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I have seen many references to the joys and pleasures of CK. I have looked online for menus and they seem fine. Much on par with other specialty restaurants onboard. So it makes me wonder why such adoration for the venue? I have peaked in through the smoke glass before and it looks nice, albeit packed in tables. We are not MDR diners preferring the specialty restaurants most of the time but is it really worth all of the discussion? For our past 3 cruises we have moved up to Jr Suite so we have access for dinner but it actually seems a bother to beg/hope for an open reservation when Chops(or others) are almost always available to pre-book.

So I ask.......Whats so special?

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Only been to CK on one ship - Anthem - but that was all I needed. For me, the experience and food was better than any of the specialty restaurants I've been to; only Chef's Table surpasses it, but of course that's not a restaurant unto itself and it's as much about the experience as the food.

The filet that CK serves is, for me at least, waaaay better than what I've had from Chops. You can only get it on one night, but I'm not a huge steak person and once on any vacation is enough. In addition, many of the items served at Chef's Table actually come from the CK menu (or perhaps CK picks up the items that are noted as most popular / enjoyed at Chef's Table), so you have a chance to experience some of that without an up-charge.

I also loved the service and ambiance of the place compared to the specialties. While there are indeed a lot of tables, on all but one of the nights we practically had the restaurant to ourselves; maybe 5 other couples dining there at the same time, and each of us was put into a separate section so we each had a very intimate setting. Even on the "busy" night it wasn't close to packed. Our server was always fantastic, giving me great wine recommendations each night and making us feel very well cared for with every meal.

As far as having to "beg/hope for an open reservation", I do understand that on the Oasis class ships that is a definite issue due to the number of suite guests and pinnacles on a typical sailing; but on Anthem (and it seems the other Q class ships) this was not an issue at all; we went straight to the CK desk on embarkation day and had no problem making our dinner reservations for every night of the cruise even though the ship was sold out.

So to have all of that, and have it included as part of the price of the JS or higher room? That is definitely special, and a genuine perk of the suites. I would ask the counter-question -- why you would feel any obligation or strong desire to pay extra for another specialty restaurant at dinner when you have your own limited-access specialty restaurant included and available only to you and the relatively handful of other suite guests? Especially when it's paid for in your cruise fare?

I'd argue to save the specialties for lunch time on sea days, when it's cheaper and the menu is nearly the same as dinner.

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Coastal Kitchen is Royal's answer to a trend in the cruise industry to provide a dining venue dedicated to Suite guests.  You must be in a Suite (or be Pinnacle in CAS) to have access to CK.

In my experience it provides a better experience over the MDR and in some cases approaches or equals specialty dining experiences.

Unlike specialty dining, the CK menu rotates and differs from one night to the next.  It is possible to eat every dinner at CK and not repeat an entree.  Contrast that to a single specialty dining venue where the menu never changes night to night.  The Chops menu is the Chops menu from now and forever for example.   

Dining is very personal.  A menu one night in CK might not be appealing to some guests but very appealing to someone else.     

It's included for dinner when booking a Junior Suite.  Full Suite guests can eat three meals a day in CK.

Chops costs extra for all guests (except Star Class) while CK is included.  The handling of CK for Junior Suite guests does vary from ship to ship and cruise to cruise depending on how many full suite guests and Pinnacles are on that sailing.   

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Service, ambiance and location are the main reasons for us. We always stay in a full suite and eat all of our meals in the Coastal Kitchen. Will eat there 60 days this year.

To us the best nights are when they serve the filet and lobster. The wait staff are excellent.

The only times when we ate at specialty restaurants were when we twice sailed in Star Class. While specialty restaurants may be better, we prefer to spend any additional money for a full suite cabin.

Edited by STANMELB
Tried to remove Pre-Gold from under my signature.
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We were in a Grand Suite earlier this year on Harmony.  Loved CK.  Never ate in MDR and did not miss it.  Had not had the best experience in MDR on recent cruises.  We ate most meals there.  Breakfast was very good and great to be away from the crazy busy Windjammer.  Our grandkids, 6, 8 and 10, were able to get "kids type meals" on any night as special requests.  They loved it there.  Staff is excellent.  We did eat at Sabor one night and were not impressed.  Expensive and not the best service. We are now officially spoiled and have 2 other cruises booked in a suite.

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You all know that I am 100% Team CK.  I agree with everything that @JLMoran mentioned above.  Having done specialty and CK, I feel that food quality is slightly better in CK.  And to add to what @STANMELB mentioned, I would prefer to spend my money in a full suite rather than get a balcony/ocean view/inside cabin and pay extra for specialty.  I also feel that the service in CK is more personalized and attentive compared to specialty.  Add in the ambiance (especially on Oasis class ships) and CK is the clear winner.

When sailing in a full suite, we never do specialty.  CK is more than enough for us.  We never feel like we are missing out on specialty because most things you can get in specialty, you can get in CK.  The only time we have done specialty in when not in a full suite or when we sailed star class.

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5 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

You all know that I am 100% Team CK.  I agree with everything that @JLMoran mentioned above.  Having done specialty and CK, I feel that food quality is slightly better in CK.  And to add to what @STANMELB mentioned, I would prefer to spend my money in a full suite rather than get a balcony/ocean view/inside cabin and pay extra for specialty.  I also feel that the service in CK is more personalized and attentive compared to specialty.  Add in the ambiance (especially on Oasis class ships) and CK is the clear winner.

When sailing in a full suite, we never do specialty.  CK is more than enough for us.  We never feel like we are missing out on specialty because most things you can get in specialty, you can get in CK.  The only time we have done specialty in when not in a full suite or when we sailed star class.

When we did CK on Harmony back in December it was very polarizing. Yes, the service was leaps and bounds above our time in the MDR, but the food sometimes came off as “trying too hard”, over complicating things in the way you see a celebrity (the Bobby flay type, not the cruise line) chef would do. The lobster was swimming a champagne sauce that took away any lobster flavor.  I haven’t had the filet yet so won’t judge the steak, but most cruise line steaks don’t live up to those onshore for one simple reason, 🔥. A great steakhouse gets to use fire and fire adds flavor when done right. 

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We were invited to CK a few years ago on Oasis. A friend of mine’s brother was Director of Hotels and took us there. It’s always been a sore spot with me that they removed Viking Crown and put in suites and CK so I was excited to have dinner there for the great views. 

Food was very good, service was great but then again we were eating with one of 6 officers that runs the ship! Lol

I’d definitely go back if the cost difference between JS and unlimited dining were about equal.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Jill said:

I’d definitely go back if the cost difference between JS and unlimited dining were about equal.

Well, the UDP seems to run in the ballpark of $25-$30 pp / pd average, so on a 7-night cruise for 2 that means $350 to $420. I don't see that being the price diff between a regular OV Balcony and a JS on any ship that has a CK available. I want to say it's usually at least that much per person to go up to a JS, maybe even closer to $550 per person.

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2 hours ago, Andrew72681 said:

When we did CK on Harmony back in December it was very polarizing.

I will admit that it varies slightly depending on who the chef is.  In all our CK experiences, Symphony stands out as the one the was just mediocre.  The rest were fantastic.  Overall, we have had more positive experiences than poor ones.  And to be fair, Symphony came just two weeks after our 9 nights on board Anthem (where we also dined exclusively in CK) so we "may have" been a bit tired of cruise food by that point.

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Just to add my two cents, for what it is worth especially for new cruisers or others shorter on funds. I have never been in any type of suite and never paid extra for a meal.  I have always enjoyed my cruises, the food I have eaten and especially the staff. The room stewards, MDR and WJ staff have always gone out of their way to help in any way possible.

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Part of the reasoning to purchase specialty dining is the ambiance and service, not just the food.  CK also checks the ambiance and service boxes.

Let's put it this way - when I have access to CK that tends to be where I eat.  

While food taste is personal, ambiance and service are less so.  

On lobster night ask for a full tail, not the standard CK lobster dinner which is bits of lobster in a sauce.    

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7 hours ago, JLMoran said:

Only been to CK on one ship - Anthem - but that was all I needed. For me, the experience and food was better than any of the specialty restaurants I've been to; only Chef's Table surpasses it, but of course that's not a restaurant unto itself and it's as much about the experience as the food.

The filet that CK serves is, for me at least, waaaay better than what I've had from Chops. You can only get it on one night, but I'm not a huge steak person and once on any vacation is enough. In addition, many of the items served at Chef's Table actually come from the CK menu (or perhaps CK picks up the items that are noted as most popular / enjoyed at Chef's Table), so you have a chance to experience some of that without an up-charge.

I also loved the service and ambiance of the place compared to the specialties. While there are indeed a lot of tables, on all but one of the nights we practically had the restaurant to ourselves; maybe 5 other couples dining there at the same time, and each of us was put into a separate section so we each had a very intimate setting. Even on the "busy" night it wasn't close to packed. Our server was always fantastic, giving me great wine recommendations each night and making us feel very well cared for with every meal.

I too went to CK on Anthem and had an absolutely AMAZING experience, as has been mentioned the food is on par with the specialty restaurants if not better, the service is absolutely AMAZING and they really do strive to make you happy.  As I have said in an earlier post I thought that the service was good in the MDR, but that was prior to me ever getting to experience what happens in CK, and that is all without an upcharge.  I can assure you that if the ship that we sail on has a CK, then I will gladly pay the difference (within reason) to upgrade our room for the extra perks as well as access to CK.  There were things in CK that they had that were on the menu in the MDR but they were SO much better and given FAR more love than the dishes in the MDR.  Let me put it this way, I am a foodie, and enjoy eating great food.  While the food in the MDR is good I was hooked on CK within the first 10 minutes of being in there.  I am not going to try and explain it any further, just please do yourself a favor and if you have the opportunity to go to CK please take it!  This is from someone that was not too crazy about going until I saw the reviews on here.......

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10 hours ago, JLMoran said:

Only been to CK on one ship - Anthem - but that was all I needed. For me, the experience and food was better than any of the specialty restaurants I've been to; only Chef's Table surpasses it, but of course that's not a restaurant unto itself and it's as much about the experience as the food.

The filet that CK serves is, for me at least, waaaay better than what I've had from Chops. You can only get it on one night, but I'm not a huge steak person and once on any vacation is enough. In addition, many of the items served at Chef's Table actually come from the CK menu (or perhaps CK picks up the items that are noted as most popular / enjoyed at Chef's Table), so you have a chance to experience some of that without an up-charge.

I also loved the service and ambiance of the place compared to the specialties. While there are indeed a lot of tables, on all but one of the nights we practically had the restaurant to ourselves; maybe 5 other couples dining there at the same time, and each of us was put into a separate section so we each had a very intimate setting. Even on the "busy" night it wasn't close to packed. Our server was always fantastic, giving me great wine recommendations each night and making us feel very well cared for with every meal.

As far as having to "beg/hope for an open reservation", I do understand that on the Oasis class ships that is a definite issue due to the number of suite guests and pinnacles on a typical sailing; but on Anthem (and it seems the other Q class ships) this was not an issue at all; we went straight to the CK desk on embarkation day and had no problem making our dinner reservations for every night of the cruise even though the ship was sold out.

So to have all of that, and have it included as part of the price of the JS or higher room? That is definitely special, and a genuine perk of the suites. I would ask the counter-question -- why you would feel any obligation or strong desire to pay extra for another specialty restaurant at dinner when you have your own limited-access specialty restaurant included and available only to you and the relatively handful of other suite guests? Especially when it's paid for in your cruise fare?

I'd argue to save the specialties for lunch time on sea days, when it's cheaper and the menu is nearly the same as dinner.

@JLMoranWOW! What a recommendation and also informational. First I will say that I had no idea that CK was in included paid for perk! I wrongly assumed it was like the other specialty restaurants and had a fee. Thanks for that information!!

I really like what you said about the nights where there were only a few people and they sat you around in different areas to make it more intimate for each. That is great customer service!

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2 hours ago, bhageerah said:

I too went to CK on Anthem and had an absolutely AMAZING experience, as has been mentioned the food is on par with the specialty restaurants if not better, the service is absolutely AMAZING and they really do strive to make you happy.  As I have said in an earlier post I thought that the service was good in the MDR, but that was prior to me ever getting to experience what happens in CK, and that is all without an upcharge.  I can assure you that if the ship that we sail on has a CK, then I will gladly pay the difference (within reason) to upgrade our room for the extra perks as well as access to CK.  There were things in CK that they had that were on the menu in the MDR but they were SO much better and given FAR more love than the dishes in the MDR.  Let me put it this way, I am a foodie, and enjoy eating great food.  While the food in the MDR is good I was hooked on CK within the first 10 minutes of being in there.  I am not going to try and explain it any further, just please do yourself a favor and if you have the opportunity to go to CK please take it!  This is from someone that was not too crazy about going until I saw the reviews on here.......

Thank you very much for the description of your experiences there. Makes CK something that is a must do!!! Everyone's advice and information on this post has been amazing and I thank all of you for that. But, your closing line literally sold me "This is from someone that was not too crazy about going until I saw the reviews on here......."

The people on this blog are amazingly helpful :)

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The food is sort of the difference between banquet dining for 1,000 people and for 300.  They don't have to as massively produce the menu in the CK so food quality can be a little better and there's more attention to detail.  They are also accommodating in that if you really want something off the MDR menu you can ask for it in the CK..so it nearly doubles your choices.

The ambiance is a little better because it's a much smaller space with a lower capacity.

I'm one that can find something to eat anywhere, but if I have the opportunity to eat at CK I will since I don't have the opportunity to often. 

You might as well take advantage of it for dinner with being in the JS when you can.  Make your reservations as soon as you can on embarkation day.

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Frankly, to me, the biggest “upside” to the CK vs the MDR is the ambience.  The food is just marginally better, IMO but, particularly on the O class ships, the view is so incredible that it just “makes” the meal.   I do completely admit that the CK filet is the best on ship.

I find the CK on Anthem (this is the only Q Class ship I have sailed on) to be just “meh”.  I love breakfasts there (given the lack of options elsewhere) but the ambience on Anthem is orders of magnitude lower than it is on the O class ships (JMO) because of the location, orientation and views.

Sorry to say it this way, but there is an element of “covetousness”, given the CK’s exclusivity.  Since not everyone can go to CK, it gets a bit of allure (pun intended) just by being unavailable to some.  Is the CK better than the MDR ?  Yes.

My final statement:  Dan refuses to eat in the MDR ever again on any ship...so, with that in mind, we would choose CK every time, if we only had 2 choices. But the lobster bits in orange sauce is a crime against humanity (and crustaceans).  😖😖😖

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On 10/6/2019 at 3:42 PM, JLMoran said:

Well, the UDP seems to run in the ballpark of $25-$30 pp / pd average, so on a 7-night cruise for 2 that means $350 to $420. I don't see that being the price diff between a regular OV Balcony and a JS on any ship that has a CK available. I want to say it's usually at least that much per person to go up to a JS, maybe even closer to $550 per person.

Well we just upgraded to Junior Suite on our Symphony in May. Got it during the flash sale plus 30% off each over the weekend. Ended up about $800 more. Worth it for double points (aiming for Diamond+) and CK. I have a feeling though we may still do a 3 night specialty because I really want to try Hooked and Wonderland. I’ll wait to get my daughter’s report after she sails next month.

UDP on Symphony runs $175-$200 per person. Upgrade to JS is worth it. 

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