining and the 5th was 8 pm. We went to ask for a table together and they gave us what we wanted, but without telling us they switched us ALL to 8 pm dining plans. So now we were obligated to eat with these same people every night at the same time. Okay, maybe we could have lived with THAT, as annoying as it was, but 8 pm dining cut into evening conference events. Which meant if we went to the events we MISSED dinner, which we ended up doing on the last night and then found out the buffet was closed TOO! Luckily Izumi was able to accommodate us last minute which meant we got charged extra. None of us were happy!

 

Before you get the wrong impression, we loved the ship and the service was OUTSTANDING. The food was also good. But the dining times and system is so confusing!!!

 

Fast forward to the present. After our experience I advised family that I thought we should all buy the 3-night plan so that on the nights when our 8 pm dining would cut into other plans we had flexibility to eat at other places/other times (and at less than what we would pay if we waited until we are on board). So, we all went into our Cruise Planners and did that.

 

But then we realized we each had specialty dining reservations for 2 and that since we aren't even allowed to choose the first restaurant it was possible we'd even be at different restaurants. So we called. Simple request: 6 of us are traveling together and want to make sure we can dine together; here are our reservation numbers..... Well, apparently not so simple. It has taken 6 frustrating phone calls (2 from each family) to get this request honored. They didn't even seem to understand what we were asking for at times. Seriously? When groups travel together they don't want to eat together? I would think this would be a common situation!  They say they finally have our reservations linked now, but I'm not feeling optimistic. I hate the thought of ending up in that longgggg guest services line on day 1, trying to straighten this out.

 

So, mostly this was a rant because I'm frustrated. But, I also honestly want to know what we did wrong? Is there some different way we should have booked all of this? Maybe we should just have waited till we got on the ship? Are there some insider tricks to dealing with this dining system that I'm missing? It is really a shame because as much as I LOVED the staff and service on Mariner and have every expectation I will on Allure as well, this is really turning me off to RC. We have an Alaskan cruise booked with RC for next summer and I'm honestly rethinking it. 

 

Edited by michelle-nh

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WHen you purchase a dining package, you get a reduced price in part because you cannot make pre-cruise reservations.

 

If you want the ability to choose the restaurant/day/time ahead of time, then simply pay full price for each restaurant.

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2 minutes ago, Host Clarea said:

WHen you purchase a dining package, you get a reduced price in part because you cannot make pre-cruise reservations.

 

If you want the ability to choose the restaurant/day/time ahead of time, then simply pay full price for each restaurant.

 We weren't asking to choose the restaurant, day or time. We were simply asking that we be given a table for 6.

 

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9 minutes ago, michelle-nh said:

But, I also honestly want to know what we did wrong?

You settled on 8PM traditional when you should have changed everyone to MyTime (and skip trying to link three 3 night packages) - what happened to you on Mariner was a fluke, though it didn't help that you tried to mix MTD and traditional parties.

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With any dining plan just stop by specialty restaurant upon boarding and have everyone switched to the same restaurant and time. We boarded with 8 people in 6 cabins and had no problem getting everyone in Chops that night.  

 

Who ever is going to board first should go with a list of all cabin numbers and names.  Easy.  

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Had no problem working out reservations on the ship.  A better way to do it. 

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I've traveled with large groups in the past and it's always best to link all reservations from the beginning.  It's made our trips run much more smoothly but there are still times where we might have a wait a little longer since we always select my time dining.  

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Just do as Twangster suggested and connect everyone onboard at one of the specialty restaurants and you really did not have to buy the dining package anyway if you were only doing so due to dining times.  There are plenty of places to eat at on Allure...before or after 8pm.

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We were a group of 5 in 3 rooms with 3 reservations and 2 different travel agents.  I went to the planner and linked the reservations myself and was able to book shows and MTD reservations for all of us. When we went to the MDR we waited in the reservation line and they seated us. As for the shows it's open seating so you just have to reserve the time.  Specialty restaurants we waited to make reservations on board only if they were offering a discount. Sure enough Jamies Italian wasn't booking so we received a 30% discount. 

Edited by Iamcruzin

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We have traditional dining booked for 7 people over three reservations. Will we be given our own table or would we likely be grouped with others at a really big table with others?  We would prefer our own table. I’m assuming that, subject to availability, we can change once onboard. 

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When you say "link" the reservations, what do you mean? Do you mean in the cruise planner online? I thought that when we all booked the cruise last spring the agent told me she HAD linked them, but from the confusion of agents when we called  recently it appears that didn't happen. 

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1 minute ago, Tree_skier said:

We have traditional dining booked for 7 people over three reservations. Will we be given our own table or would we likely be grouped with others at a really big table with others?  We would prefer our own table. I’m assuming that, subject to availability, we can change once onboard. 

Honestly for traditional with 7 people I would try to link the reservations now with the TA or Royal Caribbean Rep. 

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1 minute ago, michelle-nh said:

When you say "link" the reservations, what do you mean? Do you mean in the cruise planner online? I thought that when we all booked the cruise last spring the agent told me she HAD linked them, but from the confusion of agents when we called  recently it appears that didn't happen. 

You can link them online via the planner but the TA who is getting the commission should do it for you. Check to see if it was done and direct any further questions to them.

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1 minute ago, Iamcruzin said:

Honestly for traditional with 7 people I would try to link the reservations now with the TA or Royal Caribbean Rep. 

They are linked. Sorry I should’ve included that info 

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2 minutes ago, michelle-nh said:

When you say "link" the reservations, what do you mean? Do you mean in the cruise planner online? I thought that when we all booked the cruise last spring the agent told me she HAD linked them, but from the confusion of agents when we called  recently it appears that didn't happen. 

Linked or not, when you are onboard they can make specialty dining reservations for each cabin to dine together at a 6 top, no problem.  Have done this before 

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Just now, Tree_skier said:

They are linked. Sorry I should’ve included that info 

If they are linked I would think that you would all be seated together.  We had anytime dining with 5 and they never seated us with anyone else.

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I am not sure why the TA has not handled all of this for you or given you the same advice that we have.  I would go back to them and ask the TA to handle the linking of the reservations.  But if you do not want to do that you can link them yourself in the cruise planner.  I just sailed with three rooms, 6 people, and we were linked up through the planner by me.  I linked us all and when we got on the ship I made our MTD reservations and I took our cabin numbers and made our specialty dining reservations also.  Took just moments and was no problem at all.  Don't let it stress you too much, it will work out!

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Okay. Thanks, everyone. I'm feeling better about it and won't stress anymore. I think we're all just trying for a really fun and stress-free time as a family, and so are trying to take care of all the little details ahead of time so we don't have to worry about them then.

 

As I said, we all booked direct through RC and the agent told me she had linked the reservations, but apparently she didn't which is I guess what is causing all the confusion now. I just went into the planner and linked the other two reservations to mine, so we should be all set now. 

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You are NOT held to the 1st night reservations they make for you.  When you board the ship, you can CHANGE the reservations....time or venue or number of people.

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1 hour ago, michelle-nh said:

 We weren't asking to choose the restaurant, day or time. We were simply asking that we be given a table for 6.

 

 

Getting a specific table size requires making a reservation, which in turn requires a restaurant, day, and time.  They simply cannot reserve a table for 6 in all restaurants for all times.

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4 minutes ago, Host Clarea said:

 

Getting a specific table size requires making a reservation, which in turn requires a restaurant, day, and time.  They simply cannot reserve a table for 6 in all restaurants for all times.

+1

the bigger the group the more challenging a pre purchased dining plan is; our upcoming Oasis Cruise, we are party of 8, we completely gave up on specialty dining package and just booked full price for the few nights we wanted. 

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3 hours ago, michelle-nh said:

 We weren't asking to choose the restaurant, day or time. We were simply asking that we be given a table for 6.

 

Do not understand your problem.  I booked 4 cabins for 10 cruisers and LINKED all of the reservations.  I have had no problems.

Did you link your reservations?  I simply went into the planner and linked them.  I did not make a phone call.

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I too am used to NCL freestyle. And the more I see other lines try to make a hybrid of traditional and freestyle, the more I realize NCL's 100% freestyle is the best. I find it hard to believe that if you go freestyle/MTD on RCCL you cannot eat before 6:30. 

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12 minutes ago, Maplemoose said:

 ...  I find it hard to believe that if you go freestyle/MTD on RCCL you cannot eat before 6:30. 

 

One of the reasons we are trending more and more to Windjammer for dinner.

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