Old July 14th, 2015, 09:39 PM
aerospace aerospace is offline
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Default NCL going ala-carte for most specialty restaurants

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If you have a cruise booked next year might be a good idea to prepay online for those meals now before they jump in price.

Anyone think the change is a good one?
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Old July 15th, 2015, 11:32 AM
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Mike M Mike M is offline
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I would prefer a flat price for the alternative restaurants. I would love to see what the pricing is going to be like.

I can understand it for the Asian restaurants but restaurants like Moderno, Le Bistro and Cagney's doesn't make sense other than to get more revenue.

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Old July 19th, 2015, 01:13 PM
Travelbuggs Travelbuggs is offline
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Cagneys, Le Bistro and La Cucina will be a la carte. Moderno will continue to be with a $20 cover charge as will Teppanyaki at $25 or $29 I think. I think Bayamo on the Escape will be a la carte as well.

The only way to avoid the a la carte pricing is to buy a dining package. They do offer less than a full 7 day package now, which is welcome news to some people who do not wish to dine at a specialty every night. You can now get a Specialty Dining Package for a min of 3 nights up to 7 nights beginning at $59 per person. With the package, you can dine at Cagneys, for instance, without paying a la carte. An 18% auto gratuity is added to package prices, cover charges or the tab at a la carte specialties.

With the package, you can also pay an upcharge of $15 and go to the Supper Club ( dinner show on the Escape ), Ocean Blue or Bayamo. $10 or $15 upcharge for Cirque or Illusionarium Dinner shows depending upon seating, and $7 at the Sushi, Raw Bar and Pinchas Tapas. Of course the show counts as one of your nights.

NCL's spin on this a la carte thing is that it benefits the light eaters who might only get an appetizer and a dessert. They might spend less than the cover charge would have been. When we are on vacation, we usually go all out on the food, at least 4 courses. And we don't like to worry about how much each course costs, or do we really want to spend the money, or what if we order it and don't like it, wasted money, and what will the final tab be? Does not make for a relaxed meal.

Until the menus actually come out, it is hard to judge whether or not it would be possible to replicate our usual eating habits and still come very close to the previous cover. The announcement lists starters for cagneys from 4.99 to 7.95. Mains from 17.99. It's unclear whether your main entree comes with anything or you will have to buy a potato or vege seperately. Not sure what NCL's thinking is on the change to a la carte. Is it to push people into pre purchase of dining packages? Do they think that those who go a la carte will end up spending more than a $20 or $30 cover charge?

There is some discussion and speculation about some "unintended consequences" that NCL may not have considered. One is the number of people who will come in just to have a dessert ( so much better than buffet or MDR desserts ) and coffee or Kobe beef sliders or a shrimp coctail. It may be harder as a result to get a reservation or even walk in. It will be harder for NCL to manage reservations as they can no longer assume someone will be there for 1 to two hours. It may only end up being 30 min. Another is the fact that many people who never considered a specialty, maybe a family on a budget with 3 kids who do not like the generic kids menus will now reserve and order $5 appetizers for the kids, or a big entree and there will be lots of sharing to keep the cost down and probably a much lower tab at the end of the meal than NCL was anticipating. I can tell you that if the numbers do not add up to very near $30, there will definately be sharing going on at our table. I could be happy with an appetizer and a few bites of husband's filet followed by a shared dessert.

So the outcome will be interesting to watch. I personally think it will be a short lived experiment. Just when they were starting to lean toward the idea of an all-inclusive product with packages to include food and alcohol so that you do not need to worry about additional cost on board, they suddenly reverse direction with a la carte restaurants? It makes no sense. Most people are turned off by the idea, and will do whatever they have to do in order not to be manipulated into spending more. And if it doesn't bring in more money, they will scrap it.
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