I've read many posts recommending the Odyssey, at least one time if not more during your cruise. So here's one for those in the know.... which evening is the BEST night to enjoy the Odyssey and skip the dining room? If it makes any difference we'll be on the Zuiderdam. And while you're at it, what are the best dishes to order? Can you order double entres as you might in the "regular" dining room?
Check the dinner menu out in the morning (posted in front of the dining room or it will be delivered to your cabin if you are in a full suite) and then make your decision if you want to go to the Odyssey that night or to the dining room. There is no trouble getting a reservation, so you don't need to make your decision until the day you decide to dine there. The 'best' dishes to order would depend on what you like or what you feel like eating that night. The steaks are fabulous, far surpassing what is offered in the dining room; a much better grade of beef than the dining room. Aside from beef Pacific Northwest cuisine is featured, so there are wonderful fish dishes. You might want to go to the Odyssey several nights. Would I order more than one entree- personally I would not, the Odyssey is a fine dining restaurant, but I don't know what they would say or do if you did.
We juast returned from the Zuiderdam June 21 sailing. The filets were great in the Odyssey. We ate there twice during our cruise. One note of disappointment in the Vista dining room. My husband was refused a second lobster tail the night they served it. We could not believe it!! That certainly was not the case last year on the Amsterdam. They claimed they ran out, but as only two out of six people ordered it for dinner at our table we got to wondering: what would they have done if we all had ordered it if, in fact, they really had run out of it as he was told. It was one of the several small things that made this cruise a less fulfilling one than we had on the Amsterdam last year. Not big enough to ruin the whole experience, but one that is making us lean more and more toward one of the luxury lines. Another was the stupid policy that those using the spa services only had 30 minutes before their spa appointment or thirty minutes after to use the hydrotherapy pool. Ridiculous rule. We cancelled over $700 worth of spa appointments on principle when they refused to budge on this ridiculous policy and wanted to extract another $15 for him to use the pool on days we were already shelling out hundreds in spa services. My husband planned to work out later in the day after a massage and then use the pool, but they said no unless he paid another $15 on top of what we already paid. This is really ridiculous nichol and diming and we plan to let corporate headquaters know of our displeasure.
Every night is a good night. We were just on the 6-21 sailing of the Amsterdam and had I the chance to repeat our cruise, I would not venture into the main dining room.
The odyssy had great Filets, Porterhouse, Bone-in Ribeye, Lamb Chops. One person at our table ordered a double order of lamb chops and they were beautiful. Unfortunately, H.A.L.'s food has slipped lately and this is the one way to get great food and service. It is worth the $140 per week extra per person. Trust me!
WOW! Has the food really slipped in the main dining room to the extent that one justifies eating in the Odyssey each night? Afterall, besides the food we look forward to the conversations with the people we meet at the table. However, we certainly will check out the Odyssey at least once.
PS - Did you tip, and if so, how much and when?...if you don't mind me asking. Thanks.
I have never heard that the $20 pp fee in the Odyssey includes the tip. No way. Just look at the quality of the food you have been served and what you would pay for such a meal in a fine restaurant. Way more than $20. Realisticaly the amount of your cruise cost designated for main dining room food each night per passenger ( you can be sure there is a specific amount alloted per passenger for dinner per day and it's quite low) plus the $20 fee is certainly meant to be totally for the food served in the Odyssey. The $20 fee certainly couldn't include a decent tip, too. We tipped an amount that was 20%+ of what we would have paid for the same meal at home in a fine restaurant. (not 20% of $20). HAL's stated policy is that tips are not included in anything you purchase or charge on the ship; you tip separetely in cash for good service.
I guess I made that assumption because on our NCL cruise to the Baltics, which was our first alternative dining experience, the $10 p.p. fee was for the express purpose of paying the gratuities that the waiters in "Le Bistro" would not be getting from your dinner tips.
H.A.L.'s "No Tipping Required" policy is very confusing and it makes customers very unsure of what and where to tip. For instance, one evening in the casual dining at the Lido, I tried to add a gratuity to the wine bill and I was told I cannot do that. (Most other lines add the tip for you at about 15%) The waiter said "you must do that at the end of the week and pay by cash." My question is: How can I possibly track down every person who has given us good service in order to give them a tip the last day of the cruise? Do I need to tip every waiter and every bus person that has given good service? And if so, how much? H.A.L. will give you no guidelines, even when you ask, and I asked at least four different people in management on the ship. The answer which seemed to be rehersed was "It is totally up to you!" "We cannot give you any recommendations nor can we solicit tips in any fashion."
This policy implies that the employees are paid somewhat better than their peers on most other cruise lines and that tips are not AS important, as a part of their income. It leaves me very frustrated and confused most of the time because there is also no tip pooling done on board. This leads me to believe that some people, like the man pushing the cart of pastries each morning from table to table, is being left out of the mix when it comes to tips.
I must say that is the one thing I like about N.C.L. and a few others. They just add the tips onto your on-board expense sheet and that is the end of it all, unless you choose to do something for someone special.
I feel like I'm ranting and do not mean to. It would just be easier for me if the tipping guidelines were a bit clearer and then I wouldn't feel like I'm making a faux pas at every turn.
I'm going on the Zaandam this week, and I am confused. If I receive good service, I like to tip right then and there. I even like it to reflect on my bill (FF points) and not in cash. Can I do this still or do I need to make a quick, run to the bank before going??
ALL tips on a HAL ship are in cash only! I wish it was possible to add tips to our credit card, but HAL does not allow this. So yes it is best to be prepared with the cash before you leave home. Have a great cruise!