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Are the dining packages worth it?


Sarahkc
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Hi,

I'm new to cruising and new to this forum.  We're doing our first cruise on Radiance in December.  There will be 6 of us, including a 9 and a 6 yr old.

My question is about the dining packages, e.g. the 3 or 4 night dining package.  I see in the fine print that  "for restaurants with a la carte pricing, package includes a $35 credit towards the food portion of your bill". But we're already paying for standard dining in the cruise fare, plus extra for specialty restaurants in a package (if we go for it) but that only covers a $35 and it might cost quite a bit more.  How much more is it likely to cost?   Is it worth it?  Any tips?

-Sarah

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Only a la carte place I can think of is Izumi. With a $35 credit a person that can cover a lot.

Get a better idea of what everything costs check out: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/menus/izumi-menu-brilliance-of-the-seas

Should also add Matt did a great review of Izumi on Brilliance as well: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2018/02/06/review-izumi-brilliance-of-the-seas

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Now dining package as a whole... Hard to judge and really depends on the dining experience you might be after. Overall the speciality restaurants offer more of an intimate dining experience with less of a hustle that the main dining room would offer. Dishes themself can be better due to them being more made to order. Ultimately it all comes down to personal taste and can be hard to judge if it is worth it or not.

If your group loves steak, eating at Chops multiple nights could be worth it. Wanting to taste everything the ship has to offer and not worry about an onboard cost, go for it.

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3 minutes ago, CGTLH said:

Only a la carte place I can think of is Izumi. With a $35 credit a person that can cover a lot.

Get a better idea of what everything costs check out: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/menus/izumi-menu-brilliance-of-the-seas

Ok thanks - so if I understand correctly - every other restaurant except Izumi is set menu, and the dining package covers the whole meal?  2 or 3 courses?

Sorry - new to this, there's a lot to think about! I  I've been agonising over the drinks packages for months.

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Just now, Sarahkc said:

Ok thanks - so if I understand correctly - every other restaurant except Izumi is set menu, and the dining package covers the whole meal?  2 or 3 courses?

Sorry - new to this, there's a lot to think about! I  I've been agonising over the drinks packages for months.

Yup, every other restaurant has everything on the menu covered. Only exclusion would be the seafood tower and lobster at Chops.

Using menu from Brilliance again... Only general rule at Chops is only one entree can be ordered. Multiple appetizers, sides, and desserts are fine.

Chops: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/menus/chops-grille-menu-brilliance-of-the-seas

Giovanni's: If it on the menu, order it. Don't think the have a single entree policy. 

Geovanni's menu on Adventure: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/menus/giovannis-table-dinner-menu-adventure-of-the-seas

 

Just keep in mind the menus might not be exactly the same ship to ship. For the most part they will be very similar.

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1 hour ago, Sarahkc said:

Hi,

I'm new to cruising and new to this forum.  We're doing our first cruise on Radiance in December.  There will be 6 of us, including a 9 and a 6 yr old.

My question is about the dining packages, e.g. the 3 or 4 night dining package.  I see in the fine print that  "for restaurants with a la carte pricing, package includes a $35 credit towards the food portion of your bill". But we're already paying for standard dining in the cruise fare, plus extra for specialty restaurants in a package (if we go for it) but that only covers a $35 and it might cost quite a bit more.  How much more is it likely to cost?   Is it worth it?  Any tips?

-Sarah

Since it's your first cruise, there is no harm in just going to the main dining room and skipping the dining packages. The food is still fine there. That gives you a chance to get the hang of things and see if you like it. If not, then give specialty dining a try next time. In all of our cruising history, we have only dined at a specialty restaurant a whole 3 times. And another tip, if you do decide to do specialty, your kids are only $10pp. DO NOT book them ahead of time. Just have them add the kids on once you get to the restaurant.

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The dining packages offer a good value and I did the 5 night one last cruise mainly because I had sailed extensively with Royal and was looking for something different from the main dining room. Since this is your first cruise, I'd say go with the included options as you can always buy the package once onboard if the food isn't to your liking. 

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if I eat at a specialty its giovanis food has never been anything but fabulous chops was a big let down to me the steaks in the main dining room were just as good and included I would rather pay the little extra in the MDR and get the surf and turf this is just me and my families opinion but you must try giovanis even lunch was terrific they offer special deals on the ship that for me were a better deal then the cruise planner

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Giovanni's is the best.  

Note that Izumi is ala carte for the sushi and appetizers, but if you want the Hibachi experience you prepay $45 and the typical Hibachi meal is included.  That's more expensive than Chops.  I'm doing it for the first time next cruise and will see how it fares.  If anyone has done it I'd appreciate a review.

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You could always give lunch a try during a sea day. The menu will be truncated, but it will be a cheaper way to experience the specialty restaurants and to see if you enjoy them without giving up any dinners in the main dining room.

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I think the dining packages are worth it, provided you are okay with these three provisions...

  1. You don't mind waiting to book reservations until you get onboard (specifically, you are okay if you don't get the exact day and time want but something close to it).
  2. You have a desire to dine at more than 2 specialty restaurants (especially if you are new to specialty dining and want to knock them out).
  3. You did not want to dine at one of the prohibited restaurants that the package does not cover (Hibachi or Chef's Table)

Dining packages will save a ton of money compared to paying for the same restaurants individually, but the trade off of having to wait to make reservations onboard.

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I would say that if you know for sure that you want to eat at multiple specialty restaurants then the dining package is a no brainer. With some of the restaurants costing up to $50 the package will save you a ton of money.

If the question is are the specialty dining packages worth the price for the meal I think it gets a little more complicated. There is no denying the food is great and significantly better than the complimentary options. The part I struggle with is the $30+ per meal even with the package isn't much less, if at all, than it would cost for a similar meal on land. The question for me is not are the specialty dining packages worth the price, but rather is the difference between the complimentary and specialty dining food worth the price. I still book the packages as of now, but with the recent increases in price I'm not sure I will book them in the future.

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I am considering getting a dining package, but the only specialty dining restaurants on Brilliance are Chops, Giovanni's and Izumi, and we don't like sushi so we wouldn't want to go to Izumi.  Is there only one menu at Chops and Giovanni's?  I would think that would get awfully repetitive if we ate at either more than once.    

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31 minutes ago, Laurin said:

I am considering getting a dining package, but the only specialty dining restaurants on Brilliance are Chops, Giovanni's and Izumi, and we don't like sushi so we wouldn't want to go to Izumi.  Is there only one menu at Chops and Giovanni's?  I would think that would get awfully repetitive if we ate at either more than once.    

There are a lot of choices besides sushi. They have ramen bowls, hot rocks where you grill your own beef, chicken, seafood, or vegetables, among a variety of other offerings. The Mochi ice cream is also a nice treat for dessert.

The menus at the specialty restaurants do not change, but there is an alternate menu for lunch and I have seen a "special" offered in Giovani's occasionally.

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1 hour ago, cruiselife said:

The question for me is not are the specialty dining packages worth the price, but rather is the difference between the complimentary and specialty dining food worth the price.

That's the real question that needs to be answered, especially for first-time cruisers and for those who are considering the experience with children.

If you intend to eat with the kids, MDR or Windjammer may be a better option. If you plan to take the kids to Windjammer for their dinner and drop them off at Adventure Ocean for the evening while the adults eat then the "worth the price" question becomes relevant.

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1 minute ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

@DocLC What are those last 3 pics?? Names of dishes please.  Those look so good!

The very last one is one of the appetizers, Chicken Kara-Age. The ball-like ones are the Assorted Mochi Ice Cream, and the middle of the last three are the Izumi Sampler.

The menu for Izumi can be found here (http://media.royalcaribbean.com/content/shared_assets/pdf/menus/izumi.pdf) although the pricing may have changed slightly.

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Just now, DocLC said:

The very last one is one of the appetizers, Chicken Kara-Age. The ball-like ones are the Assorted Mochi Ice Cream, and the middle of the last three are the Izumi Sampler.

The menu for Izumi can be found here (http://media.royalcaribbean.com/content/shared_assets/pdf/menus/izumi.pdf) although the pricing may have changed slightly.

Putting that on my Genie list right now before I forget! lol

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1 hour ago, DocLC said:

There are a lot of choices besides sushi. They have ramen bowls, hot rocks where you grill your own beef, chicken, seafood, or vegetables, among a variety of other offerings. The Mochi ice cream is also a nice treat for dessert.

The menus at the specialty restaurants do not change, but there is an alternate menu for lunch and I have seen a "special" offered in Giovani's occasionally.

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Thanks!  I'm glad to hear that there are other options besides sushi, although I still think my family would much rather dine at Chops or Giovanni's.  My husband is a "meat & potatoes" kind of guy and the kids (16 and 20) are steak and pasta fans.  I am more open to other dining experiences--except for sushi. ?

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@Laurin On the three night package, you can eat twice at Chops and once at Giovanni's; you're not required to go to all three. When we did the five night package on Allure, we dined twice at Giovanni's and twice at another restaurant that's not on your ship.

I just didn't want you to think that you had to go to Izumi just because you're on the package.

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4 hours ago, Laurin said:

I am considering getting a dining package, but the only specialty dining restaurants on Brilliance are Chops, Giovanni's and Izumi, and we don't like sushi so we wouldn't want to go to Izumi.  Is there only one menu at Chops and Giovanni's?  I would think that would get awfully repetitive if we ate at either more than once.    

We had such a great meal at chops that we well...my back the next night.   We tried a couple new things and got a few of the same things.   The menu is varied enough that you could repeat for sure,  especially at giovannis  where you could do pasta one night and steak or fish the other.   Jane

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If you're new to cruising, I'd do a set-time ("Traditional," not "My Time") in the main dining room.  You get the same wait staff every night and I think it really adds to the experience.  My advice is to save the specialty restaurants for another cruise with a smaller group.

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To me personally specialty dining is not worth it. If they value a meal in the mdr at $35 and that is essentially paid for in the cruise fare. Then you add the price of specialty restaurant which is another 30-50 dollars depending on what package you go with. I feel like the food in the mdr is very good so that is good enough for me. 

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