Live From Allure of the Seas: Would You Pay Extra for a Steak in the Main Dining Room?

August 1, 2011 | By | 15 Comments

Put a pay item on the main dining room menu — one of the last bastions for “free” cruise food — and you’ll have some traditionalists broiling. Not me. In Deck 3 of Allure’s Adagio dining hall (calling it a room is a bit silly), I ordered the Chops Grille 10-ounce filet mignon, a “thick and flavorful cut from the tenderloin.”
The $14.95 steak is the same version passengers eat in Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse, which carries a surcharge of $30 per person. (You’re paying extra for the intimacy of the 130-seat venue, which is located amid Central Park’s twinkling lights and greenery, the selection of meat and seafood, and the more doting service. You can also order more than one steak in Chops — for $10 per additional entree — if you’re still hungry after an 18-ounce porterhouse.)
Back in the dining room, the for-fee filet came out medium rare as ordered, balanced next to a bouquet of broccoli, asparagus, carrot, potato and a grilled half tomato. Steak knife readied, I set to work methodically carving and swallowing.
The only let down were the sauces, a peppercorn and a béarnaise, which had a syrupy quality that had me reaching for my standby steak-topper: a touch of melted butter.
I was told from a source onboard that the ship sells 250 to 400 of these for-fee MDR filets a week. With seating for nearly 3,000 in Allure’s main dining facilities, that’s fewer than I would have expected. Most passengers are saying no thanks, but a handful of MDR-loving carnivores are chewing in approval.
Whether you feel spending extra in the main dining room is anathema or you welcome the choice, the Chops steak will quell any filet jones. And if you refuse to pony up for the cow, the filet’s tougher, less attractive cousin, black angus top sirloin, is on the always available list.
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    15 Responses to “Live From Allure of the Seas: Would You Pay Extra for a Steak in the Main Dining Room?”

    1. neta platt
      August 1st, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

      No paying extra for a steak. When we eat in the main dining room usually only on lobster night my husband always orders the standard steak. That is enough for him. We normally eat in Cagneys 3 or 4 nights a 7 day cruise and they have such good meat that it is not necessary to pay extra in the regular dining room.

    2. CruiseDivaNJ
      August 1st, 2011 @ 4:27 pm

      We are lucky to have always, 100% of the time we have had dinner in the Main Dining “ROOM” enjoyed what we order. We also very much enjoy the specialty restaurants.

      We enjoyed Chops a few weeks ago, there is an additional charge of $10.00 for any additional entrees. So, your mention of, “You can also order more then one steak in Chops..” might be old information (?).

    3. Jim
      August 1st, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

      We ate at Chops Grille one night (freebie from AAA). The family had the filet and I had something different, so one night, in the MDR, I had the filet. Yes, I paid $14.95 for it, and yes, it was delicious. I couldn’t go without eating what the rest of the family was raving about.

      However, had I not had vouchers for both Chops and Giovanni’s Table, I would not have eaten there. Why? Because I feel that I should not have to spend more to eat on a cruise where meals are already included. Is it worth it? Yes. Would I spend the money? No.

    4. Teri
      August 1st, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

      I feel that cruises are starting to nickel and dime people and certainly in this recession, probably not a smart move for the cruise lines. I go cruising for the low cost, but it’s starting to turn me off of cruising when I have to pay $5 here, $20 here, for things I used to get for free. Raise the cruise rate $50 bucks or something to cover the extra cost, but stop with the nickel and diming!

    5. Francine
      August 1st, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

      Absolutely NOT! once people START paying for a simple steak the cruise lines are gonna start charging for EVERYTHING! No one should be doing this! Like was said above, JUST CHARGE EVERYTHING UP FRONT IN THE PRICE OF THE CRUISE!!!!! I would rather KNOW UP FRONT what the cruise is going to cost then keep getting ” add ons ” added to my bill!

    6. Kirkland Cruiser
      August 1st, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

      NO! I hate the nickel and diming we experienced on Royal Caribbean, recently. I am very wary of taking another cruise with that line, even though there were some good features to the cruise. Too many add ons everywhere – annoying!

    7. slimster
      August 1st, 2011 @ 8:32 pm

      No, I wouldn’t pay extra for food in the Main Dining Room. I appreciate good food as much as anyone but one of the reasons I cruise is because the price includes all meals and accommodations. As more things become an “extra charge” on the cruise ship the less value there is to the cruise. I agree with others when they say they are tired of being nickel and dimed. The all included model is the one that has got so many people cruising…why mess with it.

    8. Scott
      August 2nd, 2011 @ 5:43 am

      I’m tired of people complaining about “nickel & diming” …….

      I started my cruising career back in 1993 – the only choices I had for food were typically the MDR and Lido. At that time NCL was the exception in the industry with LeBistro (for a fee). Today I have more dining choices on more ships (and yes, most have a fee), but guess what – I still have the MDR and the Lido! So exactly what was included before that you are now paying extra for?

      Also – I think the MDR cruise food has gotten better over the years (dare I even say that??!!) – with much more creative and diverse menus. Sure, the corny Italian, French, Caribbean, etc “theme” nights may by and large have gone the way of the DoDo Bird, but is that really so bad? The food for those nights was often rather uninspired and the menus rather pedestrian and insipid. What we get now are well thought out creative contemporary menus that are often designed by well respected Chefs. Ok, so maybe we don’t get “premium” lobster tails in the MDR anymore, but when there are so many other excellent options to choose from I personally don’t miss it.

      RCCL’s “Chops Grille” steak in the MDR is more targeted at families travelling together. Often times parents travelling w/ children will not want to take them to the specialty restaurants. The “Chops Grille” steak option gives them a chance to feel they have gotten a taste of that experience while still being able to eat in the MDR w/ their children. Personally I have found the always available steaks, and the meats in general, in the MDR of RCCL to be of decent quality.

      As for soft drinks and alcohol – in the nearly 20 years I have been cruising those items have ALWAYS been an extra cost! “Specialty” coffees at the coffee house didn’t even exist when I started my cruise career. I still get free coffee in the MDR and Lido (which is of a much better quality than it used to be btw). The Cruise Lines still offer free ice cream in the MDR and Lido, even if another for-fee option is offered elewhere. Again, I fail to see where am I being nickel and dimed!

      What the cruise industry has successfully done is added MORE options for dining than ever, while retaining all the options that were already in place. Yes many of those options carry a fee, but they are options I did not have previously either. For those who don’t want to shell out the few extra $$$, the MDR and Lido are available as they have always been. To me this is a win for the consumer and a win for the company.

    9. Sabrina
      August 2nd, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

      No, I would not pay for steak in the MDR. But I do think one reason this may have started was for families (RCL caters to families) to go to the MDR while some of the members could order a nice steak without having the entire family go to Chops and pay a cover for everyone. Unfortunately, I think it may have backfired and it seems many guests sailing RCL feel they are being nickeled and dimed now.

      @ Scott – I started cruising in 1990 so we started about the same time. I think you are a minority when you think the MDR food has improved over the years. I’ve only seen a decline among several cruise lines. When I order a Steak in the MDR and the only 2 temperatures I can choose from are Medium/Well or Medium/Rare, when before I could order it any way I choose (including Rare)… that seems like a step down. Not to mention I have in-laws that like their steaks burnt with no pink whatsoever. Plus it used to be you could get a filet one night in the MDR during the cruise in the past where now RCL is charging for it. Not to mention, I’d bet money that we were served powdered eggs for scrambled eggs in the Lido for breakfast in the morning on our last RCL cruise.

      I agree there are more options than ever, but the quality of the MDR and Lido has diminished over the years (and I think this is the case on all lines but luxury). Part of this is the cruise lines struggling to make money. They are hoping for people to go to the extra pay restaurants to help with their profits while keeping the overall cruise price down. But I understand that many cruisers, especially new, are shocked when they see that final bill at the end and it’s more than the fare they payed. Yes, you can check your account everyday, but many cruisers don’t when they should.

      Myself, I’ve now stopped complaining about the cruise lines that have started the nickel and diming and now travel on the luxury lines – yes, I pay more and I don’t cruise as often. But, at least I’m extremely happy with my cruise experience when it is all said and done. Everyone needs to remember you get what you pay for. There are cruises out there for everyone, just tell your TA what you are looking for and what you don’t want.

    10. Dawg
      August 3rd, 2011 @ 11:56 am


    11. Hstergo
      August 3rd, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

      I think its a good idea as long as doens’t effect the free MDR menu.Just imagine you want to try some of the food from one of the spcialty resturaunts but no one in your group is interested in joining you. That leaves you with two choices (A) dine alone or (B) miss out on not trying something you really wanted.

    12. lental
      August 3rd, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

      This is just another ploy to shift more of cost to the passenger. If this keeps us, eventually, all you’ll get is a ticket and a stateroom with all food and beverages costing extra. And, the cost of the ticket will drop but not as much as the exta cost the passenger will pay for simple necessities…such as food and toilet paper.

      While some think the cruise lines are struggling to make money, they continue to build more and bigger ships.

      In my opinion, it’s really a product of corporate greed driven mostly by Wall Street’s demand for ever-increasing profts.

      An extra charge for a better steak certainly delivers the message that the ordinary steaks must not be very good. So far, my experience has been that the MDR filets offered by Princess ships have been very good though, perhaps, a bit small.

      Also, they tend to offer a choice of filet or lobster on the same menu so you have to make a decision as to which one you really want…a sometimes difficult decision for those who love both offerings. I resolved that by ordering both on my last Princess cruise with no objections from the waiter or the maitr d’.

      In fact, toward the end of the meal, the maitr d’ appeared at out table with a plate of three extra lobster tails offering them to our party of ten. Needless to say, the offer was accepted. You can be sure an extra tip was provided that evening.

      I truly love Princess ships and while I abhor having to fight off the constant sales pitches for shore excursions, photos, classes and art auctions, I’d rather deal with that than pay extra for \quality\ food in the MDR or any other venue.

    13. Marie
      August 7th, 2011 @ 10:15 am

      Yes, I always order the Chops steak… I cruise RCCl often and am tired of the same old menu and really want to share the MDR experience with whomever I am sailing with. And yes I have also been to Chops too… I consider all the specialty restaurants a treat… You are on vacation live ag little!

    14. Tito
      August 12th, 2011 @ 10:01 pm

      They got ballz charging for a good steak in the main dining room.

      When I sailed on Celebrity Solistice they charged for real OJ too.

      What will they do next… charge for fresh bread instead of day old bread ????

    15. Steve Trueman
      December 15th, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

      never, I will not use RCI

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