Hi, I am sailing on July 25th on the Mariner of the Seas. I wasn't aware of the charge when I booked. I do remember though that before my cruise on the Voyager they started charging for all the activities but by the time my cruise came, they had changed the policy. Maybe this will happen with Johnny Rockets.
You don't have to eat at Johonny Rockets.
This and any of the specialty eating establishments on board are there if you want to eat at them. No one who does not want to spend more is forced to eat at them.
I will spend the money to get a real good burger and even spend the money to get a good ice cream at Ben and Jerrys on board. But I don't have to.
There are enough eating places to choose from that does not charge extra onboard and at least one place open to eat at free 24 hours a day.
What other vacation can you go on and have all your room and meals paid for where you wake up in a different port evry morning?
Try that at Disney World!!
Let me see now.... Early risers breakfast at 6:30, Regular breakfast in the windjammer at 7:00 and then to the dinning room before 10:00, and then I can go to the cova cafe for pastries,& then to lunch ... and snaks at 2:30 to 4:00 and then dinner and then midnight.
I am sure RCCL has a good reason for testing the charge and who knows, maybe it will not happen.
Elizabeth, surely you realize that's not the point. If it's advertised as free when you book it, it should be free once you've paid. As far as having a good reason, sure they do: it's called increasing your profit margins. I'm not about to cancel my cruise over this, but I think it's a bit much that some of you folks want to act like it's not a big deal, because it is.
I agree that it's never preferable to suddenly find yourself paying for something you thought you'd already paid for. But the following post from a related (but separate) topic sheds a little light on why a company -- any company -- might change its policy due to unforeseen and rampant waste.
"I do, however, understand their need for a surcharge. I was recently on the Explorer where we ate at JR's a few times on our cruise (I, for one, appreciate an extra greasy cheeseburger and love their chili dogs) and we witnessed wastefulness that was just utterly disgusting. Kids would come up and order food, take a couple bites of it and then throw it away... and then come back 5 minutes later and do it again! A couple of guys dining next to us couldn't make up their minds so they ordered one of everything on the menu!"
Yikes. If I were CEO of Royal Caribbean, I'd consider imposing a surcharge as well. If it prevents the kind of behavior described above, then it's worth the PR hammering they are sure to endure for a few months until it blows over. Which it will.
For what it's worth, here's RCI's reply to my inquiry:
As you are aware, Johnny Rockets is known as a quality restaurant throughout the United States and is very popular with our guests. Often, this small onboard venue becomes crowded with long lines for service. In our continuing efforts to address this problem and provide our guests a more enjoyable experience, we have initiated a test program on two of our ships, the Navigator of the Seas and the Mariner of the Seas. This test program, which began on these two ships on their March 13th sailings, institutes a service fee of $3.95 per guest 5 years and up. Children under 5 may dine for free. Crown and Anchor members will receive a coupon for one complimentary dining experience. This service fee includes a gratuity for the dining experience but does not include beverages. Beverages are additional and charged at the normal rate with a 15% gratuity added to the beverage bill.
Once guests have paid the service fee, there is still no charge for the food with unlimited menu items available. Johnny Rockets has also developed a customized menu item for Royal Caribbean. It is the Royal Caribbean Oreo Fudge Sundae and is included in the service fee. Guests wishing to purchase a takeaway package may do so and will also be subject to the $3.95 service fee. However, the takeaway package consists of one burger or sandwich, fries, onion rings, and a dessert of choice. Guests may also still purchase a takeaway shake or beverage without sitting and dining in Johnny Rockets. At the Manager's discretion, however, during quiet times, guests just ordering beverages and not dining may sit down in the venue. Please also note that there are still many complimentary dining options available to our guests onboard such as: the Windjammer Cafe, Promenade, the Main Dining Room, and room service.
This service fee will enable us to manage demand for the restaurant and provide all our guests with excellent service and overall, offer a more pleasing experience. Again, thank you for your e-mail and interest in Royal Caribbean International. We look forward to the opportunity of welcoming you onboard one of our ships in the near future.
Thank you for choosing Royal Caribbean International.
Customer Service Representative
So as it stands right now, it's only in effect on two ships. So many people view this as a harbinger, the eventual result being a charge for all food - nonsense! If there's one thing that distinguishes a cruise from other forms of vacations, it's the culinary experiences; and the cruise lines aren't about to fool with it. Sure; they've created numerous alternative dining choices (some complimentary, most for an additional charge), and many cruisers avail themselves of the option. To those of you who opt for the specialty restaurants, I thank you. You're contributing to keeping the cost down for those of us who decline to pay for meals. It's nothing more than another source of revenue - just like gambling, liquor, photos, shore excursions, boutiques and balcony staterooms. Is there some nickel-and-diming? Of course! Is it anything that will affect my enjoyment of cruising? Absolutely not! If a $20 bill is going to make or break your vacation, you shouldn't be going. I read the quote in cfurry's post, and can envision precisely such events occurring unchecked. I'm certain that a good number of parents just let their kids go to JR's on their own - and the scenarios described are certainly plausible.
I didn't send a scathing e-mail to RCI, but simply requested a clarification. We enjoyed Johnny Rockets on the AOS, but have never left a cruise ship hungry. Surcharges and price increases notwithstanding, cruising remains the bargain vacation of a lifetime. So many people couldn't even afford to get away if not for cruising. It would cost me well over $2000 to spend a week at a beach resort just a few minutes from my home. I spend less than that on an exotic journey aboard a five-star floating resort, enjoying wonderful meals, outstanding service, a choice of dozens of activities, beautiful ports of call - and we make new friends each time. As soon as we're done with one cruise, we begin to plan the next one. So I'm going to let $3.95 affect my vacation? Principle, schminciple! I'll get my burgers poolside!!
That's a very good attitude to have. My fiance and I always say - the vacation is what you choose to make of it. We've seen that proven time and again.
Personally, I would rather pay a larger fare and cut it out with the nickel and diming. $20 doesn't wreck my vacation, but it certainly affects my impression of the cruise line and what I feel is the cruise line's impression of all of us.
Not to mention - we all know we paid a fare to get on the ship. But once you're on - doesn't the stuff you don't have to swipe your Sea Pass card for FEEL free? You would think RCI would want to capitalize on that illusion.
It's nice to see that they gave you the clarification you were looking for. So many companies these days just ignore stuff like that. We will still go to Johnny Rockets, but a little disappointment in RCI will come along with us.
I'm with you, Mel, on the "jack-up-the-fare-a-few-bucks-and-include-everything" approach. But the second that would occur, an outcry from those who take the "why-should-we-have-to-pay-for-stuff-we-don't-use" tact certainly would spew forth. There's really no genuine compromise, although the cruise lines are attempting to find one. RCI is certain to receive a flood of "how dare you" e-mails, but this too shall pass, irrespective of its ultimate decision. I don't think it will lead to other such charges, and genuinely believe that there are some issues at JR's (particularly concerning crowds, and kids running amok there while their parents relax at poolside) that RCI is attempting to address. Not everyone will be satisfied - but then, they rarely are. Enjoy your next cruise. If we ever meet aboard, the JR burgers are on me!!