We are going on Holland America's Maasdam, bound for Canda @ New England on May 12th. Has anyone eaten at their specialty restaurant, The Pinnacle Grill? What I want to know is how good is the food and if it is good, how much advance time, prior to cruising, should I make a reservation.
We reserved our table for the first night ($10pp) about 60 days out (as i recall) by calling ship services.............
Great steaks, planked halibut, asparagus.........crabcakes..............and dishes of all different shapes and sizes to frame the food! MEmorable desserts. elegant surroundings........
we dined at the pinnacle aboard the rotterdam last november. the food was wonderful, especially the steaks and desserts. the ambience was a bit stuffy, probably because there were so few patrons that particular evening; reminded me of eating in an italian funeral parlor. but, all in all we enjoyed the experience. the food in the main dining room was very good, however, so i could see trying the pinnacle once per cruise but enjoying the main dining room other times. enjoy. bon apetit!
I have been there 3 times great food. Stay with the beef. My last cruise a friend had lovster and was noit happy. BTW... the sides are small so order two I will go again in April while on the Oosterdam. I never go first night even if it's discounted. I prefer to check out my table mates and table location. Tipping is extra. Bring $10 cash.
well, mrhappy, when you are paying for the entire family the $10 bills add up.........besides the first night in the dining room is our least favorite--everyone is arriving onboard from flights, the staff seems to be off just a bit (and rushed) in the effort to get to know the new table guests, the menu is just average. To our family, the first night in the pinnacle seemed to be a special way to start the cruise with everyone.......sort of a kick-off event!
I like how MSR put it... a good way to "kick-off" the cruise week. We enjoyed our embarkation night Pinnacle experiences on Maasdam and Zuiderdam.
Regarding early bird specials...
Considering my pay raise for the ENTIRE YEAR as a school teacher last year was $50... $10 times the two of us is almost a half of a year's payraise for me. Every penny counts in my household since we are scraping by just to afford the cruise and my grad school tuition. When we begin having children that $10 a person will add up. With our assigned dining for two in the main dining room, we are not missing meeting any new tablemates on embarkation night. Yes, we know it's a cruise, and are extremely thankful to be healthy and enjoying such a wonderful vacation.
Yes, we did tip a ten dollar bill on both occassions because we assumed the "value" of the meal was the full $20 each (20% would have been $8 so we left a $10 bill). So our total cost was $30. You lose your bet. Just because I am a teacher does not mean I don't tip. Where in the world did you get that "no tipping" assumption from? Just because we eat in the alternative dining area the first night? The money we save goes towards tips. Just like the "thank you" cards we give our waiter, asst waiter, and room steward when we first meet then with prepaid phone cards hidden inside. We've done that the past three cruises and they seemed appreciative (which is in addition to our normal tipping at the end of the week).
Yes, to some it seems "silly" to try to save $10 here and there, but to those who save a long time for a cruise (which is "big bucks" as you say), it all adds up. To make fun of public school teachers who don't make a lot of salary on a public message board seems rather impolite (in my personal opinion). I don't make fun of my math students whose families are on welfare and cannot afford pencils or school supplies (which I buy out of my own pocket for them). But I understand that to some people $10 is nothing. However, to others, it is ten dollars.
I find it very interesting how the original poster's question has turned into ethics on this thread. All I did was share that we dined the first night for $10 each and get flamed here for sharing that it cost $10 the first night instead of $20. (Except that the original poster thanked me for sharing.)
Is flaming what a message board is all about? I would certainly hope not. I have always had the understanding that message boards are to ask questions and share information and experiences. Not get flamed for sharing those experiences. (Just my opinion - hopefully a board moderator will correct me if I am mistaken.)
The first night of the cruise is normally quiet in the Pinnacle, and that's why they offer the half price deal... to entice people to try it. Nothing at all wrong with taking them up on their offer.
As for tipping.... the service charge is included in their set fee. If you feel the staff earned something extra, that's a personal decision.... just like extra tipping for dining room staff or cabin stewards is a personal decision. There are no expectations to do so, nor should one feel obligated to do so.
I want to let all my fellow cruisemates know that I just made a reservation for the Pinnacle Grill Restaurant on embarkation night, May 12th. Since many people don't show up the first night at their assigned tables, I felt it was a great night to relax and enjoy the specialty restaurant. Thank you all for your words of wisdom concerning the Pinnacle Grill restaurant.
If you dine at Pinnacle the first night, do you risk getting a poor table location in the main dining room since you won't be showing up until the second night? (Our family has elected to sit by ourselves.) Thanks.
When we get on the ship, after we check out our cabin, we always head towards the dining room to see where our table assignment is. In the past, if we didn't like it, we have spoken to the maitre'd. Most maitre'd 's tend to be very accomodating as they want cruisers to have a good cruising experience.. Never forget that people cancel cruises at the last minute so there is a good liklihood that you would end up at a good table.
Kuki is correct about the tipping being included however you will find excellent service and I have always included something extra with a minimum of $5 per person. You will see once you experience the professionalism of the waiters in these alternative restaurants.It is my opinion that they are useing the best they have in these places and we have never been disappointed to include all of the other main cruise lines with my favorite being the Olympic on the Millinnium of Celebrity cruise lines.Try it and you will like it.
Whew! Now that we have all that out of the way, I'd like to say that we ate in the Pinnacle Grille twice while sailing on the Westerdam February 27 thorough March 6 and found the food to be excellent--along with the service. I had Chicken Marsala the first night while my wife had the Mushroom Ravioli, and both dishes were superb. In fact, my meal was among the best I've had on sea or land (and I've eaten in some of the best restuarants). Also, the wine list, though primarily West Coast oriented, was interesting as was our Kiona Cab-Merlot. FYI, the second night, I had the Petite Filet Mignon (tender, tasty), while my wife had the Chicken Marsala, which she didn't enjoy as much as I did. Desserts in both cases, were excellent too.
I didn't think about tipping, as I thought the $20 surcharge served as the tip.
I did, however, tip almost everyone else including the wine servers throughout the ship--even though they supposedly automatically get the 15% that's tacked onto each liquor bill.
About the main dining room--
Although we booked late, HAL honored our request for a table for two and set us up at a 6-person table set for four with the center part separating the two couples. Like some of you, we like to go the first night to see if we'll like our accommodations. Also, as someone said, the food and service the first night were not great, but both improved steadily as the cruise progressed. In fact, on the last night, I thought the main dining room food was pretty darn good for a mass-market cruise line.
I have a suggestions for those that are leary about booking the Pinnacle on the first night. You can make your reservation time in the Pinnacle after your main dining time. On your way to the Pinnacle stop by and introduce yourself to your waiter and tablemates. If there is something you do not like you can tell the maitre'd then and request to be moved.
I just returned from my Statendam cruise to Hawaii....and I must say, whether you eat in the Pinnicle or regular dining room, you'll have the best of food.
We booked the grill for the last formal night...2 days before...no problem at all.
Its not about tipping, eating or anything else...its about enjoying the time you have, the service which was beyond excellent, and relaxing.
The $20.00 in the grill was equivilent to a dinner in a fine restaurant at a cost of at least 65 bucks!!! Its the Ritz Carlton on the water....the lido dining rooms are terrific...elegant, presently beautifully.
If you want the best, you pay for it....either way we all pay lol lol
We've eaten at he Pinnacle on 4 HAL ships, including the Maasdam, several times on each cruise in fact. Love it. The filet mignon is first class, comparable to any steak house we have eaten at. But don't stop with the beef; other entree options are equally as good. My favorite entree of all is the cedar-planked scampi and we also greatly enjoy the lamb and salmon. Many appetizers, salads, sides, desserts to choose from also. Enjoy.
We have never had a problem getting a table, but that, of course, is not guaranteed. If you know you want to go on the first night I wouldn't hesitate to call Ships' Services and make a reservation before you leave home. However, if you were talking another night than the first, I personally would wait until I was on the ship, saw the daily dining room menus, knew what special events like a Lido bbq or Dutch Night might be going on on any particualr night before making a reservation.
Last August, when we tried to book the Pinnacle Grill on board, they were completely sold out for the entire cruise... so this time - our next cruise on HAL is in 2 weeks, May 19 on the Rotterdam, I have called Ship Services and reserved for the 1st night.
Since we'll be in Venice for 3 days pre-cruise, we thought we'd start the cruise by a fabulous meal!! I just hope we won't be disappointed!
"the ambience was a bit stuffy, probably because there were so few patrons that particular evening; reminded me of eating in an italian funeral parlor."
lol! That was pertty much our experience at a mid-cruise reservation on the Oosterdam. The service was not up to par .....maybe the staff had too much time on their hands since the Pinnacle Grill had only half of the tables occupied. We (8 of us) ordered coffee with our desserts and, in an oversight, no sugar or cream placed at the table. No big deal. We'd just let the waiter know we needed cream & sugar at our table. But everyone in the dinning area disappeared for a full 15 mins.! We reasoned that maybe it was their smoke break or chit-chat time.
I just got back from a cruise to Alaska on the Volendam. The charge for the Pinnacle Grill was $49 per person, not $10 or $20. I didn't eat there because of that and the restaurant was never full when we walked by it. It may just have been the time (7:00 to 8:00) but there were never more than four or five tables occupied (at least there was a lot of empty tables that I could see.)