I have heard about it, but the figures were even higher for both the Sabbottini and and Southwestern restaurants. I read $20 per person on the Grand! An article was also written this week about the additional charges to upgrade the class of passenger who utilizes these alternative venues. I hate to see something as wonderful as alternate choices reverse back to a class scenario. I am considering sailing on the Grand or the Explorer and these high fees may make me think twice. We dined in the Olympic on the Millennium to celebrate our anniversary, and felt that this was worth the additional amount ($24 per couople) due to the nature of the service and the ambience (jacket & tie required) of the music and special treatment. I can not see how having a meal in a renowned casual Southwestern restaurant with heards of people walking through the dining room to the show theater warrants an extra $40 fee per couple. That's a steep tip!
On one of the other cruise boards I read a post by a gentleman who was eqaually upset about the increase in Sabatini's rates. However, he'd promised his family they would eat there. He LOVED it. turns out they've upgraded Sabatini's menu to full gourmet like the Olympic restaurant on Millenium. He's a New Yorker with familiarity of New York's great restaurants. He says Sabatini's is now on a par with New York's best. For that I'd pay an additional $15 per person, for that is the fee, not $20. Considereing what I pay for dinner ashore in a good restaurant, this is a bargain. and let's face it, cruise food on the mass market lines is tasty and fine but not gourmet, nothing like gourmet. There are still alternatives on Grand Princess that will cost you nothing. So many peope don't know about the Bistro. The Horizon Court becomes The Bistro after 7:30PM. It's a sit down, cooked to order, full menu restaurant and it's fine. It was the only place ever on any cruise ship except Nantucket Clipper where I could get my salmon rare. It's cost? Nothing. I thought it was the best alternative restaurant onboard. We always brought some singles for tipping because the waitstaff was excellent. So, there will be alternative places to dine for those who don't want to pay the $15 and there will be a grand, gourmet restaurant for thse of us who will. Something for everyone.
Carole, I had the poster from the other board send me the menu. It is not all new and different. The restaurant was very good.... but $15.00 pp extra?????? I have dined in better Italian restaurants in NY and Boston. And I think the decor in the restaurant needs to be changed as well.
I am going on the 11/5/00 Southern Carribean Cruise with Princess. I was shocked to learn that there are additional charges onboard for dining. I have been on several RCCL trips in the past but not for 5 years or so and can't recall ever having to pay additional for dining. All inclusive is why you take a cruise anyway. That's why they call the all inclusive resorts "land cruises". If this is the case I am certain that the next trip that we planned to reserve on the last day of this one will not be with Princess,
This development is very disturbing to me. The surcharge of $3.50 as tips for the waitstaff in Sabatini's and The Painted Desert was reasonable, but $15 is inexcusable since the main dining rooms are supposed to be of gourmet quality. Remember, the ships themselves are members of the prestegious Chaine des Rotisseurs that signifies gourmet dining! As passengers, we should tolerate neither surcharges of this magnitude nor food that is any less than gourmet standard in the main dining rooms. When confronted with outrageous surcharges, let's JUST SAY NO -- and voice our objections both audibly to those in charge aboard ship and on our cruise evaluation forms. When faced with substandard food in the main dining rooms, let's do likewise. BTW, I do mean this across all lines!
The extra charge only applies to two specialty restaurants (Sabatini's and The Painted Desert) aboard MV Grand Princess. Neither the three main dining rooms nor the standard alternative venues (the Horizon Court buffet and bistro, Poseidon's Pizzeria, and the grill on deck) have surcharges.
As to the surcharges in the specialty restaurants, the best approach is to boycott them -- and I mean this across all cruise lines -- so long as the surcharges remain in place. If enough passengers refuse to pay the surcharges, the surcharges will disappear.
Well, I don't think people will be boycotting the Olympic on the Millennium any time soon. They're beating down the doors to get in, and rightfully so.
Everything else being equal, doesn't it stand to reason that a separate galley serving a relatively few meals is going to have some advantages over the main galley that must serve thousands? You may say that all food should be "gourmet" (whatever that is), but the fact remains that the kitchen must cook for a couple thousand people. It takes a fantastic galley design and equally fantastic people to come close to meeting such a standard. In a small restaurant with a separate galley it is much more doable.
The individual must decide whether the experience of eating in such a place is worth the extra tip. I guess those who don't are "boycotting" in a sense, and if the specialty restaurants can't make their nut as a result, things will change. As for me, I find the change of pace offered by specialty restaurants appealing, and $12 or $15 a head to do it seems reasonable.
You raise some interesting points, but I'm still concerned that the elevation of the specialty restaurants will lead to a general degradation of the main dining rooms -- which does not seem to be what we want to see.
I suppose anything's possible, but I think if the lines consciously degrade their main dining rooms to drive traffic to the specialty rooms, it would be the classic example of outsmarting yourself. The other possibility is that main room quality could go down because of an excessive diverting of resources to the specialties, but again, I wouldn't put that high on the list of things to worry about.
I think food quality at each level is a conscious choice made by each line based on expected demographics, cost, and logistics. The bigger ships get, the harder it will be to maintain overall top quality.
I wouldn't be surprised to see specialty restaurants at full cost (as opposed to token tip payments) before long. It looks like the train is on the track for more choice in cruising, even on the same ship.
You're right about the trend toward more choices in cruising. In that regard, it's going to be interesting to see how the "Personal Choice Dining" policy works out aboard both MV Grand Princess in the Caribbean and MV Golden Princess in the Mediterranean. If it succeeds, I would not be surprised if at least one of the two main dining rooms converted to the "open seating" arrangement evolves into some sort of specialty restaurant. Nonetheless, I'm not persuaded that this arrangement will be as successful as somebody obviously envisions -- especially in the Mediterranean -- since many veteran cruisers do enjoy the current dinner arrangements.