(1:15 p.m. EST) -- The at-sea price-per-chew index just went up again. On March 1, Celebrity Cruises raised the surcharges at four alternative restaurants, marking the line's third round of dining fee price hikes in the last three years.
The price to eat at Tuscan Grille, a Northern Italian-style steakhouse, has gone from $30 to $35 per person; the line's French Continental dining venue, called Murano on some vessels and an ocean liner variant on others, will now cost $45 per person, up from $40; the fee at the pan-Asian venue, Silk Harvest, has been raised from $25 to $30; and the cost to dine at Qsine, a whimsical restaurant -- think iPad menus and spring rolls presented on springs -- now costs $45, up from $40.
Surcharges at the Lawn Club Grill ($40), an indoor-outdoor top-ship steakhouse found on Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Reflection, and the Bistro on 5 creperie ($5) have remained the same. Prices for Celebrity's dining packages are likewise unchanged.
Any reservations made prior to March 1 will remain at the original rate unless changes to the reservation are made.
Celebrity spokesperson Tavia Robb tells Cruise Critic the price hikes were instituted "due to increased demand during peak dining times." The line linked previous specialty dining price increases, in part, to rising international food costs.
In terms of average cost per specialty venue, Celebrity's dining fees are the highest in the industry. There are, however, some lines competing on price at individual establishments. Sister line Royal Caribbean, for instance, features the $40-a-head 150 Central Park on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. Remy, a French specialty venue found on Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, levies a fee of $75 per person, the highest in the industry.
Cruise Critic members have been voicing their displeasure at the latest round of price hikes, which have pushed the prices at some venues well over $100 (with wine) for a couple. "$40 was too high to us. $45 is ridiculous. Sorry X, the specialty restaurants aren't that special," wrote Muushka.
No doubt there will still be eager patrons. "Frankly, I don't mind a $5 increase for some restaurants," wrote waterbug123. "We will continue to frequent them, as another $10 will not break us, and still allows us to enjoy the dining style that we prefer while cruising. And, selfishly, I almost hope that the increase DOES cause some on the fence to stick to the main dining room more frequently."
Other readers are quick to point out that Celebrity, like other lines, regularly offers discounts on the cover charge during cruises.
Your turn: What do you think of the price hikes? Are surcharges getting out of hand, or are the increases just the cost of doing business? Tell us below.
--by Dan Askin, Senior Editor