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Thinking of dropping the Unlimited DIning Plan


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So me and Mrs have an upcoming cruise on the Ovation - and are considering dropping the UDP based on reduced capacity/lack of “forced” socialization in the dining room.

 

One of our pet peeves has always been the inability to enjoy a dinner together and not be joined by 6 strangers EVERY TIME. We don’t mind it at breakfast or lunch and on the first night dinner - actually find it enjoyable. It’s just when you ask for a 2 top on the 2nd or 3rd night and it’s a 30 minute wait or eat when you want with others that it’s a problem. 
 

Now with restrictions- that’s not an issue at all. Secondly - initial reports are of improved service in the MDR as less tables equals more attention to detail.


Mrs is all for it - I am kinda split though. Yes service might be better - food is going to be the same though I suspect. Not that good quality is bad - to me the MDR is much like dining in a fast casual on land - think Applebee’s or Chili’s. Specialty is a tad better - more like a Red Lobster or Olive Garden grade. Nothing wrong with either.

 

My biggest reason for saying keep it is 4 sea days - that’s 4 lunches where you get options - lunch in the MDR isn’t bad - it’s just not a huge menu and by day 3 gets repetitive. 
 

There’s nothing that says we “can’t” go to the MDR on a night where they have something we want to try or when we can’t get a time that works for us at a specialty. I figure 4 nights in specialty pays for the UDP - and any lunches just make it a bonus. 
 

We could “downgrade” to a 3 meal plan for a savings of half and might do that. Just curious on the thoughts for those who regularly do the UDP. 

 

We we’re doing X more of late and always did Aqua class because we loved the service in Blu - but last RCL just felt more comfortable to us - less “stuffy” so to speak (yes - destination and length plays a part in that) - we did UDP and it was worth it then - but again the potential change in service and seating might change things a bit for the better.

 

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We currently plan to do the 3 night package, because we got ‘food fatigue’ the last time we did UDP. 😂 We cruise in December, and would upgrade to UDP if the cruise is close to normal number of passengers. I don’t mind the dining room, but just don’t like a crowded, large restaurant. Smaller venues for meals appeal to me. That’s why we also like CK when sailing in a suite. 
 

Something to keep in mind if changing, I’m seeing complaints online about tips now being added onto dining packages when ordering online. Before, they were inclusive. Now, it appears, RCI is adding it in the cart before checkout. I suggest checking the pricing before cancelling anything you have booked if you got a sale price. 

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I think the tip thing takes effect on sailings after 2021 - we booked already and tip factored into price. The new way is show a 18% “discount” but then add 18% back oj at the end. 
 

Yea - I get the “food fatigue” - you get so much in the specialty venues at times. Last cruise did the Brazilian steakhouse and I think we were tired by round 3 - some times you can ask for half portions or split - but at times it’s just ALOT of food and you feel wasteful dining as a 2 and ordering different things to sample.

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1 hour ago, djefferis said:

I think the tip thing takes effect on sailings after 2021 - we booked already and tip factored into price. The new way is show a 18% “discount” but then add 18% back oj at the end. 
 

Yea - I get the “food fatigue” - you get so much in the specialty venues at times. Last cruise did the Brazilian steakhouse and I think we were tired by round 3 - some times you can ask for half portions or split - but at times it’s just ALOT of food and you feel wasteful dining as a 2 and ordering different things to sample.

That is one of the primary reasons we don't do specialty restaurants anymore.  Just too much food and I really don't want to spend extra to only eat an appetizer and entree' - like we do at home when eating at an upscale restaurant. 

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Yes - one of the few “benefits” of having a large group in a dining situation - even if surrounded by strangers - it’s pretty easy to share a couple of appetizers amongst the table and not let things go to waste. 
 

Of course you get those types of appetizers more in the specialty these days and less in the MDR. 

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Posted (edited)

The three night package sounds like a good compromise.  If you cancel the UDP and then don't book anything, it seems they are usually offering specials once on board.   Might come out just the same or better if decide to wait.

Edited by denamo
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I would think you could request a 2 top and a time don't see why they could not make it happen?

 

My Wife and I usually just do a 2 top although the tables are so close together  you usually feel like another couple is dining with you.

 

Agree about SD deals after the ship has sailed, we usually catch lunch somewhere and enjoy ourselves. if we find  something we like we go back.  We do ~14 day TAs so many sea days, we have found the SD kind of hit or miss ourselves, but my SO does not like slow leisurely meals unless she can people watch 

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I was on the 1/3rd occupancy Adventure of the Seas sailing recently and had the unlimited dining plan.  Even though I pre-paid for it and even though I was by myself, reservations were often unavailable for Chops or the Italian place.  Seemed like a bit of a rip off to me.  Ended up in MDR twice.

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19 minutes ago, garywatson said:

I was on the 1/3rd occupancy Adventure of the Seas sailing recently and had the unlimited dining plan.  Even though I pre-paid for it and even though I was by myself, reservations were often unavailable for Chops or the Italian place.  Seemed like a bit of a rip off to me.  Ended up in MDR twice.

 

Wow - not good.  I got the UDP for a Sept sailing on Freedom out of Miami. I hope I don’t have the same experience as you did.  I was able to book the first night at Chops but that’s it. I was told the other reservations need to be made once onboard.  Fingers crossed that I’ll be able to reserve the other restaurants once onboard.  Wonder if they refund you partially if you can’t get subsequent reservations?

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That’s a lesser fear with the UDP - reduced passenger count / reduced capacity on the relatively small specialty venues = no capacity during popular times.

 

I mean the venues hold what 60-80 during full capacity cruises - figure they do half seatings every half hour normally (ie if they have 30 tables then 15 every 30 minutes so servers are able to seat the first group and then as those diners are set with orders - begin seating the second wave to keep from getting too busy all at once). 
 

Now with 50% capacity - they will space things out so just seatings on the hour - thing is that will lead to less available tables and more waits or no capacity. 
 

if no capacity - I can’t see them “offering” refunds - they will just apologize and say sorry but other venues are open. You know Chops and Italian are likely to be the busiest 2 - I mean I like Sushi every now and then - but will take a good steak most days - Wonderland - let’s just call it too “foodie” for my taste buds - I mean nothing wrong with such intricate culinary creations - but they are wasted on my pallet. 

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So another thought occurred to me - but not sure it’s worth doing. 
 

Basically - we can bid on a RoyalUp to a Jr Suite (which comes with Coastal Kitchen dining) 

 

Minimum bid would be about what we would pay for UDP and decent shot at getting it I’d think based on number of available cabins. 
 

is Coastal Kitchen worth it on its own - assuming the slightly larger cabin is of no real value to us - and you don’t get extra points on upgrade bids.

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