CrusinTim
Contributor Level: Cruise Director

Dining Room Experience The Same As The Buffet.....REALLY????

I have been reading some reviews lately where some people have compared eating in the dining room equal to eating in the buffet. Now this "MAY" be a close call but in the 12 cruises I have been on, I could NEVER compare the 2! Sure, eating in the dining room may take some time but enjoying a good meal from start to finish is a major part of what a cruise is and has been about. Your greeted at the entrance by the Maitre'd. Your waiter pulls your chair out for you and places the napkin on your lap. Your waited on with fine china, silverware and crystal glasses. A complete explanation of the items are given by your waiter. Drink service is provided and after a couple of days, they remember what you like and have it for you when you arrive at your table.  If your unhappy with your meal order, it can be corrected right then and there. If you enjoy your main order, you can order more if you like.  The buffet...you wait in line bumping into people then search for a CLEAN table while bumping into others also looking for a table. Your food at this point is cold by the time you find a table. You wait for someone to take your drink order. If you want more, back up to the line for more bumping to get what you want...HEY, don't jump the line...you already ate once! Maybe it's just me but for us, there is NO comparison between the dining room experience and the buffet. Your thoughts.......

Tags: Dining room buffet

6 Answers

Bubba54
Contributor Level: Captain

We will eat in MDR as well as the buffet. They are two completely different experiences. The buffet is for a quick bite for lunch or breakfast or getting in late on a port day and just wanting a snack.

The dining room is for a relaxing meal and to be served. There is usually a very nice variety  and the staff take good care of you. Every once in awhile they have an off day and service is not great. But that can happen anywhere. I do not understand how anyone can think they are the same. My two cents.

CrusinTim
Contributor Level: Cruise Director

Agreed 100% Bubba!!! Sometimes, when we just don't feel like moving fast enough for breakfast, we go to the buffet (hey, were on vacation). On other mornings, we make it a point to go to the MDR for breakfast. As for dinner, we have never gone to the buffet for dinner. We make it a point to make dinner in the MDR as it always seems to be one of the highlights of our day.

noname111
Contributor Level: Captain

I see MDR and buffet dining as completely different dining experiences.

BUT, I do notice where there are usually same/similar food choices in both locations on the same day.

For some people, eating it is simply a meal versus a dining experience. My guess is that they do not notice all of the things you pointed out so well, CruisinTim.

glomarrone
Contributor Level: Admiral

I always enjoy the MDR experience but most of time, the service is much slower.  When I am in a hurry I eat in the buffet.  There is no comparison with the taste of the food even though the selection may be quite similar.  For dinner, I want to be served.  Lunch or breakfast it matters less.  I can count on one hand the number of times that I ate dinner on a cruise in the buffet after 50 cruises. Always it was because of an evening shore excursion or getting back late from a daytime one.

Bubba54
Contributor Level: Captain

Happy

YepHappy

Kennicott
Contributor Level: Captain

Well, most interesting that commentators are appalled at the idea the average MDR might be judged akin to a buffet area. So am I. But even more interesting is the revelation that  the MDR might be inferior in quality and service aspects to that of the common shipboard buffet. Anyway, we are about to embark on a four weeker TA in a little less than two weeks, shortly after that doing a three weeker North American. I will definitely keep you up dated, so stay tuned. For the interim, here is our most recent MDR experiences and not to place any particular emphasis on those, other than to say we are working on 600 sailing days and have had many wonderful experience in MDRs, however, if those good times are coming to an end, then one might as well address it, like making adjustments in cruising, rather than bury ones head. If not, Alleluia. 

"During our second to last voyage on Princess, Royal in September, the Main Dining Room was still tolerable. Not anymore though. Perhaps we did notice the decline coming in our September cruise on the Royal and should have became more concerned that something was amiss in the MDR. Even then, it wasn't that bad, maybe we experienced a fluke on that voyage or cost cutting has since caught up with Princess, so during our January (2015)  cruise on the Coral, we discovered that their product in the MDR is undesirable for us. We have never ran into a situation like this before even though the "hand writing was on the wall" that it was bound to come. In my opinion this results from understaffing of both service and kitchen personnel.

It might be slightly better if you want traditional seating, been there done that for years and dislike it for a variety of reasons, one of which is we hate being relegated to eating at either 5:30 PM or 7:45 PM., even if we secure a table for two. We usually try to get there by 6:30 using anytime dining. 

Wait times aren't really a problem for us, rather, trying to eat dinner in the MDR on the Coral this time was the lack of service and poor quality meals. For instance, years ago there used to be a sommelier to take your wine order immediately after being seated, this practice gave way to no sommelier--instead head waiters were given extra training in wine selection, then that gave way to what you experience now on Princess, wine only if you are lucky enough to get someone's attention and if so, forget about ordering a bottle to be carried over for the following evening, they will lose it for certain in the maze. After being seated in the MDR, you sit there waiting and watching a harried flurry of activity by the understaffed help, forging a sad and losing battle trying to keep up. My gosh, dressing up in a tux on formal nights and trying to dine in an atmosphere like that is a joke.

We found that in order to continue on with a good voyage, instead of going to the MDR, we made do by booking dinner in one of the excellent specialty restaurants on board whenever we wanted to enjoy dinner, the specialty restaurants are super, make no mistake about that, even paying more it is worth it. Evenings when did not go to a specialty, we simply went up to the Horizon Court buffet, which was pretty good on the Coral, January, and crap on the Royal in September.

As for HAL, it has been over one year since our last voyage with them, one lasting 32 days. I understand both lines, plus Seabourn and P & O Australia are of the same business model now. They have been amalgamated into the Holland America Group of Carnival Corp. under the leadership of Stein Kruse, previously the HAL CEO. Reason, to reduce competition between the twain. We are (were) hard core Princess and HAL cruisers, we believe the cruise experience is pretty much the same on both today, food and otherwise, taking a nose dive. 

I have a theory that there will be a drift completely away from providing MDR service on the major cruise lines in the future. Instead cruisers will experience more of and larger specialty extra charge venues and expanded no extra charge buffet area service. We only use Princess, HAL and Regent. Regent being an all inclusive voyage, but ironically, the food and service in the specialty restaurants on HAL and Princess are much better than those on Regent's which you can hardly ever get into anyway due no extra charge. However, the MDR on Regent is far superior to those on HAL and Princess."

 

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