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Old 07-17-2019, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,094 posts, read 19,053,475 times
Reputation: 24212

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to show how food is entirely objective, here are our opinions:

We found the food in The MDR to be bland tasting. We thought the menu choices were too often standard, 'all-American' family fare. Meatloaf. Turkey breast with gravy. Salisbury steak. I'm 25+ cruises on 7 different cruise lines, it was the most disappointing MDR we've experienced. But it was entirely edible, albeit requiring a lot of salt.

We were very pleased with the buffet. Many choices, many ethnic choices, with excellent Indian food. This was The ONLY cruise where website dinner in The buffet.

Our few meals in the specialty restaurants were some of the BEST meals we've ever had in ships. Even comparing with other speciality restaurants on other cruise lines, NCL's stood out. Years later, I'm still remember the truffle parmesan fries in the steakhouse.

Given the right itinerary and budget, we would not hesitate to book NCL. HOWEVER, we would include the cost of a dining package for specialty restaurants for at least half the nights of the cruise.

[We have not sailed RCCL in decades, so I can't fairly compare. The emphasis on family cruises and number of kids in RCCL will continue to keep us away.]
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Old 07-17-2019, 09:02 AM
 
Location: USA
254 posts, read 76,879 times
Reputation: 1060
I've sailed on Royal twice (2011 & 2015), and never on NCL, although I have relatives who have cruised on NCL. One loved it, the other hated it. The one who loved it, incidentally, had a hefty food bill at the end of the cruise, as they indulged in specialty dining; the complimentary venues were not to their liking.

As far as the quality of food on Royal, it was great on the first cruise and lacking on the second.

It's my belief that cruise ships are going the route of pay-as-you-go dining. Celebrity has many specialty restaurants; great food, but with the price to match. More and more lines are putting in specialty restaurants for a reason. They are a money grab, and passengers like the option; hence, they can cheap out with the buffet lines or make cutbacks in the main dining room with the quality and selection of food that is served in those venues. So long as folks are still booking cruises and paying for substandard buffet/main dining room, this issue is of no consequence to them. The cruise lines are still making money, as quality of food/dining experience is not a priority for some cruisers, and they will reap a profit in other areas, i.e., bars, shore excursions, admission to spas, specialty classes in the fitness centers, etc.
Given this trend toward mediocre food unless you pay extra for it, we are not electing to cruise in the near future. The days of paying for the cruise and having a wonderful "complimentary" dining experience to boot are over, sadly, and not likely to return.
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Old 07-18-2019, 12:25 AM
 
Location: The Chatterdome in La La Land, CaliFUNia
38,894 posts, read 20,185,025 times
Reputation: 35922
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOldPuss View Post
I've sailed on Royal twice (2011 & 2015), and never on NCL, although I have relatives who have cruised on NCL. One loved it, the other hated it. The one who loved it, incidentally, had a hefty food bill at the end of the cruise, as they indulged in specialty dining; the complimentary venues were not to their liking.

As far as the quality of food on Royal, it was great on the first cruise and lacking on the second.

It's my belief that cruise ships are going the route of pay-as-you-go dining. Celebrity has many specialty restaurants; great food, but with the price to match. More and more lines are putting in specialty restaurants for a reason. They are a money grab, and passengers like the option; hence, they can cheap out with the buffet lines or make cutbacks in the main dining room with the quality and selection of food that is served in those venues. So long as folks are still booking cruises and paying for substandard buffet/main dining room, this issue is of no consequence to them. The cruise lines are still making money, as quality of food/dining experience is not a priority for some cruisers, and they will reap a profit in other areas, i.e., bars, shore excursions, admission to spas, specialty classes in the fitness centers, etc.
Given this trend toward mediocre food unless you pay extra for it, we are not electing to cruise in the near future. The days of paying for the cruise and having a wonderful "complimentary" dining experience to boot are over, sadly, and not likely to return.
Yeah ... It seemed that is the trend .... My sister used to cruise a lot in the 80's and always raved about the unlimited seafood options and lobster on Carnival. Except for one seafood night on RCL (mostly fish and shrimp options), I rarely see seafood in the buffet since I started cruising in 2017. I sailed three major lines: Carnival, Royal and Norwegian. The buffet was mediocre but edible on Carnival (their MDR was amazing though) ... Royal had the best buffet with a changing menu each night on the Alaskan cruise I did last summer and I was content with the buffet that I did not even bother with the MDR. The MDR & Buffet on Norwegian (Mediterranean cruise) was unappetizing for the most part and I'm not a finicky eater. The premium dining options were all booked so that wasn't an option for me so I lost some weight on that cruise and tried to eat at the ports as there were no sea days. I resent shelling out money for a cruise and not having decent food options so I'm probably am not sailing NCL again (unless they have a unique itinerary that aren't available on the other lines (food wasn't my only or main issue with NCL).
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Old 07-18-2019, 06:33 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,094 posts, read 19,053,475 times
Reputation: 24212
[QUOTE=TheOldPuss;55692489]. The days of paying for the cruise and having a wonderful "complimentary" dining experience to boot are over, sadly, and not likely to return.[/quote]

While I'm not happy about the trend towards extra cost dining, I would disagree that excellent complimentary good is available on cruises - and can even include speciality venues.

You just need to look one step up from the mass market cruise lines. Viking Ocean, Oceanna, maybe Azamara. Yes, they MAY be more expensive. The old adage of you get what you pay for applies. BUT if you are booking suites and other high end cabins on the mass market lines, you may be surprised that the cost of those higher quality lines is very competitive. The fact that many include wine and beer with meals also provides a significant cost savings for many passengers.

(Because We book the cheap seats - inside or ocean view cabins - Our costs would be higher. But the experience would be better. It's a matter of choice.)
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Old 07-18-2019, 06:42 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,094 posts, read 19,053,475 times
Reputation: 24212
[QUOTE=TheOldPuss;55692489]. The days of paying for the cruise and having a wonderful "complimentary" dining experience to boot are over, sadly, and not likely to return.[/quote]

While I'm not happy about the trend towards extra cost dining, I would disagree that excellent complimentary good isnt available on cruises - and can even include speciality venues.

You just need to look one step up from the mass market cruise lines. Viking Ocean, Oceanna, maybe Azamara. Yes, they MAY be more expensive. The old adage of you get what you pay for applies. BUT if you are booking suites and other high end cabins on the mass market lines, you may be surprised that the cost of those higher quality lines is very competitive. The fact that many include wine and beer with meals also provides a significant cost savings for many passengers.

(Because We book the cheap seats - inside or ocean view cabins - Our costs would be higher. But the experience would be better. It's a matter of choice.)
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Old Today, 05:23 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
72,068 posts, read 83,735,637 times
Reputation: 41839
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOldPuss View Post
I've sailed on Royal twice (2011 & 2015), and never on NCL, although I have relatives who have cruised on NCL. One loved it, the other hated it. The one who loved it, incidentally, had a hefty food bill at the end of the cruise, as they indulged in specialty dining; the complimentary venues were not to their liking.

As far as the quality of food on Royal, it was great on the first cruise and lacking on the second.

It's my belief that cruise ships are going the route of pay-as-you-go dining. Celebrity has many specialty restaurants; great food, but with the price to match. More and more lines are putting in specialty restaurants for a reason. They are a money grab, and passengers like the option; hence, they can cheap out with the buffet lines or make cutbacks in the main dining room with the quality and selection of food that is served in those venues. So long as folks are still booking cruises and paying for substandard buffet/main dining room, this issue is of no consequence to them. The cruise lines are still making money, as quality of food/dining experience is not a priority for some cruisers, and they will reap a profit in other areas, i.e., bars, shore excursions, admission to spas, specialty classes in the fitness centers, etc.
Given this trend toward mediocre food unless you pay extra for it, we are not electing to cruise in the near future. The days of paying for the cruise and having a wonderful "complimentary" dining experience to boot are over, sadly, and not likely to return.
I agree and think people need to start looking at cruising in a different light. Yes, those days of cruising being for the upper middle class and above with fantastic food and service has changed over the past 30 years. Each year we see more changes. I remember the first time we heard of a specialty restaurant on a ship: ot was NCL as a matter of fact and the extra cost was $5. Now, to get a really enjoyable meal you do have to consider the specialty dining rooms. Luckily many packages now cover the cost of specialty dining for, at least part of the nights. We normally eat in the MDR a couple of nights, the rest we choose to go upscale.
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