Crystal Cruises Caps Free Specialty Dining

October 16, 2013
(10:18 a.m. EDT) -- Crystal Cruises is revamping its specialty dining policies, limiting each passenger to one free dinner per specialty restaurant and instituting a surcharge for all additional visits.

Beginning January 2014, each cabin will be able to book one reservation per voyage in each of the line's two specialty restaurants, Prego and Silk Road, on a complimentary basis. Reservations should be made via the line's online check-in and reservations portal prior to boarding. The free dining cap applies to the Sushi Bar as well.

Once onboard, passengers may choose to eat in one of the specialty restaurants again but they will be accommodated on a first come, first served basis reservation basis for a fee of $30 per person, which includes food, all-inclusive wine, spirits and beers, and gratuities.

The policy change will ensure that all passengers have at least one opportunity to eat in each of the restaurants, Crystal said. "We want every guest to enjoy Prego and Nobu's Silk Road cuisine. The new policy is in response to complaints that it was difficult to get in to the restaurants," Crystal's vice chairman Jack Anderson told Cruise Critic. In order to ensure that all passengers abide by the free dining caps, when a person makes a group reservation for more than two, the online system will ask for the names and booking information for each person. This prevents unidentified passengers from making a second reservation under their own names. If they already have a reservation, no one will be able to add them to a second reservation.

Passengers in penthouses and above will still be able to order "in" from the specialty restaurants as often as they choose for free.

Additionally, passengers on world cruises will get the free dinner reservations for each cruise segment of the world cruise. Passengers React
Crystal passengers are not happy with the announced change, charging the line with "nickel and diming," as well as "highway robbery."

"I guess this is another example of 'all inclusive' not being all inclusive. Is this the beginning of nickel and diming," asked Cruise Critic member marienbad.

Joyous agreed. "This is really rotten. There is a better way to be sure all get a chance at the alternative dining… This is a bunch cockamamie bean counting and not something that looks good for Crystal."

But a handful believes the policy is fair.

"Personally, if I know I can get reservations for Silk Road for additional visits, I would happily pay the additional fee without a second thought," wrote JohnKen3.

And cruisr said, "I am fine with this as, due to high demand, I was never able to dine in Silk Road."

Anderson told Cruise Critic the line is aware some people are unhappy with the changes, but said they have also heard from people "who applaud the decision and recognize that it is a tremendous value, with wine, tips and wonderful cuisine, even with the charge for additional visits.

"That said, we are looking at clarifying these policies, so there may be more information to come."

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor