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Specialty Dining Now Adding Separate Gratuity


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Maybe someone has already started another thread.  If so, just merge this one into the existing one, please.

I have been reading on CC that for all specialty dining reservations made on the ship, they are now charging an 18% grat on top of the cost of the meal.  So far, at least, it seems to be only for reservations made on the ship and does not apply to dining packages pre-purchased, but if this is the new "rule" I would expect that to change soon.

It is my understanding that the gratuity has always existed, but that it was being included in the overall charge for the meal.  Now it is being added on TOP of the existing cost.

This doesn't surprise me in the least and I have been expecting it but it is still just another step on the path headed in the wrong direction, IMO.  I find the price of specialty restaurants to be exorbitant already and this just makes the insane.

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Here's a look at the dining package prices with the change from Oasis of the Seas

22815614_10105560540274605_7266622340232485770_n.jpg

My understanding is the price of the packages dropped $5 per person.

Regardless, when you pay the full cover charge, that cost is/was supposed to cover the additional cost of food, gratuity, and of course profit.

With the dining packages, you're often paying 30-50% less for the meal.  Regardless of cost to guest, waiter should still get full tip amount, just like if I have a coupon for a restaurant on land.

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I had always assumed that the portion of automatic daily gratuity that covers dining staff would include the dining staff of specialty restaurants.  Was that not the case?

If not, my first thoughts were the dining staff in the MDR are receiving gratuity even though I am in a specialty restaurant and I now have to pay additional gratuity to the specialty dining staff and at first glance the MDR dining staff receive gratuity for nothing as I am not in the MDR that night.  The counter argument is that dining staff also work in other dining venues at breakfast and lunch, the portion of daily automatic gratuity for dining staff isn't just for dinner.  Do specialty dining staff also work other venues during the day?

If specialty dining staff were missing out on their portion of the automatic gratuity that covers dining staff that is unfortunate and I regret not tipping them better than I have but if so I have a hard time not finding fault with the line for this mistake.  You would think with computers and automation they'd be able to figure this out without simply asking guests to pay more.

The automatic daily gratuity was already a smoke screen to obfuscate wages and crew compensation.  I'd prefer they do away with automatic daily gratuity and just increase base fares, but that's a whole other can o' worms.   This change however adds another layer of cloud cover to the topic and it is related.

2 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

I find the price of specialty restaurants to be exorbitant already and this just makes the insane.

I was already there for some specialty dining and this just puts it that much further beyond the value threshold for me.  I'm still waiting to see how this shakes out with respect to dining packages.  At the moment prices in the cruise planner haven't changed but I am taking screen shots of them so I have a point of reference as this works itself out over the coming months.  

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6 minutes ago, twangster said:

I had always assumed that the portion of automatic daily gratuity that covers dining staff would include the dining staff of specialty restaurants.  Was that not the case?

Yes, that was how it was explained many years ago at least

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3 minutes ago, Matt said:

Yes, that was how it was explained many years ago at least

My TA manages to get specialty dinners thrown in once in a while.  If I have to pay gratuity on top of those free dinners I'll accept that but in general this has demotivated me to choose specialty dining.  I can only see this as a price increase under the excuse of gratuity rather than simply raising prices.  If there is a counter perspective I am missing I'd love to hear it.

Fortunately I'm happy in the MDR and remind myself that specialty dining is purely optional.

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41 minutes ago, twangster said:

My TA manages to get specialty dinners thrown in once in a while.  If I have to pay gratuity on top of those free dinners I'll accept that but in general this has demotivated me to choose specialty dining.  I can only see this as a price increase under the excuse of gratuity rather than simply raising prices.  If there is a counter perspective I am missing I'd love to hear it.

If they were to add gratuity on top of the regular priced specialty restaurant cover charge (i.e. $49 for Chops on Harmony), then yes, I'd agree that's just above and beyond greed.

But for the purposes of the dining packages alone, I can totally see where charging gratuity makes sense.

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Haven't tired a specialty restaurant yet and defn wont if they jump another 15-20% in cost. I was considering on my next longer cruise to do the BOGO dinner package as it seemed like a pretty good deal compared to the normal prices and a more reasonable upcharge to try it out.

 

BUT, another charge on top of a charge for something that I have already paid for in my base cruise cost(meals) wont work for me.

 

But as long as people are willing to pay for it....they will continue to charge and keeping upping the cost(through tips or base cost) till they find that maximum equilibrium.

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9 minutes ago, Matt said:

But for the purposes of the dining packages alone, I can totally see where charging gratuity makes sense.

Maybe I'm missing something.  Why should gratuity apply to a dining package but not to individual specialty dining reservations?  If specialty dining staff are already getting their portion of the automatic daily gratuity, that isn't impacted whatsoever by the purchase of a dining package.

It's like... Here is a special price for buying in bulk but that's not really the price, we're going to add 18% at check out and that's for gratuity even though you already paid dining gratuity VIA automatic daily gratuity and which doesn't apply if you buy it individually where gratuity is already included even though gratuity is already paid VIA daily automatic gratuity but only applies because we are giving you a bulk rate. :42_confused: 

How long before Voom gets an 18% gratuity?  Shore excursions?  

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

Maybe I'm missing something.  Why should gratuity apply to a dining package but not to individual specialty dining reservations?  If specialty dining staff are already getting their portion of the automatic daily gratuity, that isn't impacted whatsoever by the purchase of a dining package.

It's like... Here is a special price for buying in bulk but that's not really the price, we're going to add 18% at check out and that's for gratuity even though you already paid dining gratuity VIA automatic daily gratuity and which doesn't apply if you buy it individually where gratuity is already included even though gratuity is already paid VIA daily automatic gratuity but only applies because we are giving you a bulk rate. :42_confused: 

How long before Voom gets an 18% gratuity?  Shore excursions?  

Actually, I think it's just the opposite - at least for now.  They APPEAR to be charging only for individual specialty restaurant reservations made on the ship (onesies and twosies) but not applying the new grat to the packages. My guess is they will eventually get around to adding it to the packages pre-booked but right now there is no additional grat added on to your package (I did a mock booking this morning and there was no additional charge that I could identify).

Yes, I am sure that they will eventually get around to adding a surcharge on top of everything.  When they're charging you 18% for a robot to make you a really BAD drink you know things are headed in the wrong direction !

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1 minute ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Actually, I think it's just the opposite - at least for now.  They APPEAR to be charging only for individual specialty restaurant reservations made on the ship (onesies and twosies) but not applying the new grat to the packages. My guess is they will eventually get around to adding it to the packages pre-booked but right now there is no additional grat added on to your package (I did a mock booking this morning and there was no additional charge that I could identify).

Yes, I am sure that they will eventually get around to adding a surcharge on top of everything.  When they're charging you 18% for a robot to make you a really BAD drink you know things are headed in the wrong direction !

The photo above on the ship shows it listed under the 3/4/5 packages on board (but not yet in the CP).

The important question goes back ... Do specialty dining staff get a portion of the automatic daily gratuity?

If yes, then the new dining package gratuity charge has the appearance of a price increase plain and simple, hoping no one notices as we all get lulled into paying gratuity for everything.

If no, then the MDR dining staff are getting gratuity they don't deserve (the corresponding dinner portion of the automatic daily gratuity) while the specialty dining staff get the shaft.  This should be fixable based on number of guests dining in specialty and easily remedied using automation.

Why on board but not in advance?  Likely another experiment to determine customer reaction before rolling it out fleet wide and for advance purchases.  

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27 minutes ago, melski94 said:

I read the CC comments too. I just did a mock specialty booking for my March Harmony cruise. I was not charged the extra 18% for either the 3 night package or an individual 1 night booking at 150 Central Park. Maybe IT hasn't "fixed" that yet!

 

 

 

I believe this only occurring  (thus far) onboard.

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45 minutes ago, twangster said:

The important question goes back ... Do specialty dining staff get a portion of the automatic daily gratuity?

My understanding is they do not.  They get their tips from restaurant cover charge. 

Again, that's just what I had heard since the beginning of specialty dining.

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Coming soon to the boarding process ...

Please step to the next window to process the gratuities for the engine room crew ... the next window after that will be for the accounting team and then the next window will be for IT ... oops wait we still don't have IT so you can skip that window.

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I just finished a week on Allure with the Ultimate Dinning package, I just assumed that the wait staff was receiving gratuity from someplace, the initial dining package price? I didn't know, there was nothing shown on the receipt, but I always added a little extra on each check. 

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1 hour ago, Matt said:

I believe this only occurring  (thus far) onboard.

I misread.  In our case, we don't do a dining package as it gets expensive for the entire family. We typically like to just make one or 2 date nights on the ship and try to make reservations the day before. While we always tipped, it seems that between specialty prices rising and now added gratuity, its not such a great deal anymore. Chops at $30-$35 was worth it to us but not at $45+18%.

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2 hours ago, Matt said:

My understanding is they do not.  They get their tips from restaurant cover charge. 

Again, that's just what I had heard since the beginning of specialty dining.

That was my understanding as well, and supported by documentation on the RCI website that stated that gratuities were included in the cover charge for the Specialty restaurants.  As of this afternoon, the RCI Dining FAQ still states that gratuities are include in the cover charge.  If that is no longer true, or will soon no longer be true, the staff are the ones being shafted since the portion of the cover charge that was initially directed to them has now been absorbed by RCI and the diners are asked to provide the gratuity.  The likely result is that diners will be more reluctant to leave additional cash tips.  

We leave Sunday on Oasis and have several pre-paid reservations at Specialty restaurants.  Our plans are also to shift a FNDR reservation from Sabor/Giovanni's to 150 Central.  Be interesting to see if that is looked upon as an onboard reservation that will be assessed the 18% gratuity.  And how will our pre-paid reservation to 150C later in the week be handled?  Let you know when we return.

 

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I can see it now - they'll weigh you when you board, and again when you disembark, and then charge you a "gluttony fee" for every additional pound you exit with.  In the past I would have broken even, but with drink packages and middle age creeping in I fear I'll have to cough up the fee.

It's coming via the airlines anyway... 

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/02/forget-your-checked-luggage-this-airline-is-weighing-passengers.html

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I have always believed that the daily tips did not include the specialty restaurants, but that the cover charge for the restaurant did include the tips for the meal.  We book a package pre-cruise so it's paid for before the cruise.  

 

We have never removed any of the tips for the dining staff even when we have the 5 night package.  I can see if 18% is being added to everything, including the packages, that one of two things are likely to occur.  One, the number of cruisers going to the specialty restaurants will be reduced and with Chops on Oasis class ships being $49 plus the new 18%, or if the cruisers go to the specialty restaurants, they will have their regular gratuities reduced for the dining staff.

 

Either way, Royal Caribbean's greed will have some affect, albeit not as large as perhaps I think.  We have tipped what we considered extra on our past cruises in the specialty restaurants, but if they choose to tell me what I "have" to tip in Chops etc. that will be the most they ever see from me. I may also decide to go back to more meals in the MDR.  

 

If all of us who choose the specialty restaurants decided to only go to the MDR or other free locations, something will have to change in our favor.   I love Chops, but a fee of $49 in addition to the food I have already paid for is stretching things, but to increase the price by 18% makes it almost not worthwhile.  This next cruise might be the end of my specialty dining on Royal Caribbean.

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