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  #31 (permalink)  
Old December 6th, 2007, 08:16 PM
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Paul,
I just did Mariner with my hubby and parents for their 40th anniversary (10/28/07). The dinners in the dining room (main) were mostly OK, some things were good. I felt the same way you feel about the service -- too casual.

We went to Portofino's one night. The food was outstanding, everything from appetizer to dessert. The service was impeccable. We did our best to book Portofino's for the rest of the cruise but only one more night was availabe, and believe me, we savored it. My parents were equally impressed. Well worth the money.

After that, it was just too hard to go back to the dining room with average food and average service. We already decided that when we cruise again, we will try to book the specialty resaurants for the entire week.

I know exactly what you mean.
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Old December 6th, 2007, 08:29 PM
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Is any body besides me getting worried about the cruise experience going forward?

We did an all inclusive week in gee-what-an-a**-hole and ixtapa that was just wonderful and 1/2 the price of riding a ship there.

We had a wonderful suite for 7 days...all was included, including name-brand booze, food, entertainment, you name it.....
Tips were discouraged...100 pesos (20 bucks) relagated me to King status
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  #33 (permalink)  
Old December 6th, 2007, 10:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rinker250
Is any body besides me getting worried about the cruise experience going forward?

We did an all inclusive week in gee-what-an-a**-hole and ixtapa that was just wonderful and 1/2 the price of riding a ship there.

We had a wonderful suite for 7 days...all was included, including name-brand booze, food, entertainment, you name it.....
Tips were discouraged...100 pesos (20 bucks) relagated me to King status
with the all inclusive trips it is just that "all inclusive"! Cruising you pay for the cabin then there is all the extras. I'm not worried about the cruise experience in the future. If RCCL starts to slack there are always other cruise lines and also land vacations.
RCCL's prices are up there so I'm surprised about the service on the Mariner.
I don't know how much truth there is to this but one of the staff members mentioned that the "best of the best staff" always get the new ship. Freedom then they went onto Liberty then they will go to Gensis. Does that mean they have a few ships that are "staff in training" ships?
8) 8) 8)
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  #34 (permalink)  
Old December 7th, 2007, 12:02 AM
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Well, we are up for a HAL trip soon.
I'm sure the "cruise-ness" will overwhelm us.
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Old December 7th, 2007, 10:35 AM
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I prefer to look at the glass as half full.............

Going on the Mariner for the second time this Spring Break and looking forward to it. I haven't experienced the wine issue as I usually am in the Concierge lounge before dinner having a few Tanguerays and tonic and then take a full one to the dining room with me and drink water with lemon at dinner. The bread issue is to avoid people getting their hands all over the bread and spreading the Noro and also avoids bread being left over that probably needs to be thrown out. I do remember the days of the basket being left on the table.

You guys go ahead and pay extra for the specialty restaurants. That helps keep the fare down for me and I can enjoy the dining room.
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  #36 (permalink)  
Old December 7th, 2007, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave the Wave
I prefer to look at the glass as half full............
To the guest they are half full, to the host half empty
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  #37 (permalink)  
Old December 7th, 2007, 12:08 PM
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8)You go Dave. I've been reading all the posts on this site for about 2
years now and kinda figure I should sign up now. unforunatly my cruises
this month will be our last for at least 2 years. The money is getting
tighter and tighter for us ( and I'm sure ) for a lot of others who have
gotten hooked on cruising.
My husband refuses to fly and I love visiting foreign places. I did get a
cabin on the back of the Navigator for the first time, just in case this is
our cruise. Never had one of those and you never know.
Best wishes to all. Keep smiling and cruising whenever you can!
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Old December 7th, 2007, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshie
8)You go Dave. I've been reading all the posts on this site for about 2
years now and kinda figure I should sign up now. unforunatly my cruises
this month will be our last for at least 2 years. The money is getting
tighter and tighter for us ( and I'm sure ) for a lot of others who have
gotten hooked on cruising.
My husband refuses to fly and I love visiting foreign places. I did get a
cabin on the back of the Navigator for the first time, just in case this is
our cruise. Never had one of those and you never know.
Best wishes to all. Keep smiling and cruising whenever you can!
Happy Sailing, joshie
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  #39 (permalink)  
Old December 7th, 2007, 12:55 PM
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Thanks Roland. This is the first and only site I've ever joined and am
sorry I waited so long.
All you people have taught me alot and thereby made cruising more
wonderful then before I started reading all these posts. When I talk to
my Husband, I say things like ( DTW says, or Donna said to, or Rowland, or Mike and Tripp has posted some so very funny things((I love the story about her shoes)) and suggest wondering what it was like for Paul working
on a cruise ship) Thanks again for all your help and frivolity and to DTW
I told my husband no speedos when he laughingly suggested it!
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  #40 (permalink)  
Old December 7th, 2007, 01:03 PM
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Dear joshie,

Money is getting tighter for all of us and cruising is one way of using the money for a better vacation for that money.

Take care
Roland
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  #41 (permalink)  
Old December 7th, 2007, 01:22 PM
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I said I was sure money was getting tighter for everyone. Sorry for the
personnel reference I made to our future outlook. We've been very lucky to
have traveled at all. There are millions including my four kids and their
kids who are hoping to be able to cruise one day. And it does seem to be
the best bang for the buck.
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  #42 (permalink)  
Old December 7th, 2007, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave the Wave
I prefer to look at the glass as half full.............

Going on the Mariner for the second time this Spring Break and looking forward to it. I haven't experienced the wine issue as I usually am in the Concierge lounge before dinner having a few Tanguerays and tonic and then take a full one to the dining room with me and drink water with lemon at dinner. The bread issue is to avoid people getting their hands all over the bread and spreading the Noro and also avoids bread being left over that probably needs to be thrown out. I do remember the days of the basket being left on the table.

You guys go ahead and pay extra for the specialty restaurants. That helps keep the fare down for me and I can enjoy the dining room.
Mariner must of went down hill after DTW sailed!

I too never do or will do specialty restaurants.
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  #43 (permalink)  
Old December 7th, 2007, 07:14 PM
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CruiseQueen...

Not being able to find a half-full bottle in their cellar for you is totally unacceptable. That is a real minus in my book and I would not have accepted that. Free-style is no excuse, a wine cellar is a central location where bottles are stored by the cabin number. If they lost it they should replace it.

Once again, since I am not a big wine drinker (and neither was Anne) this is somewhat new territory for us at CM, but now that I have noticed it, I will definitely be watching for it in the future. As I said, wine is expensive, I even forgot to add in the 18% service charge. That is about $7.50 on a $40 wine. Add to it the bottles are now 750 ml bottle. A normal 750 ml bottle of wine has 25 oz in it. Roughly $2/ounce. This is an expensive proposition.

A normal glass of wine is 5 oz.

That comes out to $9.60/glass. (5 / $48) If the ship were actually pouring full portions by the glass you would be better off buying it by the glass, but they don't. Their per glass size is about 2 to 3 ounces, which explains why they are so small yet expensive, they couldn't possibly let you pay less per glass than you do by the bottle.
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  #44 (permalink)  
Old December 7th, 2007, 07:25 PM
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I see your point about all inclusives. For me the deal-breaker is that i actually cruise to see the world, not just for the ship experience. But if all I cared about was relaxation, good food & drink, then I might try an all-inclusive as well.

The funny thing about all-inclusives is that they are an even smaller market than cruising is. Most people who try cruising use the same excuses "regular" people use for cruises; it's too confining, I'd be bored, wouldn't want to be stuck in one place the whole time, all there is to do is eat....

But I do cruise for the extraordinary service. When/if that starts to go then I am unhappy.

I do think at my age it is time to migrate to a "premium" line. I was very happy on Princess last summer, and their waiters/sommeliers were excellent. And some don't even consider Princess premium, they call it contemporary just like RCI or Carnival.

The truth is the Voyager-class ships are not cheap. I see cheaper HAL and Princess cruises all the time. But you are paying for the "wow" factor of the big ship with an ice rink, etc.

Oh well - our guests loved it. I figure I am just spoiled.
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Old December 7th, 2007, 08:28 PM
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Paul spoiled, no way :-)
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Old December 7th, 2007, 08:46 PM
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I used to think the same thing about the specialty restaurants. ("I'm not paying another dollar to eat food when I can eat for free..."). Well, even though this was our 4th cruise, it was our first experience with Portofino's. Let me tell you, it's not a "little bit" better -- it's a LOT better. That goes for food, service, and ambience. I would love to try Chops too next time. It was well worth the $20pp which also includes gratuity, but we did tip extra.
The risotto was authentic and the veal saltimbocca really did "jump in your mouth!"
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  #47 (permalink)  
Old December 7th, 2007, 09:14 PM
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Sandy - you should think about a cruise on Oceania or Crystal where the specialty restaurants don't cost extra. Oceania has two great special dining venues, no extra charge, and only 700 passengers to vie with for a table.

On the other hand, Silversea has a restaurant that charge $200 per person per night. For that, you could buy an entire cruise.
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Old December 7th, 2007, 10:18 PM
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Hey Paul,

Yes the wine is not cheap and sometimes I do the wine package and if there was wine left in my bottle I would expect to have it the next evening.

And yes I'm finding now that RCCL is more expensive then Princess, Hal, Carnival, ncl etc. I used to remember 3rd and 4th passenger were $199. and good deals were around with RCCL but not no more. I know everything goes up and cruiselines will up the prices also.

The last all inclusive I took was in Cancun and I did not need to open my wallet until the last day when I bought a few things.
I do love cruising but I also love other destinations (all inclusives, Italy and of course Vegas) 8)

With college tuition bills down the road I'm sure I'll be booking Princess and Celebrity, etc. At that point it will all come down to who has the best deal. Service wise I don't have any complaints on my RCCL cruises or my one Celebrity or Carnival cruise.

Boy the cost these days to put a child thru college!
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Old December 7th, 2007, 10:19 PM
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WOW - are you serious? I was on the EXACT same cruise 11/25-12/2 and cannot agree with ANYTHING that was posted here by Paul. First of all, I have not traveled cruises as much as Paul nor am i as well known and to me it is a privlege to have enjoyed such a vessel and experience. I dont expect to be treated like Louis the XIII - i just wanna have a nice time with my wife and friends. There was 4 of us and we stayed on deck 9. To that, I will try to give you my feedback as a regular Joe who just had an unBELIEVEABLY good time on the Mariner.

As far as the dining menu was concerned it was just fine with me - we only hit the dining hall a couple times because of the fuddy-duddy phonies that were at our table - they were 26time cruisers and insisted on telling us on several ocassions how they were pros and loved to gamble. Whateever - not my kind of people but we had no choice in the matter - **** happens and you get stuck with weirdos sometimes. So on 5 out of 7 nites we opted to dine elsewhere besides the dining hall (Windjammer, Chops and Portofinos). The $20 extra we paid at Chops was to DIE for! You'd be a total fool for not checking this out just once!! - steaks that you would get in Morton's in Manhatten and here i was having them on a boat! Chops turns out is actually affiliated with Morton's - knew it tasted familiar! This was at least $100/ea meal (I know because i've paid dealry for this before in NYC) and we went twice there and once to Portofinos! TOTALLY worth it and anyone who says they wont spend another nickel isnt thinking!

Since Paul complained about the dining hall i'll stick to discussing that - we were at the early seating as well on the top floor of the dining hall. The food selections when we actually did dine in the dining room were great and you could select as many as you wanted - as a matter of fact on Friday i had 5 lobster tails on Friday - so did my buddy! no qualms from the waiter and he kept 'em coming like a conveyor belt. Salads you can simply ask to what you want - maybe there was only one there on the menu but you should know you can ask for anything specific - and WE GOT whatever we asked for - especialy our friends wife who wanted somehting different. No problem and FAST. The entrees were great - multiple orders of whatever we asked for including apps. The waiter even told us go ahead and order as much as you want in case we didnt know. Our desserts arrived in a timely manner - sorry to hear yours did not. And they were nicely prepared. Youre worried about bread at the table? Gimme a break - all you have to do is just ask -we didnt have to - our servers were WAY more than accomodating with 3+ rounds of breads and different types for whomever wanted it - however i wasnt there to fill up on bread!! Overall B+/A- rating.

As far as your wine complaints, we had superior service with the Wine Pkg we purchased - you should have known to buy the 5-7-or 10 bottle pkg instead of by the glass. I dont understand why you didnt do this. You could have taken whatever you didnt drink home! As a matter of fact we bought the cheaper pkg and the waiter said no worries - just pick what you want from the more expensive one!! VERY COOL! Our glasses were filled in a tactful and timely manner - about 1/2 full. Not rushed whatsoever. On one occassion our 4some couldnt get thru the 2nd bottle. So they corked it - and no matter where we dined the next nite, they went out and GOT IT for us! amazing - especially the manager Majiec from the Chops dining establishment - he was great!!! They knew exactly how to serve the wines - chilled for some and room temp for others. Excellent! The entire cruise was just like this - all in all a great time! Johnny Rockets was a riot - the juke box on the table needed nickels to play - but whos got nickels on a cruise? I'll tell ya who - the waiters! just ask!

You complain next about the video service, the DVD blah blah blah. Gimme a break - just bring your own camera - we spent 5-bills on a top of the line Canon digital and got pictures and video that were right up there with their professional stuff. You coulda hired me for a cocktail or 2 and i woulda helped you out.

We had a balcony too - had a problem with the safe when we landed in St Thomas - service was there in 10MINUTES to immediately fix it! Our drain in the sink didnt sit high enough to drain the water fast enough - fixed by the time we got back from breakfast. My buddy needed an extension cord for his breathing machine - got it for him immediately. We got our daily dose of toweled animals on the bed too - different one each day - too funny. Room was kept IMMACULATE and my wife is a clean freak - i spied on them cleaning another persons room - they were wiping down the back of the TV - are you kidding? i dont even do that at home!

Are you sure you were on the same cruise?

We got treated awesome - servers and waiters recognized us OUTSIDE of the dining establisments and even remembered that my wife wanted decaf EVERY morning and made a bee-line for her all the time!

The events on the ship were something for everyone - a gym, games, contests, belly flop, women's bicepts! rock climbing, golf - etc etc!!!!! or just vegging out - most of the times not much room around the pools but that was fine - top deck for us to hang out and read and take in the sites! We made some time on day 6 to explore the ship - found the helicopter pad, the shuffleboard court, and where the captain drives from peep windows! cool!

We almost hid out on the ship as stowaways because we had SUCH a good time. I had to rip my wife out of the room to leave! Kudos to Royal for a wonderful experience once again. I would live on this boat if i could!!

If anyone has any questions or comments you can ask me straight up and i will tell you from a layman's point of view. GO on the Mariner - my kind of good time (DTW - it's still the same good time you remember - dont worry!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
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  #50 (permalink)  
Old December 7th, 2007, 10:38 PM
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I have not read all of these posts but I think what Paul and some of the others have experienced of late if the end result of all of the cruiselines trying to cut back expenses. There are less staff on these ships these days, and the staff that is onboard are spread way too thin. This at a time when the cruiselines are doing everything they can to fill their passenger loads to capacity.

Since the price of cruises have not risen much over the last 5 years or so, while the cost of EVERYTHING has gone up tremendously, this industry has to find a way to balance it out. Unfortunately, they have cut back and trim down to the point that their customers are now noticing deficiencies in service, food, amenities, etc. This is not a good thing.

I have not been on a RCCL cruise in a few years but I have also noticed the decline in the service and food onboard Carnival ships. It seems as though the staff are extremely overworked.

Also, the little things that the ships would do to "make a problem right" are now being discouraged.

As far as bar service in the dining room goes, I am sure the waitstaff are now also assigned to cover a nearby bar at the same time. The tip revenue may be better in the bar and therefore the waitstaff will spend as much time as possible in the bar and only come into the dining room sporadically.

The one thing I remember about my one RCCL cruise on VOTS in 2003 was the incredible service. I hope it has not declined too badly because that is what I am looking forward to the most.
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  #51 (permalink)  
Old December 8th, 2007, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTPETE
- (DTW - it's still the same good time you remember - dont worry!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
"Who me, worry?" - Alfred E. Neuman

8)
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  #52 (permalink)  
Old December 8th, 2007, 11:09 AM
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GTPete..

With all due respect, I am glad you had a great cruise, but I think you are missing my point that OUR service was bad. It doesn't really matter if you got great service to me, we got bad service.

Let me ask you this about your wine package. Did you get ice buckets? Did your white wines come chilled? How long did it take them to come around and open your bottles of wine, and who exactly did it, your waiter or a bar manager?

I have tried Chops personally. I don't think I should have to pay a $25 per person service charge to get decent service. Especially when we were already paying 18% service charges on the wine with all the problems I described. On a $40 bottle that is $7.50 - for that I expect real service.

I will say our room steward was very good, no problems there. But the stinking toilets and the bed that was so too big for the room we literally had the step over it to get in and out of bed is a problem. The corners of the bed abutted the couch and the desk, you literally could not walk around the bed - impossible.

And your advice to skip the videographers doesn't really apply to a couple in their 90s who don't even know what SIM card is.

Thanks for your input on your cruise, glad you had a good one, but we had problems.
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Old December 8th, 2007, 12:16 PM
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Quote:

Let me ask you this about your wine package. Did you get ice buckets? Did your white wines come chilled? How long did it take them to come around and open your bottles of wine, and who exactly did it, your waiter or a bar manager?
hmmm....now that I think about it no ice buckets for the wine. I did however inform my waiter to leave the bottle of wine on the table so when I need a refill it is right there for me and I really don't need to wait for the waiter to pour my wine I rather do it myself anyway.
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Old December 8th, 2007, 01:32 PM
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CruiseQueen...

Funny, I did recall that the waiter did take the bottle away with wine in it the second time, but I did not truly remember whether he did or not the first time. The fact that you said that points out that they probably DO take the bottles away between pours. That is actually ridiculous, why should they ever walk away with your wine? A sommeleir wouldn't do that, they always leave it in the table.

That more you look into it, the worse it sounds.
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Old December 8th, 2007, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Funny, I did recall that the waiter did take the bottle away with wine in it the second time, but I did not truly remember whether he did or not the first time. The fact that you said that points out that they probably DO take the bottles away between pours. That is actually ridiculous, why should they ever walk away with your wine? A sommeleir wouldn't do that, they always leave it in the table.

That more you look into it, the worse it sounds.

AGREE! I know years ago they would put the wine in a bucket of ice and it would be right there by the table. And the waiter would still check if I needed a refill and go ahead and refill. I don't know why now they pour wine in my glass and take the bottle away. But I set them straight the 1st nite "just leave the bottle on the table". 8) 8) 8)
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  #56 (permalink)  
Old December 8th, 2007, 05:07 PM
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I am new to this site and after reading the review of the your trip, I am now concerned. We leave on the Mariner on Jan 6.

This will be our 3rd on RC and both on the Rhapsody. We had nothing but wonderful memories of both. Decided to go out of Orlando this time. We have had both JS and a large outside cabin and service was great both times. This time we booked late, and no JS availablle, btu we did get a balcony.

If the service was as you indicate POOR, then that will not set well with either of us. Regarding the wine, yes it should have been chilled and the person ordering the wind should have been give the "nod" as to refills.

Our last cruise we went to the Captains lunch, which was wonderful. We were hoping that there would be one on the MS also.
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Old December 8th, 2007, 05:22 PM
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Paul: Well I just read more of the postings and maybe just maybe in the past you have been "catered to" more because of who you are and this time it didn't happen??

I just hope they have my favorite pinot grigio
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  #58 (permalink)  
Old December 8th, 2007, 05:31 PM
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Enjoyed the review. On my recent Enchantment cruise I was telling my dining mates exactly what you said -- they group these "starters" so you will think you can only select one. But I did find the same thing on my first RCCL cruise to Alaska in 2005 -- I was a bit surprised having always sailed X. I was also surprised that there were no wine stewards, as I was accustomed to sommeliers on X.

I have a cruise booked for 2009 on RCCL. If it weren't a family cruise, I would cancel. I don't think I can book any line which has a totally open ended clause in their contract allowing them to raise prices at any time for any reason.

Sometimes when we "commoners" have written such reviews, we have been flamed (not saying it happened here). Because of your position, what you have to say carries more clout. I hope you always travel incognito -- it's a truer picture of what the rest of us find.
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Old December 8th, 2007, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaxon
Enjoyed the review. On my recent Enchantment cruise I was telling my dining mates exactly what you said -- they group these "starters" so you will think you can only select one. But I did find the same thing on my first RCCL cruise to Alaska in 2005 -- I was a bit surprised having always sailed X. I was also surprised that there were no wine stewards, as I was accustomed to sommeliers on X.

I have a cruise booked for 2009 on RCCL. If it weren't a family cruise, I would cancel. I don't think I can book any line which has a totally open ended clause in their contract allowing them to raise prices at any time for any reason.

Sometimes when we "commoners" have written such reviews, we have been flamed (not saying it happened here). Because of your position, what you have to say carries more clout. I hope you always travel incognito -- it's a truer picture of what the rest of us find.
I think I'm missing the point about the "starters". This seems like a pretty common menu format in most restaurants even more upscale ones. I'm not sure that it's really a cruise line conspiracy to get people to only take one...We Americans, with our almost unbelievably huge appetites, aren't generally going to be bashful about asking for more than one. Also, most of the wait staff make it pretty clear that you can have as many of whatever that you want and I think even most first time cruisers have probably talked to a more experienced cruiser who has relayed the info' to them that they can have all they want...But maybe I'm wrong.

I thought the way they brought out the bread on the Sovereign was actually kind of a neat, classy way of doing it. They never had a problem bringing it back for those that asked for more. Yes, God forbid, you might have to wait a minute or two for them to return with it, but nobody seemed to waste away while waiting.

Here is some wine advice from having lived in wine country for many years prior (I in no way claim to be an expert or want to sound like a wine snob). Most white wines are just barely even considred "real" wines by wine makers. The wineries actually jokingly refer to most whites as "Chateu Cashflow" lol. The reason they produce and market them the way they do is because people seem crazy for them...It's kind of a mystery to most wine makers as to why people like them so much but they produce the hell out of them because there is a huge demand. Red's are what are considered "real wine" to wine producers. Most people who are pretty knowledgable with wines don't bother with whites and know there is a red to go with everything (you just have to find the right one)...Stay away from wine's that are labled "blushes" etc....They are really nothing more than cheap ripple with a nice bottle and fancy label. Most American red wines are made to drink right away so don't worry about aging them first unlike some French wines etc (what the difference is I'm not sure). Also, if the ships are like most California restaurants, that corking fee will disappear off your bill if you are kind to your wait staff...You will also generally get many free drinks if you are nice to them too and I'm always amused by the people who say the ships are so tight with their alcohol. In Calif, I always told the wait staff to bring a glass and try the wine with us (not uncommon in Calif but probably not the rest of the country). It is also very common in Calif to bring your own wine to a restaurant and have them uncork it for you. Lastly, I know enough about wines to tell you that the vast majority of them that I saw onboard are WAY WAY WAY overpriced. Most of the bottles they ask 50 dollars for, as an example, are ones you could buy for less than ten dollars in a store in Northern Calif.
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Old December 8th, 2007, 06:48 PM
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Thank you for your comments, all.

I admit, it can be a challenge to remain incognito, but we do try to ferret out the truth by talking to people and observing. In our reviews we actually eschew opinion in favor of trying to focus on data about tipping policies, service charges, hours of operation, etc. For pure opinion pieces, read our reader reviews.

Most of the cruise lines have stopped offering the press "real" cruises and they only put us on the 2-day fams full of travel agents. I do cruise on "real"cruises as much as possible, and I think you will find the articles in CM are accurate and not "press releases".

I don't like it when someone with a negative comment gets flamed and I am sure you will find me sticking up for people with negative comments in our boards. I totally believe in the right to say anything about cruising you want to say here. I think it is a real shame when some of the regular posters try to decide what other posters are allowed to do. I always say the newcomer, even a one-time poster, has just as much right to say what they want as anyone here.

My comments about RCI are based on comparisons to other cruise lines. I always say all cruise lines (in general) have superior service to land operations. I have VERY high expectations for cruise lines. When "civilians" meet me they are often amazed how critical I can be of a restaurant or hotel on land.

My comments about RCI are based on comparisons. I am sure you will have a great cruise, after all, I am really just focusing on a few topics. We had a great room steward, and our food service was fine. It was just a few things that didn't work out, and the worst part was they seemed unresolvable. That was the biggest "shocker" for me.

But cruising is always a state of mind, we tend to be hyper-critical here. That is our "job." Enjoy your cruise and just consider yourself forwarned about certain things. If you have not seen the class of chip, or if you have kids (or are one yourself) I am sure you will love the ship.
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