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The cost of cruise lines’ specialty dining is increasing and Celebrity Cruises is the latest Scrooge.
This afternoon, one of my clients called and told me the news. She received an email from Celebrity Cruises letting her know that if she wanted to add a specialty dining experience to her upcoming winter cruise, she had better do it before September 1. Beginning September 1, most of Celebrity’s specialty dining venues are increasing their surcharge.
Here’s the breakdown:
The iconic Murano, a continental dining experience, will increase their price from $35 to $40 per person. Found on four Celebrity ships; the Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Eclipse, the new Celebrity Silhouette and the diminutive Celebrity Century, Murano’s is known for excellent French and slightly Mediterranean cuisine. There is also an extensive wine collection.
On four other Celebrity ships, their top shelf specialty restaurants will also see the same September 1 increase. These include (and one of my favorites) Oceanliners on the Celebrity Constellation, the RMS Olympic on the Celebrity Millenium, the Normandie on the Celebrity Summit and the SS United States on the Celebrity Infinity.
The quirky Qsine restaurant aboard the newer Celebrity Eclipse and newest Celebrity Silhouette will go from $35 to $40 per person. Why quirky? Because your menu is an interactive iPad and the food…well it’s all about the presentation. Once the four other older ships listed above go into dry-dock, they too will be outfitted with their own Qsine venue. It’s a big hit and they know it.
Unlike her sister ships, the Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Equinox and the Celebrity Eclipse, the new Silhouette does not have the Corning Glass Blowing demonstrations or shop. Instead, the space was transformed into the Lawn Grill. Featuring the smoky flavor and fun of backyard grilling but bumped up to a more sophisticated experience. As Celebrity Cruises describes it, “This is the spot to enjoy a perfectly fired steak, a mouth-watering barbecued pizza, or delicious grilled, garden-fresh vegetables. The chef will prepare your choice as requested, or you can man the grill and give it your own spin.” Nevertheless, it too will have a hefty price tag: an increase from $30 to $40 per person. At those prices, I think I’d let the chef do the cooking.
Thankfully, the remaining specialty restaurants will not see an increase in prices; most had their prices raised last year. These include the Tuscan Grille, Silk Harvest and Bistro on 5.
Whether these increases are covering up for higher oil prices or simply the cost of food, it isn’t just Celebrity Cruises that is doing it. Last June, without much fanfare, Royal Caribbean also raised their prices for the specialty dining restaurants. Most of the increases were only $5 per person; Chops Steakhouse went from $25 to $30 per person. The Chef’s Table experience is now $95 instead of $75. The Italian venue, Portofino, is holding steady at $20 and did not see an increase.
My recent transatlantic crossing aboard NCL’s Norwegian Sun proved that their specialty dining is still a great value. Here’s a list of their extensive Freestyle dining options:
Il Adagio (Italian) – $10/person
Ginza (Sushi Bar) – $15/person
Le Bistro (French) – $20/person
Moderno Churrascaria – $20/person
Teppanyaki (Habachi) – $25/person
East Meets West or Cagney’s (Steakhouse) – $25/person
Murder Mystery – $20/person (when offered)
Is it really worth the extra money to dine in any of these restaurants? I hear mixed opinions all of the time. People wonder why should they spend money for a specialty restaurant when they can eat for free in the main dining room? My answer is simple. When you are tired of the noise, crowd and being rushed through dinner in the dining room, it’s time to pay for a specialty dining experience. With only a few dozen tables, the noise level at a minimum, more personalized service and a higher quality of food, why not treat yourself? You certainly can’t dine like that for those prices (they include gratuities, by the way) when you are home.
Personally, I’d rather see a slight across the board price increase in the cost of a cruise ticket, than have the specialty dining undergo another price increase in the next year or so.
What are your thoughts on this?