Contributor, Tore Berger

Contributor, Tore Berger

Why is it so that we have to decide our restaurant seating, before going on a cruise?  The answer is logical and obvious; logistics and planning.

Some cruise companies have a freestyle concept, where one can decide where to eat, and what, that actual day. Perfect a lot of us say, but also with a flip side, you have to book a table for every meal. The concept of fixed seating everyday gives you a fixed table, the same waiter, and some variety of food options.

Nice when it comes to planning, fun when it comes to getting to know your wait staff, and relaxing when you know there is no line, waiting to be seated, or disappointments for not getting a table.

A combination of these would be perfect you might say. The thing is, it would probably be more confusing than guest friendly. Most cruise ships today have a lot to choose from when it comes to foods and concepts. If it’s a fixed seating concept or a 100% freestyle system, use the ships restaurants and dinning facilities.

Cover charge or fee? Take the cost, it is most probably worth it. The head chef has the logistics in mind before starting a cruise. The menus have to be ready, the galley staff has to know, and the guests have to know what to come to. But if the ship is out of Veal, Fois grais, Oysters or something else the last day, I guarantee they have a nice alternative for you.

“Bon appétit” to Your next cruise, with or without fixed seating!

-Tore Berger

princessserverHave dining room services gone down hill, or does it just seem that way?  Did services suffer when gratuities became automatic?  I for one think that cruise ship dining room services are still several notches above average.  And yes, it may vary by cruise line, as the training does start from the top.  But, before you allow this aspect of a cruise affect your Cruise Experience, remember some of these factors:

Casual, schedule-free dining:  Did you choose the “old-school”, early/late seating, main dining room option?  It’s difficult for any server to get to know your dining and drinking habits when you have different servers, in different dining venues, at different times, each night.

While dining room talent is still excellent, cruise ships have grown in size and scope, and the number of ships per company seem to keep growing.  Fifteen to twenty years ago was a different story, and the top talent wasn’t spread as thinly as it is today.

Speaking of cruise ship size and scope, that alone makes it more challenging for the servers to perform perfectly, even if you sit with the same team every single night.  It’s simply more to do; more to remember; more to organize.  It is still incredible to think about how many people these teams serve every day.

The serving staff is multi-tasking more than ever before.  How often do you see your server from the dining room, during a different part of the day, at another dining venue…like the buffet?  Pretty often!  I realize we pay for our Cruise Experiences, but the servers are people too, and their duties are not easy!

I’m not making excuses for anybody…there are some servers that should be doing something else, somewhere else.  But there is no doubt that as dining options change, the services of today will always be different from the services and experiences of tomorrow.