Princess has Personal Choice, NCL has Freestyle Dining, why can't RCI join the rest and have a traditional dining experience on a less time constraining schedule?
We've done Personal Choice, and although we were against it until we tried it, we LOVED it afterwards. It made dining a pleasure!! We didn't have to plan our day by our dining seating time. When we got back from shore excursions, showered, got ready, went to the salon (when everyone else was eating), THEN we would eat. It was SOOOO nice not to have to work our day around dinner!
Yes, there are alternative dining options, but you can't realistically do that every night. Our service was impeccable despite the fact that we had a different waiter every night. Now that we've tried this way of dining, it is going to be VERY hard to go back to a regimented dining schedule on RCI. Anyone else feel this way?
You bet I do! Royal Caribbean is really behind times on this. When people are on vacation, many, such as I, like to have options for dining and entertainment. Come on Royal Caribbean, GET WITH IT! Even though they only have one dining room, one level could be for personal choice and the other for traditional.
Frankly, I'm content with the current arrangement and if I want to eat at other than the standard times for the two seatings there are options available. To me the dining room experience is something which differentiates a cruise dining experience from that of any other vacation option. Getting to know your wait staff and having them know your preferences etc. is something you don't find at land-based resorts and being able to recognize their excellent service by personally providing them with a tip in appreciation is more personal than having my tips automatically billed and divided equally among the wait staff regardless of their individual performance fits my style. If I want to experience the other dining styles there are lines that offer those and I can sail on those.
Actually, we are not advocating doing away with traditional dining at all-just that Royal Caribbean should offer both experiences aboard their ships. As long as you get to continue dining in the way you prefer, I am sure you would not object if they offered passengers a choice.
I agree with BillG. The one thing I would really dislike about "freestyle" cruising is the cruiseline adding the tips to my bill. I want to keep the freedom of tipping according to the service I receive.
I also like having the same dining room staff for each evening meal. It's nice getting to know the people at your table without having to re-introduce yourself at every meal.
I, too, agree with Bill. I really look forward to spending my meals, especially dinner, with the same tablemates every day and having the same wait service tend to my needs. It feels more like "family" and just gives it a consistant feeling. I almost feel like I have my "own personal waiters". To me, it's one of the hightlights of the day sitting around a large table and sharing our adventures with a group of people we're getting to know all week, or having my waiter know exactly what I want. If I want to eat at a different time, I can visit the Windjammer cafe or whatever name the buffet-grill area has.I refuse to pay $20 a piece for the restaurants. I want to take advantage of every morsel of food I paid for in the dining room! :-)
"Judging the product" of a cruiseship is an individual thing. Everyone's likes and dislikes are different including when and what to eat, what show to see, what activites to take part in and the type of service desired. We are not debating whether or not Royal Caribbean should do away with traditional dining and offer personal choice dining exclusively (I am not in favor of that, either) but rather should Royal Caribbean offer personal choice in addition to traditional dining to satisfy everyone's tastes. I am sure if "personal choice dining" continues to gain in popularity, Royal Caribbean will eventually follow suit and offer it on their ships. If one wishes to continue with the traditional dining room service than that should also be an available option. "Options" is the key! I don'tunderstand why anyone would object to Royal Caribbean offering "personal choice dining" if they weren't forced to participate.
Although I would not participate in Personal Choice dining (unless the cruise was very port intensive) I can see how RCI might institute such an alternative. Most of the ships (if not all) have 2 levels of dining rooms. They could make one level for assigned eating times and the other for open seating/freestyle dining. The newer ships also have the alternative restaurants and the Windjammer is always an option if you want to eat casually. Maybe we'll see RCI do something like this in the future. In the meantime, I am happy with how they have it now. I agree with Bill et al in that I enjoy eating dinner with the same people and having the same waiters each night...
I hope they never change. Both Celerbity and RCI offer alternative dining.
As far as free style is concerned keep it. The service
on NCL ships is in the tank as far as I'm concerned and
we will never go again.
Keep things the way they are. If you like freestle dining
go on the lines that offer it.
There might be some logistical problems if there is but one kitchen servicing both dining levels and that could prove disruptive to both the personal choice dining and traditional. This would be more likely with ships which have one (balconied) dining room than with ships with more than one dining room and more than one galley. If open dining choices become popular, I have no doubt that RCI will follow the trend, and I can see occasions where I might be tempted to take advantage of the option, but I can't say I am eager to see the change. With the already instituted alternative restaurants, and the availability of the Windjammer Cafe for casual dining in the evening, I think there is enough flexibility now, but time will tell.
I TOTALLY agree with you, dsawyer. I don't think RCI should totally do away with the traditional dining program. They should OFFER BOTH, as Princess does. They don't have any problems with offering BOTH dining options, so why should RCI have a problem with it? RCI needs to get with the times and make this change, which I believe, is for the better. It gives passengers a choice of dining. You can only take the Windjammer so much and their aren't 7 alternative dining options. We need to be able to eat in the dining room when it's convenient for US, the paying passengers. This system has proven highly successful with other lines, so those of you that say 'it won't work', aren't correct. All we can do is hope that someone with RCI is getting the point and is willing to make the change.
My wife and I were on the Norwegian Sky last year after they adopted Freestyle Dining, and felt it was a real downgrade in the quality of a cruise vacation. The service in the formal dining room really showed the lack of incentive that I believe tipping a waiter for their service for an entire week gives.
That, and the tiny rooms (we had a balcony) made us decide that NCL had a long way to go before we would take them again.
Listen up, please. Once again, we are not advocating that Royal Caribbean change to freestyle cruising altogether but rather just offer a personal choice alternative for those who would like it. If you enjoy traditional dining, I hope that Royal Caribbean ALWAYS offers you that opportunity. It's your vacation!
Let's see now...if a cruise line offers everything I want they should never change anything to accommodate anyone else's tastes even though they will not change what I like. I will still be allowed to have my traditional dining but I don't want anyone else to enjoy something else. Everyone should like what I like or go find another cruiseline. Is this what everyone is saying? Very interesting!
If it aint broke don't fix it..........plenty of other cruise lines offer open dining, but for this cruise vet...something big is lost in the change...mainly service...if you want open dining...you have NCL..( yeh like they offer good dining room service)...not...leave RCI alone or take another cruise line.
It may seem that is what we are saying, but I'm not sure that I buy the premise that by adding the freestyle dining you desire, they wouldn't change, maybe only subtly, the cruise experience for those of us who prefer the traditional two seatings. On RCI ships, for example, the kitchens might not be geared to handle both types of service. Show times might need to be altered or adjusted to make sure that one performance isn't too heavily attended and the other sparsely attended. In the balconied dining rooms of some RCI ships, the performances by the waiters, already cut back to only one or two nights on most cruises, would be more difficult to schedule with the freestyle cruisers coming and going at all different times. (I know that after a few cruises, the singing waiters routine, and the flaming dessert parade may seem to be a bit hokey, but not everyone is on their seventeenth cruise, some are on their first, and to them this "spectacle" is part of what they understand the cruise experience to be. (Try to remember your first cruise). If adding a freestyle dining option could exist in a vacuum, I would endorse your proposal, but since it can't, I guess I'm hesitant about changing RCI's style of operation in this regard. Since those who prefer freestyle cruising have several lines and many ships as alternatives, our stance is not the same as those smokers who tell non-smokers that they should sail on a non-smoking ship. We should all keep in mind that RCI will eventually do what it determines to be in its best interests. All we are doing here is expressing our opinions. How much weight RCI would give to those opinions is something only they can decide.
The novels that you all are writing to voice your opinions certainly are having an effect on your communication skills. Stop all the mindless typing and get out there! Besides, the windjammer (and Johnny Rockets on the big boats) is open almost all night with an identical menu to the main dining room. Anyone who ever goes hungry on an RCI boat is clueless....Cafe Promenade sandwiches kick ass, by the way.