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Old August 12th, 2001, 08:43 AM
Mike Lari
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Default Portofino/Chops Cover Charge Question?

Hi Everyone,

Normally, I spend a lot of time answering questions but here is one that I would like some opinions or ideas:

After paying a rather large amount of money to go on a cruise ship, why do they have special restaurants (reservation only, plus a cover charge) on the ship too?

I am having a real tough time trying to figure out the madness behind this process. Since you have already paid for your meals and service, are they trying to send a message that if you want better food and service, you need to pay more?

This is just a guess on my part, but I am sure that the food is cooked in the same kitchen and the service should be equal to or slightly better than the regular dinning room.

So, my question is simple... what does $20.00 per person pay for? I am not trying to be condescending about this, just trying to understand.

If you have done this, please let me know how you feel about it and convince me that it is worth the money... then, I will consider trying it too!


Mike Lari
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old August 12th, 2001, 03:19 PM
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Default Re: Portofino/Chops Cover Charge Question?

I don't think there's any question the cruise lines are just looking for additional revenue sources on the ships.
However, I don't have an objection to this particular source. If they choose to offer a more personal and refined dining experience than the dining room, at a cost, I have no objection, as long as the dining room food and service does not decline. All the usual places to eat remain included in the fare, and offering a more exclusive choice seems ok to me.
There is no way for the cruise lines to offer these same levels in a banquet situation, which is what the dining rooms really are.
All the alternate restaurants work out of their galley, not the galley the dining rooms uses, and with their own stocks and inventories. The foods are prepared a la minute, which again is not possible in the dining room.

After my experience, dining in the Olympic Restaurant on the Millennium, I'd gladly pay the extra $25/person for that experience again. I certainly wouldn't be able to find that kind of value for the money in any land based restaurant I know.

We'll definately give Portofino's a try on the Explorer. I can only hope it lives up to our Olympic experience. Here's a link to my story on the Olympic Restaurant on the Millenium... <http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/cruiseguide/ship-features/millenniumlive3.cfm>

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Old August 13th, 2001, 12:01 AM
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Default Re: Portofino/Chops Cover Charge Question?

Kuki, I totally agree with you. We are sailing on the Explorer of the Seas on Oct. 20 and are looking forward to eating at Portofinos one night. I have a question about tipping in this instance. When we sailed the Crystal Harmony and dined in their alternative restaurants, they suggested a $5.00 per person gratuity, there was no extra cost to dine there. Is the gratuity included in the $20.00 p.person charge at Portofinos or is one expected to tip in addition? Either way is OK, just would like to know how to handle this.
Happy Cruising!
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Old August 16th, 2001, 09:49 PM
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Default Re: Portofino/Chops Cover Charge Question?

We ate at Portofino's and it was fabulous - well worth the $20 charge. We had one of the best filet mignons of our lives and the same for the tiramisu. My 13-year-old daughter loved the chicken parm. The chocolate mousse was great too but I wish I had ordered the tiramisu like my husband and daughter. It was incredible. The service was superb. It was a great alternative. We tipped 20% of what we estimated the cost of the meal would be at home - we gave the waiter a very nice tip. I would highly recommend Portofino's. (Kuki - have a great cruise!)

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Old August 16th, 2001, 11:49 PM
Mike Lari
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Default Re: Portofino/Chops Cover Charge Question?

Well, I am very impressed with the responses so far. Like I said in my original message, I didn't intend to be condescending about it but I couldn't understand the reasoning behind it... (besides, when it comes to money, I squeek when I walk otherwise I would be able to afford to go on trips like this in the first place). When we cruised in November, Portofino's was almost a ghost town... perhaps everyone on that cruise thought the same way as I did.

I talked to my wife about it and we decided that we will try it too! Maybe we can go as a group to make it more interesting.

Now that I have figured that part out, I have some other questions...

Are the menu's different each night like in main dinning or are they the same every night(i.e. standard menu)?

If it is a standard menu, what would be the main courses(obviously, filet minon is one item)?

What is the recommended dress... formal, semi-formal or casual or does it depend on the day of the week?

What are the reservation times that would be available.. (from what time to what time)?

I know this is a stupid question, but is the cover charge paid through your CruiseCard or cash at the door?

Thanks so much for the responses so far,


P.S. I'll bet you would never guess that I am real big on minor details(hee hee)!
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Old August 19th, 2001, 06:30 PM
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Default Re: Portofino/Chops Cover Charge Question?

Hi Ginnie,
I have not seen you in the message boards before. My husband and I are sailing Explorer on 10/20/01 too! Can you believe we sail in just 62 days???
This will be our first RCI cruise, sailing on Carnival before.
Looking forward to meeting you on the ship. A group of us are gathering at 3pm in Dizzy's in the Viking Crown lounge to briefly meet before lifeboat drill. Why don't you join us.
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Old August 21st, 2001, 05:47 PM
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Default Re: Portofino/Chops Cover Charge Question?

Hi Mike,
My husband and I ate in Portofino's when we were on our Pacific Northwest cruise. Not that many people in there - certainly not full - but enough. I think reservations start around 6 pm. From what I remember we had a choice of steaks, salmon . . . boy, I can't even remember now - but the menu was really good. There were more 'courses' than in the dining room and to be honest there was way too much food to eat - and I'm a big eater. I did feel we were underdressed - we went there on formal night because we didn't bring any formal dress with us for the dining room (only a 4 night cruise). I wore a blazer and my husband wore nice pants and a shirt - but we still felt under dressed. We weren't sure about the tipping either and didn't end up tipping because we thought that it was included in the $20.00 each that we paid. In hindsight we should have called the front desk to ask because it really was confusing. The charge goes on your bill - They don't accept cash anywhere on the ship except in the casino.
Hope this helps - if you have any more questions - please email.
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charge, content, cover, kid, portifino, portofino, rci, tip

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