Pay to dine

Do you ever go to the pay restaurants on your cruise? Do you go because the food is going down in the MDR, or do you just like the specialty restaurants?

17 Answers


We have done the pay restaurant thing on our cruises. Princess was overall great, but it was not because of the MDR. On the Dawn we did the Bistro and the Italian pay rest. The Bistro was incredible, the Italian? well that was crap. Overall, we take longer cruises when we can so we don't really do them more than once or twice.

MDR is Ok for most. I have even used the buffet instead.---all depends on the mood.

Same as eating out on your community.. to each his own.

We've always found enough choices in the "included" venues that we've never eaten in any of the extra charge restaurants. I do plan to have a slice of the 5 layer carrot cake next month, and it will be worth every penny of the price, from what I've heard from others. My big "extra splurge". Big Smile

I have yet to pay extra for a meal on a ship. I find that I enjoy the MDR.

We have but it was a gift so we didn't pay for it. We have yet to do so out of our own pocket. It was OK but nothing we found exceptional. We will be doing it again in November on Carnival (the other one wasn't Carnival) as a we'll see.

We will dine at the specialty restaurants while on a cruise. Our favorites are the Crown Grill on Princess, Pinnacle Grill on Holland and Moderno on NCL. We go because we enjoy them about once a cruise.

Yes, we usually do the Steakhouse on the Carnival ships. The MDR is fine; we go just as an additional treat for ourselves.

Well, it depends: To represent my assessment of eateries on board, here are excerpts from two different Princess MDR reviews on two different voyages: Coral Princess---Up until this voyage the Main Dining Room on Princess was still tolerable, this time though, either we experienced a fluke or cost cutting has caught up with Princess rendering their product in the MDR 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. Each time we tried to use the MDR we were told there was a 40 minute wait time. They gave us a pager, but on the three occasions we decided to carry on and eat in the MDR the wait was only 10-15 minutes, which was not a problem. We don't like traditional seating 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. The principal problem(s) trying to eat dinner in the MDR was the lack of service and poor quality meals. For instance, 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 have now, wine only if you are lucky enough to get someone's attention and forget about ordering a bottle to be carried over for the following evening, they will lose it for sure. You usually sit there waiting and watching a harried flurry of activity by the understaffed help forging a losing battle trying to keep up. Made dressing up in my tux on formal nights and trying to dine there a joke. So, in order to continue enjoying the cruise we made do, by booking dinner in one of the excellent specialty restaurants on board whenever we felt inclined to really enjoy dinner or simply going up to the Horizon Court buffet. Pacific Princess------The main dining room "Club Restaurant" was very good, the first time I've been able to give a MDR an "A" rating in a long time. Didn't start out that way though. When we first booked we were # 24 on the wait list for a table for two at 6:00 PM. About 4.5 months before sailing we reached "confirmed" status in that category, however, there was caveat small print language that indicated the table for two wasn't a certainty. When we boarded we discovered instead, our seating was at 5:30 PM and we were at a table for eight. This ship only offers traditional dinner seating, we always use anytime dining as traditional times are way too late or too early, but anytime dining on other ships is usually a mess as well, since the waiter and kitchen staffs aren't adequate and the lines for anytime dining are usually over 30 minutes long as everybody wants to eat around 6:00 PM, it seems, and guests in those lines are usually not of good temperament. On recent cruises we have began taking dinner in the extra charge Specialties or other venues rather than the MDR. If we go early we miss one of the best aspects of cruising, the "Sail Away" times. It also pinches us time wise on long shore excursion days and also limits our time to enjoy our Elite lounge special price cocktail and free Ore' hors d'oeuvres time, beginning at 5:00 PM. So this time, at the start, we made due without going to the MDR the first 13 days of the voyage. But after our visit to Rome and thanks to the Maitre d' he got us set up at a table for two in the MDR, with seating anytime between 5:30 PM and 6:30 PM. From that point on eating in the MDR was like the days of yore. Good wine service, good meals, great waiters and atmosphere in a not over crowded dining room. We then ate dinner in the MDR most of the rest of the cruise, 16 days.

Depends on the cruise line. On Celebrity no need, the MDR is excellent food, good selection and great service. Best MDR food IMO of the major cruise lines.

On Carnival I do treat myself to the Steak House once a cruise because the steak is so good as is the rest of the dinner (the chocolate flight for dessert is a must try in the steak house), it is also nice to be in a more elegant and quiet dining room. Add a good bottle of red wine and I'm a happy guy.

On NCL I found we used the extra pay dining rooms most of the time as the service and food in the MDR was just not up to par. The French dining on NCL is very good, the steak house was good and the Indian Lunch is a must do on NCL, If I'd ever take NCL again I would just factor in the extra pay dinners as part of the cost of the cruise because I do not like the service or food in the free MDR.

On HAL the MDR was good so no need for extra pay dining room.

We always do the steakhouse on our Carnival cruises. It's amazing and well worth the additional $35 pp.

I rarely find the need to go to a specialty restaurant. I enjoy the food in the MDR. However, our TA usually gives us a complimentary dine or two in the specialty restaurants depending on the length or cost of the cruise. On our last cruise we received two dines in a specialty restaurant. Now that I have reached 4 stars with HAL the cost of the cover charge is half the regular rate. So, I probably will dine more in them now.


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