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It depends on the ships but going every night to a Speciality Restaurant could become boring as well. Taking a 3 night package seems reasonable as there are also days with nice menus at MDR which you don't want to miss either.

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On 4/4/2021 at 6:45 AM, Sunshine7777 said:

So many wonderful responses - I really appreciate your time, thank you. It’s going to be such an exciting experience for us having never cruised before. I think it may make sense for us to enjoy the complimentary offerings but also have a deal as well so we can try some of the specialities. I think unlimited might be a little too much for us (though I might regret saying that haha). 

Plan on one night in the Windjammer for dinner, it is usually very good.  Be sure to let your servers and table mates know if you are skipping the next nights dinner, some times they hold up the table 10 - 15 minutes thinking you are just running late.  Happy cruising, it is a great addiction..

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We never pay extra for food .The MDR food is wonderful for us. Once we went with a new TA and she offered free 8 meals in specialty restaurants.We did that but the food was nothing special.

If you have a good wait person in the MDR you can get things not on the menu.

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1 hour ago, lenquixote66 said:

 

If you have a good wait person in the MDR you can get things not on the menu.

Very true... especially if you like Indian food.  Many of the chefs are from India and are happy to show off their cuisine.

 

Just ask.

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19 minutes ago, yogimax said:

Very true... especially if you like Indian food.  Many of the chefs are from India and are happy to show off their cuisine.

 

Just ask.

Yes, that is right.I have had that pleasure several times.

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I've had indian food in the Mdr at least 3 times. Have to set it up ahead of time from my experience.

 

They bring enough for a full family when I order it for just me lol. But it was delicious.

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1 hour ago, yogimax said:

Very true... especially if you like Indian food.  Many of the chefs are from India and are happy to show off their cuisine.

 

Just ask.

Yes, this is a winner 100%. The chefs will knock your socks off with fantastic dishes, if you ask them.

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You’ve got lots of opinions here, but I’ll add mine as someone that has only been on the one cruise. 
 

The 2 questions I’d ask are:

- what ship and how many specialty restaurants are there? (You’ve answered anthem with 4 specialty)

- what is the length of the cruise? 
 

My first cruise was on Voyager of the Seas and it was a 9 night cruise. I ended up getting a 3 night dining package which allowed me to try all 3 specialty on board, however I didn’t buy this before the cruise and only bought it once my partner was interested after we’d boarded. It still gave me 6 nights to try the MDR and windjammer (though we never actually ate dinner in WJ). I think whether or not you get the package might be worth looking at how many nights you have first? As a first time cruiser if you cruise is less than 7 nights I wouldn’t recommend a package, but perhaps just trying one or maybe 2 of the ones that catch your fancy the most. The MDR in my opinion is great, but you’ll also have the Solarium Bistro, and the windjammer if you like. So you’ve already got 3 choices (menu in MDR & Windjammer changes all the time) so with less than 7 nights you’ve already got heaps of variety and your can save your money. Once you know whether or not you like the included options you can make an informed decision next time. 7 nights or longer I’d suggest getting a package for a few nights. I’ve already said that I quite like the MDR experience so I’m probably never going to recommend the unlimited package, but the next cruise I’ve booked is a 12 nighter on a Quantum class and we’re planning a 5 night package so we can try all 4 and double up on which ever we like best.  Then we still have 7 nights to try the MDR and Solarium bistro and we might even try windjammer for dinner this time.
 

If you’re just asking about pure value, then yes the packages work out cheaper than if you were to pay per restaurant. 

Hope this all helps! 

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just wondering what the folks that demand the specialty dining eat every day at their own homes....I asked that to a table full of complainers in the mdr  on  a sailing years ago and they calmed down and stop their incessant griping and they actually became pleasant to their waiter and assit waiter...The waiter came to our table and thanked us with tears in his eyes. We are just thankful that we can cruise at all and appreciate what the mdr offers. ....just sayin'

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4 minutes ago, retired dude said:

just wondering what the folks that demand the specialty dining eat every day at their own homes....I asked that to a table full of complainers in the mdr  on  a sailing years ago and they calmed down and stop their incessant griping and they actually became pleasant to their waiter and assit waiter...The waiter came to our table and thanked us with tears in his eyes. We are just thankful that we can cruise at all and appreciate what the mdr offers. ....just sayin'

 

Very good point 👍

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If you book the dining package pre-cruise, can you reserve your restaurants pre-cruise as well, or do you have to wait until you board and hope convenient/good reservation times still remain.

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On 4/3/2021 at 1:34 PM, 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? 

It really depends. For us, we actually prefer the included dining options to the pay for ones. But if this is your first cruise ever, I would say absolutely TRY the restaurants out and see how it is for you! As for the drink packages, for us they're a horrible deal so we don't do anything but the soda one. That said, we let ourselves order whatever else we want and it never even comes close to the drink package prices. Again, since it's your first cruise, you might want to try it that way just to see what you realistically drink in a day and then for future cruises you will know how much to budget, and if the drink package works out to be a better deal for you. 

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3 hours ago, CHOPPERTESTER said:

If you book the dining package pre-cruise, can you reserve your restaurants pre-cruise as well, or do you have to wait until you board and hope convenient/good reservation times still remain.

Of course, nobody really knows how it's going to work when they finally start cruising again....but pre-COVID, you could not make specialty dining reservations prior to boarding if you purchased the UDP.  Basically, you are getting a reduced cost in exchange for the restriction of having to wait until you board to book.

 

The only exception to this rule was if you are in a full suite (GS or higher).  Then, if you have the UDP you could get the Suites Concierge to book your specialty dining prior to boarding...but who knows if that is still going to be the case going forward.

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For us its a no. I dont mind the odd meal, like a really good steak or maybe the teppanyaki resturant. On NCL had a meal whilst watching a cirque de soleil which was fab. But over all the packages for me are an extra which i feel is a little too much

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I won a 3 Night cruise to nowhere for 1 May and I don’t see an “unlimited dining package” on the website - Just “chops + 1” and the individual restaurants.  I wonder whether UDP has been removed because it has been over-subscribed or they have decided UDP is not economical for cruises to nowhere since all lunches would be included!

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It depends. . We generally get a package for half the nights, because we no longer care for the food in the MDR and we like the quiet of the specialty dining. When we go on our cruise out of Nassau, we'll get an every night package because we won't do much on the few ports we go to. When we finally get back to Italy and Greece we'll be so tired from the busy days we'll grab something in the WJ and go to bed early. 

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One thing we enjoy about a set time in the MDR, is sitting at a big table and meeting new people.  However, after several cruises, we got tired of the MDR menu and did the UDP, which we loved!  You can’t go wrong either way.

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Can't say we would ever be tempted, especially seeing as we have already paid for our food and don't perceive it to warrant the extra outlay - MDR or Windjammer just fine for us. We're quite happy just to keep personal or event meals land based for when we're at home. 

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I think if you sail the same line repeatedly and perhaps even the same ships you could find the main dining room food significantly less exciting over time.

 

If food excites you, it might be worth it to try a dining package when you’re trying t make a repeat ship feel new.

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6 hours ago, Cherries Jubilee said:

I think if you sail the same line repeatedly and perhaps even the same ships you could find the main dining room food significantly less exciting over time.

 

If food excites you, it might be worth it to try a dining package when you’re trying t make a repeat ship feel new.

Exactly this!  At least for us 🙂

 

We tried the UDP (I think it was on Symphony), since RCI hadn’t switched up their MDR menu for a while, and I had grown a little bored with it.  It was fun to try the UDP, and can see us doing it again sometime.

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2 hours ago, lrm1964 said:

Hello All,

 

I've been following this thread and had a question. I wanted to know if tips are included with the specialty restaurants?

Yes.  In the past, your tips were incorporated into the cost of the package.  It seems that the new plans will require that you pay the gratuity in addition to the cost of the package but either way, you are pre-paying the gratuity.

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2 hours ago, lrm1964 said:

Hello All,

 

I've been following this thread and had a question. I wanted to know if tips are included with the specialty restaurants?

If you purchased the restaurant or package ahead of time then yes gratuities were included.  If you purchased it on board then gratuities were added. 

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