Royal Caribbean pushes the surcharge envelope with “steak fee”

by Janice Hough on September 29, 2008

Cruise passenger have gotten used to paying surcharges for for special restaurants. But for the main dining room? No cruise line has gone there — until now.

Now Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is pushing the fee envelope by charging for the main dining room.

For now, the surcharge is only one dish: a 10-ounce steak. And the additional cost is $14.95. The steak was first reported to be “organic” but it is now called an “an all-natural strip steak” according to Royal Caribbean spokesman Harrison Lu. Supposedly, it is a trial to see if customers want “all natural” beef and that eventually the steak will be moved to the alternative dining room “Chops” that already carries a surcharge.

Yeah, right. And if Royal Caribbean determines that people will pay extra in the main dining room, I am sure they will go back not to charging for anything there as soon as the trial is done.

In addition to their specialty restaurants, most cruise lines already charge for sodas on board, specialty coffees and some extra goodies outside the main dining rooms. Princess Cruises, for example, has some “modestly priced items” in its International Cafe, and seafood appetizers for a “modest-per-item charge” in some of their wine bars. Along with a Nathan’s hot dog, Brooklyn Brewery Beer and slice of cheesecake for sale from room service on the Crown Princess.

But meals in the main dining rooms have remained one of the last vestiges of all-inclusive dining on cruise ships. Along with the idea that you can order anything from hamburger to lobster and not worry about the price.

If this Royal Caribbean “trial” works out, what’s next? A lobster surcharge? A second dessert surcharge? Hey, if the airlines can get people to pay $6 for a box of little salty snacks, I think the sky, or rather the sea, is the limit.

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  • http://www.singleparenttravel.net John F

    This sucks!

  • http://www.singleparenttravel.net John F

    Link does not work

  • Wrona

    I don’t know of anyone that is paying the fee. I’m betting it goes the same way as the fees they originally had for rock climbing and ice skating on Voyager.

  • http://leftcoastsportsbabe.com Janice Hough

    Wrona, I hope you are right, but passengers are seeming to accept all the airline fees now without too much complaint so I wonder if travellers are just getting more conditioned to the idea of paying extra.

    John, I think the links work, at least I tried them a few minutes ago, you can let us know if they dont and which one.

  • Wrona

    Believe me, there has been a large uproar against the $14.95 fee and as I said RCCL has previously given in when they attempted other surcharges.

    The funny part is people have complained for years about the quality of the always available steaks on RCCL. So now RCCL is offering a better quality steak, but like with all things the people don’t want to pay more. So I suspect the surcharge will go away but the trade off will be there won’t be a steak available at every meal anymore either (except on the kids menu where there is still a steak available at no charge every night).

  • Skip

    Why does RCI nickel and dime us like this?

    Because they can.

    When will it end?

    When we tell them to cut it out.

    Cruising is different than flying. We don’t have to cruise as part of our travel plans, but who wants to spend a week of our vacation driving to our vacation destination, unless we have more than 2 weeks’ time to spend?

  • Tony A

    RCCL has gone toooooooooooooooo far ! ! !

    I suggest they keep the special steak fee for the speciality resaurants where it belong! !

    The main dining room is part of the cruise. Your just a screwing around with happy campers. Passengers are fed up with being “hawked” all doing their cruise. The one they took to relax and free of extra charges.

    This sounds like RCCL listening to the same “project manager”, who screwed up their fuel surchage implementation fiacso. Now they have a new position, “steak Fee “project Manager”. I vote for test failure. That will help customer satisfaction.

  • Clear Voice

    Not to Worry, Let the meat Rot… Not only that, with Royal being the most expensive on the mass market lines, I have for the last 2 years successfully switched my guest to Princess. They used the say that Carnival had bad food. Have you sailed on Royal recently. Just came off a Seminar at sea on the Freedom. The food was the worst. Not mention the screaming about the added $15 surcharge for steak in the main dining room. We will bring Royal down to it’s knees like we did with Renaissance. There is only so much anyone can take. They think they have become God Like with their new ships.
    They call it the wow factor. They might as well say, “people are stupid” give them “Ritz & Glitz” and we slip crappy food and service right pass the nose. That’s the WOW Factor. They almost destroyed Celebrity. Lets face it. Carnival’s business model is much better, their food on the actual cruise line, (Carnival) has become better then Royal’s and the deals are ten times better. You have to be fool or just want to waste money to book a Royal Caribbean ship.

  • wendy reinan

    You mean I’m not the only one who thought RCCL food was TERRIBLE? I was on the Splendour in /07, in the MED., and was served ROTTEN, yes, ROTTEN lobster- with the vein still in. (The ass’t waiter concurred and offered me another while the WAITER just gave me an impatient look, as in STOP COMPLAINING!

  • http://www.singleparenttravel.net John F

    Carnival’s food has gotten better.

    The bad link was when Cruise Critic was correcting the report.

    It seems now that they are offering an ADDITIONAL steak choice in the main dining room which will be a premium steak with the $14.95 price.

    Clear voice—how do you really feel about Royal Caribbean? If you are so against them and have been switching clients for two years (completely acceptable in my opinion if that is your business model) why are you on one of their Seminar at Seas?

  • http://leftcoastsportsbabe.com Janice Hough

    For anyone who was confused, sorry, this never meant to say you could not get any steak in the main dining room on Royal Caribbean without paying. This is a “better” premium steak. But I think it’s a very slippery slope. Most cruise lines have a few meals with fancier choices, say the welcome aboard and captain’s farewell dinners. And Royal Caribbean will generally, like many cruise lines, give you a plain steak or chicken or fish if you don’t like the regular choices. Have not heard good things though about their regular plain steak.

  • Hapgood

    But do they charge single-occupancy passengers $30 for a steak?

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  • http://tripso.com glorya

    If this is, in fact, a reality then RCL (and any other lines that think they can hoodwink us) can whistle a tune and I nor anyone I know will cruise with them again unless they come back down to earth. And if the other lines go along with this, well GOODBYE CRUISING. There are “all inclusive resorts” that can pick up the slack without the multitude of people vying for “first off” the ship. And this “Cruise Critic Message Board executive staff” better let these cruise ships know that we think their newest proposal to get money “stinks,” What is this board for otherwise? Can’t the “executive staff” ever, ever express the views of the board which, I bet, are against this latest tra

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