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We will be on Harmony next spring, the first ship we've sailed with a CK.  I can't quite picture how it will work. 

Do most suite passengers just eat there every night and never go to MDR?  Is it as varied, and indulgent enough, to make that a viable option? Or do most treat it as a specialty restaurant and only eat there when there is something appealing on the menu, doing either specialty dining or MDR most nights?

I keep seeing that it offers "lighter fare."  I definitely don't want to feel like I'm dieting on a cruise, though I'm all for healthy options.  We often like to order an extra entree in the MDR to sample and share.  Is this a done thing in CK as well? 

And how about the staff?  We love getting to know our servers over the week and having them get to understand us.  I assume this happens in the CK, but if you switch back and forth, do you lose that in the MDR?  

Finally, do you need reservations for breakfast?  We've always loved having breakfast in Chops on smaller ships, and often felt we had it almost to ourselves. Does CK get super busy in the morning?

Any insight appreciated.  So happy to have silly little details like this to obsess over again!    

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11 minutes ago, fa-li said:

We will be on Harmony next spring, the first ship we've sailed with a CK.  I can't quite picture how it will work. 

Do most suite passengers just eat there every night and never go to MDR?  Is it as varied, and indulgent enough, to make that a viable option? Or do most treat it as a specialty restaurant and only eat there when there is something appealing on the menu, doing either specialty dining or MDR most nights?

I keep seeing that it offers "lighter fare."  I definitely don't want to feel like I'm dieting on a cruise, though I'm all for healthy options.  We often like to order an extra entree in the MDR to sample and share.  Is this a done thing in CK as well? 

And how about the staff?  We love getting to know our servers over the week and having them get to understand us.  I assume this happens in the CK, but if you switch back and forth, do you lose that in the MDR?  

Finally, do you need reservations for breakfast?  We've always loved having breakfast in Chops on smaller ships, and often felt we had it almost to ourselves. Does CK get super busy in the morning?

Any insight appreciated.  So happy to have silly little details like this to obsess over again!    

Many suite pax do treat the CK as their MDR...but you don't have to.  You can still eat in the MDR if you choose to do that.  Whatever you decide to do, it is best to have reservations but not completely necessary - at least not for the MDR.  I have been hearing that the dining capacity in the CK will be reduced for a while so it may actually be quite necessary to make a reservation at CK but nobody really knows yet.

Yes, you can order whatever you want and as much as you want at the CK.  I have mixed feelings about the menu(s) in the CK.  Some are good, some are ok and some are "no way".

The service in the CK (along with the views, particularly on the O class ships) are the 2 biggest draws of the CK.  It is usually very good.  The CK is also much less hectic than the MDR which is another plus.

No reservations accepted for breakfast before COVID.  I assume it will be that way when cruising resumes...but who knows ?   Yes, CK can be very busy in the morning.

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CK is LOVED by most of the regular suite guests. I'm guilty of only 2 visits over 3 cruises. Not because the food was bad or anything like that, but we were sailing with non-suite guests and wanted to enjoy meals with them. Friends > CK (barely ?).

The food is delish and service is exceptional, I'd say think of it as specialty dining included in your suite fare. I'm sure the maitre d' will accommodate and keep you with the same server. I'd say you'd prefer CK over MDR.

With that, I'll leave it to the CK experts to chime in with better intel!

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12 minutes ago, fa-li said:

Do most suite passengers just eat there every night and never go to MDR?

It really depends on what you like.  Some eat there every night, some never do, some vary it between CK, MDR, and specialty, depending on what the menu is.  For our family, there are some definite menu favourites in CK that I would never pass up for specialty.  I never venture into the MDR if I have access to CK.  The venue is more intimate, service is similar to the old days of cruising before the MDR became almost like a production line.  CK meals are made when you order them, not pre-cooked hours ahead of time and kept warm.  Also, the food is much more flavourful and quality is better.

16 minutes ago, fa-li said:

Is it as varied, and indulgent enough, to make that a viable option?

Most definitely!  They have full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus.  Breakfast is the same each day, similar to eating in the MDR for breakfast, but way better quality.  I love their French Toast!  Lunch menu is my least favourite in CK out of all the menus.  It is still good, but it is not changed daily like dinner.  It switches about half way through the sailing.

18 minutes ago, fa-li said:

most treat it as a specialty restaurant

CK has a lot of specialty restaurant menu items on their menu throughout the week.  In most cases, comparing apples to apples, they do it better than specialty.

19 minutes ago, fa-li said:

Is this a done thing in CK as well?

You can most definitely order as much or as little as you want lol.

20 minutes ago, fa-li said:

And how about the staff?  We love getting to know our servers over the week and having them get to understand us.

You will love the CK staff.  As I mentioned before, it is a more intimate venue than the MDR.  They actually have more time to spend with you in CK.

21 minutes ago, fa-li said:

Finally, do you need reservations for breakfast?

Reservations are required for dinner.  I actually don't know if they take reservations for lunch or breakfast (unless you are star).  It does get busy on sea days, but not to the point where you are waiting super long for a table.  You might have to wait 10-15 mins at the most, at least that has been my experience with breakfast.  When that does happen, go to the suite lounge and enjoy a morning coffee and snacks while you wait.  There's nothing more pleasant to start the day!

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@fa-liif you would like to get a rough idea of CK menu items, I've documented quite a few of them in my live blogs.  The CK menu is pretty much the same across the fleet, just sometimes the order of the dinner menu varies by ship.  You can always check with the suite concierge a week before sailing to confirm which night they are serving which menu.

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/14288-“symphony-no-17-celebration-relaxation-exploration-reflection”-–-072719-–-080319/

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/5780-anthem-of-the-seas-march-9-17-2018/

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/10695-“i-dream-of-genie”-–-star-class-harmony-of-the-seas-–-031019-031719/

 

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When I sail on a ship with a CK it does become my go to dinner venue for most nights.  Some nights the CK menu doesn't excite me but that's personal right?  Another person may declare that same menu their favorite.  

The filet is must try if you are a steak person.  Usually as good and most of the time better than Chops.

In general I find CK in between the MDR and specialty dining.  Some nights the menu and food is on par with specialty dining and some nights the menu and food is closer to the MDR but again that's personal.  Service and ambiance is always better than the MDR.

I do enjoy the CK breakfast even though the menu is the same everyday.  I have my favorites I cycle through.  

Lunch is more hit & miss in the CK but again that's personal.  I've grown to enjoy some of the flatbreads offered at lunch more than I did a few years ago.  

CK menus will be available in the app before sailing so look them over and use that to guide what nights you feel like being in the CK vs. other options.  Sometimes daily menus change at the last minute so don't take what you see in the app as written in stone.

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@fa-li When we went on our first royal cruise we had CK and ate there every night except three, the first night our waiter was so personable, friendly, interested in getting to know us, we asked him if he could be our waiter the entire cruise. He left and got the maître'd because the wait staff rotate sections every night, the maître'd explained this and asked if we would be willing to rotate sections without hesitation we said absolutely! Just something to be aware if you want the same waiter/waitress. He got the largest tip of all those we tipped ($400). Hope your dining experience will be as enjoyable as ours was.

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19 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

This was extremely helpful in understanding what one can expect when you have a genie, the questionnaire, emails etc. Thanks so much for blogging your trip! I'm so excited for my SC experience next year!! Oh when you checked in did the genie actually come to the check in area and walk you through the whole check in line or were you met at the entrance of the ship? Have to remember to check out the Intercontinental in Miami for our trip in 2023. Hopefully it'll be back to what you experienced. 

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7 hours ago, 12thman said:

@fa-li When we went on our first royal cruise we had CK and ate there every night except three, the first night our waiter was so personable, friendly, interested in getting to know us, we asked him if he could be our waiter the entire cruise. He left and got the maître'd because the wait staff rotate sections every night, the maître'd explained this and asked if we would be willing to rotate sections without hesitation we said absolutely! Just something to be aware if you want the same waiter/waitress. He got the largest tip of all those we tipped ($400). Hope your dining experience will be as enjoyable as ours was.

This is good info, thanks.

Do most people tip in the hundreds of dollars range for CK?  

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3 hours ago, 12thman said:

 when you checked in did the genie actually come to the check in area and walk you through the whole check in line

There is a Star Class representative that meets you outside, before you ever enter the building.  That person takes care of getting your luggage dispositioned and gets you through security.  Depending on the port, you then make your way to some holding area where someone will meet you to get you onto the ship.  Sometimes that is your Genie, sometimes it is another Genie.  The Genies are soooo busy on turnaround day that they basically share responsibilities for getting the new guests onto the ship.  You are never left "alone" with the exception of that waiting period once you are through security and waiting for escort onto the ship.

When we boarded Anthem in 2018, Yen actually met us prior to security b/c we had requested that our bags remain with us so she helped us get through security, arranged 2 separate porters and then onto the ship.  Make sure you do not release your luggage to anyone until after you have met with the SC representative.  Everyone will try and grab your bags....don't let go of them until you know for sure that they are in the custody of SC.

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32 minutes ago, fa-li said:

This is good info, thanks.

Do most people tip in the hundreds of dollars range for CK?  

I don't tip in the "hundreds" - not for CK.

Your "included" daily gratuity is diverted from the MDR to the CK for the nights you dine there.  

I usually tip them something that varies but it's not hundreds.  

Technically you don't have to tip CK more than your included daily gratuity.  Anything above that is completely at your discretion.  

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23 hours ago, fa-li said:

We will be on Harmony next spring, the first ship we've sailed with a CK.  I can't quite picture how it will work. 

Do most suite passengers just eat there every night and never go to MDR?  Is it as varied, and indulgent enough, to make that a viable option? Or do most treat it as a specialty restaurant and only eat there when there is something appealing on the menu, doing either specialty dining or MDR most nights?

I keep seeing that it offers "lighter fare."  I definitely don't want to feel like I'm dieting on a cruise, though I'm all for healthy options.  We often like to order an extra entree in the MDR to sample and share.  Is this a done thing in CK as well? 

And how about the staff?  We love getting to know our servers over the week and having them get to understand us.  I assume this happens in the CK, but if you switch back and forth, do you lose that in the MDR?  

Finally, do you need reservations for breakfast?  We've always loved having breakfast in Chops on smaller ships, and often felt we had it almost to ourselves. Does CK get super busy in the morning?

Any insight appreciated.  So happy to have silly little details like this to obsess over again!    

We'll stay with CK and avoid the MDR (except if we partake in a specialty restaurant).  It provides more personalized service, less noise.  In my opinion, just a more pleasant dining experience.

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4 hours ago, 12thman said:

Oh when you checked in did the genie actually come to the check in area and walk you through the whole check in line or were you met at the entrance of the ship?

This boarding was at Port Everglades so we pulled up to entrance and did not give up our bags (with @WAAAYTOOO's voice in my head).  At suites entrance door, we told them we were checking in for Star Class and that our Genie was Araceli.  From there they brought over a different porter who took our bags and we all went through security, with the porter and the bags.  After security, the bags left with the porter (not the curbside porters but the separate one that the guy at the suites door called over) and we continued on to check in and went upstairs to the suites waiting area.  We were there early so boarding had not started yet.  It was there in the suites waiting area in the terminal, that Araceli found us.  She sat with us for a while, went over a bunch of things.  There was another Genie there (Lety) who was doing the same with her family.  Once they announced that boarding was beginning, we boarded the ship with Araceli and she took us straight to our room.   From there, we knew she had another family coming on so we told her we were good on our own and she met up with us later.  Oh, and our bags were already in the loft when we walked in.

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4 hours ago, 12thman said:

Oh when you checked in did the genie actually come to the check in area and walk you through the whole check in line or were you met at the entrance of the ship?

My experience

Port Liberty: Dropped off at the Star Class banner. Met up with Star Class pier agent who contacted the Genie, agent also got a porter for the bags. Did some check-in tasks just before security, Genie met us at this point. Dealt with the security process, minor altercation that may have caused me to be denied boarding. Genie sat with us and went over things prior to boarding starting. Once boarding started escorted us to the ship. Followed by a magic card ride in the elevator to CK for lunch, stated the suite wasn't ready yet and couldn't drop off carryon bags. After lunch the rooms hadn't been opened up yet, flashed the Star Class card and entered the hall to head down to the suite.

Miami:  Dropped off at the Star Class banner. Met up with Star Class pier agent who contacted the Genie, agent also got a porter for the bags. Cleared security and eneted waiting area, bags were kept in waiting area. Met up with Genie who sat with us and went over things prior to boarding starting. Once boarding started escorted us to the ship. Once boarding started escorted us to the ship. Followed by a magic card ride in the elevator to the suite. Don't recall when in the process the bags were dropped off. Spoke with us in the suite for awhile. Lunch. Played a game of find a missing bag, glad the Genie was more concerned about finding our missing bag vs reuniting a random bag with it's owner. Eventually found the missing bag in a pile waiting for distribution. Yes, the bag that went missing was with us in the waiting area.

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