The economy’s been bad. We’ve heard it a million times. Cruise lines have been facing a bit of a conundrum as a result: how to keep cruise prices low without sacrificing quality. It seems that, sometimes, it just can’t be done without some cutbacks.
A recent message boards thread caught our attention when we noticed cruisers complaining that porterhouse steak is no longer offered in Carnival’s onboard for-fee steakhouses. Passengers who pay the $30 flat fee to dine there can choose any entree from the menu. But, after what Carnival calls an “update of the steakhouse menus,” the 24-ounce porterhouse — a cut of beef that rolls New York strip and filet mignon into one — has disappeared. In its place, the line is now offering an 18-ounce prime rib chop. (Line representative Vance Gulliksen says the 14-ounce New York strip and 9-ounce filet also remain available.)
But the flurry of conversation over the change has led us to wonder whether it’s really an even swap — and what’s really behind the change. We first put in a call to Walter Kump, a butcher who owns Forest Pork Store in Huntington Station, NY. According to Kump, the wholesale difference between a prime cut of porterhouse and a prime cut (the type offered by Carnival) of rib chop is about $4.50 per pound — meaning the line now saves every time someone who would have ordered porterhouse orders the rib chop replacement instead.
That savings may be necessary. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), world meat prices are up some 17 percent year over year. Not surprisingly, cruise line execs have specifically mentioned the impact of beef costs on the bottom line during recent company earnings calls.
Carnival remains mum about its reasons for axing the porterhouse option — but we think the numbers moo for themselves.
Cruise Critic member pat55 had this to say: “CCL has done wonders with different cuts of meat. Looking forward to what they can do with snout, knuckle and ear … Sure beats Burger King.” And JaniceB adds, “DH will be disappointed if he can’t get his 24-ounce porterhouse! It is his favorite!”
However, not everyone is heartbroken, and some even see the change in a positive way. “I think someone is looking for something to complain about. Sounds like a good steak to me. I don’t think they have ‘lowered the standards,’ just changed the menu,” says Timmys mom. Echoing the sentiment is StingRaysfan, who says “DH wanted the 24-ounce in the steakhouse and it was a no go. He was very disappointed, but the steak he got was just as good and just a bit smaller. 24 ounces is a bit ridiculous…”
What do you think? Is the downgrade a fair trade for keeping prices steady? Are you perturbed by the move? Or do you simply think it falls into the “who cares?” column? Let us know in the comments below.
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