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To prebook or not prebook, that is the question


DocLC
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Heading off on the Brilliance next month for a 12 night Norwegian Fjords/Iceland cruise.  While I've already precooked my specialty dinning, I'm reconsidering and thinking of cancelling.  Your advice?

 

At first, I thought there'd be more demand given that the MDR can get a bit tiring with similar offerings from night to night.  Then, reality set in and I realized that with 5 extra nights and the same number of guests, supply will likely be greater than the demand.  I've also started reading trip reports of various specials and packages being offered, including on the recent podcast episode where kids ate free.

 

Thanks in advance for your advice!

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your'e doing well if your specialty dining has already been  cooked

I found the Radiance MDR to be good, we had three or four staples on the diet and three or four different offerings each night, we could have eaten something different every night of our 14 night NZ cruise

Peter

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You precooked your specialty dining ? That's probably going to be very stale by the time you get around to eating it, Doc ! :)

 

Sorry...couldn't resist. I am no one to be highlighting someone else's typos...God knows...

 

First off, WOW ! What an awesome itinerary. I am very envious. The Fjords/Iceland run is one I have ALWAYS wanted to do. Congratulations ! Wish I was going with you !

 

I'm sure everyone is already plenty tired of hearing my rantings regarding specialty dining so I'm not sure my advice is entirely welcome....BUT I personally don't normally partake in the specialty dining offerings. #1 I am completely HAPPY with the food in the MDR and #2 I hate being taken advantage of and I feel like specialty dining THESE days is a complete rip-off. Regarding #1, I freely admit that I am no connoisseur and so the fact that I love the food in the MDR may not really say much about my delicate and discerning palate. Too bad. I'm pretty easy to please and I think that food is JUST FINE...better than JUST FINE...I think it is GREAT. Regarding #2, while nothing is "FREE" (we have all paid for these meals as part of our base cruise fare) tell me again why I am paying for food a second time ?? I think that the concept of the specialty restaurant has morphed into something it was never supposed to be. Originally, the specialty restaurants charged a little "nominal service charge" for a novel dining experience. NOW, it's the full freakin' price of a meal in a moderately-priced restaurant for God's sake ! There is just no way I am going to reward the cruise line for ripping me off. Sorry...I went a little crazy there.

 

So...my opinion is...enjoy your 12 nights on the Fjords. Get to know your waiters. They will love and appreciate it if you continue to come there most nights. If you HAVE to spend some OBC or something, eat at Sabor. It's the only decent specialty restaurant. Oh wait...Brilliance doesn't have Sabor. You're screwed. I see that they DO have a Rita's Cantina. Unfortuante. Steer clear of that.

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Can you tell I posted from my tablet?  Autocorrect at its best.

 

I'm really looking forward to this itinerary.  It will be my son's first transcontinental trip and we're spending a few days in London before the cruise.  We actually found this one by "accident" after trying to book a Japan cruise that sold out.

 

I really do wish there was a Sabor onboard.  That would be exceptional.

 

I'm not compelled to do specialty dining, but we do have some OBC except that's not helpful if one prebooks.  We also get a bit bored with the MDR, which is why we were thinking of mixing in some specialty dining.  I just don't want to get screwed price-wise in the end by prebooking.  Also, on the Jewel, I had to go to guest services and Chops twice to get an overcharge figured out as I had prepaid and then they also charged us for that night.  Really would prefer that that not happen again.

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

P.S. I agree with your #2.  Given that I've paid for my MDR meals, the price of the specialty dining venue should be subsidized to a small extent.  I shouldn't be paying full "retail" price for the meal if some of my fare is suppose to be covering my food.

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Yes, I have had some "double charge" incidents associated with pre-paying as well...but they have always been promptly corrected.

 

Having OBC to utilize makes the situation entirely different. I would definitely NOT prebook unless they are offering some kind of awesome dining package. I believe they will probably offer you some kind of dining package onboard...so if it were me, I would wait.

 

BTW, spellcheck on a tablet has gotten me some very interesting results...and put me in some very uncomfortable situations. Gotta love it !

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There are 2 reasons to pre-book specialty restaurants: to get the exact time and day you want and to split apart the total cost of the cruise.

 

On non-Dynamic Dining ships, I've always felt I could have walked up without a reservation and had no problem getting a table.  A majority of the time, there's space and only on formal nights or holidays do you really see the specialty restaurants fill up.

 

Keep in mind if you book 3 or more specialty restaurants in advance, Royal Caribbean usually knocks down the price with some OBC.

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There are 2 reasons to pre-book specialty restaurants: to get the exact time and day you want and to split apart the total cost of the cruise.

 

On non-Dynamic Dining ships, I've always felt I could have walked up without a reservation and had no problem getting a table.  A majority of the time, there's space and only on formal nights or holidays do you really see the specialty restaurants fill up.

 

Keep in mind if you book 3 or more specialty restaurants in advance, Royal Caribbean usually knocks down the price with some OBC.

That's true, Matt.  I believe they're offering 20% off the first night, 20% off three bookings, 25% off four, and 30% off 5 or more.

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P.S. I agree with your #2.  Given that I've paid for my MDR meals, the price of the specialty dining venue should be subsidized to a small extent.  I shouldn't be paying full "retail" price for the meal if some of my fare is suppose to be covering my food.

 

I also agree 100%!  It's ridiculous to charge a la carte/full pricing for any specialty restaurant when the cruise fare already includes the cost of you MDR meal.  A small upcharge is fine with me, but a la carte pricing?

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I only prebook if there is something I want to do on a specific night, so for Allure last year we knew we wanted to do Rita's Fiesta on day one as a sail away add-on so we booked that. Also knew we would do Chops one night (free coupon) and wanted to try Samba's, but we were flexible and left those bookings to do on board once we got the lay of the land.

 

We generally don't do a lot of Specialty (I am firmly in the camp of MDR is good for me and although not a lot of money I don't feel the need to pay for dinner again on top of the dinner I already paid for), but they always seem to be hurting for business ... rarely do I see them full when walking by and there seem to be frequent "specials" on board.

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...I'm sure everyone is already plenty tired of hearing my rantings regarding specialty dining so I'm not sure my advice is entirely welcome....

In my opinion you have been a great contributor on these message boards, and we are on here to hear a variety of opinions. Keep your opinions coming!

 

I felt the same way as you do on my first few cruises, but I can see both sides of the story. For RCL to provide the specialty restaurants it does take space on the ship (space is very valuable on a ship), additional staff, separate menu planning, etc. All that does cost money and for those who want the specialty experience it may be worth it. After trying ALL of the specialty restaurants on Navigator last year I have to say I really enjoyed the variety of dining experiences. Unfortunately our decision to try all the specialty restaurants was because of a terrible experience with our MDR waiter, which is kind of two wrongs making a right (poor service drove me to pay extra for the specialty dining, but we really enjoyed it). On the flip side, I've taken cruises and tried to spend virtually nothing while on board and really get my money's worth, which makes for an enjoyable cruise as well. I guess on a cruise ship it's hard to have a bad vacation.

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