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Norwegian, Food And Andy Stuart

Some of us like hot toast. Hot enough to melt better. It happens at home. It rarely, if ever, happens on a cruise ship. The only time we’ve ever experienced it, or at least the closest it has come to being reality, is on the Norwegian Epic and the reason was simple. We were having breakfast at O’Sheehan’s, a mid-ship eatery with mostly down-home food, and the toaster was right there. We couldn’t touch it, but we could see it and the toast was hot enough.

Norwegian is having food issues right now. Good and bad.

Andy Stuart, a bright guy who is the company’s new president, has been dealing with Andy Stuartseveral. It started with a charge for room service delivery. That was followed by a ban on taking food back to your cabin. Then came removing the $15 cover charge on Asian eateries. And finally, establishing a new sushi menu with a la carte pricing.

You might say Stuart’s plate has been full.

When passengers complained, as they did about the room service charge, he modified it by not charging for continental breakfast and coffee. When they complained about being ordered not to take food to their rooms, he dropped the regulation. He found that passengers loved not paying $15 for Asian dining when the numbers jumped to 250 customers per night in the restaurants. He found that a la carte sushi was not only palatable, but popular.

Stuart is upgrading the room-service menu, to justify the cost and encourage more passengers to use it. He’s in the process of upgrading food in the buffet with better options, on the theory that every passenger visits the buffet at least once, so it’s critical to have them leave with a good taste, so to speak.

It’s reasonable to assume that O’Sheehan’s will have a name change, since the quickly departed Kevin O’Sheehan was Stuart’s predecessor.

But about the toast, Andy…

In the news…

• MERS outbreak triggers Royal Caribbean cancelations in South Korea ports
• Viking plans maiden North American call for New York in October 2016
• Cruises to nowhere no longer allowed from U.S. ports (Cruise Critic)

Today at portsandbows.com: MSC's Seaside Class ship going to Miami

Costa Deliziosa
7 nights
October 18, 2015
Venice (return): Bari, Corfu, Santorini, Athens, Dubrovnik
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71
www.costacruise.com

It's About 'Gratuities' on Cruise Ships…

The problem with tipping is tipping. When does it start and when does it end. On cruise ships, sometimes you never know. On almost all cruises, you pay "gratuities" up front. End of story? Not necessarily.

On almost all cruises, there's the suggestion that you can tip room stewards, servers, bartenders, spa specialists…something a little extra if you think it's deserved. It's always nice to get permission to do that, but we've also been on cruises where it's more than a hint. Envelopes for you to leave for each of the people who served you — empty until you put something in them.

Princess Cruises just had a taste of how passengers feel about surprise tips, although it wasn't called that.

On the Regal Princess, reportedly without notice, a surcharge of $3 was added to all room service deliveries. A few earfuls later, the cruise line canceled the surcharge, telling one unhappy passenger it was a trial on the Regal Princess.

What do some of the other lines do?

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian add a fee if you order room service between midnight and 5 a.m., and Norwegian charges for pizza delivery.

Holland America's room service is complimentary, 24 hours.

So is Carnival's.

Passengers expect tipping to be covered once they pay gratuities up front. Gratuities are gratuities, right.

Unless you want to give something extra…

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
October 5, 2014
Galveston (return): RoatanBelizeCozumel
Inside: $453
Cost per day: $64
www.royalcaribbean.com

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