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  #1 (permalink)  
Old February 3rd, 2001, 10:26 AM
Al Al is offline
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Default Olympic Restaurant

Is it just me, or is anyone else a little uncomfortable with ship "speciality" restaurants charging an additional "service fee?" I've noticed that RCCL has dropped the extra charges they were placing on dining and on shipboard activities like rockclimbing and ice skating. (On their new huge boats)

Whats next?...maybe a service charge for room service or perhaps a towel fee for the fitness center or maybe even a deck chair rental for the week....(so you can avoid those folks who get out of bed at 7am, put a book or other personal item on a chair and then return to bed or breakfast..only to return hours later to reclaim "their" deckchair. {I think I'm digressing here, but you get my drift.})

P.S I'm on the Millenium on 2/11.
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Old February 3rd, 2001, 10:59 AM
trvlcarib
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

Having just come off the Millennium for 14 nights I must say I heard both good and bad about the Olympic. We were going to do it but once our friends told us they ordered a expresso the waiter then asked for there charge card. Once I heard this I really wasn't interested in going. Tom
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Old February 3rd, 2001, 11:44 AM
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

Well... I was on the Millennium for a while last Sunday and visited the Olympic Restaurant. I have never seen a more handsome and elegant room on any ship built in recent years. It is magnificent. The reports we get back are that the service and food are excellent... featuring dishes that cannot be prepared in the kitchens of the large main dining room.

Most of the specialty restaurants on board the newer ships are specially provisioned and the staff is specially trained. I am told that the small charge made for the service does not come close to covering the cost involved and the revenue lost from not allocating that space for other uses.

Fine dining is not for everyone. This concept goes back to the glory days of the transatlantic liners... when one could opt to dine in specialty restaurants that were a step above the already elevated dining experience in regular first class. I think we will see more of these types of alternative restaurants in the future. They are quite popular.

I think people are entitled to the option and you should not be offended because it is offered.

Ernie
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Old February 3rd, 2001, 12:07 PM
dan dan is offline
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

I don't have a major problem with it - provided the main dining room remains at a level of quality I have come to expect from Celebrity or RCI. The cruise lines "all inclusive" prices remain low, in my opinion, for the product we receive. Probably to make sure that every cabin is occupied. At least that way they break even on the food, salaries, fuel, maintenance, monthly(?) payments, etc. etc. I read somewhere that the profits come from all of the on board revenue. My real gripe,(which doesn't belong here, but in the "grips area) is that the non-alcoholic beverages are not part of the all inclusive price. I know lemonade and fruit punch at meals are usually included, but I think sodas, bottle water, etc. should be included in the base price.
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Old February 3rd, 2001, 02:02 PM
AR
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

Ernie's hit it right on the nose. If you don't care for the idea, or the price, or the look on the maitre d's face, just don't go. I had a wonderful meal there, and would go back in a heartbeat.

On the other hand, I do not indulge in. . .

--casinos
--bingo
--horseracing
--massages
--cigar lounges
--computer golf
--computer training
--e-mailing from the high seas
--skeet shooting

. . .or a number of other activities that are available on ships for an extra charge. But it doesn't bother me that others do. I just ignore the things I'm not interested in. Makes life ever so much more pleasant, and it is a vacation after all.

AR
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Old February 3rd, 2001, 02:10 PM
Carole Dunham
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

I visited The Greenbriar a couple of years ago. This is a very old, magnificent resort hotel in West Virginia. All meals were included in most of their restaurants. However, there was an additional fee for two of them. Was it worth it? I think it was. So you see, the concept is hardly new.

Carole
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Old February 3rd, 2001, 02:24 PM
AR
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

Carole:

Well, the Greenbriar just does that to keep the riff-raff out!! :-)

When you come right down to it, and look at it from a marketing perspective, isn't it evident that the cruise lines are doing the specialty restaurant thing mostly to counter the effects of the mass marketing of cruises? They're putting specialty, high-end opportunities in place (in dining and elsewhere) for those who want them and don't mind spending the money. Yes, it might evolve into a de facto return of the "class" system, but maybe that's necessary economically. Heck, we've never not had a class system in airlines (but I admit, the Coke is free in coach).

AR
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Old February 3rd, 2001, 06:38 PM
Al Al is offline
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

You miss my point, AR. It's a persons right to eat where and when they want and I'm glad you had a super meal in the Olympic.

My main issue here is that charging an addition fee for food is something new.

All the items you listed above are optional to many of us and I don't fault the cruise lines for charging for them.

My question remains:

Will we no longer someday be able to, as the Celebrity web site says, "Feast on cuisine prepared to the standards of Master Chef Michel Roux," unless we pony up another $50?

And as I asked in my original post, why not charge a fee for room service or the fitness center, too?
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Old February 3rd, 2001, 07:06 PM
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

Color me stupid, but I would pony up an extra $200 for two prime deck chairs for my bride and myself on a week long cruise.
I have only been on one cruise and that seemed to become a major issue for people. And their problem became my problem with the complaining. I tried to tell one lady that if that was all she had to complain about, I would consider it one heck of a cruise! Personaly, I hope to visit the Olympic room at the least once.

I can understand your concern Al, but some of your forsight might be a bit far reaching. Like anything, if Celebrity or anyone else goes overboard with the extra charges, people will let them know one way or another that they are wrong.
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Old February 4th, 2001, 08:32 AM
George in NY
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

Mike, Although I have no problem with offering a specialty restaurant for those that wish one I think it does say to me that the man dining is not all it should then be. I also don't think that Al is reaching all that far with his forsight into the future. First a room service charge isn't something that hasn't already been done. NCL started that some years ago charging $2 for room service. This was in place for about two years before they rescinded it and the $2 didn't ven go to the delivery person hence a tip to that person could also be reasonably expected. Charging for deck chairs used to be the norm from what I have read back in the original hayday of transatlantic sailings. Onboard revenue is a subject that continues to be a hot one. Like the NY State sales tax that started at a penny when I was a kid and no one cared about, it is now a major consideration when making a purchase. In some areas it is as high as 9.65 % now. You start to take notice when you buy a refirgerator or a car. Yes your car is 20 housand plus 1800 in sales tax. You notice it. Last cruise I was surprised to see that photos were being sold at 9.95 instead of 5.95 or 6.95. When I inquired I was told that the photos were ONE inch larger. Gee I was kind of happy with the old size, certainly the 1 inch didn't warrant a 40% increase. So onboard extra charges may not get your attention now but when in five years they equal the cost of your initial cruise your opinion may change.

I used to enjoy an expresso after dinner in a RCCL dining room, now it will cost 3.95 it all adds up pretty fast. I include a menu from Cafe on The way onboard a visit I made to the Carnival Destiny in June of 2000. Princess started charging for coffee $1 in a lobby area coffee shop, cakes etc were free. When I questioned why they charged ( back in mid 90's ) they explained that it was merely to keep the traffic down at the shop. Yeah okay.

George in NY

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Old February 4th, 2001, 09:30 AM
slavearlen
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

Hey George, pardon my ignorance ... is that picture from the Olympic Restaurant or cafe??? Thanks!
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  #12 (permalink)  
Old February 4th, 2001, 10:13 AM
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

George, some very good points. That is why I made sure I told you I have only been on one cruise.
As far as the tax problem in NY, I live in Minnesota. The land of 10,000 lakes and 13,000 taxes. I sure feel your pain.
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  #13 (permalink)  
Old February 4th, 2001, 10:56 AM
George in NY
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

Earlene, No picture is from the Carnival Destiny. It is a small coffee shop Cafe located enroute to the dining area. It is called Cafe On The Way....I included it just to demonstrate my point.

George in NY
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Old February 4th, 2001, 11:01 AM
George in NY
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

Mike, Then I guess you know what I am talking about. It is likes government FEES that suddenly appear as small charges on your phone bill. Before you know it 40 % of your phone bill is from those fees.

Ice Cream price menu, Grand Princess visit.

Happy cruising
George in NY

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Old February 4th, 2001, 11:16 AM
AR
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

You're both right.

The lines will continue to explore where they can create market differentiation and gain extra revenues. Passengers will continue to be the judge of which efforts are acceptable and which are not. It's a never-ending tug of war, so we might as well get used to it. $9.95 for a photo is a good example. Size isn't everything, and at that price, the photos better sparkle and be a lot better than the ones I shoot with my Nikon. If I find one like that, I'll buy it; if not, forget it. At $5.95 I might buy one or two that are just OK as a hedge against my film getting ruined in the airport x-ray machine. It's just another value point. What's it worth to you?

As to the specialty restaurants violating the "traditionally free" rule, they really don't. You can still eat for "free" in the dining room just like always. That's what I mean by the problem created by mass marketing. The mass marketing siren song has been "all-inclusive" and "all one class." This has drawn more folks, but has also created all the marketing problems associated with one size fits all, forcing the lines to try to figure out ways to differentiate for people who have a few more bucks and don't mind spending them.

Finally, while individual likes and dislikes obviously vary, it's unreasonable to expect a galley that is turning out food for a couple thousand people a night to be on the same level as a separate galley that is preparing food for a specialty restaurant that serves only a couple hundred a night. Everything else being equal, there will be a difference. Any chef who is honest will tell you that. This does not mean that Celebrity's food isn't generally good. It just means that a specialty restaurant can be a value proposition for those who are willing to pay for it.

AR
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  #16 (permalink)  
Old February 4th, 2001, 12:16 PM
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

Good points AR. Having worked in the food business for years, I was amazed at good the food was on the Mercury last year. I would love to see how they keep the "Steam Table" flavor off of the food.
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Old February 4th, 2001, 06:47 PM
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

I think that AR's point is valid, but really does not go far enough. The fact is that nothing is "free" it is simply included in the cost of the cruise. Certain amenities are in such a demand, that they are available to all persons on board and the price is included in the cost of the cruise. Some ameneties are likley limited, like seats at the Olympic are a massage - and those who desire to partake are charged the cost of the service rather than charging everyone.

Don't think for a minute that anything on board is "free" it is simply that the cost of that activity is borne by all cruisers whether or not they participate.
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Old February 4th, 2001, 07:08 PM
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

I think that AR's point is valid, but really does not go far enough. The fact is that nothing is "free" it is simply included in the cost of the cruise. Certain amenities are in such a demand, that they are available to all persons on board and the price is included in the cost of the cruise. Some ameneties are likley limited, like seats at the Olympic are a massage - and those who desire to partake are charged the cost of the service rather than charging everyone.

Don't think for a minute that anything on board is "free" it is simply that the cost of that activity is borne by all cruisers whether or not they participate.
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Old February 5th, 2001, 08:20 AM
George in NY
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

Mike, You make a good point in that nothing indeed is free. Even years ago when cruises were discussed as being all inclusive they really were not of course. Drinks, spa services, tours, and so forth were always extras. BUT these were EXPECTED extras for the most part. You can certainly make the argument that a special service like a massage is comparable to a special restaurant where the food is better prepared except that since food itself is such an integral part of the cruise experience that doing so establishes a situation unique to a cruise, service and quality by class and means. Somewhere I frankly don't wish to go.

You really have to look at what made cruising so popular and so special to many of us.

No matter who you were or how much money you had, everyone lost the defining factors onboard a cruise. Even in cabin space there was little other than inside or outside to lend any significance between cruisers. Yes there were some real high end suites but they were the exception not a rule. Now, balcony versus no balcony, several categoreys of suites some that have special access to private indulgence such as a private lounge or hospitality area.

Almost everything of basic importance to your pleasure was included. If you made friends on board and you decided to get together at a coffee bar, ice cream area or whatever there was no additional expense to be paid. Everyone received the same.

In example, friends of ours that we met on a cruise almost 12 years ago are, frankly, multi-millionaires. When we met they had the top suite on the ship surely surpassing anything that we couls afford at the time. Yet EVERYTHING else was exactly the same. They didn't have a lounge that they could go into but we were barred from. They ate at our table in the regular dining room. You get the point. A great equalizer, a cruise.

The biggest factor of all is that no one was worried about reaching into their pocket all week. Now with the price of everything continually escalating and more and more items becoming EXTRAS a cruise gets more and more like a land vacation but offers the downside of being in a hotel that can rock and roll sometimes. Add mandatory added on bill tips and yet another cruise experience deleted and another factor just like any hotel.

A big factor besides cost is that you used to feel SPECIAL since so many things were already includedm yes you already paid for it in the price but that was easily forgotten. You felt like a King and Queen for a while because people were always serving you stuff without showing you a price menu.

Well you get the point I am trying to make, as cruising caters more and more to mass market it must also attempt to serve past market, Hence levels of service become imperative, added paid for bennies become the norm and poof, cruising is just like any other vaction. At that point might as well pick a land resort.

Don't even get me started on daily newspapers, CNN, email, etc. A cruise used to be a plce to get away from it all and forget the world. Now, satellite news, pay for view movies, etc again negates a big advantage of being AT SEA.

George in NY
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  #20 (permalink)  
Old February 5th, 2001, 01:39 PM
MiaPortia
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

I agree! Restaurants such as the Olympic are simply additional choices to further enhance the cruise experience ... at the client's option. I eagerly anticipate our Olympic experience in April! MiaPortia
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  #21 (permalink)  
Old February 5th, 2001, 01:56 PM
MiaPortia
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

AR- Another insightful response. The speciality restaurants simply offer more choices ... in the same way a passenger can either choose to book an inside stateroom -- or a suite. Mia
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old February 5th, 2001, 02:20 PM
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Default Re: Olympic Restaurant

I really do not want to belabor a point, but I think that we as consumers with a sample size of one are quite as qualified to judge cruise marketing as the cruises themselves. Cruises are definitely an excelleny value, and the "standard" package includes quite a bit. But how long can they remain such a good value if everything becomes included, that is, if there was even aa nominal charge for room service, you might think a bit more before ordering. As there is no charge, more people take advantage and the cost is borne by everyone. At some point, as the expense increases, the cruise lines will either be forced to raise the price of the cruise or to start charging for room service. This is the same for everything on board. The fact is that cruises remain aa good value and one excellent way of curbing some of the demand is to make a minimal charge.

With respect to the Olympic, I understand that when the charge was $12 per eprson, it was almost impossible to get in. Now that the rate has increased, reservations have become more available.

Call me an elitist, but I do not mind the charge.
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