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Old June 12th, 2011, 09:14 PM
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Default Holland America food service

Hi, OK, I searched and searched and nothing came up, but I have a question.

We aren't exactly experienced cruisers. We went on a HAL cruise in 2009. We are going again in a few weeks

We were rather surprised when I didn't care for a soup in the MDR, that our server was actually hesitant to allow me another selection. He managed, but it was like he went into stealth mode to "score" it.

We had been on a Princess a few years before that, and it was pretty much all you can eat. When my husband didn't care for part of an entree, but loved the rest, they brought him as many as he wanted. We got to try all the apps, and all the desserts anytime

On the 2009 HAL, we also weren't happy with our choice of app in the Pinnacle Grill. I felt that they might toss me out if I asked for a substitute.

I know it's a monumental task to serve so many every day, but soup?

Has anyone else felt restricted in the dining room? One of the great pleasures of cruising is being able to try new foods without fear of ordering an expensive appetizer you hate.

I just don't want to embarrass myself again by asking for a substitution if my previous server was correct that you only get one of each course no matter what.
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Old June 12th, 2011, 10:43 PM
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I find it sometimes hit and miss on HAL cruises, which is why we go on those with specialty restaurants. Even there, it is hit and miss, depending on the chefs and their attitudes.

On our second voyage on the Westerdam, the PG was awful, being inconsistent night after night after night. One night, they had scallops as part of the dish, on others, not. Sometimes it was too hot, sometimes too cold. We were absolutely not permitted to order anything off the menu. Marcus, the chef, had an attitude problem and it showed. I ordered the veal chop and 3/4 of it was gristle. I told the maitre'd that a good chef would not send out an inferior piece of meat, as Marcus had done. Clearly, his heart was in the wrong place.

The third time we went on the Westerdam, it was one of the best dining experiences we've ever had. Our PG chef, Michael, catered to our every whim, designing dishes for us off the menu (both the PG and MDR). He came out and sat with us a few times after everyone left and we compared stories and recipes. He is truly a superb and experienced chef, with good interpersonal skills. Lucky for you going on the Statendam because that is where he is now.

The chef on our New Years Eve cruise on the Zaandam, Pierre (I called him "Lucky Pierre") was fantastic as well, again allowing us to order off the menu. His personality was great and it showed in his food.

Our cruise on the Eurodam was a little bit better than Marcus' offerings, but not by much. Brendan Whitaker, the chef, seemed to be found outside of the kitchen more often than inside. He was at the Maitre'd's stand, he was over at the Pinnacle Bar, he was out in the corridor. Just who was minding the mint? His food was hit and miss as well. I will admit, to his credit, he told my waiter not to let me order the veal chop as it was just as bad on this cruise as it was some years prior.

We did eat one time in the Main Dining Room on the Westerdam and was rushed the entire time, despite our asking to be the last ones served, at our own table for two. The veal cordon bleu's recipe was mistakenly mixed up with that of veal parmagiana. That was it for us!

I will say that we have never had a problem with any wait staff we've encountered, albeit room service for breakfast, lunch in the Lido, and any dinner we've had in the MDR or usually the Pinnacle Grill.

Good luck and hope your food is great, or at least palatable!
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Old June 12th, 2011, 11:06 PM
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MDR food and service has always been excellent for us .
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Old June 12th, 2011, 11:51 PM
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Has anyone else felt restricted in the dining room? One of the great pleasures of cruising is being able to try new foods without fear of ordering an expensive appetizer you hate.
Not ever on Holland America, or most lines. The only place I ever recall being restricted was in a specialty restaurant on Celebrity, where each course was layed out with specific choices. HOWEVER, even there, if there was something I didn't care for, I have no doubt they would have happily replaced it.

In fact most of the time in the main dining rooms, the wait staff will start off by telling you to please tell them if something is unsatisfactory.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 11:38 AM
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Talking Choices in the MDR

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Originally Posted by Kuki View Post
Not ever on Holland America, or most lines. The only place I ever recall being restricted was in a specialty restaurant on Celebrity, where each course was layed out with specific choices. HOWEVER, even there, if there was something I didn't care for, I have no doubt they would have happily replaced it.

In fact most of the time in the main dining rooms, the wait staff will start off by telling you to please tell them if something is unsatisfactory.
I have never had a negative experience on HAL. I have never had a waiter refuse any request I made. The Pinnicale Grill, and other specialty dining rooms, serve a limited menu so they can do it exquisitely well. I am not quite sure why anybody would request something "off the menu" at the PG.

The only thing I will say is that these days they are not generous about offering extra servings of lobster as they used to be.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 12:14 PM
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My experience was totally the opposite on HAL.

We stuck to the MDR the whole cruise (young kids with us!).

There were a few times I ordered something just to have a taste, and if I didn't like it, didn't eat. The waiter always asked if it was not to my liking, and then offered to get something else.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 02:24 PM
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For a cruise line that has always touted wonderful service, I am surprised that any issue with a dish not to ones liking, was handled as you explained.

You should'nt feel you cannot express your dislike with any dish served to you, and if you get a hint of it happening, express your concerns with the maitre d'..you can be sure it won't happen again.

Have a great cruise.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 03:36 PM
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I have never had a negative experience on HAL. I have never had a waiter refuse any request I made. The Pinnicale Grill, and other specialty dining rooms, serve a limited menu so they can do it exquisitely well. I am not quite sure why anybody would request something "off the menu" at the PG.

Hi, Mike! When we travel on cruises with specialty restaurants, including HAL, we eat at the specialty restaurants every evening. On the HAL ships with only PG, that means PG each evening and since I am a "picky" eater, i.e. no seafood, choose only to eat beef one evening, that means I have limited choices. Therefore, either eat the same thing more than once/cruise, or ask if I may choose off the menu items. We usually "size" up the staff to see what we can/cannot do and ask. If we can't, we don't make a big deal, and then I tend to eat things twice. The worse they can say, after we ask, is "no." That's it. If they do, that's even a bigger plus for me. They are still compensated nightly, either way. However, there is a bigger compensation if the odds are in our favor, and then even the chef makes out nicer for going that extra special mile for us. We've had cruises wherein they do and cruises wherein they don't. As I said, no big deal, and I have yet to lose weight after coming home from a cruise.

Last edited by 2katz3fsh; June 13th, 2011 at 03:36 PM. Reason: to add source--first paragraph belongs to Mike M.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 03:48 PM
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Well, on the other hand we did have service issues on the Zuiderdam. We finally got to cruise with friends who were HAL devotees. Much to his chagrin,and, our surprise, we had problems with our waitstaff in the dr, as well as less then stellar food.

It seemed the waiter and his assistant were having issues, and unfortunately for us, it showed, in our service. On top of that with the food issues, and a table placement that was quite awkward for the staff,and the people seated at that end of the table, our best dinner was in the Pinnacle.

I was curious if our HAL loving friends would still defend the "service" we had or admit to what for just not up to HAL standards.They were flumoxed,and disappointed ...Thaey had many HAL sailings under their belts, that was our first. So, ship does happen
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Old June 13th, 2011, 04:20 PM
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Thanks everyone!

Well, I think it may have just been the server. My husband kept requesting the first table to the left near the host stand because he doesn't care where we sit, and in and out with little fanfare weaving in and out of tables is better.
I'm sure there's a pecking order with the staff, so my server, on an outside near the kitchen table, may have been really low on the pecking order. He may not have had priority in the kitchen.

DH and I are ecclectic foodies. We love finding a traditional taqueria or an independent burger joint as much as a 4 star entree. It's really the individual dishes. So, we can enjoy dinner as much in the MDR as in the PG. And we find the PG is highly over-rated. I think the PG is really only impressive in presentation.

I think this is where my question came about. When at dinner, if I have an exceptional side, and the entree is so so, I'd like to try another entree. At PG, this was looked upon with shock! "Sorry Ma'am, but you have received your selection." There was nothing wrong with it, except that I could have made it with a hot skillet in my bathroom. I suppose if I get really picky and embellish, I can get another entree. But, who wants to do that? It was fine, just not great.

We are trying Le Cirque for the first time on this next cruise. I haven't read anything terribly good about it. I'm sure it's going to be the same so so food and a fancier presentation. But, our guests traveling with us aren't Foodies, so I'm sure it will be a treat for them.

I fear I've ruined myself to food :-) DH asked the other day what we are going to do now that we have made excellent food common to us.

Oh, and the lobster. I've heard of people who are terribly happy that they can order more than one (one friend at 5!) but, I'm not into it. I've only had lobster cooked perfectly once. I suppose that night, I can actually try everything else on the menu :o!
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Old June 13th, 2011, 10:20 PM
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You can order as many entrees as you wish in Pinnacle. You will be charged for each.

It is the policy of that restaurant that you can order extra appetizers and sides but only one entree for the one surcharge. 'ASSuming' the entree is prepared and served properly and there is nothing clearly wrong with it, that is what you have selected and another will call for an additional charge.

We think that a perfectly reasonable position.
Just our opinion........
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Old June 14th, 2011, 11:17 AM
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Unhappy Maitre d'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trip View Post
For a cruise line that has always touted wonderful service, I am surprised that any issue with a dish not to ones liking, was handled as you explained.

You should'nt feel you cannot express your dislike with any dish served to you, and if you get a hint of it happening, express your concerns with the maitre d'..you can be sure it won't happen again.

Have a great cruise.
Well, now I will admit that is one of the problems I have found with HAL lately. Supervision used to be HAL's strong point. But these days the Headwaiters are sometimes hard to find, and at other times actually serving tables, presumably to make up for shortcomings of the waiter. In times past, if something was not quite right, simply glancing around at the headwaiter usually brought immediate correction. No longer. It is my feeling that with automatic tipping, supervision becomes critical, and the shortcomings of the service are primarily due to improper training and supervision.

On the issue of entrees, I did not realize that the OP was talking about the Pinnacle Grill. Of course, there, the policy
Quote:
you can order extra appetizers and sides but only one entree for the one surcharge. 'ASSuming' the entree is prepared and served properly and there is nothing clearly wrong with it, that is what you have selected and another will call for an additional charge.
is a very reasonable one. The situation in PG is very different from the MDR. It IS a restaurant with a limited menu and if you choose to dine there, especially repeatedly, IMAO you have to accept that fact.
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Old June 14th, 2011, 11:19 AM
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Mike, I must admit,I missed that salient point as well.
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Old June 14th, 2011, 02:06 PM
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Default HAL Food

I have never experienced any problem in the MDR or a Specialty restraurant that was not immediately taken care of. Hope this continues on my July cruise
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Old June 14th, 2011, 06:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MercedMike View Post
On the issue of entrees, I did not realize that the OP was talking about the Pinnacle Grill. Of course, there, the policy
is a very reasonable one. The situation in PG is very different from the MDR. It IS a restaurant with a limited menu and if you choose to dine there, especially repeatedly, IMAO you have to accept that fact.
Ok, the OP is still here with ears (Umm, eyes) open.
And, I never responded to, or disagreed with Sail7seas.

@ Sail7seas- Thanks! That will help! I wasn't offered the opportunity to pay again to reorder. I would hope the servers think it would be crass to offer, but I wish they had. The surcharge is nothing compared to what you would spend on a land based restaurant, so additional funds would be fair and acceptable to be able to order again. Many times, I've got a 50/50 going with items I want on the menu, and flip a coin. Unfortunately, as my luck goes, I lose 98% of 50/50 bets :o.

@ MercedMike- It wasn't just the PG. And I'm not complaining, altho it may seem to be worded that way. I just wanted to know what I can and can't expect to be able to do. I worked for restaurants for many years thru college, and I'm in utter amazement that the crews can serve hot, made to order, somewhat gourmet meals to 1800+ people in less than 3 hours. But, at the same time, we passengers have thousands of dollars invested in 7 days of pleasure, and if I order chicken that is underseasoned, altho perfectly cooked, I'd like to be able to change my mind.

On that note- I'm definitely not one of those people who book a cruise and expect for my $$ that my every whim should be catered to. I've observed people like that on my adventures, and I'm sure the crew must endure that every day. So, maybe I wasn't being clear enough in my intentions to them, and maybe they were prematurely ready to push back. Oh, and I wasn't able to order additional sides or appetizers. But, really, that was OK because the amuse bouche was wonderful!

Ok, armed with information I will 1) make my DH suffer through me pushing for a good table away from the kitchen doors in the MDR. 2) When requesting something additional at PG, I will volunteer that additional cost is fine.

I started this primarily because it seemed that portions were being rationed, and I felt a bit embarrassed when denied. A bit like Oliver Twist asking for more!
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Old June 14th, 2011, 06:47 PM
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Old June 14th, 2011, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by sail7seas View Post
You can order as many entrees as you wish in Pinnacle. You will be charged for each.

It is the policy of that restaurant that you can order extra appetizers and sides but only one entree for the one surcharge. 'ASSuming' the entree is prepared and served properly and there is nothing clearly wrong with it, that is what you have selected and another will call for an additional charge.

We think that a perfectly reasonable position.
Just our opinion........
Hi 7! We are never charged (except in some cases for the lobster dish) for double orders. Of course, it might be because we eat there every night.
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Old June 15th, 2011, 07:28 PM
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You regularly eat more than one entree in Pinnacle Grill?

How in the world do you manage that?
Their portions are huge IMO

We have dined in Pinnacle more dozens of times than I can count and have never had a desire for an additional entree and I am not nearly as slim as I was when a bit younger.
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Old June 15th, 2011, 07:47 PM
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Yes, 7, hubby may have 2 portions of the scallops or lamb, or whatever he wants. We don't eat alot during the day, nothing in between our 3 meals, but usually indulge at dinner. No bread, just an appetizer, entree, desert, and usually only taste (1 bite) of the veggies--more room for the meat/fish (for him). Sometimes, if the appetizer is good (scallops, escargot, etc..., he will get two of them instead). As I said, we've been there, done that, know what to expect and usually, it is good (except for those 2 cruises I've mentioned) and we order accordingly.
I find I've only gained a pound or so on, and immediately lose it when we get back home. Hubby is underweight anyway, so he can afford to gain some.
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Old June 18th, 2011, 12:20 AM
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Hi 2.
Happy you and your hubby enjoy Pinnacle.
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Old June 19th, 2011, 01:06 AM
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When we have booking for the Pinncale at night I make sure I don;t eat during the day . I loved to order the Porter house steak, scallop potatoes and spinach.,even than I have a hard time finishing everything!!
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Old July 18th, 2011, 04:08 PM
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We have never had a problem with food service. Always attentive and accommodating.
Both in the MDR and PG. Although I must admit I still miss the Marco Polo.
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Old July 18th, 2011, 09:35 PM
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We returned last week from two cruises on Maasdam and Pinnacle was outstanding. We've had great Pinnacle experiences on various ships, including Maasdam, but this time it was about as good as we've ever enjoyed.

They are doing a wonderful job IMO
Great Pinnacle Manager and a wonderful staff.
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 03:46 PM
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Default Holland America Food Service

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Originally Posted by Tlingit Eagle View Post
Hi, OK, I searched and searched and nothing came up, but I have a question.

We aren't exactly experienced cruisers. We went on a HAL cruise in 2009. We are going again in a few weeks

We were rather surprised when I didn't care for a soup in the MDR, that our server was actually hesitant to allow me another selection. He managed, but it was like he went into stealth mode to "score" it.

On the 2009 HAL, we also weren't happy with our choice of app in the Pinnacle Grill. I felt that they might toss me out if I asked for a substitute.

Has anyone else felt restricted in the dining room? One of the great pleasures of cruising is being able to try new foods without fear of ordering an expensive appetizer you hate.

I just don't want to embarrass myself again by asking for a substitution if my previous server was correct that you only get one of each course no matter what.
First let me say that I am a avid HAL cruiser, have been on all there ships but three, but Iam working on that, to be sure.

I have never, every felt "restricted" in the main dining room or any of the other venues offered on board, being either that you paid extra, or was part of the cruise price. Often, like you, I want to try something different, either expensive or not. I have never been told "NO", or I'll try and get it for you from the the assigned waiter or his/her helper. They have even gone out of there way to make it happen. If you are on second seating you might get a little more than first seating guests. The kitchen wants to get rid of the food, yet they want to make sure there is some left for the second seating passengers. Never feel embarrassed, you are the one paying for the cruise, which includes most of the meals in the main dinning room, and lido areas. Just say, "I'am sorry this is not what I expected, may I have such and such as a substitute." Someone is in the kitchen watching what come back. They don't want that to happen, after all it costs them money. I just might be the approach you take.

Hope your current triip turns out splended.
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Old August 4th, 2011, 02:50 AM
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And 'the policy of the restaurant, you can order additional appetizers and sides, but only an appetizer and a free one. ***Edited to remove commercial reference***

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Old August 4th, 2011, 03:06 AM
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Having escaped from the Ryndam last week we have vowed not to bother with HAL again, and a large part of that decision is down to the terrible food & service in the "fare included" eateries.

Closing the MDR every other lunchtime so that everyone had to either pay to eat in Pinnacle or join the very long queues in the Lido self service - sorry but just where are my automatic gratuities for waiter service going

We did look at Pinnacle a few times, but could not convince ourselves that the food in there would be much better than low quality being thrown out in the MDR. We did talk to two ladies who said that the food was much better, but then added that it wasn't very difficult to be much better

When we did eat in the MDT, the food was warm at best, undercooked, low quality, unappealing, and when I asked for extra vegetables, the waiter delivered my meal, pointed at the vegetables & said "extra vegetables" - errr I had less than my wife

On another day the waiter knocked a full glass of water over me, he was quite quick in mopping the table up, but never even utterred an apology seeming to be more concerned that no-one saw what had happened.

I want to see Gordon Ramsay go on board & record a new program called HAL's Kitchen where the loser each day gets evicted from the ship - what out on days at sea

Alan
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Old August 4th, 2011, 08:49 AM
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Sorry that you had an unpleasant cruise on the Ryndam. My dear MIL and I cruised on her in March to the Western Caribbean and we enjoyed our meals in the MDR and PG. In fact, I don't recall a bad meal at all and I'm pretty particular. I'm not a big fan of the Lido on any ship so tend to steer clear of that venue. I would hope that you would give HAL another try before scratching them off your list.
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Old August 4th, 2011, 11:52 AM
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I sailed on the Ryndam Sep 2010 and my experience was very similar to Alan's. I did eat in the PG and my cabinmate said it was the only good meal of the cruise. The meals in the Canaletto were satisfactory and the MDR were mediocre.

After such an experience I too have vowed not to sail HAL again.

I do not have Alan's extensive experience of cruising so I always give great weight to his measured comments. I honestly thought it was just me and possibly high expectations. BTW I am not a foodie but I can cook better.

What puzzles me is the suggestion ' give HAL another go ' - sorry why waste even more money on a mediocre (IMHO) cruiseline? I don't go back to a restaurant if I have been served a poor meal.

Alan's Ryndam cruise sailed from Dover in the south of England. HAL are hoping to increase the number of British cruisers - their report card should be marked must work a lot harder.

Annie
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