Author Topic: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships  (Read 3301 times)

rob in cal

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 228
going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« on: July 09, 2017, 09:55:00 AM »
  I've never understood why people would want to pay to eat at one of the restaurants on board cruise ships. There are plenty of free options on board, with a variety of styles and dishes.  Why would someone want to pass these up, unless they are really wealthy and cost doesn't matter?

pachnik

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1500
  • Age: 53
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2017, 10:02:35 AM »
My husband and I are taking our first cruise a little later in the summer this year and I am curious about this too.  Just from looking at the cruise company's website, I gather that the paying restaurants are more upscale?  i.e. French cuisine

Khaetra

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 288
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2017, 10:13:10 AM »
More upscale and much fancier fare, usually prepared by a well-known chef.  Plus you don't have to share a table as you would in the free-eats areas.

Cpa Cat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1408
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2017, 10:44:10 AM »
We tried it once to see what the fuss was about. Maybe our experience was unique, but both the food and the service was not as good as the normal dining option.

One thing we very much did enjoy was going for breakfast in the dining room instead of the buffet. The breakfast buffet area was always crowded and the food was so-so. In the dining room, it was sit-down, menu dining with a waiter, completely free of charge and the breakfasts were amazing.

geekette

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1493
  • Location: Cary, NC
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2017, 11:22:13 AM »
We have gotten a "free" specialty dining with our cruise several times. At least on Royal Caribbean, the steak house is far, far above the main dining room.

LiveLean

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 561
  • Location: Central Florida
    • ToLiveLean
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2017, 01:48:13 PM »
Kind of overrated food wise, but you get a quieter more upscale restaurant. We find it's worth doing once a cruise.
Living lean at www.tolivelean.com

Playing with Fire UK

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1468
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2017, 02:20:47 PM »
Surely the reason is that you get to avoid the people who attend the free restaurant and interact only with other people would pay to avoid people who attend the free restaurant.

Cassie

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3658
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2017, 04:06:25 PM »
We have been on many cruises and never do this either. However, on the last RC cruise you could get filet mignon that was not on the dining room menu in the dining room if you paid 20 and we did that once and it was so worth it.

iowajes

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4551
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2017, 04:30:38 PM »
We did the "chefs table" on Carnival. It was expensive, but would have easily cost 2-4x on land.There weren't wine pairings, but unlimited wine. (And soda, since I don't drink alcohol.)

It was $75, only 12 people and at least 3 hours.
You can see my review here: http://skittl1321.blogspot.com/2012/05/carnival-triumph-chefs-table.html?m=1

Well worth the money as a treat, we still talk about it. We would have done it again, the menu changed. but I was pregnant the next cruise and barely eating anything.

Never done the upcharge restaurants though. My typical cruise bill is $0. I don't buy anything on the ship.

iowajes

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4551
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2017, 04:33:28 PM »
More upscale and much fancier fare, usually prepared by a well-known chef.  Plus you don't have to share a table as you would in the free-eats areas.

I havent shared a table since 2008. I thought cruise lines were backing away from this model.

(I'd also say that it is unlikely the meal is prepared by a well known chef. Maybe the menu is set by one, sometimes.  It also isn't always that much more upscale. The main dining room food is often quite nice. It's just specialty food that fits a theme. Steaks are generally fancier, but Italian isn't always, or sushi. Just difgerent options.)

Cassie

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3658
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2017, 04:39:55 PM »
On RC you get a choice of dining at a table for 2 or sitting with others. We enjoy meeting new people so always choose the latter option.  Only once did we have an awful table but the next day just requested a change and that worked out great.

TheGrimSqueaker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1444
  • Location: A desert wasteland, where none but the weird survive
  • www.theliveinlandlord.com
    • The Live-In Landlord
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2017, 05:01:35 PM »
I went for a cruise, once, on a cruise line called Holland America. Although Alaska was everything it was cracked up to be, cruising was not and I doubt I'll ever do it again voluntarily.

The free food on the lido deck was of extremely poor quality: greasy, cold, starchy, and overseasoned. The cooks were so tired from the 18-hour work days that they were dead on their feet. They moved at a snail's pace and you had to wait while someone laboriously made a sandwich for one person, then the next, then the next. Unless you spoke Tagalog (I had enough to get by) it was very difficult to communicate with the servers. The lines were very long and you had to stand in line separately for every individual course. There were no trays. So people were constantly milling around, bumping into each other, and there were kids running around or being stood by their parents on the service areas because there was nowhere else to put them and the parents were busy shuttling back and forth like robins trying to bring food and drinks back to their broods, who were preoccupied with the fun game of throwing the food on the floor. There was a children's program that kept the little darlings well entertained, but there was no system for feeding them meals so they were released on the unsuspecting public. Imagine, if you will, a school cafeteria with piped in Muzak, in which Mariah Carey is hooting and warbling constantly about how she needs her dream lover to come rescue her, and Celine Dion is bellowing about how her heart will go on and on, but you kind of wish it wouldn't. That's the lido deck.

There were a few other places to eat on the ship, such as a kiosk next to the pool, but the food was mostly crusty, old, or at the wrong temperature. Visualize a mall food court without the benefit of a health department inspector and you've mostly got the idea. The ice cream stands ran out of chocolate and vanilla on the second day of a 7-day cruise and there seemed to be no means for reprovisioning. Food was not actually available 24 hours a day; eventually someone came and scraped up the room-temperature glutinous slabs of what was probably supposed to be pizza.

In the main restaurant it took two or more hours to eat a single meal. People were coming and going and being seated at all different times, and the tables accommodated eight to twelve people. So if you arrived at your scheduled meal time, you could expect to stand in line for twenty minutes until space became free and then wait half an hour until they filled up your table and started serving. But the meals came out at different times, so there wasn't really a lot of opportunity to talk especially at dinner which was very noisy. Imagine, if you will, a 2-storey cavernous room with reflective acoustics decorated to resemble something from Louis XIV's aesthetic nightmare.

If you ordered off the menu you wouldn't necessarily get what you ordered, because they were out of a lot of things and because the servers genuinely couldn't understand you and didn't write anything down. The food was invariably delivered at room temperature because the dining area was critically understaffed. I learned, therefore, to order things that were supposed to be served cold: gazpacho soup and the like. The only things the servers understood were the different ways to cook steak: if you asked for anything such as dressing on the side, you were out of luck because of the language barrier. My Tagalog got me by to a point but my vocabulary was not sophisticated enough. The servers did the best they could, limping around from one station to the next in shoes held together by pieces dirty string. I regard their restaurant as a management problem.

There was so much human misery aboard that ship I'm surprised there wasn't a mutiny. You could overhear little bits of conversation among the staff, especially late at night, about how this one's sister or that one's nephew was getting to go to university because of the work done by one of the cruise ship staff.

We ate once in a "paid" dining area, which as a show of exclusivity was separated from the lido cafeteria by some painted particle board that did not go all the way to the ceiling. The sound from the lido cafeteria was not as loud but still too noisy to make conversation easy. It was supposed to be an Italian place but the pasta was overcooked and mushy, the salads were wilted, the green beans were clearly from a can, and the average Olive Garden would have put them to shame. For this, we paid the princely sum of $25 a head extra. So we decided that if the food was going to be mediocre anyway, we might as well eat the free stuff. We lived on fruit, fresh vegetables, coffee, salad, and things that were supposed to be served cold, greasy, and salty (such as salmon lox or maybe eggs Benedict).

Despite having very little opportunity to exercise I lost weight on that trip. That's how bad cruise food is.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2017, 08:44:00 AM by TheGrimSqueaker »
I squeak softly, but carry a big schtick.

ck25

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 121
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2017, 10:17:14 PM »
It's funny you mention this. I went on a cruise with family recently and my aunt/uncle are seriously into the upcharge restaurants. Like, they go every day on their 28 day cruises. They think it's ridiculous to pay so much for a cruise and not pay slightly more for ideal dining conditions. In fact, my uncle picks the cruise they go on based on these restaurant options. In their mind you are paying for more variety of food, better service and a quiet atmosphere.

On this cruise, my aunt and uncle paid for all ten people in our group to eat at the upcharge restaurants. The most wasteful part of that was that it was a steakhouse at $50/person and I'm vegan. The restaurant brought in my food from the free dining room...

Hunny156

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 388
  • Location: Central TX
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2017, 11:38:42 AM »
I've cruised on various cruise lines, multiple times.  Each cruise line has things it excels at, and things it does not.  Food is a big one, and it really depends on the person.  I lost weight on a Carnival cruise.  A few days into the cruise, we began ordering one of every entree in the hopes of finding a good one, and they were 90% bad.  Princess, which is owned by Carnival, had really great food and their pizza deserves the "best pizza on a cruise line" reward - I should know, my Dad owned & operated several NY pizzerias, and their pizza was exactly as good!

Norwegian and Royal Caribbean seem to be on par with most things, you might have a slight preference for one over another, but pretty much the same.  I've never had any issues with the quality of food on either line, whether it be at the buffet or standard dining rooms.  I did eat at a specialty dining venue on my last Norwegian cruise, and we picked the Italian restaurant.  The place was pretty empty, and we had a wonderful location on the deck for dining, but the food was pretty basic.  We had been given a free voucher for it, so it just confirmed our plan to continue eating at the free venues, but it was nice to try it on someone else's dime.  Likewise, we are headed on a Royal cruise later this year, and we have another one of those vouchers, so hopefully we'll have a better experience there.

On our last Princess cruise, some of our friends wanted to try the Curtis Stone specialty restaurant, which was really expensive, maybe $59/head?  We went b/c sometimes you have to suck it up w/friends.  It was like an 8 course meal, took about 3 hours, and the place was empty, but they didn't make us dress up, so that was a plus for hubby.  The food was good, but nothing that made it worth the entry fee in my opinion.

I truly believe that like most people who go on vacation, they quickly get into a mindset of "I deserve to splurge", and on a cruise ship, with your key card being your access pass to everything, it's very easy to just hand the card over and lose track.  Me, I'm the person who downloads the app so I can make sure every expense is properly accounted for, but if you want to validate my point, go to the purser's desk the last night of the cruise.  This is when reality sets in for most people, as they panic over $1K plus in add ons.  The only thing that sucks about this is that many people decide this is the point where they need to trim costs, and they cut the gratuities to the staff that works soo hard.  Don't finance your expenditures on their backs! :(

We walk out with a very small bill, usually just the pre-paid gratuities and a few sodas for hubby.  The cruise lines hate us...

marcela

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 349
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2017, 12:36:43 PM »
Not a cruise, but my honeymoon was at an all inclusive resort and we did pay the upcharge to dine in their fanciest restaurant. It was $50/pp and we had the most incredible meal of my life. The chef has 8 Michelin stars and appetizers at his restaurant start at $44. Well worth it.

Cassie

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3658
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2017, 12:58:24 PM »
We have been on 5 RC cruises and the food was excellent on all of them and service timely, etc. The Princess cruise was a disaster: bad food, bad service, water leading into buckets in hallways, many toilets in main areas quit working, rude staff and tether boats that leaked when it was raining in the inside of the boat. Grim: it sounds like you had the cruise from hell. That was awful!

pachnik

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1500
  • Age: 53
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2017, 01:12:16 PM »
We have been on 5 RC cruises and the food was excellent on all of them and service timely, etc. The Princess cruise was a disaster: bad food, bad service, water leading into buckets in hallways, many toilets in main areas quit working, rude staff and tether boats that leaked when it was raining in the inside of the boat. Grim: it sounds like you had the cruise from hell. That was awful!

Yikes re: the Princess cruise.  I am going on my first cruise later this summer with Celebrity.  Hopefully, not like your Princess one.  :(

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3353
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2017, 01:23:44 PM »
Not a cruise, but my honeymoon was at an all inclusive resort and we did pay the upcharge to dine in their fanciest restaurant. It was $50/pp and we had the most incredible meal of my life. The chef has 8 Michelin stars and appetizers at his restaurant start at $44. Well worth it.

8 Michelin stars? Which chef is it? To the best of my knowledge there are only 2 chefs with at least 8 stars, Joel Rubuchon and Alain Ducasse. I would kill for the opportunity to eat their cuisine for $50/pp.

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3191
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2017, 01:32:39 PM »
  I've never understood why people would want to pay to eat at one of the restaurants on board cruise ships. There are plenty of free options on board, with a variety of styles and dishes.  Why would someone want to pass these up, unless they are really wealthy and cost doesn't matter?
I don't get it either.  You've already paid for your meal in the main dining room ... you can pay more for an upgraded, more expensive experience, but it's still just dinner and you still need to eat again tomorrow.  It's a baby-step up from dinner in the main dining room.  Or you can save that money and spend it on an experience during at island stop, or you can use it to go out to dinner at home, which really is an upgrade from cooking for yourself.  Or you can save the money.  Regardless, these all seem like big steps or better values for the money. 

My take on it -- and I read a cruise board fairly regularly -- is that a whole lot of cruisers want to feel that they're getting "more than the other cruisers".  That is, they want to make their cruise "better", and they perceive that an upcharge meal provides this "step above the others".  Since when isn't a cruise "enough"?

honeybbq

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 654
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2017, 01:59:27 PM »
Cooked to order food.

l2jperry

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 63
  • Age: 26
  • Location: Port Huron, MI
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #20 on: July 10, 2017, 02:10:23 PM »
We've been on two cruises with Carnival and were always really happy with the main dining sit down, I can't imagine paying more when the food is already really great with much to pick from.

marcela

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 349
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #21 on: July 10, 2017, 03:03:55 PM »
Not a cruise, but my honeymoon was at an all inclusive resort and we did pay the upcharge to dine in their fanciest restaurant. It was $50/pp and we had the most incredible meal of my life. The chef has 8 Michelin stars and appetizers at his restaurant start at $44. Well worth it.

8 Michelin stars? Which chef is it? To the best of my knowledge there are only 2 chefs with at least 8 stars, Joel Rubuchon and Alain Ducasse. I would kill for the opportunity to eat their cuisine for $50/pp.

Martin Berasategui. It was his restaurant, Passion, at the Paradisus Punta Cana. While the meal was only $50 a person, there's also the resort charges. I think the cheapest room will run you around $300/night.  Fantastic resort and one I would gladly visit again.

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3353
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #22 on: July 10, 2017, 03:34:04 PM »
Not a cruise, but my honeymoon was at an all inclusive resort and we did pay the upcharge to dine in their fanciest restaurant. It was $50/pp and we had the most incredible meal of my life. The chef has 8 Michelin stars and appetizers at his restaurant start at $44. Well worth it.

8 Michelin stars? Which chef is it? To the best of my knowledge there are only 2 chefs with at least 8 stars, Joel Rubuchon and Alain Ducasse. I would kill for the opportunity to eat their cuisine for $50/pp.

Martin Berasategui. It was his restaurant, Passion, at the Paradisus Punta Cana. While the meal was only $50 a person, there's also the resort charges. I think the cheapest room will run you around $300/night.  Fantastic resort and one I would gladly visit again.

Thank you! I've heard of Martin Berasategui and would love to try his cuisine. I imagine such a nice resort would be amazing to stay at! The $50pp makes a lot more sense when you factor in resort charges and how nice the resort is. His name can draw attention to the resort (it's got me thinking of going).

iowajes

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4551
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #23 on: July 10, 2017, 05:20:41 PM »
We've done 3 carnival cruises. The first one the food was amazing. The second, very good. The third it ranged from okay to good.  Never was it bad. The one night my husband was sick we tried to do dinner on the lido and I didn't find a single thing to eat (I was also pregnant and therefore not at all interested in food.) I do love that carnival always has Indian food available.  The service has always been good, though less personal than we first started as it is clear they have cut staff, but everyone has always gone out of their way to meet our needs.

Celebrity the food was awful, bad beef and heavy on seafood, and I lived on (admittedly excellent) French bread. But that was the Xpedition which is not at all reperesentative  of their other ships.

munchabunch

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 35
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #24 on: July 10, 2017, 08:17:54 PM »
I was with the OP the one and only cruise I was on. But my husband wanted to try one, and I went along, and Now I'm a convert. the generic dining was meh, and kinda slow. We got better service and fabulous food in the add on restaurant.

And it was $25 per! We'd spend that for a nice dinner regardless, let alone a steak and lobster multicourse meal.

Hunny156

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 388
  • Location: Central TX
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2017, 12:40:05 PM »
  I've never understood why people would want to pay to eat at one of the restaurants on board cruise ships. There are plenty of free options on board, with a variety of styles and dishes.  Why would someone want to pass these up, unless they are really wealthy and cost doesn't matter?
I don't get it either.  You've already paid for your meal in the main dining room ... you can pay more for an upgraded, more expensive experience, but it's still just dinner and you still need to eat again tomorrow.  It's a baby-step up from dinner in the main dining room.  Or you can save that money and spend it on an experience during at island stop, or you can use it to go out to dinner at home, which really is an upgrade from cooking for yourself.  Or you can save the money.  Regardless, these all seem like big steps or better values for the money. 

My take on it -- and I read a cruise board fairly regularly -- is that a whole lot of cruisers want to feel that they're getting "more than the other cruisers".  That is, they want to make their cruise "better", and they perceive that an upcharge meal provides this "step above the others".  Since when isn't a cruise "enough"?

Mrs Pete - are you talking about cruise critic?  I'm on there too a lot, and never noticed that.  then again, I tend to focus on roll calls and port forums, so that may be why.

We were on the NCL Breakaway a few years back, and we managed to get to the suite area from the adults only lounging section.  Of course, we were walking the halls, looking at the ridiculous names assigned each suite, when a butler stepped out and tried to catch us, since we had slipped into the area that was clearly not for us commoners!  We managed to get away from him and escape, but it was very clear that some folks pay good money to cruise and dine at a much higher level.  This section was so exclusive, it had it's very own dining room.  I guess that's where the genius of cover charge restaurants came from....

Trudie

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2017, 12:50:26 PM »
I went for a cruise, once, on a cruise line called Holland America. Although Alaska was everything it was cracked up to be, cruising was not and I doubt I'll ever do it again voluntarily.

The free food on the lido deck was of extremely poor quality: greasy, cold, starchy, and overseasoned. The cooks were so tired from the 18-hour work days that they were dead on their feet. They moved at a snail's pace and you had to wait while someone laboriously made a sandwich for one person, then the next, then the next. Unless you spoke Tagalog (I had enough to get by) it was very difficult to communicate with the servers. The lines were very long and you had to stand in line separately for every individual course. There were no trays. So people were constantly milling around, bumping into each other, and there were kids running around or being stood by their parents on the service areas because there was nowhere else to put them and the parents were busy shuttling back and forth like robins trying to bring food and drinks back to their broods, who were preoccupied with the fun game of throwing the food on the floor. There was a children's program that kept the little darlings well entertained, but there was no system for feeding them meals so they were released on the unsuspecting public. Imagine, if you will, a school cafeteria with piped in Muzak, in which Mariah Carey is hooting and warbling constantly about how she needs her dream lover to come rescue her, and Celine Dion is bellowing about how her heart will go on and on, but you kind of wish it wouldn't. That's the lido deck.

There were a few other places to eat on the ship, such as a kiosk next to the pool, but the food was mostly crusty, old, or at the wrong temperature. Visualize a mall food court without the benefit of a health department inspector and you've mostly got the idea. The ice cream stands ran out of chocolate and vanilla on the second day of a 7-day cruise and there seemed to be no means for reprovisioning. Food was not actually available 24 hours a day; eventually someone came and scraped up the room-temperature glutinous slabs of what was probably supposed to be pizza.

In the main restaurant it took two or more hours to eat a single meal. People were coming and going and being seated at all different times, and the tables accommodated eight to twelve people. So if you arrived at your scheduled meal time, you could expect to stand in line for twenty minutes until space became free and then wait half an hour until they filled up your table and started serving. But the meals came out at different times, so there wasn't really a lot of opportunity to talk especially at dinner which was very noisy. Imagine, if you will, a 2-storey cavernous room with reflective acoustics decorated to resemble something from Louis XIV's aesthetic nightmare.

If you ordered off the menu you wouldn't necessarily get what you ordered, because they were out of a lot of things and because the servers genuinely couldn't understand you and didn't write anything down. The food was invariably delivered at room temperature because the dining area was critically understaffed. I learned, therefore, to order things that were supposed to be served cold: gazpacho soup and the like. The only things the servers understood were the different ways to cook steak: if you asked for anything such as dressing on the side, you were out of luck because of the language barrier. My Tagalog got me by to a point but my vocabulary was not sophisticated enough. The servers did the best they could, limping around from one station to the next in shoes held together by pieces dirty string. I regard their restaurant as a management problem.

There was so much human misery aboard that ship I'm surprised there wasn't a mutiny. You could overhear little bits of conversation among the staff, especially late at night, about how this one's sister or that one's nephew was getting to go to university because of the work done by one of the cruise ship staff.

We ate once in a "paid" dining area, which as a show of exclusivity was separated from the lido cafeteria by some painted particle board that did not go all the way to the ceiling. The sound from the lido cafeteria was not as loud but still too noisy to make conversation easy. It was supposed to be an Italian place but the pasta was overcooked and mushy, the salads were wilted, the green beans were clearly from a can, and the average Olive Garden would have put them to shame. For this, we paid the princely sum of $25 a head extra. So we decided that if the food was going to be mediocre anyway, we might as well eat the free stuff. We lived on fruit, fresh vegetables, coffee, salad, and things that were supposed to be served cold, greasy, and salty (such as salmon lox or maybe eggs Benedict).

Despite having very little opportunity to exercise I lost weight on that trip. That's how bad cruise food is.

This made me laugh because I leave on an Alaskan cruise in two weeks.  But, I believe you.  I've cruised before and the food did NOTHING for me.  Breakfast was usually all right because I went to the omelet bar and had them make me an egg white omelet each morning loaded with veggies and I tried to pound fresh fruit when available, but most of the food was pretty unmemorable.  I sort of feel that if I want exceptional, memorable restaurant meals I'll seek them out when I'm in cities, traveling on foot.  Ship food is so "meh."

Cassie

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3658
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2017, 02:32:15 PM »
On RC we had excellent food in the main dining room. On Princess not so much.

seattlecyclone

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3729
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #28 on: July 11, 2017, 03:15:59 PM »
I went for a cruise, once, on a cruise line called Holland America...

I also went on a cruise, once, on Holland America. I was generally quite pleased with the food on the ship. We didn't try any of the up-charge restaurants. I also don't really see the appeal. Dinner in the main dining room did take a while, which I didn't mind at all because we were on a boat and had nothing better to do than meet and chat with some other passengers who happened to show up for dinner at the same time as us.
I made a blog! https://seattlecyclone.com/

The Roth IRA was named after William Roth, who represented Delaware in the US senate from 1971-2001. "Roth" is a name, not an acronym. There's no need to capitalize the final three letters.

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3353
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2017, 12:17:09 PM »
For anyone considering going on a cruise, I personally think that it can be a good way to get a good vacation. Just be aware that cruise lines will nickel and dime you to death unless you are on an all-inclusive plan.

I've found the food to be acceptable, though I was 16 when last I went.

I think the key to enjoying yourself is who you go with. That last time I went I had a miserable time as it was a family reunion and due to the people that came I was the odd person out. My brother/sister/cousins were all 21+ and just wanted to booze it up and my younger cousins were between 5-10, and so I tried to just do my own thing. But because it was a "family reunion," I kept getting lectured and yelled at my parents/uncles/aunts for doing so.

Yea, even though now I'm at an age to do more fun things I flat out refused to go to a family reunion last year that was at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun. At least with the cruise due to my dependency my parents paid for that, there's no way I'm going to fork that kind of money to go to a fancy resort only to get treated like a 5 year old by an uncle who's kids hate him. Yes you can tell I love the paternalistic nature of Indian families....

russianswinga

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 201
  • Age: 34
  • Location: San Diego, California, USA
  • Truth is just an excuse for a lack of imagination
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2017, 01:07:04 PM »
I have gone on 9 cruises so far:
- Princess: food was always OK to Good. Never excellent. Never ate at premium restaurant. Great entertainment though.
- Carnival: food was always Good to Excellent. The rest of the cruise was NOT! Gaudy ships with terrible design, anything shorter than a 7 day cruise is a rolling frat-boat of drunken college boys, lack of entertainment, ships are not kept up well. Ate at upcharge steakhouse once, was well worth it - steak and lobster were delicious, and at $25/head was a steal.
- Royal Carribean: food was always OK to Excellent. Rest of the ships, crew, and entertainment were pretty ordinary and forgettable.
- MSC: by far the best and cleanest ship I've been on, with the kindest and nicest crew. Food was OK to good, never excellent, which surprised me for an Italian cruise line. Did not eat at the upcharge venues. Service was exceptionally good in the restaurants, which contrasted sharply with the often mediocre food. Most staff were very happy and are seasoned sea veterans, coming to work for MSC from other lower-paying cruise lines.

livetolive

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #31 on: July 12, 2017, 07:17:14 PM »
On the last cruise we went on we booked at a time that the cruise line was offering perks. We could pick two from a list of five.

1. Free sodas (husband doesn't drink soda at all, and I've cut my caffeine habit down to 3x a week). This would be a waste.
2. Free internet (we're on a cruise to get away, not surf facebook)
3. Free 3rd and 4th guest (haha. This is our belated honeymoon. No way.)

leaving...

4. Free $150 credit towards excursions in port
5. Free specialty dining (for 3 of our 7 days)

I mean the food was good, the waiters were good, but it wasn't anything beyond what we could get in the regular dining venues. The ship even made a point to balance the cuisine that was offered in the up-charge restaurants to also have a free option. We also noticed that one of our waitresses that served us in the upscale restaurant later serve our table the next day for lunch... at the free restaurant! And our best waiter of the whole week was in the complementary dining room.

We did enjoy it, but if it wasn't included we wouldn't have purchased it.

exterous

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 64
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #32 on: July 14, 2017, 10:38:23 AM »
We've done the dining package on two RC cruises now but not for the entire trip. My wife bought the first one a couple of days into the cruise and, at first, I wasn't happy about it but after going to the restaurants I changed my mind. While we have been able to get a 'table for 2' at the main dining room the tables were 2 inches apart at best so it was still like dining with 8-10 people. We also learned that you should really listen to the recommendations of your server. The times we ordered off recommendation the food was mediocre to bad. From what I was told by our MDR server a lot of (partially) prepared yet unordered food is held over to the next day so things can get dry while everything is made fresh in different kitchens for the specialty restaurants. Don't know if that is true or not but the food we had was certainly better. Our seating was better too as we actually had some space between tables and have always gotten seated next to the windows. In Alaska that meant we got to see dolphins and seals during our meal. We've never gotten window seating in the MDR but obviously thats a YMMV situation.

I'm not a fan of how nickle and dime happy RC and Carnival have gotten but, for us, its worth it. It used to be that cruising was getting significantly cheaper so I viewed it as 'we are still paying less than a couple of years ago' but I think that trend has reversed as more people are cruising.

CorpRaider

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 205
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2017, 01:25:40 PM »
Did a princess cruise once.  Food was ok to meh.  I could see paying up to get away from the mass of humanity that stalks your every second and terrorizes your nightmares.

Reynold

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 218
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #34 on: July 19, 2017, 03:10:12 PM »
Did the upgrade restaurant thing a couple of times with my Dad, I thought the food was somewhat better, but not enough so that we would pay for it on our own.  My Dad liked cruises, and it was the only vacation my in-laws could manage when they got older, so we did at least 8 of them. 

One thing we did find is that cruises longer than 7 days tend to have a lot less kids and generally rambunctious people.  Smaller ships (under 3000) tend to be quieter as well.  Holland America used to have pretty good food and service, it has gone down hill some in the last 20 years but was still better than the MSC Italian cruise we went on, and the Alaskan Princess cruise we went on.  I remember the first Holland America cruise we did, we never saw our room steward, but the room was always in perfect shape.  There were jokes that they must have cameras to see when we left so they could sneak in and clean. :)

Dicey

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5340
  • Age: 59
  • Location: NorCal
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #35 on: July 19, 2017, 08:36:25 PM »
Since you're all experienced cruisers (Background: I've only done a couple of RC cruises and enjoyed both. I'm a vegetarian and don't drink booze much or soda at all so upgraded dining doesn't hold much appeal. Plus I'm from CA, spoiled by the availability of fresh everything, all the time.)

Here's my "dilemma" (tongue firmly planted in cheek). I won a 7 day cruise on Holland America at a charity event. There are four destination options: Mexico, Caribbean, Alaska, and the Maritimes. I have a first choice and so does DH. Of course they are not the same. Any suggestions from those who've done any of these trips, specifically on HA?
I did it! I have a journal!
A Lot Like This
And hell yes, I am still moving confidently in the direction of my dreams...

geekette

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1493
  • Location: Cary, NC
Re: going to the non-free restaurants on cruise ships
« Reply #36 on: July 19, 2017, 11:33:37 PM »
I haven't done HA, but the choice of cruise comes down to what you want and when you can go.

If you want warmth and relaxation, Caribbean, preferably not in the summer (kids, and HOT HOT HOT).

If you want relaxation, but don't want to travel across the country, Mexico (I'm assuming it's the west coast, which can be quite cool unless you go further south than we did).

Alaska is fantastic scenery, but cool and the ports are often crowded with too many ships. Get a balcony low down (we could hear what I called "ice crispies" - bits of glacial ice melting and releasing compressed air from who knows how long ago). We cruised through the inside passage, with land so close you could smell the fir trees - magical. The bubble net feeding on the whale watching tour was enough to get our guide excited.

I haven't done the maritimes specifically, but we did cruise down the east coast of Canada on the way from Iceland to NY. What we saw was good (a bird/whale watching tour was memorable), but we had too much rain to get a very good impression.