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Is food selection the biggest gripe regarding cruises?

Wellington, New...
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Is food selection the biggest gripe regarding cruises?

I am in the initial stages of finding out to get the best out of our first cruise scheduled for Feb 2015. An experienced traveller but a complete novice when it comes to cruising. We have selected our cruise and its from Auckland New Zealand to Perth Western Australia and is for 17 nights.

I have read threads here on the Cruising forum and on Cruise Critic and the same underlying theme seems to be appearing and in general it is the quality of food presented. On one post someone complained that they used and paid extra for the specialty restaurants because they were tired of the 12 choices put up in the main dining room.

Give me a break at home I don't get a choice.

Am I to spend 2 1/2 weeks on a cruise ship worried about the quality let alone the amount of food we are going to eat.

I looked at the drinks packages on offer. For me to take the minimum drinks package for the two of us will add an additional $NZ2000 to the trip. That's an awful amount of booze in anybodys language.

Am I being over synical here or not

Wigan, United...
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1. Re: Is food selection the biggest gripe regarding cruises?

Hi,

Welcome to the wonderful world of cruising !

Where 12 choices of main meal is not enough for some !

OK, my cynical hat has now been taken off.....

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the standard of food on your average cruise. People are bmw's.. b*tchers, moaners and whiners. They whine about anything and everything !

Reckon I have done 15 cruises in the past 4 or 5 years and I have NEVER, not even once, left a dining room ( or other food outlet onboard ) thinking the food was poor. Some of it isnt to my taste, that's a no brainer as I dont like some stuff. But a lot of it is and so I choose that.

Regarding drinks packages, there are people on here and other cruise forums who swear by them. Me ? I think that unless you are close to an alcoholic its difficult to even come close to break even, let alone get in front !

A friend of ours did a drinks package on a cruise we went on with them once and he had to sink 8 pints of beer a day to break even. EIGHT. And remember, half of those days you are not even on the ship, you are on land !!

Rochester, New York
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2. Re: Is food selection the biggest gripe regarding cruises?

I agree, food is subjective and is it a five star level yes for some and not for others!

I have never left hungry, matter of fact most servings are way to big!

You have many options on a cruise and you can even ask for something off menu without too much difficulty.

We do enjoy our drinks but never felt the restrictions and cost of the booze package was worth it, plus after spending a great deal of money to be on the cruise you don't want to drink so much you can't enjoy yourself the next day!

But we are also AI resort people and always find something good to eat there so the cruise food has always been good for us.

Relax and enjoy!

Geelong...
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3. Re: Is food selection the biggest gripe regarding cruises?

I can only speak from my experiences with P&O and Princess. There is a choice of dining with buffet, main restaurant and specialty restaurants. There is a menu placed daily at the entrance to the main restaurant and near the buffet. The menu is divided into two pages, one side of the menu stays the same whilst the second page shows specials that Change daily I simply can't remember the the cycle when the specials appear to be repeated. The buffet has similar items on the menu to the main restaurant.

We tend to check the menu before deciding where to dine. We haven't yet tried the specialty restaurants but passengers we spoke to in the majority felt the experience was worthwhile, there have been similar comments on the forums with only a few that felt these restaurants weren't worth the added expense.

The service in the dining rooms I can describe as being very attentive and we really enjoy our meals especially in the main restaurants.

I haven't tried the drink packages, my understanding is if one adult in your cabin purchases one then all adults in the cabin have to as well which would make it rsally expensive. I feel we would have to get as drunk as a proverbial skunk to get the most value out of them and that is not my idea of enjoying a cruise.

Princess had both soda and coffee cards. The coffee cards are for specialty coffees and were on the basis of two for one offer and IMO felt that this represented good value we have purchased the cards twice and will do so again when we next cruise if these are available.

Good luck with planning your cruise I hope that my input has been useful.

Edited: 13 December 2013, 04:48
Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Is food selection the biggest gripe regarding cruises?

Which cruise ship are you planning to go on Bean ?

I can tell you that IMO there are a lot of very fussy passengers out there some of who I think have a Master/servant attitude towards cabin / dining staff and other crew members.

In my experience cruise lines such as Princess do their utmost to ensure you have enjoyed the meal ... if you don't like it, ask for something else. Not enough? ask for more. Have a health issue and must avoid wheat / sugar / nuts etc? Tell the Maitre D when you board and he / she will work with you to make sure your health issues re food are accommodated.

Buffet - can be hit and miss but I'm primarily thinking that is mostly other passengers behaving like pigs at the trough.

The biggest tip I can give you is if you have a dining table with people who are not your cup of tea, when you leave, see the Head Waiter and asked to be moved ... much better to be happier than persevere with rude and obnoxious people like I did earlier this year.

wirral
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5. Re: Is food selection the biggest gripe regarding cruises?

DougoOz. So true. What is it about cruises that attracts so many fellow pax that are not to our taste (nor we to theirs I am sure)? Personally I have never in ten years of cruising been disappointed by the meals in the waiter-service dining rooms. Steven Wigan put it better than I could.

This year on Eclipse we opted (first time) for Anytime Dining and always asked for a table for 2. Only twice did we have to wait more than a few minutes for our request. Will defo go Anytime Dining next time.Met some really nice people on tabIes for 8 or 6 but also some snobs. Too chancy. Almost as soon as you have sat down the comparisons start "Which ships have you cruised on before? etc etc"

I know I will always find something on the menu I like because of the never changing fallback fixtures eg fillet mignon,salmon steak although I do choose from the daily list.I like the starters especially escargots and baked oysters. The only main course (entree) I couldn't eat was Osso Bucco so that is burned in my memory.

Broiled lobster tails on QM2 (Britannia Restaurant) were a memorable highlight and you could have as many as you liked.For the benefit of N Americans lobster is extremely expensive in UK if you can find it.I have discovered a source-Costco.

Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: Is food selection the biggest gripe regarding cruises?

"Which ships have you cruised on before? etc etc""

Miss Prissy as I so named her started on that when she sat down ... 4 cruises she'd been on and knew it all !! Things I was very surprised to learn from her were :

The Captain has a cocktail party every night (wrong - that's pre-dinner canapés for Elite on Princess).

Nurses get paid the same as a lieutenant (in the navy) - her mouth dropped open when she finally found out what they really earned, and

any member of staff in the dining room should get whatever you want ... never mind that you have a dedicated waiter and junior waiter for your table and hoiking someone away from their guests could create problems for them !

The list goes on but I won't bore you ... change tables - I wish I had tho' it made for interesting reading on the blog so my friends told me...lol

Wellington, New...
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7. Re: Is food selection the biggest gripe regarding cruises?

DougoOZ we are doing the Feb 15 cruise on the Celebrity Solstice Auckland to Perth 17 nights. We have already starting conversations with others on the cruise via the Cruise Critic Roll Calls.

I daresay there will be many questions to ask over the next 14 months but already we are getting a feel for things. The pre paid drinks packages seem to be am absolute godsend for the shipping line. If we were to take up the cheapest drinks package it would add nearly $NZ2000 to the cost of the cruise. That's an awful lot of booze to be put away to make it cost effective.

This "master / servant" attitude is something I find interesting. Coming from a country where we are pretty much egalitarian as is Aussie I find it somewhat awkward. The staff on a cruise can make or break the atmosphere and can be the difference between having a good time or a not so good time.

As one who is not accustomed to tipping this cost plus 15% is going to take a little getting used to.

Although gratuities are paid as part of the package to what extent can we expect the upturned palm to be placed in our line of site each time a staff member does something?

More questions to come

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: Is food selection the biggest gripe regarding cruises?

Bean

the master/servant attitude wasn't a swipe at a recent thread - tripadvisor.com.au/ShowTopic-g1-i10703-k7033…

It was more of a comment I see on some cruises overseas ... not necessarily the ones here tho' I have seen it a few times particularly when it came to food - very embarrassing when everyone else on the table is enjoying their food and one person has an issue with almost everything.

When you cost out the drinks package at $2k ... yes that is an awful lot to pay. I daresay some on P&O have drunk at least half that in a week ... I recall a fellow coming down the gangplank when we were about to go on our first P&O cruise and I asked him what it was like. He looked like he had been hit by a truck and was quite nonplussed about how he managed to spend some $1100 in 7 days ... and that was in 2007 !

Some cruise lines have drink of the day specials and some may have a wine flight where you sample different wines for a small charge. Some have free champagne when you go to an Art Auction ... gotta be desperate for both IMO !

You will probably have to pay for specialty teas and coffees on board - you do on Princess. You may be given the option to purchase a "soda" card or coffee card on board like with Princess. The Soda card entitles you to unlimited soft drinks per day whereas the coffee card has a cost which works out to about $2 per cappacino / FW etc ... I don't know if X Cruises have something similar but make sure you ask and read the literature in your cabins.

Regardless, every drink purchased attracts a 15% grat which is automatically added to the bill at the till when your cruise card is swiped. This is not part of the pre-paid gratuities and seems to be industry practice across all lines.

If you pre-pay your gratuities, AT THE END OF THE CRUISE you may want to give an amount in the hand to your cabin steward and also your dining staff if you have the same ones all the time or even if you don't. Same with a favourite bar tender ... or alternatively a small gift from home but I'd almost bet my house on it, money would be appreciated more. However I have seen some who tip their cabin steward and dining staff each day- around $5 each. IME, I have seen that happen more on overseas cruises than I have here.

Friends of ours in the States always leave their gratuities on and at the end of the cruise seem to tip the same amount again split between their cabin steward, dining staff and bar staff. That's not necessarily the norm but that's what they do.

9. Re: Is food selection the biggest gripe regarding cruises?

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