Is Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate Dining Package worth it?

Since Royal Caribbean introduced the ultimate dining package for guests to have the option to dine at specialty restaurants throughout their cruise for a fixed price every night of their sailing, many have asked us if it is worth the price.

This primer is aimed at explaining the ins and outs of Royal Caribbean’s ultimate dining package and making it easier to understand overall how it all works.

Get tips, tricks, reviews, and budget advice at https://RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com

Comments

cbernier3 says:

Cruises sound horrible. No thanks, I will book a real trip.

Timothy Johnson says:

Did you notice that the question is never really answered!! Every one of these vlogs basically says the same thing IT’S UP TO THE INDIVIDUAL!! NEVER A YES OR A NO!!

Natt K. says:

Not for me. I’m a picky eater, so the buffet is still my best option.

Jen st clair says:

We are going on a 5days cruise this time. Are first was 7 days 4 years ago .food onboard like wingjamer an included meals was awful .i asked for a taco salad they brough me Ice burg lettuce in a shell with taco bell seasoned beef cold. Not my idea of a taco salad… At the Jamer on buffet Evrey thing over cooked dry. The drink that were free was orange water and bitter lemonade.so this time. We 3day special dinning pkg. Water pkg an coffee pkg.hoping food better this x an we will order per fresh juice..

Kim Snyder says:

Thanks for the info. However, please slow your speech down. It was very difficult trying to listen as your words were all jumbled together.

Bushette2 says:

We did buy the ultimate dining pkg! One reason I decided to do this was because we had an onboard credit of $75 so I applied that to the pkg so that meant we paid less. Also, as I watched and listened to reviews, the biggest complaint from travelers on RC was the food in the main dining areas. Also we recently traveled on the Escape by Norwegian Cruises where we purchased The Haven, which came with specialty dining along with your own private 5* dining room and we LOVED IT! I’ll check back in with you after my cruise and let you know if it was worth it or not!

Rodney Savel says:

Going on the Harmony next month.

Sarah Detore says:

Show me the free food that is included in the price lol

Brandis13 says:

We are doing a back to back on Harmony in October. First week, we plan to stick to the Main Dining room, second week, we probably do the 3 or 4 nights dining package, that way we save some money on speciality restaurants we want to visit anyway.

BTW, I find it funny that they say that dinner at Solarium Bistro is included in the dining packages, even though it is one of the restaurants included in the cruise fare, without additional fee.

justreallybored says:

This sounds like a super fast commercial. Oh wait, yeah it is.

Denise Gilroy says:

Im for the dining package. When you eat in the main dining room, you are getting pre made conveyor belt food. In a speciality restaurant, at least i lnow im getting made to order food. I will definitely be getting the dining package!

Thomas Fisk says:

You talk too fast, I couldn’t understand half of what you said.

Thomas

Karen Carter says:

I think the ultimate dining package is a way too much to eat!  I selected the 3 night because I’ve never cruised on Royal before, but I can’t imagine doing so every single night especially when the buffet does have some good offerings and you can eat as much or little as you want.

ExtraordinaryLiving says:

Sounds complicated and restrictive … I like NCL’s Specialty Dining Packages better–more straightforward and much more flexible. I am buying the 4-meal package (may be just a 3-meal one since you do have a good point about being LOTS of food) on my upcoming NCL Escape cruise.

f86sabjf says:

When on Celebrity we only eat at specialty restaurants . Love them for there smaller size .

UNIX says:

Coming from Atlanta and this being a foodie haven here, I think I’d have to do a dining package just to be able to enjoy the food I’m eating on a big ship like that as well as convince my old parents that it’s worth even going on Royal Carribean in the first place as they don’t want to have to eat average food the whole time.

Alexis Baumann says:

Dining package is stupid when you have already paid for dinner in the main dining room where the food is outstanding and changes every night..and its all you can eat…if you want 3 shrimp cocktails its free !!!

Xenift says:

Can anyone say “ultimate dining package” faster than him?

Terry Robin says:

You talk to fast—slow down.

MsBlue68 says:

You speak too fast

Cat And says:

wow

Mariz Flores says:

You talk way too fast- so this video is a dislike for me

Autobot Diva says:

On a 7 day cruise i normally eat at 1 specialty place. i rather grab and go but its nice to sit and have adult conversation in a nice setting.

Andy Zweigel says:

I’M SO CONFUSED!

Thanks for the overview, Matt, but I’m not sure if it helped. I’m taking a cruise (as a single traveler) on Anthem in October, and since I consider myself a foodie (retired chef,) I have already purchased an Ultimate Dining Package. But now, I’m not sure this was the right decision.

The biggest problem I see with it is NOT being able to make reservations in advance, as I like to pre-plan my choices. For example, one of my best vacations ever was at Disney World in 2001 during the 100 years of Magic Celebration . I splurged on a special all-inclusive package, and I mean ALL-INCLUSIVE; it included a stay at one of the Premium hotels with concierge service (I chose Contemporary and loved it,) 3 meals and 2 snacks (which could anything from a cookie or pretzel to a burger and fries) a day at any restaurant and most food kiosks at the parks or any of the hotels, including one night at the spectacular 4-star Victoria & Albert’s, plus more food in the Concierge Club at the hotel all day long, which was way more than just about anyone could eat, all park admissions, all amenities, such as the motor boats, fishing, parasailing, even a massage at the Grand Floridian Spa. It was absolutely fantastic. I don’t think I spent an extra dollar once I got on the property. Now that was a vacation to remember!

The point is that I had the ability to plan my entire stay, meals, activities, etc. I had virtually every minute of every day scheduled for maximum usage of all the features, and it was great. I didn’t have to make any decisions while I was actually on vacation. The only change I ended up making was to skip my parasailing app’t because I was just too darned tired at that point.

I wish that RCCL offered a package like this and stopped nickel and diming us to death. I mean, $26 a day for coffee, juice, soft drinks and bottled water seems pretty expensive to me. Just how much can one person drink in a day? And they don’t even offer a discounted plan with Voom for that package. I think that the best option for me, since I’m not a big alcohol drinker, is the Classic Soft Drink Plan @ $8.50/day, plus the $31 Coffee Card for the occasional cup of coffee. But now I’ll have to carry that stupid cup around all day. And what happens if I misplace the cup? Do I have to re-buy the plan? Why can’t they just implant the RF chip into our cards and add readers to the dispensers? (Saw an interesting hack about this on YouTube, but don’t really want to break the rules, or the cup.) Do you think they’d go broke if someone took undue advantage of it by getting a soda for someone else? I mean, at a wholesale cost of about 2 cents a fluid ounce, or less for a huge purchaser like RCCL, I think the $8.50 a day would more than cover it. I see this as truly taking advantage of their captive audience. At some point we just have to say enough is enough!

And let’s talk about Voom. $15-$25 a day (yes, I, like many other people, have both a smartphone and a tablet, thus $25 if I want to use both) for a service that should be ubiquitous and free in 2017 is, if you’ll excuse me for being blunt, almost highway robbery. Just because we’re on vacation doesn’t mean that we want to, or in many cases can’t, disconnect from the world! I listen to Sirius XM Radio on my phone, access my e-books and watch videos on my Kindle Fire, and get the news on them as well. I just think that charging as much as an additional $175 is absurd and obscene. And there’s no guarantee that the wifi will actually work well.

On top of that, after watching numerous videos, some of the complimentary restaurant options look really good. I love Chinese food, but Japanese not so much as I’m not a big fan of sushi. So I really think that I’ll want to have at least one meal at Silk. American Icon and Grande also look very appealing. I’m also a fan of a good buffet, so I would expect to have at least one or two meals in Windjammer.

The bottom line is that I think that a 3 or 4 night dining plan might be the better option. The one thing I would lose is specialty lunch options on sea days. But as you said, just how much food can one really eat? And hey, I like a good hot dog.

Additionally, two dining options I might be interested in are the Chef’s Table and the Bottomless Galley Brunch, neither of which are included in the UDP. Brunch is one of my favorite types of meals, and while the Bottomless Galley Brunch can be included in the 3, 4, or 5 Dining Packages, apparently it is not an option with the UDP, a major bummer. And something I really don’t understand.

So I’m beginning to think that a 4-day Dining Plan might be a better option for me. I can have dinner at the places I’m most interested in, Chops, Jamie’s and Wonderland, as well as the brunch, then fill in the rest of the week with some of the complimentary options. (I can live without the $95.00 Chef’s Table.) While the price/day is a wee bit higher, it’s pretty nominal, and I can use the $60+ I’d save for other options, like a lunch at Johnny Rocket’s (love their Smokehouse Burger) for just $6.99. And if I wanted a second dinner at Jamie’s Italian or to upgrade to a dry-aged steak or Maine Lobster at Chops, I’d still save some money.

I love cruising, but my last cruise was on Freedom of the Seas (I think) in September of 2001. We were at Labade on the morning of 9/11, and as you can imagine, it pretty much ruined the rest of the vacation. All events on the island, and many of the later excursions, were cancelled. I certainly don’t blame Royal Caribbean for this, but there was never a word from them after the cruise; no explanations or apologies for the inconvenience; no offer of a discount for a replacement cruise (unless you wanted to stay on-board for another week since the ship was going to depart Miami virtually empty, but that wasn’t an option for me; I lived in the NYC area, and had family and a job I needed to get back to ASAP,) no offer to help with the cost of an unplanned and un-budgeted 2-night stay in Miami before I could get a flight home to NY, nothing. I felt abandoned, and that they just didn’t care. The only thing they did do was to give passengers that lived in the NYC or DC area one free phone call home and free internet access for a day or two to communicate with loved ones or make alternative travel plans, if you could get access to one of the computers in the Internet Cafe. (This was way before I-phones and WiFi.) The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth, thus the long period between cruises.

Sorry to have rambled on so much, but I’m trying to put my thoughts into some cohesive points to help me make my decisions. Any thoughts you might have will be appreciated. Maybe you could pass my thought along to some of the decision-makers at RCCL who can actually address these concerns. I think it’s important for them to know the frustration some of us are feeling.

I’m still looking forward to my trip, but I’m at the point where I am almost sorry I decided to do this. As a single traveler, I’m already paying a premium price, even with a tiny studio cabin, and all these costly extras are really starting to tick me off.

And I haven’t even mentioned the highly overpriced excursions, but that’s for another video.

Noisy Camper TomBeetle Bailey says:

You do NOT need to talk so fast….or do you?

dave g says:

For sure its worth it… food is about 3 notches up from the dinning room. We never paid for the wine in the specialty restaurants but got all we wanted and they will bring you food just to try that you didn’t order. Service is top shelf and I always tipped my waiter. Chops is unreal. Do yourself a favor and get the 4 night package …and then you might be mad you didn’t go for every night, its that good

dan dinhofer says:

Hmmmm….I recognize that voice???!!! OH-MY-GOSH it’s Hoovie!!!!!! LOL

Kenneth Connors says:

the food is NOT that great ..Windjammer has better selection and just plain tastes better

JewJew Bee says:

Loved my cruise thank you for everything

Ebba Lytle says:

For me? No. This just wouldn’t work. I am such an eccentric who tends to live spur-of-the-moment, this would drive me crazy. Especially since, if I want to eat at a specialty restaurant, I can without this package… and I’m not tied into anything or feeling like I have to eat there because I’ve prepaid nor do I have to make a reservation until nearly the last minute.

As for the included restaurants (as well as entertainment, etc.), they are not “complimentary” or “free” since you do pay for them with your cruise price. They are “included”. It might be semantics, but it is an important difference because using the wrong term could confuse some people. Cruise ships are like an “all inclusive” vacation resort that happens to move around and functions on water. As with any “all inclusive”, some things are included and some aren’t, but none are complimentary (unless it’s that bottle of water that some resorts will give you if you spend enough on your package). Just clarifying and not meaning anything else.

Steven Gibson says:

the pros and cons of the ultimate dining package, the same with the other dining packages?

KaptinKayoss says:

Just recently was aboard the Allure of the Seas. Had what I think was called “my time dining” or something like that. Could go to the main dinging room at almost any time we wanted, and did…..twice. Pain in the ass both times. Found the WindJammer, thankfully, and that place is what food dreams are made of. Just walk on, not worrying about what your’e wearing and go at it! A plethora of foods to choose from morning, non, and night. If I could personally change anything, I would eliminate the high-falutent dining and replace it with another WindJammer. Besides, you have to dress formal for most of the nights in the dining room. Who the hell brings a suit and tie on vacation? Anyway, There’s a few other things on that ship that are junk. One of them is Johnny Rockets. Pointless garbage. Another one is Starbucks. Starbucks is not free and the Cafe Promenade which IS free, can make just as good drinks as Starbucks does. As far as the specialty restaurants go, not worth it. Quite empty every day/night. However, the WindJammer was packed and very hard to find an open table at times…….and it’s pretty huge!

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