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Great Service Makes The Food Taste Better

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It’s long been my theory that outstanding service makes the food taste better.

It’s a philosophy I’ve held to throughout my 35 years in the bar and restaurant business, and was once again proven true on my latest cruise on the Carnival Breeze (which I disembarked from just yesterday).

On this cruise we began with a table in the Blush Dining Room, with “traditional” late dining (8:15 P.M.) at a table assigned for us nightly. I did write daily Virtual Cruise Reports which you can read, if you hadn’t yet…

Even on the first night of the cruise it was obvious the service at our table was “off kilter”.  The service staff were very friendly, yet the service delivery throughout dinner was lacking cohesion, and a standard rhythm – that’s hard to define, but that you recognize when you experience it. 

 I don’t like to entirely judge the service based on one night of the cruise, so I hoped for improvement on nights to come. The second night of the cruise I dined in the Fahrenheit 555 Steak House – $35 surcharge (where the service was excellent). On the  third night of the cruise, back at our assigned table, service was somewhat improved; at least on the right path. The next night, I dined in Cucina de Capitano, the Italian Restaurant – $12 surcharge – where once again the service was very good!

Returning to our assigned table on the Blush Dining Room the next night, the service, once again, was not what it should be. In fact, when 4 people, at our six top table, received their entrees, while 2 others had to wait until everyone was half way through their entrees, I decided the next day, it would be best to request a dining change.

The dining room food I had sampled on the evenings I dined there was reasonably tasty; though I believe the new dining room menus Carnival is using these days, has much more limited menu choices than I recall from my last Carnival cruise, 2 years ago. (They may be of school of thought of offering less, but doing what they do well).

By Day 6 of the cruise, I had moved our entire table to “As You Wish” dining.  The dining room experience improved greatly with the change, even though we were seated with different servers for a couple of nights. And, holding to my philosphy, with the improved service came at least a feeling that the food tasted better.

One night I did a repeat visit to Fahrenheit 555 and the experience was even more enjoyable than during my first visit. Superb service, combined with superb food made me happy I had made the choice to dine there again.

The second last night of the cruise we struck service gold in the “As You Wish” Sapphire Dining Room.

Magdellena 018 199x300 Great Service Makes The Food Taste Better

Our lead server (waitress) was a young lady from Poland, Magdalena. We learned Magdelena is only 22 years old, which also proves you don’t need a decade of experience to excel at the job if you have the talent and apptitude to excel.

When you enter the “As You Wish” dining room on the Carnival Breeze, the hostesses ask for your cabin numbers. They select a table for you, and when you are seated the servers are given a print out listing the names of all the guests at the table.

Before beginning dinner service, Magdelena took the time to introduce herself, and match the names with the people seated at the table.

From that point, through the completion of dinner, she addressed each person by name.  There was no stumbling through the process of food delivery through each course, and she still had time to speak to us several times for some personable conversation. To put it simply, the entire dinner service had the “rhythm” I mentioned earlier.

The menu hadn’t changed from any of  the other nights of the cruise (other than nightly variances in choices), but the seamless dining room experience that Magdelena has supplied, made each and every item chosen taste that much better.

Even the finest meals, served at what might be considered the finest restaurants, lose taste when the service is lacking.

Over the years, I’ve sailed on many different cruise lines, including the luxury lines, Seabourn, Siversea, and Crystal, and even though this experience was on Carnival, where one might not expect such top notch service, this young lady may have provided the best service I’ve experienced on any ship I’ve sailed.

She may have missed a couple of the small polished details, such as serving the women at the table first,  but the service she provided was so good, those were almost unnoticeable.

It was a shame we didn’t happen on Magdelena earlier in the cruise, though we did request a table in her section for the last night of the cruise. And we stated we were willing to wait if none was available at the time.

That, in itself, is probably the highest compliment we could give her.

That type of exceptional service truly does make each and every bite of the food you’re eating taste better, and makes the dining experience a real joy to partake in.

Carnival would be wise to have this young lady training their service staff on how to make everyone’s food taste better!

– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –

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Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time July 15, 2012 at 5:10 am

I find it very interesting that good service makes the food taste better. Well, yes and no. Good service in a dump with bad food can make a person feel better, and make a bad experience seem better.

Our local paper featured a letter from some body complaining about a local reastaurant, about the ceremony the sommelier grandly effused at the dining table, which out of ignorance, these people thought was disgusting, naming the aromas, swirling the glass, and I suppose they thought the cork should go where the sun doesn’t shine. A “wine pourer” merely does that, no ceremony. I would never accept a bottle that was not opened tableside.

I also like the fact that you enjoyed the gracious service on a new ship by a Carnival dining room steward(ess).

Last year – and all you Carnival/Cunard haters – this is for YOU. We enjoyed being attended to on the QUEEN VICTORIA, during our 14 day LAX/Hawaii cruise, by 5 servers, in the Princess Grill, breakfast, lunch and dinner. One of our servers, Marija, an absolutely wonderful young lady, from Croatia, our lead server, started her service on Carnival and when her contract was up, she applied to Cunard. So, there it is, all you Carnival nay sayers, there are professional crew members on those ships, and that goes for other cruise lines as well. As Kuki pointed our, service is what counts, and if somebody is too arrogant or ignorant to appreciate it, dine at Golden Corral, stay home.

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