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Old December 10th, 2013, 12:37 PM
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Default The Tablecloths Are Gone

It looks like with the introduction of the new "American" menus, Carnival has gone one step farther and removed the tablecloths from the dining room tables.

I've seen a couple of pictures and it reminds me of a standard TGI McThirsty's table setting.

I don't know why but this really bothers me. I haven't experienced it first hand but the "idea" bothers me a great deal.

I can only see it as a purely cost cutting move. There will be time saved in not having to pull table cloths and recover the tables between services. Less waitstaff would be required. They will no longer have to launder the hundreds of table cloths per day. This saves money on water usage, laundry facilities and fewer laundry staff. This may be great for the company but I don't see it as great for the cruise experience.

I have often made the kidding remark that the cruise dining experience would turn into a night out at Cracker Barrel. BTW: I like Cracker Barrel, but not on a cruise ship. It looks like my kidding is becoming the reality.

What do you think?

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Last edited by Mike M; December 10th, 2013 at 09:25 PM.
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Old December 10th, 2013, 09:01 PM
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I hope that Carnival will be the only cruise line doing this. It certainly show a lack of class.

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Old December 10th, 2013, 11:03 PM
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Mike, maybe you shouldn't come up with any more " kidding " ideas for them to pounce upon!
I agree-- This sounds like it's going too far--maybe next they'll just sub-contract out dinner to Golden Corral and then let Burger King and McDonald's have a bidding war over who's going to handle lunch.
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Old December 11th, 2013, 01:11 PM
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Mike, maybe you shouldn't come up with any more " kidding " ideas for them to pounce upon!
I agree-- This sounds like it's going too far--maybe next they'll just sub-contract out dinner to Golden Corral and then let Burger King and McDonald's have a bidding war over who's going to handle lunch.

Maybe they will ask you to brown bag your own.


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Old December 11th, 2013, 01:39 PM
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I think you left out the rest of the story.

A pilot program, currently only on one ship.

On casual nights the table cloths may be gone but they return on elegant nights and I think will provide a refreshing contrast.

The steakhouses on the newest Carnival ships don't have tablecloths and people pay $35pp for that privilege.

I don't know that I care but will make up my mind after I experience it. Might need more than one cruise, too.
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Old December 11th, 2013, 07:02 PM
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First of... It will depend on what material the tops are made of. When they've stripped tables to reset them I've seen tops that are not much more than plywood, so they'll have to change that.

I have dined in some pretty upscale restaurants where they've used some very interesting table top materials, without table clothes.

One problem though ( as I've seen on Lido deck), when the staff are using dirty clothes to wipe down the tables. Watch out for sticky table tops
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Old December 11th, 2013, 07:23 PM
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I don't know if they will also bring in a load of new tables or not. I've seen the same as Kuki and Donna. Tables that, under the table cloth, are just plywood or very beat up.

I also worry about the sanitation. I've seen Lido staff wiping tables with a dirty cloth and "not wiping" tables at all.

I hope I don't end up with syrup on my sleeve at dinner. I guess that's why you need to keep your elbows off the table.

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Old December 11th, 2013, 07:53 PM
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On Carnival on casual nights you can wear shorts in the dining room; now no table cloths. Pretty soon the wait staff could be wearing shorts too, and t shirts promoting the drinks of the day.

It is possible the dinner experience will become about just eating, not dining.


And I'm sure that would be just fine with lots so folks.
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Old December 11th, 2013, 09:31 PM
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They are new tables and the food looks yummy.

On Carnival's newer ships, there are no tablecloths in the steakhouse and people pay $35 each for the privilege to eat there.




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Old December 11th, 2013, 10:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zydecocruiser View Post
On Carnival's newer ships, there are no tablecloths in the steakhouse and people pay $35 each for the privilege to eat there.





Fools and their money are quickly separated.


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Old December 11th, 2013, 11:12 PM
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Sounds like cost cutting since it is time and money to change, wash & fold tablecloths. Maybe they can have the DJ take a break from spinning rap music and help out with tablecloth duties...

Maybe Carnival can do what the Macaroni Grill chain does....paper tablecloths with a set of crayons to write and draw on while waiting for your food.

There are great restaurants that don't use tablecloths. As for Carnival's tablecloth free dining....I don't plan on experiencing it anytime soon.

The new menus do look good though
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Old December 11th, 2013, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by thecruisequeen View Post
Sounds like cost cutting since it is time and money to change, wash & fold tablecloths.

There are great restaurants that don't use tablecloths. As for Carnival's tablecloth free dining....I don't plan on experiencing it anytime soon.

The new menus do look good though
I haven't sail RCI for awhile now, but it's my experience that in the past decade Carnival dining room food has been better than RCI or Norwegian, or HAL, and more or less on par with Princess.
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Old December 12th, 2013, 12:35 AM
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There are great restaurants that don't use tablecloths. As for Carnival's tablecloth free dining....I don't plan on experiencing it anytime soon.


I don't plan on experiencing it at all. I have sailed on Carnival twice but I don't expect to do so again.


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Old December 12th, 2013, 08:42 AM
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I haven't sailed Carnival for almost eleven months and Royal Caribbean for three years. I haven't sailed Royal Caribbean because of the food quality in the main dining room and the specialty restaurants. Our last cruise, on Radiance, the food was, to put it lightly, terrible. Actually the food on last year's Celebrity, Millennium cruise, was below that of Carnival's.

I saw a cruise deal the other day for Royal Caribbean and my wife's response was: "I'm not paying to go on that line again."

She isn't as "worked up" about the no tablecloths as I am. She just wants a good meal in a nice setting.

I am now convinced that this is purely a cost cutting measure. I will try Carnival again and see what the new look is like and make my final judgement at that time. Until then I'll stick with: "I don't like it."

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Old December 12th, 2013, 10:01 AM
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I think the same thing when people pay more to cruise on other lines.
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Old December 12th, 2013, 10:30 PM
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I hope they at least sand the plywood tops nice and smooth--especially around the edges--hate like heck to come out from " dinner " and have to go to the infirmary to get splinters removed! By the way, does anyone know when or if we have to start taking our own " plastic silverware?"

Seriously, of course neither I, nor the most, if any of you, really know what's on their mind
and their thinking, but it does indicate a cost cutting thing and I would hate to see dinner become similar to a boarding house dining room. But, I don't worry about it too much. I have a cruise coming up on the Dream ( 3rd time on Dream--if it were not for my 82 year old sister I wouldn't be going on it again anyway--
it's just handy for her ) so after this cruise with Carnival, I will probably hang them up--after all, 26-28 cruises with them is enough.
Now that my wife is retired, we can do more and take longer cruises and land vacations so basically, if Carnival wants to sink themselves, it's their ships.
But as far as the tables go, once we were on a 10 day cruise on an entirely different line that was supposedly " upscale " --we had a table for 2 and I raised the pretty white linen table cloth and the table was rough looking, to say the least--I showed the server, jokingly and we had a couple good laughs--never hurt the food or service--we were later invited to dine at the Captains table so it worked out for us but I don't think the condition of the table had anything to do with that.
Anyway, to all who sail, whether you dine in style or eat bologna sandwiches, Happy Sails to you !
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Old December 12th, 2013, 11:13 PM
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Quote:
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I haven't sail RCI for awhile now, but it's my experience that in the past decade Carnival dining room food has been better than RCI or Norwegian, or HAL, and more or less on par with Princess.
19 cruises on Royal 2 on Carnival and 1 on Celebrity I have not had a bad meal yet. And I'm sure when/if I sail on Disney, NCL or Princess there will not be any complaints when it comes to food. Not even thinking about Hal for now....I'll wait another 20 years then decide if I want to cruise Hal.

It's no secret that Carnival has downsized staff in the dining room and not having tablecloths may be best for the dining room staff. After all dining room staff work long hard hours...
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Old December 13th, 2013, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecruisequeen View Post
19 cruises on Royal 2 on Carnival and 1 on Celebrity I have not had a bad meal yet. And I'm sure when/if I sail on Disney, NCL or Princess there will not be any complaints when it comes to food. Not even thinking about Hal for now....I'll wait another 20 years then decide if I want to cruise Hal.

It's no secret that Carnival has downsized staff in the dining room and not having tablecloths may be best for the dining room staff. After all dining room staff work long hard hours...
If you haven't had a bad meal on a cruise yet, you've been very lucky, or order better than I do maybe not often but I have.

We'll have to see how the actual implementation of these changes works for Carnival ( the family menus, no table clothes, etc.). I suspect the majority of passengers will take them in stride, and much will go unnoticed.

However, for the time being, I do see them as a negative perception problem for the cruise line with experienced cruisers. With their PR problems the last year or so, it's not something I would like if I were running the cruise line.
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Old December 13th, 2013, 04:56 PM
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I don't think seasoned cruisers are Carnival's primary target market.
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Old December 13th, 2013, 08:04 PM
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I don't think seasoned cruisers are Carnival's primary target market.
If they lived in what they thought was their perfect world, I'd have agreed you. However since Concordia, Spelndor, Triumph incidents, that target has been hit hard.

Repeat cruisers are now their lifeblood.
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Old December 13th, 2013, 10:52 PM
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If they lived in what they thought was their perfect world, I'd have agreed you. However since Concordia, Spelndor, Triumph incidents, that target has been hit hard.

Repeat cruisers are now their lifeblood.
Concordia was a Costa ship and Splendor should have been - although I do kind of like Splendor as the adopted step-child.

Repeat guests are valuable in a recession when new cruisers may hesitate, despite lower prices.

With the economy growing and unemployment significantly lower, I think we have progressed, and instead of reacting after the fact, Carnival is looking toward the future. Once again, finally.

I reject the notion that any change is cost cutting. Surely new tables cost money and there are training costs. I doubt Carnival's costs have decreased in the face of the price of just about everything increasing. Worst case it is cost management.

I suggest that some of the aging population have become root bound and incapable of accepting change without kicking and screaming. Perhaps it is time to empty the nest and fill it up again.

Carnival, the corporation, has a number of other cruise lines for the mature cruiser to choose from. .
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Old December 13th, 2013, 11:35 PM
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Like it or not, for Carnival, due to those incidents, and the public reactions ( right or not)they've been forced to "fight the fight" with low ball pricing.

The entire industry took a hit in demand, but none as hard as Carnival.

Hopefully for them as well as the rest of the industry time without incidents will pass, and the public's memory will fade, etc...

In the meantime, in present circumstances, I remain uncertain that these changes, aren't going to cause further negative perceptions from the cruising faithful.

Remember everything was great for carnival when they started being the frat party ships, then they tried long and hard to change that perception.

They may very we'll pull it off, but in the mean time they're setting themselves up for the perception that they are cheapening the product.

For years NCL battled the label of being the budget line... Before building Freestyle ships. Carnival may be in danger of receiving that label, justified or not.
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Old December 14th, 2013, 12:27 AM
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Things were worse after 9/11 for most cruise lines and certainly stock prices for all. Well, not for NCL who finally got an IPO together not long ago and I think was seriously close to bankruptcy before they got a ton of cash from Apollo or whoever it was a few years back.

If by Freestyle you mean the anytime dining, NCL certainly did not invent it. Bankrupt Renaissance built ships for it long before and perhaps were too far ahead of the curve. Sort of like Carnival Paradise when it was smoke free.

Carnival has been innovative in the past and may be onto something again.

But really, public memory is short lived at best and people are fickle. If Carnival were to spend money on a image issue, I think it would not only be money thrown away, but money that might cause additional undue attention on the cruise line.
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Old December 14th, 2013, 10:30 AM
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I agree that Renaissance was ahead of its time and had a mini version of Freestyle Cruising. Renaissance spoiled us for cruising. We cruised them three times in their short existence. Traditional dining became very boring and about eight years ago we started looking at other vacation options. NCL brought us back to cruising. NCL took what Ren and other lux lines had done in the past and kicked it up a notch or two. The multiple dining options and diverse entertainment were exactly what we wanted. Entertainment was where Ren was sorely lacking.


There is a great misconception that "repeat" cruisers are the life blood of cruise lines. These are the top levels of the loyalty programs. This level is not the life blood of a cruise line. Multiple cruisers don't spend money. Many of the "top end, repeat" cruisers book an inside cabin, at a low price, don't drink, buy pictures, gamble, take ship's shore excursions or buy photos or things in the gift shop. Many of these repeat cruisers walk off the ship with an onboard bill less than $200. That is if they didn't pull their tips. Sadly, many do. The other sad part is that many of these repeat cruisers think that the cruise lines should bend over backward for them. Guess what? Often the cruise lines are losing money on these repeat cruisers. No, these people are not the target market. The first or second time cruisers are the life blood of the major cruise lines. These are the people and families that spend money that goes to the bottom line.


Yes, there are exceptions to this. There are repeat cruisers who book balcony and suite cabins, spend money in the casino, purchase drinks and take ship's excursions. However, they are the minority. There are few, highest level of a cruise line's loyalty program, who are in this bracket. It's expensive to cruise often and keep up this level of spending and few can do this.


Carnival is targeting Mr. and Mrs. Middle America and their families. This is where the money is. A couple in their mid-thirties or early forties, with a couple of kids are the golden geese and the cruise line will do what they need to in order to attract as many of these geese as possible.


It's good business.


Take care,
Mike
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Old December 14th, 2013, 11:57 AM
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AFAIK, it is still true that only a minority of the population has tried cruising. The untapped and unspoiled market is where the money to build new ships and grow the business is going to come from.

Carnival Corp then has a number of other cruise lines that they can grow into, IF desired. Or they could just stay with the Fun Ships.
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Old December 14th, 2013, 10:32 PM
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Of course the first time cruisers are the optimal target ( for probably all the cruise lines). In July 12, when I interviewed Bob Dickinson, he said "we have the repeaters already, we need to get the first timers". And yes, for the mass market lines the family has become the big target.

However, that was before the rash of incidents, and the very negative media coverage. As I said, in time that mark will heal.

But, for now, the non cruising public still has a very negative view of cruising in general, and carnival in particular. Carnival is attempting to combat that by making their cruises so cheap people will overlook those negatives.

And that's why if these changes add to the negative perception, they could adversely affect those repeaters who understand those incidents were anecdotal, and cruising is perfectly safe.

For now they do very much need the repeaters... And it's not just Carnival in this position. Just them more than others in the current market.
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Old December 15th, 2013, 12:58 PM
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I guess we agree to disagree.

If cruise lines cater to repeat guests and create a caste system they risk alienating the new cruiser. Some of the repeat cruisers are among the most arrogant, whiny pain in the butt customers, stressing out employees and treating "lessor" cruisers like rubbish.

I think better to bite the bullet and hope some of the old fossils move on. Let the others chase the dinosaurs. I think the time is right.

One of the areas Carnival needed to improve in, and has made some changes, is relations with travel agents.

July 12 of what year? Since then Uncle Bob has moved on. Not even on the Board anymore. Not sure he can talk about it, but I'd be curious about his new job as a consultant and what areas he has worked on as far as marketing and agent relations go.
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Old December 15th, 2013, 01:44 PM
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The initiative to cozy back up to agents, going as far as to offer them complimentary cruises came about after Bob came on as a consultant.

I'd bet you can safely assume he had a major hand in that.

They didn't make those moves because everything was going so swimmingly
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Old December 15th, 2013, 02:15 PM
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True, but some travel agents were a problem going so far as to deliberately try to steer clients away from Carnival. Hopefully some of that sentiment has changed. Much seem to be related to commissions and such and not so much any incident..
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Old December 15th, 2013, 06:35 PM
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I would think ALL cruisers are important to a cruiseline 1st timers, repeaters and all the cruisers in between. There are repeaters that hardly do any spending onboard but there are repeaters that do lots of spending same goes for 1st timers they will spend money but then there are those that will not they are maybe over their budget just by buying the cabin and airfare if needed.

On big plus for the cruiselines with their repeaters is word of mouth. One of the best advertising there is. Those that are loyal repeaters tend to discuss and recommend their cruise line to family, friends, neighbors and coworkers.

I know repeat cruisers that spend and some that don't spend at all and I also know cruisers that cruise not so often but spend like money is going out of style and others that even smuggle their own booze so they don't have to buy any onboard and end up with a bill of $100. at the end of the week.

Should cruiselines start interviewing cruisers on their spending habits before the cruiseline accepts their booking
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