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-   -   Where are all the free food and drinks? (http://www.cruisereviews.com/forum/first-time-cruisers/39559-where-all-free-food-drinks.html)

laurel2 03-01-2013 07:37 AM

Where are all the free food and drinks?
 
After reading David Foster Wallaceís essay on cruising on Celebrity Cruises, ďA Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do AgainĒ I was not put off on the idea of cruising. The only compliant Wallace could come up with was the service was too impeccable and that made him suspicious. I decided he was just a whiner. I had that impression that one gets all the gourmet food they can eat and all they can drink for free. I was really shocked to find that Royal Caribbean wants to charge 54 dollars a day for all you can drink or something like that. I am thinking who drinks 50 dollarsí worth of alcohol a day? How can this be a savings? Do they charge 20 dollars for a single drink? What is the point of going on a cruise if all those alcohol calories and food calories are going to make one fat? I am sounding like David Foster Wallace by whining. I guess I could cope with the idea of paying for drinks, but you canít get free bottled water. I donít drink tap water. I was thinking about how much it would cost me to keep myself in healthy bottled water on the cruise, but I donít know what they charge for bottled water. I am now leaning more toward Norway (the less sick sea ship) or Celebrity as nothing seems to be wrong with them. But, the essay was written in the 90s. Things could have changed a lot since then. I assume now that even Celebrity does not let you have all the free food you eat and all you can drink. I am torn between wanting all the free stuff I can get and the desire to not pig out. I had imaged Celebrity costs a great deal more than Royal Caribbean, but I did not see that. The prices looked the same. I was moved by the story of the amazingly devoted waiter in the essay. How much of this is real? Did Celebrity have an idea that David Foster Wallace was a famous writer who would review them and assign him to the this particular table? Wallace was supposed to be undercover.

Dave 03-01-2013 08:12 AM

I have never read the report you mention. I can tell you that from it's inception, Celebrity has never been an all-inclusive cruise line. Same for Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, and every other premium or mainstream cruise line. Bar sales have always been a significant source of revenue.

The cruise industry as a whole has undergone a major shift in the past 15 years. Except for the ultra-luxury lines, they all have extra-fee restaurants now which offer premium steaks, seafood, and in some cases Italian. All bottled water, soda, and of course alcohol carries a fee. However, if you look at the prices for a cruise they are essentially the same as they were 15, even 25 years ago. Sell the cruise for a low prices and then make your money with ala carte items is the business plan of today.

Royal Caribbean only recently started the drink package, after Celebrity and Carnival had already done so. Typical prices on all the cruise lines are $5-9 for cocktails, $5-$7 for a beer, $7-10 for a glass of wine, and a liter of bottled water goes for $4-5. Royal Caribbean does have a water package, where they deliver X amount of water to your cabin.

"Free" is relative. You are paying for it whether a little at a time on a mainstream line, or upfront with the higher cost of an ultra-lux cruise.

Dining room food on the mainstream lines has always been banquet grade, with some being quite good but I never considered it haute cuisine. Celebrity had a reputation for high quality main dining room food when it was owned by the founding Chandris family. When Royal Caribbean bought Celebrity some claim the food quality declined. I don't know about that. Maybe a little but not significantly.

By the way, the SS Norway is now history. It was sold and dismantled a few years ago.

laurel2 03-01-2013 11:26 AM

You can read the essay on cruises here
 
You can buy just the cruise part of the book here on amazon on the kindle for just 1.99, and sometimes you can copied and pasted text of the article as it appeared in a magazine, but I don't know the links to find it for free. I just got it on the amazon kindle, but don't buy the whole book for 8.99 just buy the article of cruises for 1.99.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: An Essay (Digital Original): David Foster Wallace: Amazon.com: Kindle Store

and it is also an audio book on audiable, but that cost a bit more as it is the whole book.

He wrote about having rich food delivery to his cabin as much as he wanted, it seemed to be all unlimited and free. But it was not a powder puff piece of journalism. In fact he is highly critical of another writer who wrote a piece overly praising which he considered to be phony. But, to someone who never cruised you get the impression all the food is unlimited and free when you read the article.

Sonny V 03-01-2013 11:28 AM

Hello Laurel 2, welcome to the cruise forum! The drink packages never were bought by me, I could never get my money out of that. You now are allowed to bring 2 bottles of wine per cabin on the first day of your cruise. You can also bring your own bottled water. A lot of people don't know that the tab water in your cabin is purified through the ships filtering system and is probably just as good as bottled water.

Dave 03-01-2013 12:40 PM

Room service is included in your cruise fare, as is all the food served in the buffet and main dining room, plus other places depending on the ship. In other words you don't have to pay a penny extra to eat. But if you want an upscale dining experience with dry-aged steaks, then you have to pay extra for it such as at Royal Caribbean's Chops restaurant featured on most of their ships. $30 per person including tip, but not including wine or other bar drinks. Same holds true for the other lines.

Now, unless you are on a line such as Seabourn or Regent you are not going to get lobster and caviar delivered to your cabin. As I recall from my Celebrity cruises in the 1990s, the room service menu was typical of most cruise lines - sandwiches, salads, cake, cookies. Those in suites could get (and still can, by the way) breakfast, lunch, and dinner served ensuite during those meal hours, from the dining room menus. This is also true with Royal Caribbean.

On Celebrity's Solstice-class ships their are cabin classes that come with dinner seating in the intimate Restaurant Blu, which does serve some great food and it is included in your cruise fare. Most consider Blu to be better than the main dining rooms.

susanmaz 03-01-2013 01:35 PM

Laurel2 - - rest assured, I have never paid for dining on a cruise. The food in the main dining room, the buffet area and room service has always been included in our cruise fare. I do, however, tip the server for delivery with room service, just as I would in any hotel. I have paid more for beer and cocktails in some landside restaurants and bars than I've paid on board. We ALWAYS drink the ship board water. It is purified through the ship's filtration system, and is probably cleaner than what you're getting in a bottle, since there really isn't any way to tell that the bottled water isn't just run through a reverse osmosis machine before bottling. I have water bottles that have straps that we fill every day before hitting dockside. However, most lines now let you bring bottled water with you if you really think you need to have "your" brand of bottled water. I've bought a drink package once, and didn't find that it was cost effective. I can recall one 7 day cruise we did 5 years ago in which we spent less than $100 for on board drinks and souvenirs on board. We did prepay any excursions we did through the ship.
I certainly wouldn't worry about being charged for everything on board. Most dining venues are free; coffee, hot/iced tea and water are free; some lines offer an afternoon TEA service for free; entertainment is free (except the casino and some things like the Chicago or Blue Man Group and whatever goes for entertainment on some ships).
Go - Enjoy - and make your own decisions.

laurel2 03-01-2013 01:39 PM

Bringing water
 
If I packed bottled water would that make luggage over weight? Do they charge luggage weight fees? I was also thinking of packing my ice skates for the ship adventure of the seas has a rink, but they are quite heavy. Some friends had planned adventure of the seas southern carribean over New Years.
But, reading the reviews here on the reviews section were quite negative. So now I just trying to learn more about cruising. Jet blue seems to have a better price for airfare to San Juan, but I can't see the ticket price beyond oct. I assume it will cost a lot more in Dec. the flight to San Juan from San Francisco is really long as long as going to Europe due to delays in between changing planes.
San Francisco is building a new port for the America's Cup and I heard more cruises will come here, so it is something I am thinking about maybe in the future.

Dave 03-01-2013 02:44 PM

The cruise ships don't weigh luggage, but the airlines do. The ships have skates guests can use, but note the ice rinks on Royal Caribbean ships are only open a few times on a cruise, and it is a very small rink.

Now, about the reviews you read here....I personally approve all reviews and do not base the approval on whether the person liked their cruise or if they only had a lot of bad things to say. People seem more likely to submit a review if they have an ax to grind than if they loved their cruise. Human nature, to be negative. It is often in reality one or two little nits that happened and the reviewer feels the need to make it into a big deal. Read the reviews with a little bit of jaundiced eye.

Specific complaints we often see about any cruise ship sailing from San Juan...."there were too many Puerto Ricans onboard", "too many people speaking Spanish", "all the passengers stayed up late partying and kept me awake". Each of those is a 'duh' comment, usually made by people who think the whole world needs to do things 'the American way'.

Don't bring water from home on the airplane. If you insist on bottled water (and I agree with susanmaz on the quality of the ship's water), just buy it on the way to the ship. And by the way, when cruising from a port you have to fly to it is always wise to get there a day early and spend the night in a hotel, then board the ship the next day.

Bottled water needs to be carried aboard in your carry-on luggage, and the cruise lines do have general rules as to the amount they allow. Generally this is a pack of 12 or so bottles per guest.

MCPayne 03-01-2013 05:17 PM

Laurel2

Yes, if you pack bottled water for the airplane, you will be charged an overweight bag fee if your bags are over 50 pounds. Check with your airline to see how much they charge for overweight / heavy bags.

Cruise Fanatic 03-02-2013 07:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by susanmaz (Post 297733)
Laurel2 - - rest assured, I have never paid for dining on a cruise. The food in the main dining room, the buffet area and room service has always been included in our cruise fare. I do, however, tip the server for delivery with room service, just as I would in any hotel. I have paid more for beer and cocktails in some landside restaurants and bars than I've paid on board. We ALWAYS drink the ship board water. It is purified through the ship's filtration system, and is probably cleaner than what you're getting in a bottle, since there really isn't any way to tell that the bottled water isn't just run through a reverse osmosis machine before bottling. I have water bottles that have straps that we fill every day before hitting dockside. However, most lines now let you bring bottled water with you if you really think you need to have "your" brand of bottled water. I've bought a drink package once, and didn't find that it was cost effective. I can recall one 7 day cruise we did 5 years ago in which we spent less than $100 for on board drinks and souvenirs on board. We did prepay any excursions we did through the ship.
I certainly wouldn't worry about being charged for everything on board. Most dining venues are free; coffee, hot/iced tea and water are free; some lines offer an afternoon TEA service for free; entertainment is free (except the casino and some things like the Chicago or Blue Man Group and whatever goes for entertainment on some ships).
Go - Enjoy - and make your own decisions.

Susanmaz, I may be reading your post wrong, but it sounds like you are saying Chicago and Blue Man Group is a charge. I just want to clarify that Chicago on the Allure of the Seas, and Blue Man Group on Norwegian Epic do not have a charge to see these shows.


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