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Should I stick with Coastal Kitchen?


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2 hours ago, DocJr said:

I'm 221 days from my first ever cruise! Sailing on Odyssey in a Grand Suite. Do you recommend the dining package or sticking with the Coastal Kitchen?

I'd say look at the CK menu when it gets closer and do a few specialty restaurants and few nights in CK.

Was in my first ever suite on Harmony a few weeks ago. Some dinners at CK were amazing (like the filet mignon). Others were not much better than the MDR. We did enjoy breakfast there most mornings and only had lunch there once but it was excellent.

I'd consider the CK food somewhere between the MDR and a specialty restaurant. The service, however, was amazing at every meal.

Hope this helps.

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Odyssey doesn't have a lot of specialty restaurants to warrant an unlimited dining package if you have access to CK. However, CK was a meh to me beside filet night and a couple of lunches. I would look into getting maybe a 3night dining plan as a "seasoned" cruiser. As this is your first cruise, I would suggest focusing on the complementary offerings and CK. 

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We were on the Odyssey this past Feb for a B2B. First week we dined in the MDR. Second week we opted for CK pretty much with the exception of the Windjammer and the Italian Rest, Giovanni's. We really liked the ambiance, service and view in the CK. The Windjammer had great views from the large windows. I would not recommend Giovanni's unless you don't mind views of the life raft hulls and folks walking through the Esplanade. 😎

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Our filet on Harmony in March was pretty awful.  We didn’t find the food in CK to be appreciably better than MDR and frankly our server was kinda snooty.  I really wanted to enjoy it more than I did. 

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17 hours ago, DocJr said:

I'm 221 days from my first ever cruise! Sailing on Odyssey in a Grand Suite. Do you recommend the dining package or sticking with the Coastal Kitchen?

We were on Odyssey end of March. I am in agreement with OCSC Mike. Book a few specialty restaurants individually or opt for Chop's plus one or 3 night.

Giovanni's Kitchen is a great choice for Dinner and a Better choice for lunch...Pistachio Panna Cotta worth the price of admission alone.

Enjoyed Coastal Kitchen more than MDR. Had terrible table assignment in MDR but food and service was ok. 

Izumi Hibachi is in a separate and better location than Izumi. Chop's on Odyssey is an elegant venue. If you want to splurge , book Chef's table. This is held in an elegant private room connected to Chops.

 BTW Our 8night S. Caribbean cruise on Odyssey was Our favorite cruise to date. 

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Food is personal so a CK menu I love might be panned by others.  When CK was relatively new to me I'd make a point of eating there as my primary dinner venue every night.  I don't always book suites, maybe 30% of the time, and not all ships have a CK, so CK hasn't always been available to me.  When CK was available to me I made a point of eating there and by eating every dinner there I discovered which entrees I loved and which I loved less.  Now that I've had an opportunity of eating there many times I am better prepared to make decisions what nights I should dine in CK. 

I do prefer the ambiance and service in CK compared to the MDR.  I often cruise without specialty dining because I don't find all of it that special or worth the higher prices as specialty has gone up over the years.  Good for Royal to be able fill their restaurants at higher prices, it's just not in my value proposition most of the time but that is largely because I cruise often.  If the MDR doesn't have anything that interest me the better service and ambiance of CK will always be a better choice for me. 

Since I don't tend to do specialty very often and now that I know which CK menus I love I am in a position to elevate my cruise dining for the week by cherry picking which nights to visit CK compared to MDR and if I feel like it a specialty venue on that cruise.  Often specialty lunches offer better value when I crave something I like in a specialty venue then I'll have a lighter dinner having filled my belly on a specialty lunch.

You need to discover which CK menus work best for you.  That could be all or few of them depending on your tastes.  You are different than us so don't pan CK without trying it frequently.  If you are eligible to eat there,  eat there often so you'll know for future cruises.  

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We are doing our first cruise in August with CK as an option.  How does it work with regards to seating times?  Do you make a reservation on day one for the entire week or is it more a 'my time dining' format and dinner time changes every day?  What do you do with MDR seating?  Right now I have a traditional time on the books, but should that also be changed to 'my time dining' as we will definitely not be going there everyday?  I like the flexibility of going to one or the other depending on menu option.

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29 minutes ago, Peter D said:

We are doing our first cruise in August with CK as an option.  How does it work with regards to seating times?  Do you make a reservation on day one for the entire week or is it more a 'my time dining' format and dinner time changes every day?  What do you do with MDR seating?  Right now I have a traditional time on the books, but should that also be changed to 'my time dining' as we will definitely not be going there everyday?  I like the flexibility of going to one or the other depending on menu option.

The answer varies slightly depending if you are staying in a junior suite or a full suite.  

Junior suites have access on a space available basis.  On some ships this is implemented differently.  It could mean only being able to make reservations that day.  

Full suites have priority access and can usually make reservations for the week.  Reservations times can vary daily so if your itinerary has a late stay at a port one day you could request a reservation for a later time for that one day.  Full suites typically will be contacted by a suite concierge using email in the days before the cruise.  Guests can typically reply and request reservations for the week and the times can be different each day.  Once on board there can be some flexibility to change reservations but there can be days when all times have been reserved and they won't be able to accommodate a request to change CK dining times.  If you make the request to change a reservation days ahead you may have better success.  Asking to change a reservation with a few hours notice will not likely be successful, unless Star Class. 

It varies week to week and by class of ship.  Quantum class have fewer suites and CK reservations don't tend to book up like they do on Oasis class. 

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Food for thought (yes, pun intended):

I looked at the Chef's table menus and Coastal Kitchen menus, though I wasn't invited to either (boo), and my takeaways are as follows:

1. CK and Chef's table menus have a sampling from most specialty restaurants along with MDR items.  For instance, the CK menu that I looked at had Rigatoni with Bolognese sauce and Burrata cheese appetizer.  These are menu items from Jaime's Italian.  I also saw crab cones on the Chef's table menu.  That is from Wonderland.  What you don't get is the entire menu selection from either specialty restaurants.  

2. CK menu has the exact same French Onion Soup and NY Strip steak with herb butter that is served in the MDR.  

3. Some items like the pasta items are NOT the same across the different restaurants.  For example, we ordered Pasta Bolognese from Jaime's Italian and then ordered it from MDR.  The MDR one had the same sauce, but the pasta in the MDR one was dried pasta and NOT fresh made pasta like at Jaime's.  This is not an opinion, it is fact.

4. CK will offer you the subjective ambiance of elegance and status, along with a quieter and more intimate atmosphere, but in the end, it is the same, or similar food as elsewhere.  There may be some specific items only available at CK, but not many.

5. Dining is very personal.  We travel for FOOD first, everything else second.  So, we had the dining package.  Even if we upgraded to a suite and had CK access, I would have gotten the dining package.  The only reason that my family would NOT get the dining package is if we were in the highest class of suites and the dining package is already included as a perk.

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I'm a big fan of the Coastal Kitchen venue. We have had at least once an inattentive server. We will then try another, if he/she is a good fit we request them for the rest of the sailing. Here are sample entree menus for my 31 July 2022 sailing on the Harmony. The one time I was blessed to sail STAR class I did the specialties, while they were lovely I missed the huge windows, I know weird but so subjective. Glad I tried the specialties, now I know what all the hype is about. On the Mariner last week no complaints about MDR but I missed #CK. If not for the noise level alone. 

Screenshot_20220622-152128_Royal.jpg

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Screenshot_20220622-152222_Royal.jpg

Screenshot_20220622-152234_Royal.jpg

Screenshot_20220622-152248_Royal.jpg

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As @twangsterstated earlier, "Food is personal" as well as subjective.  The key point, at least to myself, made by the OP @DocJr was " my first ever cruise".

My advice to all first time cruisers is eat in the MDR every night that way you know what both the included no extra cost food is like and the MDR atmosphere.  I would say on your 2nd cruise then try stepping out to either Specialty Dinning or the Windjammer for dinner if you like, as you now have something to compare those venues to.

In this case for @DocJr i would modify my aforementioned advice if in a Grand Suite or higher and have the Suite Concierge make you CK (Coastal Kitchen) reservations and eat there every night for dinner for the very reason that you now know what is included with your suite on this class of ship.  You can always try something else for your next sailing.

BTW don't forget to eat breakfast and lunch in CK also, at least a couple of times.  Enjoy your FIRST cruise!!!

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21 hours ago, CruisingNewb said:

Food for thought (yes, pun intended):

I looked at the Chef's table menus and Coastal Kitchen menus, though I wasn't invited to either (boo), and my takeaways are as follows:

1. CK and Chef's table menus have a sampling from most specialty restaurants along with MDR items.  For instance, the CK menu that I looked at had Rigatoni with Bolognese sauce and Burrata cheese appetizer.  These are menu items from Jaime's Italian.  I also saw crab cones on the Chef's table menu.  That is from Wonderland.  What you don't get is the entire menu selection from either specialty restaurants.  

2. CK menu has the exact same French Onion Soup and NY Strip steak with herb butter that is served in the MDR.  

3. Some items like the pasta items are NOT the same across the different restaurants.  For example, we ordered Pasta Bolognese from Jaime's Italian and then ordered it from MDR.  The MDR one had the same sauce, but the pasta in the MDR one was dried pasta and NOT fresh made pasta like at Jaime's.  This is not an opinion, it is fact.

4. CK will offer you the subjective ambiance of elegance and status, along with a quieter and more intimate atmosphere, but in the end, it is the same, or similar food as elsewhere.  There may be some specific items only available at CK, but not many.

5. Dining is very personal.  We travel for FOOD first, everything else second.  So, we had the dining package.  Even if we upgraded to a suite and had CK access, I would have gotten the dining package.  The only reason that my family would NOT get the dining package is if we were in the highest class of suites and the dining package is already included as a perk.

For what it's worth, I think you are confusing Taste of Royal with Chef's Table-completely different menus.

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We've done the MDR our last few cruises, sometimes a specialty as well. Last week on Ovation we had a JS. We're probably not going to do another suite as I figure I can do two cruises for the same price so we decided to try the CK. Since we're from the east coast and always eat early I went up there first thing and asked about reservations for 5pm. I was told no problem, do you want that all week? Yes, I also decided to try new things on the menu as they prepare things so well. I did have to complement them on their steak cooking. I prefer medium rare but often ask for medium since most often they are under cooked, well I had three steaks, asked for medium rare and each time they were perfect. At 5pm there were never more than 4-5 parties in the restaurant so we had excellent service.

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In my opinion Coastal Kitchen is MDR+. It has some great options, a calmer atmosphere than the MDR and beautiful views on Odyssey but it's very similar in fare-genre to the MDR.

I think it's a good substitute for the MDR but there are some GREAT additional cost restaurants (LOVED Teppanyaki and SO worth it in quantity).

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We did a JS on Symphony last month so we purchased the unlimited knowing that we were  it guaranteed CK.  The food, ambiance and service was beyond compare, except for CP 150 impo.  

We ate at Hooked for lunch 1 day with reservations for dinner 2 nights later.  Ate at CK the night before.  As soon as lunch was over we went to CK and cancelled our Hook dinner replacing it for CK.

There is always the conversation which restaurant does the steak better....chops or CK.  Purposefully we ordered the steak at CK the night before our Chops reservation.  CK won hands down

Ate at Jamies too. If I decide on our next cruise to eat at a specialty it would only be there over the CK. Their hand made pasta is excellent.  However, I do like the atmosphere better in the CK.    

Atmosphere is just as important to me as the food.  We avoid the mdr because the tables are so close that sometimes you feel like you could ask them to pass their salt shaker and they wouldn't even have to extend their ar!m completely.  Now imagine a large group next to you and the volume of voices while you are trying to enjoy your dinner.  In the CK it was never packed and we ate at 6:30

I also agree everyday we saw something on the menu that was definitely from a specialty restaurant with a variance of the side dish.  Ie  burrata cheese appetizer is from Jamies.  Branzino is from Chops.  Duck was  CP 150.  I think we also had the scallop cerviche which is also a 150 item. So for us, it eliminated the need to do specialty.

Finally, by going every night you get to build a relationship with your waiter.  Our waiter knew when we came in what drink we would have with dinner and our after dinner drink.  Hubby and I drink different things.  He even paid attention to the fact we didn't ever eat 1 particular type of bread so he always removed it and gave us the ones we thoroughly enjoyed.  When I told him i am too full to eat dessert he came back with 2 desserts with a dome covered plate and said take it back to your cabin. He did that every night for me.

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