There is no doubt that service makes all the difference in the world. But I think one must say that if the food was awful it wouldn't matter how good the service is. By that standard, Delft, you are saying the food in your average restaurant is really good.
And like so many things in life, the great chefs who must become entrepreneurs have to worry about service just as much as the food, which means they have to focus on something that is not their specialty. Ideally, they should only have to focus on the food, but as you say service counts.
Still, I think that what I am personally coming to understand here is the quality of certain chefs on ships, whether it is on the regular menu or the special restaurants.
Rarely do i taste something so extraordinary, anywhere, that I think it is unforgettable. However, I think that if you find that one dish you will think it is worth paying for.
And that is a part of the chance you take in fine dining - hoping the experience will be unforgettable enough to make it worth the extra cost.
I think my main point here is that you can find those kinds of dishes on a cruise ship for less money than the $200 I paid in las Vegas for an Alain Ducasse dinner.
With Charlie Palmer working with Seabourn, Georges Blanc with Carnival, Jacques pepin with Oceania, Nobu with Crystal, Todd English with Cunard - these are chefs you would easily pay top dollar for on land, but on a cruise ship it is a very relatvely inexpensive service charge.