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Old November 13th, 2000, 03:20 PM
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Default Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

I have just re-read the Princess news announcement of 9/12 regarding the new Personal Choice dining option and have only recently booked our next cruise on the Grand Princess in 2001. We enjoyed our 35th Anniversary dining experience on the Millenniium in the Olympic and gratiously paid the $12 pp gratuity to be served in fine style by 4 specially trained servers. When a small snifter of fine Brandy is $18 per glass, what's another $12! Well I think it means a lot, if on every cruise and in many different restaurants the surcharges keep going up. Many might prefer to personally choose dining at a time of their choice and with those of their choice, but while cruising we are not as privledged to be joined by traveling companions and friends and enjoy meeting new people. The evening dining experience and sharing new things with others is usually a great part of the trip. I don't mind generously tipping the same wait staff member we have every day for good service, but Princess now tells me they are going to add $6.50 per day to my our bill automatically for dining service and I have the option to make adjustments before the end of our cruise! Will Princess automatically adjust the nightly service fee when I eat in the alternative restaurant, have room service or dine in the Bistro or is it up to me to remember; what nights & what dining rooms we have been to, so I can adjust the pre-billed amount? Will this offer me good service, will they put on Wine Stewards who know their products and what happens to the server in the Bistro, do we tip upon service there, too. Choice and Change are inevitable but I hope we are not reversing back to the "good old days" of Class restrictions- the haves and have nots. Does anyone know if you can
e-mail Princess directly? Maybe they have detailed these new choices so I, the traveler, can understand them. What are your thoughts?
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Old November 14th, 2000, 07:57 AM
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

Nana, I just returned from the Sea Princess sailing of 11-4-00 and the one thing that we did miss was the wine stewards. They are now non-existent on Princess. Our busboy had to take the drink orders and that took up his time way too much. It seemed to me that everone was so hurried in the dining room. Even the head waiter was clearing tables in our section of the dining room. Our experience on Princess was good enough, but not the same service that we have received in the past with Princess. Down sizeing has struck the cruise industry & I for one do not agree with that practice at all.........
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Old November 14th, 2000, 09:35 AM
BillG
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

Check out the Princess website and I am pretty certain you will find their email address. I sometimes share your concern that cruising is showing signs of reverting to a class system where how much you pay or what class of room you are in will determine far too many of the options, services, and amenities available to you.
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Old November 14th, 2000, 12:32 PM
Carole Dunham
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

Hi Sue,

They haven't had wine stewards on Princess for a long time. Fortunately, Princess has a very simple, easy to understand wine list. Our waiter took our order when we were on Ocean Princess last year.

Carole
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Old November 14th, 2000, 03:22 PM
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

Thanks Bill and Carole. On the Sea Princess two of the fine service items that we missed (but did not effect our overall cruise) were the absence of being escorted to our cabin and a wine steward. Although we are not big wine drinkers, we do enjoy the occasion to travel and enjoy a fine recommended wine. Nice thing about a cruise, no drinking and driving worries! And we don't mind tipping for good service, but some of the rumors about the automatic tip charges seem excessive.
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Old November 14th, 2000, 03:22 PM
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

Thanks Bill and Carole. On the Sea Princess two of the fine service items that we missed (but did not effect our overall cruise) were the absence of being escorted to our cabin and a wine steward. Although we are not big wine drinkers, we do enjoy the occasion to travel and enjoy a fine recommended wine. Nice thing about a cruise, no drinking and driving worries! And we don't mind tipping for good service, but some of the rumors about the automatic tip charges seem excessive.
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Old November 14th, 2000, 06:10 PM
AR
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

Well, I think there are arguments on both sides. Just returned from a European cruise and saw zillions of people at the desk on the last day trying to get US cash to put in the little envelopes (we'd thought ahead and brought it along with paper clips and post-it notes attached). Many of those people clamoring for cash no doubt would have gladly opted to have the tips added to their ship accounts. If we were faced with a trip where the tips were added to the account, we'd be perfectly happy. Personally, I can't be bothered worrying about whether the guys in the dining room get an extra seven bucks because we ate in a specialty restaurant one night and tipped separately. In the scheme of things it's trivial, and is far outweighed by the convenience factor.

As for reverting to a class system, apparently many people advocate this, and as the cruise industry explodes, your "Marketing 101" professor will tell you that cruise lines will inevitably begin to move to market differentiation strategies. One of these will very likely be "pay more, get more." Not really a revolutionary idea. We flew to our latest cruise in first class (on FF miles, of course), and guess what: the seats were wider, there was more legroom and the food was better. Plus we got to board first and we got cute little socks to wear as we padded around our little enclave in the front of the bus. And, everybody knows that separate classes on ships used to be the norm. Going back to that idea hardly seems reason to storm the Bastille.

I am sorry to hear that Princess has done away with wine stewards. They're a nice touch.
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Old November 14th, 2000, 08:30 PM
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

Hi:

Interesting. Hey!!! I'm in the wine business and know something about wines. Maybe I could double as a wine stewart for tips??? Naw.....just want to have fun. Not going to sweat the small stuff....and most of it will be small stuff.
Bob
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Old November 14th, 2000, 08:49 PM
AR
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

Absolutely the right attitude!
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Old November 15th, 2000, 09:52 PM
BEAV
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

Could crew downsizing be the result of lower revenues brought on by the lower cruise fares that we're paying (in general) ?
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Old November 16th, 2000, 10:50 AM
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

Beav, I`m sure this is the reason, I can get a cruise cheaper now than when I took my first cruise in 1982, yes everything is changing, when cruise lines started catering to the masses, food, service and amenities took a nose dive. jean
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Old November 16th, 2000, 11:15 AM
AR
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

Yes, that's certainly one reason. Another is the staggering capital investment involved in bringing all the new ships online and refurbishing the rest. You can only "make it up on volume" to a certain extent, then you have to try to figure out how to 1) cut costs, and 2) pick up a few more discretionary bucks from each passenger. That's why you're bound to see more "added cost" features, whether it's separate classes, a la carte dining, or charges to break your neck climbing rock walls.

The real crapshoot will be figuring out at what point the cruise market will get saturated. They've been successful in bringing cruising to a mass market; the question now is how much water the sponge will hold. Guessing wrong will be an expensive mistake.
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Old November 16th, 2000, 07:43 PM
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

love your answer AR and I totally agree with everything you said, now I`m hearing that Princess has put their new builds on hold, wonder what thats all about....jean.
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Old November 16th, 2000, 08:59 PM
AR
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

Could be lots of things, one of which is cold feet. Their gross margin per passenger can't be all that much. Obviously they've got to fill their ships or they're "sunk." Same with all lines.
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Old November 18th, 2000, 12:27 AM
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

Sue,

I hope that you wrote this up on your cruise evaluation!

Norm.
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Old November 18th, 2000, 12:39 AM
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Default RE: Personal Choice & Alternate Dining Fees

jean,

I have no idea where you are hearing anything about Princess putting new builds on hold, but there's no indication of such from any official source. In fact, the company just released the names of the vessels under construction:

>> The third sister to MV Grand Princess and MV Golden Princess, scheduled to debut in March of 2002, will be MV Star Princess.

>> The two "baby Grands" under construction at Chantiers de l'Atlantique in France will be MV Coral Princess, scheduled to debut in October of 2002, and MV Island Princess, scheduled to debut in June of 2003.

>> The two vessels under construction at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan will be MV Diamond Princess, scheduled to debut in July of 2003, and MV Sapphire Princess, scheduled to debut in March or April of 2004.

A couple vessels probably will leave the Princess fleet as these new vessels enter service. The company has announced plans to transfer MV Crown Princess to Aida Cruises, its German division, in the spring of 2002. There's also a rumor that MV Regal Princess will leave the Princess fleet in 2002 or 2003, probably by transfer to another division (the P&O Cruises Australia division has been mentioned as a possibile recipient), and it's widely expected that the company will sell MV Pacific Princess after she completes her current three-year commitment to Bermuda runs in the fall of 2002, but the company has not yet made an official announcement in either regard.

Norm.
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