What Has Happened to Cruising’s Grand Traditions?

June 28, 2011 | By | 126 Comments

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Why do the good ol’ days always seem so good? Let’s let Sonja, a travel agent and veteran cruise traveler, explain. In a plaintive note to Sea-Mail, she eloquently lamented about cruising’s lost traditions: What ever happened to the Death by Chocolate midnight buffet, where the staff actually showed off what they could do? Or afternoon tea? Our Royal Caribbean cruise almost cured me: They were out of lobster tail on THE NIGHT. Last but not least, the best night, the Captain’s Night, has sadly changed.”
Elaborating, Sonja told me that on her last cruise, the “captain’s party was catch-me-if-you-can for a drink, a piggy in the pocket, and the picture taking was all over the over the place.”

Now I’m not sure exactly what Sonja meant by “piggy in the pocket,” but you sort of get the gist, don’t you? Many of the grand traditions that cruising has long been known for are clearly fading away (though they still do exist, robustly, on a handful of cruise lines).
These include old practices like personally tipping the crew members who served you (it tends to foster a better camaraderie among staffers and passengers), grand buffets at midnight (or any other time, for that matter), the extravagance of all-the-lobster-tail-you-care-to-eat at the Captain’s Gala dinner and formal dress affairs that were compulsory, not voluntary. And who doesn’t miss silly pool games like hairy back competitions and belly-flop contests on aimless days at sea (wait, these still exist …).
As they’re eliminated and as cruise lines try ever harder to replicate at-sea versions of ginormous, impersonal resorts, some of the aspects of what makes a cruise otherworldly are being lost.
And yet, while I understand Sonja’s general concern, wouldn’t you agree that perhaps it’s time to move on? After all, the new generation of cruise travelers being wooed these days prefers to pay tips anonymously via a charge on the bill and doesn’t see communing with cabin stewards as integral to the experience. Same goes in the dining room; many of today’s newer cruisers prefer tables-for-two and seating on demand, rather than opting for same table, same waiter options (and, yes, they prefer to tip anonymously here as well).
So why not ditch afternoon tea and abandon massively indulgent buffets that no one really needs? Maybe even “lobster night,” in an era in which the crustacean is easily and affordably available via casual chain restaurants, no longer possesses the glamour it once did. Packing black-tie garb and party dresses at a time when airlines are frantically levying extra fees for checked bags seems wasteful.
But traditions, which by definition are rituals that are greater than the sum of their parts, are sacred — they connect us with not just our own memories of special moments but also to the lifeline of cruising. They connect us to something bigger, grander and more glamorous (okay, not that hairy back competition) than we usually experience. Thank you, Sonja, for reminding me how important cruise traditions still are.
“As a travel agent at this time,” she wrote, “I can no longer even tell you which cruise lines do what on Captain’s Gala nights. I do not bring it up to customers for fear” of disappointing them.
Sonja’s asking for your help here. Which lines do the best Captain’s Gala? What’s your favorite part of it? And, oh, yes, she’s got one more thing to ask: “Please let me know if there are still some that actually offer the old-fashion party with cocktails.”
Check out how we’ve addressed other near-and-dear topics like noisy neighbors and bad balcony behavior.
Tipping policies may have changed, but you still gotta tip. Here’s our guide to Cruise Line Tipping Policies.
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    Comments

    126 Responses to “What Has Happened to Cruising’s Grand Traditions?”

    1. Eileene
      June 28th, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

      The Captain’s Gala has degenerated, but the afternoon tea still exists on Carnival – and we enjoy it whenever we can!

    2. Diana Jackson
      June 28th, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

      These were things that made a cruise even more special. We enjoyed the meet and greet, the midnight buffet and we enjoy dressing up as it states..FORMAL. If we want belly flops or hairy chest contests we can go somewhere that caters to that type of “entetainment”.

    3. Diana Jackson
      June 28th, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

      They are being eliminated I guess because of the cost and I think they tend to think the “younger” generation is the future not us in our late 50′s and older.

    4. Brad
      June 28th, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

      All of the above still exist on HAL. Would appear that person is just sailing the wrong line if they are looking for the \grand traditions\

    5. Helen
      June 28th, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

      I also wondered what happened to the midnight buffets. Carnival still has a past guest party with free drinks. Or they did as of last January when we sailed on the Triumph.

    6. Alicia Stetzer
      June 28th, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

      Great post, Carolyn. I’m stuck somewhere in the middle of these two “generations” – I’m 26, so I like the convenience of the automatic tipping and “anytime dining.” And the bigger and more sophisticated ships continue to blow me away with all their new offerings. But what makes cruising unique from all land-based vacations is the camaraderie with not just other passengers but with the crew. I’ve been to some amazing resorts but never have I experienced the kind of one-on-one guest-to-crew dynamics as you do on cruise ships. I say in with the old traditions and in with the new too!

    7. Art
      June 28th, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

      We do enjoy traditions;however, as it becomes mor expensive to reach the departure points there are issues with the extra baggage. I know some may say, “with their nose in the air,” if you can’t afford it don’t do it. But the lines themselves are trying to save money. We agree that there should be more meet & mingle nights with “REAL Cocktails” instaed of the punch and dry champaigne.

      The other aspect is the “Class” of Classless Travelers” allowed on board to fill ships.

    8. Hanne
      June 28th, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

      I don’t consider myself old (I’m 40), but I do consider myself old school when it comes to cruising. For instance, I miss when the waiters knew you and you dined in fine fashion for breakfast and lunch — not just dinner. I love how we would build a relationship with the servers, which meant better, more personalized service and a better experience!

      And, ah, yes the midnight buffets… Sure, we didn’t *need* the extra calories, but, heck, it’s vacation!

      Instead, we receive mega-mart-resort experiences, with a nickel and dime mentality. (I should pay extra every five seconds for food on a *cruise*?!?!)

      And dressing up nicely one or two nights during a cruise won’t kill a person (I even procured a tux for my 2-yr-old and gowns for my 4-yr-old for our last cruise). It adds class, a touch of elegance, and reminds you that you are experiencing a special vacation–taking time out of the ordinary day-to-day life and making an extraordinary memory.

      But the industry goes the way of the world. Where personalization has gone the way of the dodo. Where (good) customer service is always a tad out of reach. Where taking time to enjoy the finer things gives way to mediocrity and instant gratification.

      Sad.

    9. Jay Bly
      June 28th, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

      Holland Still offers all Of the points hit.

      Of you want tradition , get Off Carnival and NCL

    10. Janet Arnold
      June 28th, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

      One of my biggest disappointments was boarding the Oasis and finding that the promenade was not really there anymore – to me there is nothing more enjoyable than a casual stroll around the WHOLE ship and watching the wake at the rear of the ship in full moonlight – nothing is more romantic! I love meeting other cruisers but do prefer to dine just as a couple sometimes so like to be able to choose between the two if possible. And dressing up for dinner is not that hard – one long black skirt can be dressed up or down as need be – we’ve been on 2 long Mediterranean cruises and managed to pack enough clothes for all occasions and still meet luggage requirements for the airlines. (I’ve been known to have clothes hanging all over the cabin to dry after washing them by hand!) We need a bit of civility in our lives and hope that cruise lines keep some of their time-honored traditions – loved Celebrity’s all-out buffet and wish that happened on all lines!

    11. Maureen
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

      It puzzles me. Why, with at least 2 large dining rooms, can they not designate one for Formal dress, and the other for casual? It would make all of us happier, and end the debate.

    12. Janice
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

      My husband and I are in our 50s and cruise atleast once a year. We have been on HAL, Carnival, and Princess. I must say Princess is tops on our list. They still offer that “old school” cruising IF you wish.. or the “new way” if you prefer. Midnight buffets, Captains Cocktail party, unlimited food in dining room are still offered. *Anytime* or preferred Meal Seating are your choice.Formal dress is preferred but not required at dinner but “No Jeans or shorts” at dinner is a rule. Every crew member we have had the pleasure of meeting have been friendly, curteous and helpful. We just sailed Carnival out of Manhattan and I must say..the environment of your ship *with a BIG emphysis on public bathrooms* have a lot to do with, your fellow passengers and where you sail from!! In my experience I have noticed the “cheaper” cruises offer less. You get what you pay for. As goes with everything “it’s what you make of it”

    13. heather
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

      Princess still has all of those things including Captain’s cocktail party except the grand midnight buffet. However they do have a buffet that stays open 24 hours.

    14. Artrina
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

      I still like many of the old traditions and enjoy what I can on Princess. This past cruise we brought dressy clothes for formal nights, but, not as dressy as when we could easily bring the extra suitcases. We enjoyed traditional dining where the waitstaff knew our names/preferences and they were tipped accordingly well. I hope that with time the younger generation will start cruising for more than the “LAZY ME” experience and enjoy

    15. Kim
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

      There are so many different cruise lines that cater to different clientel, so choose wisely. As for me, I love casual. It’s not only the airlines extra cost for a checked bag – it’s also that you must lug that bag around until you can board the ship, then lug it to your cabin! (and to the ladies room…) I typically travel to warm climates and nothing is worse than formal clothes when you’re perspiring! It’s so humid and muggy in the tropics – especially when you come from Colorado. But, I agree there should be one formal night and the cruiseline should ENFORCE the formal attire aspect of formal night. Those of us who’d rather not take part can find other dinner arrangements for that night. By the way,(Eileen?), I’ve sailed Carnival several times and have NEVER been invited to a “Past Guest Party”…please clue me in! Thanks!

    16. Karen Bishop
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

      My husband and I recently took our first cruise and it was aboard Carnival Legend. We are 47 and 52 and relished the idea of the elegant nights, so my husband brought his full tux ensemble and I brought a couple of coctail type ensembles and we felt perfect! Several others did as well. Not knowing what to expect, we could easily have stuck out like sore thumbs, but very glad we didn’t. The tipping issue is sticky, we are still pretty old school on that because we believe the tip is reflective of the service, not merely expected. I don’t mind the pre-paid gratuities and I understand that too many would stiff the service staff without that feature in place. My husband and I gave additional tips of cash to our room steward and our wait staff team as a token of our sincere appreciation for their service. It can be done discretely and shows sincere appreciation. We also gave an additional tip in an envelope that was provided by the cruise line, to the concierge…but that was not made clear to us how it would be distributed. Captain’s night was odd because it was he and his crew just standing about in the atrium while people randomly came to shake hands with him or get a picture with him… On our next cruise we will do exactly as we did on our first because we felt it was all appropriate and we don’t get opportunities to dress up like that very often or to be treated with impeccable service very often…it was wonderful!

    17. laura jones
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

      I agree with Janice – Princess is a great cruise line although i admit they do cater to the older crowd (not as old as HAL though). Anyway I went to a lovely afternoon tea on my last cruise. I do tend to skip the Captain’s meet and greet and if you do happen to have a midnight buffet they are so crowded that i skip that too

    18. HANNAH HARRIS
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

      i was so very disappointed when the Captain did not show up for his night. His answer to me when confronted the next day \I WAS TOO BUSY RUNNING THE SHIP\. since then, after 40 cruises, i finally gave up any expectations of the pleasure of seeing, greeting and taking a pic with him as we used to do. I usually travel with Princess cruise line. I also discovered that each Captain does things that another Captain would or would not do.

    19. PETER HELWG
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

      The cruise lines are now all about getting you to spend more money while you are on the ship and alot of things they can’t make money on have gone bye bye.How about the wooden horses that passengers would dress up and decorate and then there would be a race with them on one of the last days,or skeet shooting off aft of the ship?

    20. Ron
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

      It’s sad to see the long-time traditions disappear. Those are a facet of cruising that present and future generations are going to miss out on. Although we don’t need the calories, we always looked forward to the chocolate lover’s midnight buffet and other themed buffets. It’s great fun to enjoy formal nights, but when the formal dress code isn’t required, some of the flavor of the night is lost by those who fail to participate. We bring special “thank you” envelopes from home and personally tip those who provide us exceptional service. I agree that HAL and Princess offer the most traditional amenities. I suggest that cruise lines offer formal cruises and informal cruises to cater to the preferences of all clients.

    21. Cynthia O'Neil
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

      Costa Cruises still offer free cocktails at the captain’s and the repeaters party. They also do a good job with midnight buffets. As many passengers are European, I have found that they tend to dress for dinner and arrive in appropriate attire for formal nights. I started cruising on Home Lines and Costa and MSC seem to provide the closest thing to my fond memories of the grand cruise experience. I do miss not having that lovely printed booklet listing all of the passengers on board the ship for that cruise. It was a nice touch and salute to ships of the past.

    22. Lynne Coppoletta
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

      We’ve cruised extensively these past few years (40+ cruises). Our favorite lines by far are Oceania (just came back from a 50 day Asian cruise) and Celebrity. They are both tops. A little ‘older’, more traveled, more educated group of people. Cocktail parties – dressed and ALL drink are still alive and well. Food is also served. Don’t have to be ultra dressy but, as was stated above, long black skirt and a few tops go a long way. DH travels as Malcom Forbes did……blazer and khakis or grey pants will take you any where…

    23. Suzanne Smith
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

      Holland America still has all the traditional cruise perks. Captain’s Night is surf and turf – a real filet and lobster. Two tails if you want! On a recent Celebr. X cruise, the surf and turf was a tuff sirloin and shrimp. (Even our waiter said, “don’t order it”).

      I’ve given up on lower end cruises, they have become a huge impersonal resort on the ocean. That isn’t why I like cruising – even though we always opt for a table for two each evening.

      50 somethings from California.

    24. Melissa Lande (@LeaderHuntress)
      June 28th, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

      The midnight buffet every night was a waste of food. However- GRAND traditions– didn’t appreciate a formal night with a tablemate wearing a sports team t shirt. 24 hour food is good but force feeding is bad. Formal nights are good as well as choices whether to partake. Using glass and not plastic cups and fabric not paper napkins — really a nice touch– so many of those nice touches have gone bye bye.

    25. Mark
      June 28th, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

      OK. I was working in this industry. You want the true, even if you cant handle with it?

      All traditions are gone because of you, the guests! they are coming more cheaper and expecting a lot, complying a lot, hate their life and most important – understanding today’s economy and fighting for a client. Cruise industry right now is in a deep crisis. I saw few months a go “guests” showing up on famous Captain’s cocktail event dress in….. robe! Or everyday event like is High Tea people are coming in swimming suit! PLZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      EXCUSE ME!!!!!!! just once in your life please admit that all this things is happened BECAUSE OF YOU! Problem is that NO ONE is telling you that(this comments also will be deleted – for sure!)you must come again, spend money, received cheapest champagne, felling like a KING and eat spuckte food. BUT… because of YOU, my dearest cheap friends, I have my job, and you love to be fooled.
      All I can say… Welcome Aboard!

    26. RayFortMill
      June 28th, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

      I second (or maybe it’s third or fourth) the comments about Princess. We’ve gone on a couple of Carnival cruises and we think that they do cater to the discount cruiser. We will try not to go back. Princess’ knows their clientel, and knows what they want. Most cruisers are over 50 (we’re early 60s). Royal Carib and Celebrity also do a nice job. Also, we tend to stick with the loger duration cruises – 12 days or greater.

    27. Lynn
      June 28th, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

      The same thing is happening to cruising that is happening to education. It is a dumbing down of our people. Don’t expect anything and you won’t get it. Let’s lower our standards to accomodate the masses.

    28. Joan McClure
      June 28th, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

      Mark, you are exactly right!!!! People are expecting the best and wanting it to be Free!!
      And they want to go eat Caviar and drink Champagne in their bathrobe. Oh, well, that’s what I want too.!!! ;)

    29. DEE
      June 28th, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

      Pet Peeves of cruising!
      We Love To Look Our Best while dining on a cruise ship and are very critical of those dining with baseball caps and school logo Tshirts..
      We admire those people and families that are polite and are teaching their children how to behave in a dining room..
      This type of ‘no class’ clientle show not be permitted to dine with us ‘first class’ cruisers..
      Keep the traditions alive for us older more respectful, polite and grateful people who enjoy the finer things offered on cruise ships.
      We’re former airline people who have always dressed for our travel..no matter what ‘class’..
      Young children are not taught how to behave and should not be put next to us in the dining room..
      We even had to deal with a ‘food fight’ on one cruise among the younger generation..
      Should we complain to who?

    30. Midwest Max
      June 28th, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

      I was on DCL this spring and was surprised how personal things were with the room steward and servers in the dining rooms. They all knew our names and were always checking to see if we needed anything. Talk about feeling pampered.

      I was disappointed that about half the people did not get too dressy for formal night but that may be just because Disney Cruise Line caters to the younger crowds/families and sometimes your kids just won’t cooperate to get dressed or there is no room in the suitcase for all the necessary clothes.

      Regarding traditions – being that this was my first cruise – I wouldn’t know what is a tradition and what isn’t. There was so much going on aboard the ship we didn’t even go into port one day. Talk about keeping people busy, no problem on DCL. You may pay a lot but dang – you get your money’s worth.

    31. Kim
      June 28th, 2011 @ 9:29 pm

      To Suzanne Smith #23: Huh?! You combined \hugely impersonal\ with \we prefer a table for 2\. Seems your complaint and preference are quite similar.

      As several have noted, \you get what you pay for\, but I would rephrase that to more accurately say, \the more expensive cruises/cruiselines tend to have the most formal events and the highest percentage of folks that comply with formal attire\. That should help somewhat in choosing the cruise of your choice.

      What bothers me is when someone comes across as an absolute ass and infers that only those who love formal are those with \good taste\. That’s simply not true. Why isn’t it (for some) good enough to just say that not everyone has the same tastes? Example: I always get a full suite for myself plus one. I pay a lot for it. But, you won’t see me attend on formal night. I’m not there to play dress up or impress others. I’m there to RELAX. Now, if YOU are there to dress up, pay less for an inside cabin, and shop til you drop, that’s fine…for YOU. Just let me be fine for ME and reserve your judgement. FORMAL does NOT equate with good manners anymore than CASUAL equates with poor manners. Stop judging and find a cruise that suits your personal style and budget. The ONE complaint from \the snobs\ I read so much about that IS legitimate: Please do NOT show up to FORMAL night in casual clothes! Really. Formal night is set aside for those who enjoy formal. All you casual folks, (including myself), make other plans for the night and let the \formal folks\ enjoy their \formal night\, afterall, you had access to the events and were forewarned that there would be a formal dinner! Either comply, or don’t attend! Cruiselines, ENFORCE your formal night dress code! (I just won’t go on a cruise that has more than 2 formal nights.)

    32. Dotty
      June 28th, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

      I think Celebrity still gives a good product. They still have one grand buffet done during lunch and there are still drinks at the Captains welcome. The parties for the elite members make you feel special. We are going on RCL next year as a diamond and will compare.
      I feel a cruise is a relaxing experience with great service usually.

    33. Kim
      June 28th, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

      Dear Dee #29,

      You said, ‘Keep the traditions alive for us older more respectful, polite and grateful people’. That’s hilarious! Your post is anything BUT respectful and polite! In fact, you’re downright rude and full of yourself! Hilarious! By the way, I believe good manners should be taught at home, rather than in a cruise ship dining room, but your point is well taken and I agree with you. What bothers me every bit as much as ill mannered children sharing a table with me are snobs like yourself sharing a table with me that don’t seem to recognize their own judgemental faults and instead, consider themselves to be ‘polite and respectful’. Go cruise Cunard. You’ll be very happy there. I wasn’t.

    34. Nancy
      June 28th, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

      @Kim–I’m not Eileen, but here’s an answer about past passenger cocktail parties. If you’ve cruised previously on any line just call them with your last cruise date and ask for your past passenger/guest number. Then, when doing your on-line booking or talking with your TA, just give them the number. You’ll get the invite in your cabin.

    35. Kim
      June 28th, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

      Thanks so much for your reply, Nancy!

    36. Cheryl
      June 29th, 2011 @ 7:34 am

      Mark(cruise worker)…you are RIGHT. They customer has caused many of the the “dumbing down” aspects of the cruise experience. I’ve been cruising for 30 years and worked in the travel industry. Travel is a CATTLE CALL these days. Companies must fill their resorts, ships, and planes and they have lowered the prices to do that, thus allowing many more people to vacation. However, THAT vacation is done on the cheap! Sad but true, the MASS rules. The mass will drive the industry. Those looking for more, MUST look harder for that experience.

    37. Christine
      June 29th, 2011 @ 8:30 am

      I definately miss the \old\ ways. My husband and I go out to dinner every Saturday night alone, so its nice to enjoy other company when we are away. I like large tables and dining with people from other places, and different ages. We always ask \what did you do today? Sounds good, maybe we’ll do that tomorrow!\ And I absolutely refuse to have tips pre-paid. The first time we did that, we had the worst service EVER. Waiter brought our desert when he served the main course, never came back to see if we needed anything. WORST dining experience. Last cruise, our waiters were terrific. Sang to us, shared their adventures and became week long friends. AND they were tipped accordingly. If they know they have a good tip, why bother??

    38. Tina
      June 29th, 2011 @ 8:39 am

      Personally, I used to really like Princess, Celebrity and RCL. I even tried a mega -ship on RCL recently. I’ve learned I’m not longer impressed with the biggest cruise ship. I feel these 3 cruise lines have changed, especially when it comes to the quality of the food. RCL was either serving powdered scrambled eggs or doesn’t know how to cook real eggs on our last cruise. Last Princess cruise I could only get my steak cooked either medium-rare or medium-well (no other options). Celebrity also had a crappy surf and turf that the waiter told us not to order (someone else made this comment too). As for formal nights, I can take it or leave it. Last RCL 7 night cruise we had did 2 formal nights. We did 2 back to back cruises – so that meant 4 formal nights! We went to 2 of them and ate the other 2 nights in our room on the balcony. Getting to “you get what you pay for” … I agree. So with all the gripes I’ve made about the 3 cruise lines above, we’ve started cruising Oceania and Regent. We pay a lot more, but at least I know I’ll get really excellent food. Not to mention I think the few kids that are on these ships are much more mature and very polite compared to the kids on the 3 cruise lines I mentioned above. On the last Regent cruise we took, I think we saw the captain every day! He was everywhere on board. Granted this was on the Paul Gauguin (which Regent has now sold) with about 326 passengers. I do think different captains do different things. Since these cruises cost more (Oceania and Regent), we don’t do them as often as I would like… but when we do go – WHAT A CRUISE! :-)

    39. Lucinda
      June 29th, 2011 @ 8:51 am

      We just got back from a Princess cruise to Alaska. There was an afternoon tea in the dining room every day. Extremely fine service, very traditional. Not sure, but I would assume that is the case on all Princess ships. Sea Princess has a wrap-around Promenade Deck with teak deck chairs, too. Love it!

    40. Mary
      June 29th, 2011 @ 9:28 am

      I love cruising and DH and I are in our mid-60s. We love having children to watch on board and don’t mind the teens. We have a lot of fun on the “family” cruise lines and get really tired of striking up a conversation on board with one of our age-peers only to have them bemoan the lack of privacy, quiet, pomp and circumstance, et.al. We (and they) can retreat to our cabin or balcony for quiet time. We all chose to cruise for relaxation, sightseeing, and fun, and not everyone’s definition is the same. I have grown tired of playing dress-up and we no longer lug tuxes and gowns on board. We eat most on-board meals in the dining room and dress nicely but not formally, and would NOT want to be barred from the dining room just beacuse we don’t dress to the nines! We have to attend enough formal affairs in the business worlds we live in to want to vacation that way. Let’s all embrace the diversity and love our cruises. It IS the best way to travel!

    41. Pete
      June 29th, 2011 @ 10:05 am

      Princess and Celebrity know how to do it right, despite being owned by Carnival and RCL. We won’t cruise on Carnival and our last experience on RCL drove us away. After the Baked Alaska parade our server disappeared into the galley and asked what we would like for dessert. We said, “Baked Alaska”. she responded, “No, we have to save that for the second sitting”. Gotta love it.
      Just like the airline passengers who used to be in suites and dresses, WE are changing and the travel industry is responding.

    42. Genman
      June 29th, 2011 @ 10:22 am

      Being a member of the Captain’s Club on Celebrity has set the standard for my cruising experience. We meet with the officers and staff several times per cruise at cocktail parties, we all dress for dinner, enjoy the formal nights, embrace afternoon tea, wine tastings, and still enjoy the grand traditions.

    43. Bob
      June 29th, 2011 @ 10:41 am

      The article was rhetorical, as anyone in the travel business should know that the traditions cost money and most cruise lines (except for the upper niche, as Mary notes above) have decided that cheap is the business model that is preferred. Cruising used to be a relatively expensive vacation. The lines made a lot of money per ticket and could afford to provide REAL cocktail parties, lobster (or good food, for that matter) and many of the other things looked upon as “traditional”. But it seems that the lines make more by providing cheap tickets just to get a very large number of passengers on the ships, provide very few or reduced quality ammenities, and then make up for the deminished revenues through volume and charging extra for everything. It seems to work for them. But, I’m torn between taking 2 or 3 cheap cruises per year, where tradition (and service) have died, or only 1 expensive one.

    44. William Freeman
      June 29th, 2011 @ 10:54 am

      The sad truth is, in my view, that as cruising drew ever more passengers from among the younger me-generation people who would otherwise go camping, off-roading or water-skiing with their 300 hp speedboats at \the river\, they have sought to provide those people with the more \earthy\ pleasures and casual environment they crave. As a result, those of us who appreciate a fine and leisurely dinner served by a waiter we come to know are required to stand in line for some buffet with people in swimsuits interested only in getting back on deck to their \tub-o’ beer\ noisy vulgar conversation and other such pleasures. They come back to the ship from shore time just moments before the mooring lines are loosed and stay drunk the rest of the evening. They talk loud, let their kids run amok thru the ship and generally act as if they’re still in the trailer park.
      As extreme narcissists, representative of their generation, their only aim is personal pleasure and they have no need or desire to defer to, or even respect the rights of others or to experience the \finer\ things of life. They feel regimented and put upon if they are asked to dress for dinner or remain more or less silent during showroom performances and they have no problem making a scene if their needs are not met.
      As the passenger base widens and cruise prices fall (relatively) to better meet their limited means, we can be assured that nothing will ever be the way it was in the good old days and that they will only get worse.

    45. Steven
      June 29th, 2011 @ 11:03 am

      ALL of this still exists, in full force and effect on ALL DISNEY CRUISE LINE ships! Why cruise with anyone else? Heck, Carnival discontinues Baked Alaska … because it starts too many kitchen fires … same with Cherries Jubilee. Go figure! I guess that’s two more Cruise Industry standards that have gone by the wayside on Carnival … but not DISNEY!

    46. Molly
      June 29th, 2011 @ 11:06 am

      Try HAL. We feel at home when we walk on any of their ships. We cruise a lot and only consider HAL due to the personalized treatment from the crew, the great formal nights, the chocolate events, etc. We don’t go to the shows even though they are also wonderfully done. Instead we relax and listen to the music offered throughout the ship. As for tipping, we like the customized tipping policy….BUT we also tip our table sewards, room stewards, and the wonderful bar staff. We love HAL and hope they continue with the service we have come to expect.

    47. Robert Brown
      June 29th, 2011 @ 11:22 am

      Mark (comment 25) makes a lot of good points, even if his communication style may be a bit lacking. Today, you have to sail with the very top cruise lines if you hope to find a classy group of fellow travelers (in the traditional sense). Part of this has to do with what people are willing to pay for a cruise (and what a cruise line can deliver while achieving their profit margins), and part has to do with the changing nature of cruise passengers (a shift from upper class to middle class that infuses a much less cultured and informal guest that is pervasive in today’s world). The finest of old traditions is still there, but only for those who can afford to price of the ticket.

    48. Mira
      June 29th, 2011 @ 11:28 am

      Another vote for Holland America. They still maintain most of the traditions mentioned. Their afternoon teas are wonderful (real scones and English tea), and we always enjoy the strings music after dinner. They do have an authentic surf and turf night, and their Desert Extravaganza is unbelievable. Their crew is the best we’ve experienced – they employ Indonesians and Filipinos who are unfailingly pleasant and gracious.

    49. Leslie
      June 29th, 2011 @ 11:38 am

      I have been on 9 Carnival cruises. They still have 2 formal nights, the past guest party, and the chance to meet the captain. They have one night with a grand buffet late night, usually Mexican. They also have a death by chocolate but it is during the day. I love cruising on Carnival and getting to know my dining room staff. It is one of the highlights of cruising.

    50. JuJu
      June 29th, 2011 @ 11:57 am

      It was interesting as well as amusing to read all of these comments. I am upper 40′s…well turning 50 soon…and I enjoy cruising tremendously. I feel that each cruise that I have been on has a flavor of it’s own. I do not enjoy some of the drunken partiers, but I steer clear of them. There are enough activities that I don’t have to encounter them. It is their vacation, too. Point is, everyone is different and enjoy different things. My husband prefers activites such as scuba diving, parasailing anything to keep him active. Crusing offers this as well as quiet time. The “snobs” need to cruise a more expensive line. Even though we can afford it we choose the not so stuffy cruises.

    51. Dorothy Yackley
      June 29th, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

      We took NCL jULY 13TH TO THE 18TH. We found out on it that they don’t offer any services we’ve had in the past. No turning down your beds with a piece of choclate on pillow,no soft mints when leaving the dining room. No getting to know the cleaning guy, or the people in the restaurant, since it was always differant people. It used to be nice to sit with a part of 6 during meals,and getting to know them. No captain’s coctail hour. Everything they offered was with a fee. It never was like that before. We had always gone with Carnival before. This time we tried NCL thinking it was better. It was’nt. All the extra things did count alot.

    52. sharon
      June 29th, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

      I am mid 70′s & in the industry! F/A in the 50′s & 60′s. People were dressed up to fly. Jeans & T shirts were not allowed on plane. Gate agent refused boarding if the flying passenger looked to “tacky” Now I think the ship should enforce whatever rules they set up. Remember when you were not allowed into the dining room if you were 10 minutes late? It was enforced. I love all ships & cruises, but I truly hate to be looking nice (not even formal) & have a table next to me with the “gentle”-man in a tank top with hairy armpits hanging out & a ball cap! (Carnival) Even registered our concern & waiter said they were paying pasengers too & could do as they wanted. The less you pay (Carnival) the less you get & conversely the more…We are still scheduled for 3 more trips this year…Carnival, Princess & Crystal. If you want ALL the service & glam & glitz you have to pay for the grand traditions. I LOVE to cruise & each line interupts different!

    53. Bruce I.
      June 29th, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

      I miss the horse races…

    54. Jeff
      June 29th, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

      Its true that a lot of traditional cruising affairs have been discontinued by the cruise lines, perhaps its the cost or the attempt to lure younger passengers onto the ships. It was a pleasure on a recent cruise on the Fantasy (to the bahamas from Charleston) to see on the formal nites most of the ladies beautifully dressed and their gentlemen neatly attired..some even in tuxes. These people have class and were the same ones partying in shorts and t shirts by the pool earlier. To these people …thank you!

    55. NB
      June 29th, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

      I agree, somewhat, but also disagree. First things first, the Anytime dining concept is fine so long as it doesn’t interfere with the tradition of the cruising industry…except that it has, as now service in dining rooms is minimal at best because the “gratuities” are now called “service charges” on most cruise lines and are set fees, no longer determinable based on performance (as a gratuity, by definition, should be).

      I don’t eat lobster, but in my experiences, it is widely loved. The cruise lines don’t want to offer expensive food in the main dining rooms now because then the appeal of the “specialty” dining is reduced.

      All things considered, these new styles of cruising have done one major thing: the days of the ‘almost-all inclusive cruise vacation’ is gone.

      I’ll be on the Star Princess soon, which was refurbed in 2008 to receive the Piazza (with the for-fee cafe), the sanctuary ($10 per person for half day usage), more suites (because balconies aren’t profitable enough), and the Vines wine bar (as if that’d be free)…but at least the Movie’s Under the Stars screen is free, for now.

      My first cruise was in December 2007 on the Carnival Valor. I paid $349 for a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise with a $100 per cabin onboard credit, $62 for gov’t tax/fees, $10/day for gratuities (more like $15, because service was beyond amazing…and that was at MY option!), and that was it for onboard spending except for excursions (which were also more reasonable back then). I never felt the need to pay for a ‘blissful’ place to soak in the rays top deck (there was plenty of space and chairs were always available), I never felt the need to spend extra for the specialty dining because the main dining room was better than any restaurant back home, and I never needed alcohol because the Captain’s Welcome and returnee’s parties (2 nights out of 7) were plenty for me to be drunk for…

      Anyway, I’ll still keep cruising, but it just angers me so to get onboard after paying hundreds for an inside cabin and find out that the cost of my vacation is only half paid before dining options. Hey cruise lines, want to save money? Stop printing out every picture taken (digital age is upon us) and selling them at a price nobody will pay, stop wasting so much space onboard for art auctions (nobody buys), stop allowing smokers onboard to burn out the port side of the ship (i.e. Star Princes ca. 2006), and stop advertising for everything onboard (it won’t save you money, but it’ll piss off customers a lot less)!

      RCCL, keep up the awesome ships
      PCL, stop the snootiness and bring back the traditions of yester-year
      CCL, stop offering such insanely cheap fares that cater to the class of people that really can’t afford to cruise but do now and have absolutely no manners (I saw one lady pick up the entire tray (literally, the entire metal tray)of chicken fingers at the buffet for her and her husband to eat poolside)
      HAL, never sailed you, but update your ships, lower your prices, and maybe we’ll talk
      Cunard, stop with the 3 class system, I’m not poor but I don’t need to pay a fortune to be treated nicely
      Disney, PLEASE LOWER YOUR PRICES SO THE KID IN ME CAN COME ABOARD!!!
      NCL, go bankrupt and never ever bring the “freestyle” concept back…and to put Beds in the Bliss lounge?! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? PEOPLE LITERALLY FOOL AROUND ON THOSE, HOW IS THAT SANITARY?! …and $10 for a quick round of bowling? Doesn’t cost you much, stop charging for it. RCCL can give Flowrider for free, you can let passengers throw a ball for free too.

    56. Doug I
      June 29th, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

      My wife and I sail on Cunard (QM2) for the “Grand Traditions”, dressing in a Tux and gown (7 night of a 14 night cruise), High Tea in the Queens Room, hot bouillon served on the teak promendae deck from rolling carts, Teak deckchairs with blankets. Music from Big Bands & classical quartets, and no music blaring throughout the ship. We love the British tradtions. We also sail on NCL when we just want to kick back and relax. We choose ships that have a promenade deck. We do not sail on mega ships, to us Las Vegas at sea is not appealing. The “Grand Traditions” are still there, just pick the right ship that suits your needs.

    57. TheYoungGeneration
      June 29th, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

      I’m 25, been on 8 cruises since December 2007, and have cruised Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Princess. As for that darn “younger crowd,” maybe all you “older crowd” need to teach your children some manners and respect, then the clientele on these vacations will all have some class.

      I have always chosen traditional dining, and the one time I was on NCL to see what “anytime” is like, was the worst dining experience I’ve ever had. For one thing, when the waiters change every night, who sings you a heart-filled Happy Birthday? I finally got to cruise on my birthday for my 7th cruise, and after seeing on each of my 6 other cruises people having a wonderful embarrassing moment where the waiters show their true personalities, I got nothing. No waiter knew it was my birthday, and when my lovely girlfriend informed one, rather than getting others, he sang alone “Happy birthday to you, Mr. Passenger, Happy birthday to you.”

      So as for younger people wishing for radical change, I want traditional dining, I want as many activities as you can fit in one day, I wear my Hugo Boss suit to every formal night (and wear khakis with a button-down every other night), I request to sit at large tables with couples much older than myself to discuss their wonderful lives and travels and to share my youthful aspirations, and I certainly don’t miss a single show in the theatre (I’m Canadian, theatre is spelled correctly).

      Carnival misses the mark on a lot of things, but they at least understand customer appreciation and customer happiness, Royal Caribbean has wonderful ships, amazing food, and great staff, I agree with NB that NCL should be taken over by someone competent to run a cruise line, and Princess is wonderful, minus the snoot and pay-per-use of everything.

      Do I care about meeting the captain? It’s nice to have a cocktail party with him/her, but with 2600+ passengers on most ships nowadays, good luck meeting everyone.

      Here’s the thing, I love most traditions, and for those traditions that I don’t like, I still want to respect everyone else who does like them. If I didn’t want to bring formal wear (common people, it doesn’t take up THAT much space), there’s the buffet. I personally love the dining room and would never use the buffet for dinner, so I dress up. You have choice, but not every passenger needs 12 options. Just my two cents (Canadian, which is 2.06 cents USD today :)).

    58. Jeanne
      June 29th, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

      Thank God all cruise lines are not alike. Whether the company is RCL or Carnival, each line offers different price levels and each line has differnt levels of service. When you get used to the better lines, you never want to go back to the low priced lines. I’m comfortable on HAL and Celebrity (although the food on HAL is much better) Really these lines are not that much more when they include many things that the lower priced lines charge you for. I encourage anyone to try a more traditional lines if the noisy drunks, the wild kids, being bugged to constantly buy drinks (on NCL) are not your thing.

    59. paul shaw
      June 29th, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

      all those things are still on the princess lines except the chocolate one. i like the one tip on my visa card [75$], i do not have to worry about it. there is a tip on every bar drink all the time. we tried others , but went back to princess and will stay with them.

      paul shaw

    60. Ruthie
      June 29th, 2011 @ 6:18 pm

      As with all things, you get what you pay for.
      I cruise several times a year.I do not sail on Carnival… Oceania,Regents,Silver Seas, Crystal and Celebrity. Yea! I pay alot, I also get alot.
      If you want more, you have to pay more.

      Don’t complain,change cruise lines.

    61. taxmarie
      June 29th, 2011 @ 9:26 pm

      Anyone else love Azamara Club Cruises like we do? They have NO formal nights, but most people dress up for the Captain’s meet & greet. That black long skirt, dressy blouses and a lovely drapey scarf serve for any need to dress. Or a blazer and slacks for the men. We manage to pack in one 24″ suitcase and one small duffel, plus our carry-on, for a two week cruise. I do laundry once in the available machines. Yes, Azamara has real cocktails at the Captain’s night, some pre-made and being offered on the wait staff trays, but you can order whatever you want. And yummy fancy nibbles to go with. BTW, no one has mentioned that the Captain nowadays does NOT shake hands, although he’s friendly enough. It’s a concession to the germs floating around. We don’t want the Captain sick, do we? No midnight buffet, but we older people really don’t need or even want it. Order from room service (no charge) if you want more food.

    62. Rich Pierpaoli
      June 29th, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

      I understand the whole dress up thing but I am not going to do it. My wife and my friends dress however they want to go to dinner on formal night. Some with suits some with very nice casual attire. We mind to our own table and could care less how the table next to us is dressed. MYOB ( mind your own business) and you will enjoy your cruise to a greater degree.

    63. Vincent
      June 30th, 2011 @ 12:41 am

      April HAL TransAtlantic Spain & Western Med. had all of these old traditions. The beauty in the format was that you could go and experience them a few times during the cruise, go no go, and if you liked them you could keep going. For that reason we would go HAL again in a heartbeat.

      New and Experienced cruisers both need to recognize that cruising is a special extraordinary experience. The “class of the classes” is an interesting and real comment that exists at all ends of the economic and social profile on board all cruise lines.

    64. James
      June 30th, 2011 @ 12:57 am

      Indeed you do get what you pay for. However, there are many changes in the cruise industry, just like we (us boomers anyway) saw in the aviation industry. Remember when flying was an \event\ and you put on your best attire for the occaision? Then came Airline deregulation in the late 70′s and along with the low prices came the hoards and the current cattle car experience of flying. Cruising used to be the realm of the affluent and so the traditions were those established by that group. Today cruisers are of a different time, breed and social status, for the most part putting on a Tux for dinner is only to pretend to have been a part of the older tradition. Personally, I am not inclined to pretend and therefore my willingness to play along is limited to a suit or jacket and tie.
      That is who I really am and I am comfortable with that. Others can do as they please and I am fine with that too.

    65. beth schweriner
      June 30th, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

      I have had the experience of both traditional and non traditional. As I am single and cruise with my daughter we are not into dress up for diner. After a day at the pool or on an excursion having the freedom to choose whether to dress for diner or not. We will dress for formal pictures on the trip.

      We cruise for the ability to see places that we would not have the opportunity to have seen unless on a cruise.

      I do feel that the cruise lines are becoming more of a nickle and dime situation when it comes to some of the food choices ie. cupcakes, ice cream, specialty coffee and some of the shops are priced out of many of the cruisers price line. Love to window shop don’t get me wrong.
      I love to cruise and am looking forward to cruising with my family in 2012. Have to plan far in advance and make sure it is all paid for before I go. Called Budgeting.

    66. Edie
      June 30th, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

      If you want to experience cruising as it used to be, personalized service, options for table size, no-pressure tipping, afternoon tea… the whole thing, go with Seabourn! Not only will you get GREAT service, you’ll also go places the megaships can’t! There are no hour-long waits to get off and on the ship. You can go to the main dining room if you want to dress up but there is also the option of an informal dining area as well as having dinner (with the complete dining room menu) in your cabin. I’ve been on all 3 of Seabourn’s original ships and look forward to cruising on the 3 newer ones in the near future.

    67. lawthomas
      June 30th, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

      I’m 75, my first crossing in 1947 and way over 100 cruises/crossings later, I am glad the “old” traditions are dying. I prefer Oceania, Azamara, Clipper Cruises where I never even think of a black tie or an overated mid-night buffet. The sea should be relaxing and fun, not regimented by uptight traditionalists. We are in the 21st century. I admit, I do take a black suit on Cunard QM2 crossings…my very seldom used tuxedo fell prey to moths and was not replaced. Wait a minute, the old traditions are themselves moth eaten.

    68. Kim
      June 30th, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

      I’ve only cruised on Carnival so far, but they still offer the gala for Past Guests. IMO, it’s been good enough, with unlimited free drinks and Hors d’œuvres.

    69. Janice
      June 30th, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

      @ Mark..
      I’m curious.. what is .. and eat spuckte food. ?? Any other secrets we should know about?

    70. WENDY R
      June 30th, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

      I love cruising and have always loved the formality. I miss the fact that in L.A., no one dresses for nice restaurants on Saturday nights anymore So, at least I could count on cruises. Hate that that’s disappearing as well.

      Going on QM2 in Sept for 22 nights and 11 are formal!!! (maybe that’s tooo much!!)

    71. Carolyn
      June 30th, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

      I hate the fact that a tip is automatically generated onto my bill even if it was good service or not. Why should I automatically pay a gratuity even if I received crappy service. That sucks:(

    72. Susan Horn
      June 30th, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

      Carnival still offers all of the above. Why get rid of bellyflop and hairy chest contests? If you don’t like them, then don’t go to them. These ships have to cater to everyone, not just a select few. The ships are big enough that you can have different things happening at different venues and never have to see what you don’t want to. I agree that although the midnight buffet was spectacular, there is alot of food waste and we don’t want that.
      3 months tomorrow and I will be on the Oasis and I can hardly wait to see all that she has to offer ;0)

    73. MessyJessy
      June 30th, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

      I’m curious as to what line Sonja is referring to. As a 29 year old cruiser I’ve had the pleasure of trying an assortment of cruise lines. My first cruise on HAL (Zaandam) spoiled me and introduced me to the traditional dynamics of cruising. Everything was magical and I still have fond memories of the dining room greeter/BMW man and favorite wine sommelier Anthony. I’ve also sailed Carnival, Royal, Princess and most recently Celebrity. Each line has offered most everything on the list of “traditional” wants from a seasoned cruiser.

      I am part of the generation of younger cruisers, but perhaps with an inclination towards being a traditionalist, since I prefer (and have come to appreciate) those time honored rituals that make cruising a delight. Celebrity encompasses those traditions but with a contemporary twist. Yes, we were able to foster a relationship with both our room steward and wait staff over our vacation. Those friendly encounters enhanced the cruising experience for us. We’ve sailed on several lines where crew and passenger interaction is minimal. Although the cruise is enjoyable, there is something extra special that happens when your waiter knows your preferences and you can chat about their country and future dreams and aspirations. It makes it personal and as an emotional being it enhances the overall experience.

      As far as recommendations for Captain’s Gala, I enjoyed Celebrity’s and HAL’s. Both have free drinks and a chance to interact with the Captain.

    74. Jen
      June 30th, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

      I love how the comments regarding hairy armpits in the dining room and bad behavior are always about Carnival! Really, people?!? I thought these stories would have died out by now!

      We’ve been on Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America and Norwegian. They’re more similar than dissimilar, no matter what you want to believe. Food, service, entertainment, etc., are subjective, so you really have to go with the line that has the best vibe, I guess. As for me, I’m not picky; I just want the ship to get me from point A to point B (and C, D, E) so that I can go explore! Don’t care to dress up for dinner, don’t care to meet the captain, and I certainly don’t need to get personally involved with the dining room staff and/or my cabin steward, as so many people seem to do these days. Whatever…

      Oh, and the worse behavior by kids I’ve witnessed was on HAL, as was the worst incident of improper dress — two women, on formal night, wearing robes and flip-flops in the midnight buffet line. Oh the horror…

    75. Still likes tradition!!
      June 30th, 2011 @ 10:26 pm

      My first cruise was in 1993 with RCI. My husband and I enjoyed the special treatment and dressing up for dinner. We now cruise 3 times a year and always with Royal. , Unfortunately we have seen some of the traditions die away. We realize that most of the cut backs have been due to the failing economy. We understand that. We still think that dress codes should be INFORCED in the dining room. We just returned from a 3 night cruise and will never do that again. We are sure that the last minute bookings were very cheap and therefore a different “demographic group” vacationed with us. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a snob. But the lack of respect and “party” atmoshere was definately a turn off for us. Royal still has a captain’s party with premade coctails, appetizers are gone. The midnight buffet is now served on the pool deck during the pool party. The selection of food has been decreased. Wine tasting is now $25 per person. All in all we think Royal has done well over the last few years. We will be boarding the Allure soon as diamond plus members and look forward to seeing how we are treated.

    76. Keep the tradition
      June 30th, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

      I love the old traditions!! My husband and I are rgular working class and don’t have the opportunity to dress up very often. I enjoy wearing a formal ball gown on formal nights and my husband bought a tux for that very reason. We enjoy eating in the dining room with a large table and getting to know people from many parts of the world. Our wait staff would learn our preferences on the first night and do an outstanding job every evening. The captain’s parties are still enjoyable. We don’t go to many of the shows anymore because we prefer to return to the diamond lounge and visit with other ‘loyal royals’. It really depends on the cruise line that you choice to give your vacation dollars to.

    77. Carol
      July 1st, 2011 @ 9:19 am

      After having read the previous 76 comments, I’m ready to make my own statement now.
      I love so much about cruising, including the activities, the food, and the people I meet. I too hate the waste of paper from all of the ads delivered daily regarding the “BIG” sale on silver by the inch, spa specials, art auctions, etc. However, if that’s the price I have to pay (dealing with junk paper) to be able to cruise more frequently, I consider it a small price. If the ship makes money off of specialty dining rooms and specialty sunbathing areas and therefore is able to offer cheaper rates, I’m all for it.
      I am in my mid-50′s and am not a partier; however, I still like to have a good time. I enjoy the cruise staff’s activities (trivia, etc.) and the nightly shows. If others prefer to spend their time in the bars, that’s their choice and it doesn’t bother me.
      I don’t go on cruises (or any vacation) to judge the people around me. For one thing, there is the commandment, “Thou shalt not judge,” but additionally, what a waste of my energy.
      When all is said and done, I know that it is a blessing to me to be able to go on vacation, particularly on a cruise vacation.

    78. southwinds
      July 1st, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

      P&O still continue the traditions for which they are famous for.. Regulars will fight to keep many much loved traditions like Formal night with the dress code throughout the ship… choco holics buffet.. Captains welcome party with free drinks… Any attempt to removed the traditions we all love are fought over and the passengers win ..

    79. dutchman
      July 1st, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

      social status of dress is just about history, people don’t wish to have to dress up in 90 deg heat just to eat when your the caribbean anymore because of a social status mind set. There their to to have fun a relax.

    80. Buffetking
      July 1st, 2011 @ 10:58 pm

      Did my first cruise on the RCL Nordic Prince back in 1989, best cruise ever. Here’s what I miss: Theme nights in the dining room. Each night used to be different, French night, English night, etc.
      The Cruise Director used to have a staff, and as the cruise progressed, you got to know them.
      Passenger masquerade show, always a fun night. Horse racing, the original bingo, flaming desserts, driving golf balls off the fantail, skeet shooting, and of course…the midnight buffet!! I never missed one. I’m happy to read here that HAL still maintains some of the traditions, I’ll be on a HAL ship for 3 weeks in Oct. Happy travels!!

    81. Nancy J. Cohen
      July 2nd, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

      I, too, miss theme nights in the restaurants. Not only the dining room decorations and menu, but also the waiter outfits reflected the theme for the night, and often related music played as well. Sometimes the waiters sang and danced or paraded through the dining room. Now it’s all impersonal and that festive feeling is gone. At least our last cruise had Baked Alaska, albeit with artificial lighting.

    82. Janice
      July 4th, 2011 @ 1:01 am

      MARK..
      I am still waiting for your description of your reference to …spuckte food…on cruise ships.

    83. Barbara Watson
      July 6th, 2011 @ 9:57 am

      Love cruising. But most are right. I’ts really nice to be able to dress on Captains Gala, and one other night. Getting dressed never killed anyone. Its nice to see men in Tux
      s or suits, and you know the men really enjoy seeing their mates dressed up for a change. Would 2 nights kill anyone? The pool gaes and game shows are also part of the holiday fun. Even if you just sit and watc. The quest, and marriage game, and talent shows are also lots of fun. People just don’t know anymore the fun of the cruise. As far as the midnight buffet, they have other places to eat at that time, and the ship is just wasting lots of money, for people that don’t care about the work and art that goes into the buffet.

    84. CruiseCritic
      July 12th, 2011 @ 7:17 am

      Have to say that — on our last night on a river cruise on Avalon Creativity last night — the baked Alaska parade, with real sparklers mind you, totally outclassed a recent big ship experience on Princess’ Grand Princess (fake candles, fake bonhomie). I hadn’t thought, prior to this week’s Seine River cruise on Avalon, that the river boats were carrying on big ship traditions. I was wrong and enjoyed the parade, not to mention the Baked Alaska, immensely.

      CSB

    85. Chris
      July 12th, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

      All those “traditions” are what make a cruise a cruise. It is great that family things are being added but if I want to experience Disney I will go to WDW. This is not a slam against DCL just an example. If I want a megaresort experience I will just go to one. Cruising is losing its identity.

      I also feel that if ships actually enforced rules people would be happier.

    86. Cheryl
      July 12th, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

      Having been cruising since 1978, I have seen many things disappear in past years. In the 1980s, on Vistafjord and Sagafjord, caviar was served on formal evenings; the Captain always invited elite cruisers to a cocktail party in his quarters; champagne was served (free) on formal nights.
      True, the midnight buffet has gone the way of the dinosaur, but it was always a tremendous waste of food. I was kind of happy to see it go; and have it replaced by a buffet.
      I remember filet mignon and lobster so large it almost didn’t fit on the plate. And steak tartare prepared tableside.
      Formal night meant that EVERYONE was dressed to the nines; and family jewels were everywhere. Today, formal seems to mean a clean t-shirt and jeans with no holes…..
      Yeah, I miss the good old days.

    87. nels ingram
      July 15th, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

      Cruising is an opportunity to experience a great vacation in a non-traditional way. With the many options available, there is no reason for those who choose not to dress up on formal nights to dine in the MDR’s that night. We enjoy this difference between a ‘standard’ vacation and a cruise. We enjoy dressing up for the formal dinners, meeting the officers, or attending special functions and not dressing up for all the other times. And the choice is up to the traveler, it’s not mandatory. Some of the cruise lines have become so homogenous that their identity, or niche, is price-point not food, service, itinerary, staff, clientele, etc. and seem to cater to the bottom line. Profit is neccessary to continue in business, there is plenty of room to satisfy all types of vacationing cruisers.

    88. Gail
      July 16th, 2011 @ 6:52 am

      @JANICE…

      I looked up “spuckte” and It looks like it means “spewed” in German. I was interested to read what Mark had to say as well.

    89. Carole Rosenthal
      July 17th, 2011 @ 9:49 am

      I truly believe that the cruising industry has changed quite a lot, and those of us who have cruised prior to 2000, have seen much of it change or disappear. I love cruising and save for it and usually go on board with a budget. You do get what you pay for! We tried NCL-Epic, and for the most part, was very disappointed & not cheap by my standards). Much of what was free was a “discover by accident” what is free. Let’s face it. The dollar & profit level is the bottom line. Even food quality has been effected. The next will be RCCL Oasis. We’ll see. This trip, the ship will be the destination. I miss the promenade and free coffee and snacks and a place to hang out in the evening. We always do an inside to save money so we can gamble, shop, etc. Yes, every cruise line has its pluses and minuses. We have been on 17th cruises on Costa (ugh), Carnival (you do get your $’s worth), Royal Caribbean (still our favorite), Princess, Premier (pre-Disney line)& Celebrity. For anyone who has cruised, each ship has distinctive features. Yes, it’s nice to dress up, but I think one formal night is enough as they are usually on a port night which can get tiring. I love eating dishes I do not cook at home & trying new things. We did a past cruise cocktail party on CCL, and it was enjoyable. If you do your homework-cruisecritic.com, the cruise should be fun. You make it what you want it to be. I like to cruise and have as much or as little as I want. I want choices. For us, it’s the quiet place to read, a place to get a free “nosh,” activities such as trivia and bingo where it doesn’t cost $39 just to get started, yes, the art auction and a place for my husband to drink a port wine & smoke a cigar and “male-bond!” But after being on a ship and being sick for 5 days (he was sick for 2 days), make sure you’re on a ship you don’t mind being ‘captive’ on! A vacation is supposed to be special, otherwise, you can stay home & safe money!!!

    90. Janice
      July 17th, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

      @Gail.. thank you for that. Now I am really curious to know what ship Mark has had the pleasure of witnessing served “spuckte” food to its passengers. hmmmm. He has disappeared since his comments.

    91. Jules
      July 22nd, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

      On our last cruise (Princess), they DID turn people away who didn’t adhere to the dining room dress code, including formal nights. I loved that most of the ship dressed up for these. Didn’t have that same experience on Carnival or RCCL (although they have their good points, too.)

    92. Barbara Watson
      August 16th, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

      i like tipping ourselves, as we tip on service not what is expected, and most of the time it is more. Love to dress for captains party, hope it never dies. as far as midnight buffets, it is a waste of money as most people just go for the pictures of cut outs, and it is a waste of food. Love set time dining, as u learn to center around these times, and we have met some of the best friends at dinner. They are trying to please new people that do not realize how nice the old way is, How many perople i have encountered that has sailed norwegian and are disappointed. I don’t believe that it will kill anyone to actually get dressed up one night of their lives. It really feels good.

    93. Joan
      August 17th, 2011 @ 9:12 am

      As a seasoned cruiser, I’ve seen the decline in service but likewise, the decline in the class of people cruising. Our last Carnival cruise – and I mean LAST – was filled with the young crowd who admittedly woke up at dinner time to begin their night of drinking and went to bed as we were having breakfast; older men strolling the ship in the evening in ‘wife-beater’ t-shirts, uncovered swimsuits in the dining room and it goes on and on. We cruises Celebrity last year and saw a change in their services from what was offered a dozen years ago. Princess still makes cruising a special experience as it should be and transatlantic cruises are perfect for those who have the time.

    94. BRUCE
      August 17th, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

      I read a number of posts and maybe I missed an issue that has helped contribute to the decline of quality cruise traditions. A decade or so ago the cruise experience was much better and so was the quality of passengers. Those passengers were willing to pay more for that experience and cabins were booked. The industry overestimated demand, and built more and larger ships, thereby creating a glut of accomodations. The increased availability of cabins, and the need to fill them drove prices down. With more ships in the pipeline this competition will only get worse rsulting in greater efforts to market to the masses. So, in my mind the current state of affairs is due in part to the greed of the industry itself. Upcharges for dining venues, continuous product sales pitches in the spa, charges for fitness classes, etc. are an acceleration of this marketing concept. This is not to excuse unruly children, ballcaps,cut-off sweatshirts at dinner, or people who try to get on the elevators before the exiting passnegers can get out. This also does not mean that people who pay less for a cruise can’t raise respectfull children, dress appropriately, and watch their foul mouths but you only need to go to a land based restaurant, theater, or sporting event to see were we are headed. The Lines can not market to a fellow who thinks a great steak can be found at Steak and Shake and expect him to appreciate a fine meal and service. If he doesn’t appreciate the experience he’ll never undersatnd or care that he is ruining that experience for those who do.

    95. Vidaahl
      August 17th, 2011 @ 11:56 pm

      I blame running shoes for the demise of decorum on cruises.

    96. Jay
      August 18th, 2011 @ 5:07 am

      I think it basically comes down to relative cost and the ensuing mass appeal. In the past, cruises were relatively more expensive, and thus catered to a more well-off-economically audience. When you can get on 7-night cruises for about $350 per person, which is equivalent to about $210 in 1991 or about the same price as staying in a Holiday Inn today (no offense), the trappings of luxury naturally will fall by the wayside.

    97. John
      August 18th, 2011 @ 7:57 pm

      Good for you Mark (from the industry). As a kid I collected cruise brochures, I have a brochure from the QE2 circa 1975 a one-way transatlantic crossing was $750. I got an e-mail from Cunard yesterday for a one-way transatlantic crossing for $699. The fare is $51 less 36 years later; some things have to be given up for a cheaper fare. I think we passengers have the court in our favor all the way! And as for the fellow passenger that shows up in a bathrobe at the Captain’s night, a bathing suit at tea, or the Met’s jersey at formal night, there needs to be a special ship for them… one that I’m not on. As for me, I’ll pack a dinner jacket for the formal nights and a blazer for tea and I won’t wear shorts in the dining room at lunch. Cruises are the best value for a vacation no question, I’ll pay extra to dine in the specialty dining room, even with diners at the next table that are wearing the bad Hawaiian shirt, khakis and sneakers. Cruise lines spend millions of dollars building a ship that is technologically state-of-the-art, and fitted out to be as comfortable as possible, and the crew is expected to be buttoned up at all times. So people don’t dress like you’re on trip to Wal-Mart with the attitude that’s “It’s my vacation and I’ll dress how I like”! By the way I’m in my 40’s.

    98. Kiki
      September 8th, 2011 @ 8:03 am

      Just got off Holland America…Med Cruise….after 31 cruises I must say this was the worst. The entertainment would not even qualify for an audition on Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour, the food bland, the Midnight Buffet and Afternoon tea-gone…but worst or all was the nasty, rude treatment by the staff! NEVER AGAIN ON HAL

    99. Amanda
      September 8th, 2011 @ 9:46 am

      Reading through all the interesting comments … I agree you get what you pay for and one must choose more carefully when you book yourself on a cruise. We cruised on the Star Princess a year ago and found it to be a wonderful experience. There were two formal evenings, we chose to attend one and all our fellow diners were dressed-up for the occassion. The other night we decided to go to one of the speciality restaurants. A pair of black trousers with two or three tops that you can dress up or down can go a long way and you certainly will still have place for all your shopping in your suitcase. And yes they did refuse people in shorts and slops to come to the diningroom – well done!! We preferred the prepaid tipping, all the waiters were very friendly and service was excellent, so there was no need to give special tips or poor tips for service. We chose anytime dining and asked to join tables of not more than 6 people (they were taken by surprise the first night we did so, but still obliged). We find tables with 10+ people are too impersonal and you cannot enjoy everyones company. For 12 nights we had wonderful companions and enjoyed hearing where they come from, about their travels etc. Only one night we were blessed with a real moaner who said all her previous table companions were unfriendly (I could understand why because we too were exhausted after dining with her!). Our Captains cocktail function was a bit of a bore … he was so unfriendly when he ‘assisted’ me pouring the champagne over champagne tower! Maybe he had a headache! We did not check out the Midnight buffets, we went to dine quite late at night because it became dark so late, so most of the time we only finished dinner at 22:30, went for an espresso (and those wonderful freshly baked chocolate chip cookies!) and then off to bed – pooped after all the excitement of the day. If we complain about the food (breakfst, lunch and dinner), the service or the dress code, l believe we do injustice to all involved. Unfortunately we did not attend any entertainment at night, simply because we packed our daily outings at all the ports that we preferred to go to be to rest for the next day’s outing. Well done Star Princess!!

    100. Terry Ragazzini
      September 8th, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

      We began cruising 35 years ago when we were first married. Our first cruise was on the Home Lines \Doric\ with an all-Italian crew and restaurant. It spoiled us forever, with its unbelievable food, including a separate pasta course and an elegant all-chocolate buffet on the last day at sea. We later sailed on the Home Lines’ Oceanic and had a similarly delightful experience. Those early cruises were what hooked us on cruising for the best vacation experience.

      Few cruise lines have lived up to our earliest experiences, but I have to say our cruise last year on the Celebrity Solstice came awfully close. Not as intimate, but the service was outstanding and we loved having the green grass on the top deck.

      I agree with some the comments about the necessity of the cruise lines to cut down some of the old traditions in order to keep the costs lower, and with Mark’s thoughts that this has is what has brought quality down. Some random thoughts:

      I never order lobster tail on a ship anymore. I was always disappointed when I did. I had a college classmate from Maine who scoffed at what most regular institutions pass off as lobster and claimed they were \South Atlantic crayfish.\ The first time I had a fresh lobster in Maine, I knew exactly what she was talking about. Think about it: where do those lobster tails come from, besides the ship’s freezers?

      My husband and I decline to provide automatic tipping. You can do this with the ship’s bursar at the beginning of the cruise. We then tip our wait staff, room steward and others according to the service they provide, which in most situations, is exemplary. This is one reason we don’t like free-style cruising. As some long-time cruisers pointed out, there is no incentive for waiters to learn what you like and don’t like if they know you are just filling a seat at a table and they may not see you again for the whole cruise AND they are getting paid the same amount anyway. Give me instead a busboy who has iced tea with lemon less than a minute after I arrive at my table without my even having to ask for it by the second day out. I will never again sail with NCL or other anytime-dining option-only ship. I’m just getting too old and inflexible for that, lol, but I do understand the appeal of that for younger cruisers. Just understand that pre-paid tipping helps contribute to the decline of service.

      I know, too, that all things change and evolve, but traditions are (and were) one of the things that made cruising so special and unique.

    101. Rosemary
      September 8th, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

      Like Terry, my first cruise was on the Home Line in the 70s, and no other line has lived up to that trip, though a few have come close. We cruised Celebrity before it began its decline, RC before the ships became villages, and HAL before it was bought by Carnival Corp. All are not what they used to be. Our current favorites are smaller lines, including river cruises which are intimate and allow you to really get to know your fellow passengers. While formal nights may be on their way to extinction, sadly so, the smaller vessels still encourage you to dress up a bit, not dress as if you are going to the supermarket. Smaller ships also eliminate the bad behavior of spoiled children as their presence is discouraged. But what I miss most is the concept of “cruising”. We are great fans of sea days where you can do as much or as little as you want. I’m not in favor of lines that brag about the few number of sea days they have; the ship becomes a way to tranfer to place a day. . .that is not a relaxing vacation nor do I think the definition of a “cruise’.

    102. katablog.com
      September 8th, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

      Funny reading the variety of comments. HAL and Cunard are my favorites. Better quality staff, rooms, food. Celebrity has become ridiculous on charging extra for this and that along with heavy drink prices.

      I love the dress-up nights as long as they are arranged on non-port days. But when I dress up, I expect an even more spectacular dinner. Yes, I’ve been on the “run out of lobster” cruises too. Can’t someone count?

      I’d much rather be charged an extra $100-$300 for the cruise and then get cuppa-chino, orange juice and ice cream without being charged extra.

      The Captain’s night! No, not interested in a mass “go meet the Captain”. He doesn’t care about me and I only care that he’s a good, sober captain! I do try to run in and get my free cocktail though .

      I DO really enjoy the few cruise lines (HAL is one) that try to put a crew member (officer) or two at the table for the special nights. I really enjoy the first hand information about the ship, their lives at sea, etc.

      15 years ago, table waiters had time for conversation, a joke or two and just making sure every table guest was taken care of. Not any more. The cruise lines stretch these guys and gals so thin that they have no time for getting to know those they serve. The same is true with room stewards – more rooms to clean – less time to actually create relationships.

      I DETEST automatic gratuities. How can the cruise line determine how much I am grateful? A gratuity expresses MY gratitude for services I received. When you overload my cabin steward and table waiters, I get less service. Interesting how the auto gratuity came about just about the time the service went to pot!

    103. Judy
      September 11th, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

      I didn’t read any comments from single passengers. And I’m not referring to a ship full of young people gone wild! I am a young 68 year old and would like to cruise single with single rates for a \single\ cabin when I can’t find someone to cruise with. Ships need to accomodate single travelers with special rates; unfortunately they don’t. Any comments on this subject? I’d appreciate any suggestions.

    104. Angela
      September 11th, 2011 @ 10:58 pm

      Why is no one connecting the lack of manners in society as a whole to changes on cruise lines? I have several similar complaints about the service industry in general. The changes on cruises are simply a reflection of our society.

    105. Nita
      September 20th, 2011 @ 12:27 am

      We have always cruised on Princess and always dress for formal nights and enjoy afternoon tea. We always go to the evening shows, but think some have not been as good lately. We are booked on HAL in late November. Happy to hear they still provide all the traditional cruising amenities.

    106. ED Denson
      September 21st, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

      Most of the “traditions” have degenerated into rituals. The Captain’s parties are awful – a free drink if you can get it and watching the person with the most cruises get a bottle of wine. The Baked Alaska parade is done with electric bulbs instead of flaming deserts. Doesn’t set off the sprinklers, for sure, but its like plastic flowers at a memorial – it misses the point. The champagne tower is essentially filled by the crew, and no one drinks the stuff. Just a waste of wine. Perhaps the introduction of the captain and crew to the passengers still has some power to feel like a real event, the rest are right up there with art auctions as skipable events.

    107. Serenity64
      September 21st, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

      @ Judy,
      NCL’s new ship Epic, which I have not been on now has studios for single passengers.

    108. Luv2ski2
      September 29th, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

      I am 62 and my 1st cruise was with my parents in the 1950s. Prior to the 60s most cruise lines had more than one class of service so you ate in a dining room according to your “class of service”. This disappeared and then has recently been reinvented on several lines through the type cabin you book (specifically Celebrity and NCL – and possibly others that I’ve not saided on recently).
      I believe most of the lines are offering some sort of “anytime” dining – except for Cunard – and have reduced or eliminated the formal wear requirement. We like dressing up and it’s easy for me to mix & match with an evening skirt. My husband now orders a Tux through the cruise line (he brings his own ties and cumberbunds) which is easy and cheap (still less than $150).
      As for the Lobster…I learned on NCL you can specially request it – with a 24 hour notice – and have it served in the main dining room (one of two that does not have the surcharge).
      My biggest disappointment is the surcharge for all the more intimate dining rooms on the ships and the “extra” charges for oysters, coffee, ice cream, and some desserts.
      The price of booking a cruis has gone down dramatically but the bill at the end has skyrocketed. I doubt anyone’s bill at the end of the cruise – even those who do not book excursions through the cruise lines – is less than what they paid to sail. I guess the lines think they have a captive audience and can charge whatever they want. And yet they wonder why people still try and sneak booze on board.
      But…we just got back and we’re already planning our next cruise – and this time it will be in Asia or Austrailia. I guess it’s in my blood.

    109. Brian
      October 3rd, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

      In the \good old days\ there were fewer cruise companies and ergo many fewer cruise ships. The quality of service was first class and the product traditional. There has, of course, been a redistibution of wealth and a fundemental change in the cruising demographics. The bottom line is, there are not enough cruisers with the money to support so many of today’s cruise ships. Hence a new breed of cruiser with thinner wallets and little interest in those unfamiliar traditions. Sad to say, I currently cruise with RCI but am seriously thinking of cutting down the number of cruises we take and paying a more realistic price for a \superior product\

    110. Nancy G
      October 5th, 2011 @ 7:59 am

      I can only add my two cents into this mix, and express that cruising has fallen on hard times. Perhaps it is the bottom line (driving the ships ever larger) trying to eke out the last coin possible from the guest, or it may simply be that the ship itself is unwilling (or unable) to follow its own rules. My pet peeve is with those who are incabaple of dressing properly for the evening meal. I am not interested in glancing across a table of well-dressed guests and be confronted with somebody’s ‘Uncle Buck’ sitting there in cut-off jeans, shower sandals and having his ‘wedding tackle’ on display – it’s offensive. Please, dress properly. If not for yourselves, then for the other cruisers.

    111. Ruth
      October 5th, 2011 @ 8:47 am

      Our recent experience on the Glory was sad…… the Captains night or return cruisers, was dreadful. We were ushered upstairs and sat watching drinks and cocktails being served downstairs at a plentiful. Most of us who were ushered upstairs were never served!Our chocolate extravaganza was in the middle of the afternoon and was a selection of 5 items repeated over and over on the buffet. Midnight buffets? what’s that?….. there were none! And how about room service? They remind you don’t forget to use our free room service. Well we would if there was anything decent on the menu. If I want a hamburger I might as well go upstairs and get one to bring back to my room. I enjoy the gratuities being included and same table seating. I like being remembered and can always personally tip extra at the end of the cruise to anyone going above and beyond. I agree you get what you pay for on a cruise. If you have children or teens book Carnival. If you’re looking for the Ritz pay more and book the more exclusive cruise lines.

    112. Nutty Grandad
      October 5th, 2011 @ 8:55 am

      I can still remember my first cruise 50 years ago as a young child on a Union Castle ship…I met a lovely girl (Susan Rochester was her name – yes I never forgot her)in a play room on a lower deck. I asked her to join me upstairs as we had more things to do there. She was not allowed upstairs and was manhandled by a burly officer that looked more like a priate to me and after many tears on both sides, my father explained that she was a ‘commoner’ and therefor not allowed into the first class areas but I being ‘noble’ was allowed anywhere on the ship! I hated that cruise after that!
      Needless to say, today’s cruising is geared for the masses (a nicer more modern term for commoners I shudder to think) with the emphasis on making as much money as quickly as possible, resulting in oh so many joyous traditions left alongside that sad proverbial road!
      My suggestion to those wanting pomp and glamour cruises today, is save up a little longer and try an exclusive ship with no more than 500 passengers, wear your family jewels to show off and as for the rest of us? well…LET THE PARTY BEGIN !!! Woo Hoo !!!

    113. DChamp
      October 5th, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

      Well, I’ve been an RCI cruiser since 2000 (over 20 cruises) and 2 on Carnival and I’m in my mid 50′s.
      Everything has gone downhill.
      Service, quality, friendliness.
      The nickle and dime you to death I see on cruises now makes me sad. The frequent cruiser benefits have changed too, giving you less and less.
      As for Tipping, I always do my own, I never pre-pay.
      As for dress in the dining room on formal nights, I’ve never worn a tux, seldom a suit. Why? Because right on the paperwork it says “Suggested Attire”. I dress nicely, button down shirt, pressed slacks, and I enjoy my meal. Those people who wish to look down on me for not wearing a suit or more, stay home, or learn how to read. I don’t begrudge you your tux, don’t begrudge me if I’m dressed smartly but less formal than you. Why do you let it bother you? All your judgments are making you unhappy.
      I’ll still cruise, and there will always be snobs, but I ignore them as best I can.
      Now, unruly kids are another story. I remember sailing out of San Juan once where they must have been half empty and sold the cruise for a $99 special just to fill the ship. I’ve never seen such horribly mannered kids in my life, and the cruise line did nothing to keep things safe (kids were diving off the railing of the hot tubs into the pools).
      I’ve done the Allure of the Seas, and LOVE the differences, the places you find even on your last day to explore. Yes, things have gone downhill, but there are a few bright spots out there.

    114. stan prezyna
      November 2nd, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

      my wife and i are both recently retired and both of us are sixty years old. we have been on four cruises,1 princess 2 carnival,i ncl in chronological order and we will be on the celebrity century march 23 of 2112 out of hawaii for our fortieth wedding anniversary . our observations are that cruise lines are marketing to individual niches. case in point princess {grand} put a lot off thought and effort into the presentation of meals. ie carved melons, ice sculptures and many other items done on a daily basis. we the tried carnival and found the food to be marginally better with less effort in the presentation. then we tried ncl and found that “freestyle” dining was any thing but free.the main dining rooms were very disappointing from both quality and service standpoints.which then made us try the pay venues in which the service and quality of both the food and the dining experience were at a par with the meals that were served in the main dining areas as on our previous three cruises.so our next cruise on celebrity is at higher price point thus in a different niche .i used food as the differentiating factor but the different niches also were evident in other areas of the ships and ship lines so to get all that you want in historic amenities you have to some research before you book.

    115. Harriett Ferziger
      November 9th, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

      My first \cruise\ was a Transatlantic from NY to Holland where I was going to spend a year as a wite and mom. I felt like a glamorous princess at dinner — I was playing a part and I knew it. The only difference today (40+ years later) is that I’ve learned how to pack better (a backpack and carryon)and can STILL glam it up and feel like royalty. YES! for us traditionalists.

    116. j miller
      November 9th, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

      We are beginning to wonder if we want to cruise any more. Service has deteriorated. The lobster’s so small, I have had shrimp that was bigger. Second helping is impossible & rare. Not too upset not having a Captains night. It has been so watered down it isn’t worth the time. If I want to have “resort amenities” I’d go to a resort. We prefer to dine early and I think the cruise lines don’t want anyone to have that type of seating anymore so they can force you to pay extra to dine at all the other restaurants. Have never been that impressed with their food to pay extra for it.

    117. C. Alter
      November 9th, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

      We’re in our late 60′s, and have been cruising for more than a decade, primarily on HAL, and now Celebrity. We’ve also been on Carnival, NCL, Azamara, RCCL. I agree with Stan Prezyna’s comments above somewhat, but the comments by DChamp hit the mark. We are professionals who had to dress in suits (and the female equivalent) for 40 years when we worked. The “old traditions” that many people long to experience and re-experience are enjoyable to some, but not all. Why do these traditionalists demand that we meet their expectations on formal nights? We hate them and avoid them.

      In fact, as reflected above by others, the entire MDR experience leaves a lot to be desired. The anytime dining on a recent transAtlantic on RCL was just not a good experience. We too enjoy meeting new people, but the idea of a two-hour dining experience is just no longer our idea of a fun evening at anytime, but it’s worse when combined with overloaded assistant waiters and careless waiters who don’t have to worry about their gratuities. We found the evening buffet to be very enjoyable: eat at our pace and at our own time. The food was very good, the people wet met were very enjoyable. We may have spent more than two hours in the venue, but never felt rushed to vacate our tables for the second seating.

      While we could afford the ‘classier’ concepts, we do not enjoy them, and greatly resent those who demand that we conform to their idea of luxury. Just let everyone have their own concept of a cruise vacation.

    118. LEE
      November 23rd, 2011 @ 8:43 pm

      I’m in my late 50s and just started cruising a few years ago and I love it. There are enough cruise line/styles to please every type of cruiser.I don’t like dressing up some times.My mother is 83 and when she sees me in casual clothes that I wore to church, she gives me a funny look, but times have changed.I’m sure that there are people who would not dare go to church in nothing less than a suit and tie,fine. I don’t need to cruise in order to dress up if I choose to okay. If you want to pay $1200-$1500 pp per cruise fine, I choose not too because cruising is only 1-2 weeks out of 52 per year and I live 52 weeks not 1-2 just for cruising.Imperfect people judging an imperfect cruise business, thank you very much!

    119. lawthomas
      December 7th, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

      At 76, I have experienced more than 150 Ocean/River/Overnight Ferry crossing/cruises, etc over the last 65 years. The only line I will wear black tie is Cunard, and then only on cruises of more than five days.

      The freedom of casual dress on the likes of Oceania, Azamara, Regent is rewarding. We love open seating and specialty resturants.

      To those who feel the \new\ way is worse, not true. It is merely different. A business that cares about the bottom line, must change with the times or perish.

      It is not only the ships that have relaxed dress codes. In New York, we find it is true business. I used to wear black tie to every opera performance. These days, I have been know to attend in Levis.

      I keep working, changing with the times and feeling younger.

    120. mary
      December 7th, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

      If you want to have a lovely cruise and meet well traveled people – then Windstar is your answer – it’s not black tie its casual elegance, dining when you want with whom you want and tables for 2 or 4 are the rule not the exception. Where they know your name after the first day or few hours, and what you want to drink. We don’t do cruises with harity back contests, all you can eat buffets, and huge masses of people most of us don’t want to know if we were honest.

    121. Mark
      December 8th, 2011 @ 8:15 am

      Well I for one that is 50ish, really miss the “magic” of the cruise. How often do I get to dress to the nines for my wife at the dress dinners? The stroll to the midnight adventures of chocolate and beautiful dishes of exotic foods. My last Princes cruise was a shock, alot of lack manners people that gorged, pushed, and screamed their way around the ship like you see at the old KMart Blue Light Specials nights. I cruise for quiet, restful and formal events that I never get off ship. As far as the dining, I relish getting to known new people around a table and having the same wait staff every night is a great experience with even more special people that make a special cruise. I like and experience, if I wanted fast and the non responsive and faceless experience I can go to a WalMart.

    122. arthur
      December 14th, 2011 @ 1:21 am

      I’ve done 4 Carnival Cruises since 2004, and on each of them there was a cocktail party for returning passengers, as well as a meet and greet gathering with the Captain. For the formal nights I always wear a dark suit, dress shirt and tie and feel just right. While Carnival has a party central reputation, I noticed the average age is getting older, just like me!

      Regarding late night buffets, I was talking to a Carnival ship officer on one cruise and asked him about this. He replied that they found only about one-fourth of the passengers attended, mostly to take pictures of the fanciful food presentation, and even less actually ate anything. They conclued that it was expensive and time-consuming and ultimately wasteful.

    123. Pamela
      December 29th, 2011 @ 9:38 am

      Afternoon tea is served daily on Princess cruises and I love it! wonderful little sandwiches and pastries provided by white-gloved servers makes me feel like I’m very special.

    124. Kari
      February 18th, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

      I think it would be a great idea to have a casual dining room and a formal one. My partner and I love the dining experience in the dining room but just do not want to dress up. We are on vacation! After coming in from a long day of snorkel we don’t feel like getting super dressed up. I am not saying we’d wear flip flops or bathrobes, but a cocktail dress seems like a bit much.

      I’d agree as well that Carnival does offer a more diverse bunch of fellow cruisers. That’s just fine with me. I love people watching and every time I’ve cruised with Carnival I’ve gotten my fill of people watching. Very cool, if you ask me. But then, snobbery is not my thing.

    125. Debra S
      February 29th, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

      I really like the no money idea! Who wants to carry money around? I love the auto tipping.
      I LIKED just sitting with my partner alone sometimes in the dining room. Sometimes I was tired from crack of dawn excursions and did not want to make conversation with strangers.

      I personally LOVED the buffet most time over the dining room- simply because I do not eat very much! At the buffets, I am able to eat my bird-size portions and not waste anything which makes me feel so bad in the dining rooms!(at least in restaurants, I take home leftovers)

      And the buffet restaurant had THE best views! (we did Alaska, so even at night, there were views!)

      OH we also did anytime dining because we wanted to do the tons of excursions, and not worry about food times.

      Midnight eating? Ha I was too tired to stay up that late! LOL

      I would like to do a relaxation cruise one day- one with just many days at sea, enjoy some drinking/parties! hahaha In the Caribbean perhaps.

      I had to go shopping for some more dressy clothes for the trip! I consider myself rather \poorish\ I did not even own anything formal! I even had to get more dressy \casual\ for the trip. I do think that is nice- not seeing folks in the sad awful sloppy T’s and jeans!

      But, on the Alaskan Cruise- we didn’t do a lot of dressing \up\- we dressed warm and did a lot of land-sight seeing. It was VERY much fun.

      We did a Princess Cruise and I had no complaints. I am not used to such luxury. I felt like a Princess.

      We went to the \captain’s party\ merely for the free bubbly. LOL We are so poor, we don’t drink because of any conviction, but cause we can’t afford it!

    126. John
      December 28th, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

      Recently cruised on the Emerald Princess and the dress code was never enforced, not even for the black tie evening (yes they still reference it as black tie)
      I expressed my concern as even one of the family members I travelled with refused to wear anything other than dockers and golf shirt. I was disgusted as the other 12 family members all adhered to the recommendation to dress accordingly. My concern, which I brought to the Maitre d’ was taken lightly as he said it was impossible to enforce. I couldn’t believe he didn’t have the courage to simply refuse admittance to the dining room unless dressed appropriately. He certainly could have recommended the buffet or other eating stations with no dress code. I think it is time to bring back some of that old time etiquette.

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