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First time cruiser here 🙂 

There seems to be a lot of complimentary food options, so is it really worth the extra money? I know we are all different but I’d love to hear your experiences. We aren’t big drinkers so beverage packages would only need to be basic, but we do love our food. Are the complimentary offerings enough? 

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What ship? Some ships have  more pay dining than others.

 

If you arent big drinkers maybe the unlimited beverage isnt for you. There is a water pkg, a soda pkg, a refreshment pkg which has mocktails and water and soda and coffee. 

 

I'm personally more of a eater than a drinker but for a first time the free stuff will keep you busy. If you cruise 8 times a year the menus can get boring to me. There will be free coffee and tea and some flavored water or tea or lemonade.. last cruise they did flavored water but it's been a while since rcl for me and getting longer lol. Plenty of free drinks and food though I'm not that keen on the free coffee.

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If you love your food better than your average restaurant, then you want to go for a dining package. If you love Your family style restaurant food, then you're okay with the free stuff.

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23 minutes ago, Sunshine7777 said:

First time cruiser here 🙂 

There seems to be a lot of complimentary food options, so is it really worth the extra money? I know we are all different but I’d love to hear your experiences. We aren’t big drinkers so beverage packages would only need to be basic, but we do love our food. Are the complimentary offerings enough? 

We haven’t been to the MDR in over 5 years.  We always  get the dining package.  We prefer the variety and ambiance of the specialty restaurants over the MDR. We have also only sailed on Oasis class ships for the last 5 years so there are lots of specialty options.  On a smaller ship with fewer options I’m not sure I would get the dining  package. 

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5 minutes ago, Sunshine7777 said:


It’s Anthem of the Seas - what’s your opinion? 

4 restaurants on Anthem

 

Chops - steakhouse

Jamies Italian

Izumi - Sushi

Wonderland - molecular gastronomy 

 

Depends  on what your tastes are.  We are only doing the 3 night dining package in our upcoming cruise on this class of ship. 

 

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14 minutes ago, Sunshine7777 said:


It’s Anthem of the Seas - what’s your opinion? 

Everyone is so different. It also depends on your budget and how often you cruise.

 

My first money I will pick one nice excursion, maybe a ruin or a cave. Or animals. Who doesnt love holding a sloth. The other 2 ports I will shop or do a beach day. Plenty of time to do excursions another time. Ruins are often very long tiring excursions so one per cruise. 

 

Food next. The 3 night plan might be good plan to sample. I dont want to be locked into every night trying to get my moneys worth. I like the shows and some nights might eat in the Windjammer as its quicker if there is a musical show I want to see. They used to make steaks to order in the wh, which is the buffet. Nothing special steaks, but add salads and soup or desserts  and I love when they have ripe good watermelon. And I'm big on salads. And of course you will want to try the MDR the main dining room. Menus are available ahead of time. See if you like the menu that night.

 

I dont buy a drink pkg but I dont drink that much. Some love it since they can drink and not drive., I spend money on excursions and tips and eating lol well I go overboard on shopping sometimes.

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The answers will be totally subjective.

 

1.  My own feeling is that I have paid for the complimentary dining options and don't need to add somewhat expensive options.

 

2. If there is a Solarium Bistro onboard, we often select this venue for our complimentary meal.  It is a combination of a buffet and restaurant, much less crowded  than the main dining room.

 

3. An exception is the Specialty lunch.  You can book a luncheon at Chops for less than half the price of a dinner and can order a beautiful filet mignon.

 

4.  We also enjoy Mongolian Barbecue or Stir Fry.  We will visit the Windjammer on those nights when it is offered.

 

Hopes this helps!

Yogi

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There are no free eating venues on any ship but there are Included ones. Since you've already PAID for a meal in the regular dining room or buffet it becomes a question of do you want to pay for a second meal? It's a personal choice based on food preferences and budget.

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We almost never eat in mdr, might do costal kitchen if ship has it otherwise we do specialty restaurants, better food and normally better service. 

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We used to not do any specialty dining. Our last couple of cruises on Oasis Class ships we did 3 nights and loved the food at Chops and Jamie's in particular making us want to do a package each time we cruise. Last cruise our TA also surprised us with a complimentary dinner at 150 Central Park.

 

This next time (if we are cruising in November), we are doing the unlimited dining package to try more options. Not sure if we will do three nights going forward or go unlimited in the future but LOVE having at least 3 nights of specialty dining.

 

 

There is plenty of food, and I'm sure you will find plenty you are very happy with, but if you think you will enjoy the items at the specialty venues, you should give it a try! 

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We are always extremely happy with the offerings in the MDR.

 

However on Oasis class ships which is what we nearly always cruise on nowadays we sometimes get the three night dining package.

 

We really do enjoy dinner at Chops Grille and 150 Central Park.

 

Wouldn’t consider the dining packages on the smaller ships with much more limited dining venues. 

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OP wait until you get onboard and then decide....The included dining options are plenty fine for these long time RCI cruisers. You'll have plenty of opportunities to purchase once onboard if you decide it's something you want to try.

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3 hours ago, Sunshine7777 said:

First time cruiser here 🙂 

There seems to be a lot of complimentary food options, so is it really worth the extra money? I know we are all different but I’d love to hear your experiences. We aren’t big drinkers so beverage packages would only need to be basic, but we do love our food. Are the complimentary offerings enough? 

For a first time cruiser I recommend you try everything that is included with your cruise fare.  You will have lots of great options on Anthem.  

Then maybe on a sea day try lunch at Jamie's italian or Chops steakhouse.  

Anthem has a solarium bistro which is also a nice free option.  

Johnny rockets has a nice breakfast.

Sea dog near the bumper cars, roller skating area is good for lunch or snack, lots other places,  pizza, etc etc etc.  No lack of food on a cruise.  

You can go on cruise planner and check out menus for speciality restaurants.

Have fun planning, from a fellow Sunshine😀

 

 

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4 hours ago, Sunshine7777 said:

First time cruiser here 🙂 

There seems to be a lot of complimentary food options, so is it really worth the extra money? I know we are all different but I’d love to hear your experiences. We aren’t big drinkers so beverage packages would only need to be basic, but we do love our food. Are the complimentary offerings enough? 

For me it has varied tremendously and you absolutely cannot say it is better from one ship to the other. Why? Because I have sailed the same ship and the food and service quality can vary between cruises- even in a short amount of time. They've cut back offerings so for me I am more than content in the MDR. 

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6 hours ago, Sunshine7777 said:

First time cruiser here 🙂 

There seems to be a lot of complimentary food options, so is it really worth the extra money? I know we are all different but I’d love to hear your experiences. We aren’t big drinkers so beverage packages would only need to be basic, but we do love our food. Are the complimentary offerings enough? 

@Sunshine7777

 

Welcome to Cruise Critic.

 

How long is your cruise?

If it is a 7 night Bahamas cruise, and your first cruise, I would say "no", you do not need a dining package.  (or even the 8 night Holiday cruise or the 9 night Caribbean cruise)

 

You will find plenty of variety in the MDR - you've never seen these menus before.  They are all new for you.

 

The Solarium Bistro is complimentary, and can be your "change of pace" from the MDR if you wish.

 

I would save your money for drinks and excursions.

 

JMO, YMMV.  

 

(the people who are responding on this thread have cruised a lot and are tired of and jaded by the MDR menus that they have seen again and again.  You haven't.  Their experience isn't yours.)

 

 

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Just now, Merion_Mom said:

@Sunshine7777

 

Welcome to Cruise Critic.

 

How long is your cruise?

If it is a 7 night Bahamas cruise, and your first cruise, I would say "no", you do not need a dining package.  (or even the 8 night Holiday cruise or the 9 night Caribbean cruise)

 

You will find plenty of variety in the MDR - you've never seen these menus before.  They are all new for you.

 

The Solarium Bistro is complimentary, and can be your "change of pace" from the MDR if you wish.

 

I would save your money for drinks and excursions.

 

JMO, YMMV.  

 

(the people who are responding on this thread have cruised a lot and are tired of and jaded by the MDR menus that they have seen again and again.  You haven't.  Their experience isn't yours.)

 

 

 

And the Windjammer Buffet is pretty good on the Anthem - lots of variety.

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Welcome too . Part of the journey is getting there 😊 Seeing you are just starting, no you do not need to spend extra on a dinning package  , there was a time that there was only the Main Dining room and the staff are fantastic.  That's what got me addicted so be warned 🙂

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4 minutes ago, Merion_Mom said:

@Sunshine7777

 

Welcome to Cruise Critic.

 

How long is your cruise?

If it is a 7 night Bahamas cruise, and your first cruise, I would say "no", you do not need a dining package.  (or even the 8 night Holiday cruise or the 9 night Caribbean cruise)

 

You will find plenty of variety in the MDR - you've never seen these menus before.  They are all new for you.

 

The Solarium Bistro is complimentary, and can be your "change of pace" from the MDR if you wish.

 

I would save your money for drinks and excursions.

 

JMO, YMMV.  

 

(the people who are responding on this thread have cruised a lot and are tired of and jaded by the MDR menus that they have seen again and again.  You haven't.  Their experience isn't yours.)

 

 

 

Ok, so now I see that you are cruising out of the UK, and it will be a longer cruise.  I still don't think that you "need" a package.  But on a 12 nighter, you may enjoy a 3 night dining package.

 

🙂

 

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and join your roll call that is people that are on your cruise you can chat with and organise cheap tour's with.🙂

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Posted (edited)

"Worth it" is such a subjective term. I love my Izumi Hibachi and Chops but am more than content with the offerings from the MDR.  I have gotten the UDP in past and loved it. Last cruise was Dec 2019 and it was a cruise with DD her husband and 3 kids.  We were paying the freight for everything so no UDP.  I didn't make it to a specialty restaurant even once and was very happy with MDR offerings and service. We had a great table and great service.  Like others have said, since this is your first cruise explore the free options and maybe look for a deal for a one off once on board.

Edited by Tree_skier
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2 minutes ago, Tree_skier said:

"Worth it" is such a subjective term. I love my Izumi Hibachi and Chops but am more than content with the offerings from the MDR.  I have gotten the UDP in past and loved it. Last cruise was Dec 2019 and it was a cruise with DD her husband and 3 kids.  We were paying the freight for everything so no UDP.  I didn't make it to a specialty restaurant even once and was very happy with MDR offerings and service. We had a great table and great service.  Like others have said, since this is your first cruise explore the free options and maybe look for a deal for a one off once on board.

 

Anthem does not have the hibachi experience.

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