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  1. I came across an article today dated July 13 on a new a la carte dining program being implemented by NCL (I tried inserting the article, but it would not allow me to paste it...and of course, I have lost the URL by now). Now, instead of paying a flat fee for specialty dining options on NCL they are going to begin charging just like any ol' restaurant on land does. This concerns me very much. I see the handwriting on the wall. The transition has been slow but very deliberate. Cruise ships had, historically, been All Inclusive when it comes to food. Then in the early 2000's NCL introduced the "specialty dining" option to cruising where all of your food was included EXCEPT when you wanted a little something "special" where you could pay a modest surcharge and eat at a number of "specialty" restaurants. That concept was quickly adopted by the other cruise lines b/c it meant that they could start charging extra for something they had always been "giving away" (of course, you were already paying for the food in the cruise fare price...nothing is FREE). Next was the introduction of certain "premium" selections that you would pay a little bit MORE for - specialty steaks or adding a lobster tail to your main dining room option. Now with this newest announcement from NCL they are just going all the way. This new pricing will charge a la carte for most of their specialty dining restaurants (to be fair, they are still offering some specialty restaurant packages...not sure how that's going to work with the a al carte options). Presumably they will still offer the "free" food in the complimentary restaurants but I foresee a day when those complimentary restaurants will begin disappearing and we will be left with nothing but "pay as you go" dining on board ship. Perhaps that last assumption is a giant leap. I hope I'm wrong. Also, with this new a la carte pricing, gone are the days when you can order whatever you want, and as much as you want (even in the specialty restaurants !), from the menus. With a la carte pricing you will be paying for every item you order. Of course, I recognize that RCI has been experimenting with this plot for a while with Izumi...but it seems that RCI does nothing original so I look for them to follow NCL on this as they have with most other NCL "innovations". I am very distressed with the cruise industry, all around, for this kind of subtrefuge. The worst part of it is they try and make you think that they're giving you something NEW and WONDERFUL, when, in reality, they are trying to find new ways to extract ever more money from you for less.
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