I have always contended that the true mark of luxury cruise lines could be measured in the dining experience on their ships. While the food alone has been a good enough reason to sail on a Crystal cruise, passengers have traditionally been assigned to specific tables in either an early or late seating. Yes, there are fantastic specialty restaurants as alternatives at no charge (with the exception of the Vintage Room, which showcases reserve wines) , but that Crystal Dining Room assigned seating has been an annoyance. So, their announcement this week that they will offer Perfect Choice Dining™ with Open Dining By Reservation™ for 2011 is a welcome enhancement to the on board experience. From the inspired creations of Crystal's internationally acclaimed chefs, to the celebrity fare of Nobu and Piero Selvaggio, to the coveted pairings of the Vintage Room, to the casual simplicity of outdoor dining on deck, the evening dining venues aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity offer the ultimate in personal choice to suit every palate.
Offered complimentary in the Crystal Dining Room, Perfect Choice Dining maintains Crystal's classic dining style, while adding greater flexibility and choices. Beginning with its January 2011 cruises, Crystal will complement its Crystal Dining Room choices of Classic Main Seating and Classic Late Seating with a brand new option, Open Dining by Reservation. An expansive online Priority Check-in and Planning Center (PCPC) launching in July will enable any fully paid guests who have opted for Open Dining by Reservation to make nightly reservations in the main dining room in advance of their cruise - in addition to their reservation in each of Crystal's specialty restaurants. More information on the new service is available at CrystalCruises.com/PerfectChoiceDining.
"Crystal's Perfect Choice Dining retains the traditional dining experience of two seatings each evening where guests become friends with tablemates and have wait staff who know their preferences, as well as offers a new additional option to satisfy the demand for open dining," says Gregg Michel, president of Crystal Cruises. "No other cruise line in the luxury market is offering this choice of personalized luxury dining."
How does it work?
-- Effective immediately, guests can choose Classic Main dining seating, Classic Late dining seating or Open Dining by Reservation when they book their 2011 cruise. Guests already booked on 2011 World Cruise voyages will automatically retain their selection of Classic Main or Classic Late, or they can switch to Open Dining by Reservation by contacting their travel agent or Crystal's Onboard Guest Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Effective July 2010, the online Priority Check-in and Planning Center (PCPC) launches. Guests who are fully paid for 2011 cruises and who have opted for Open Dining by Reservation can make their individual Crystal Dining Room reservations using the comprehensive PCPC online service. While Crystal currently offers an online pre-reservation system, PCPC will expand pre-reservation services. Details on PCPC services and complete instructions for making reservations will be available at the end of June 2010.
Tables for two, four, six, or eight are available for dinner reservations and reservation times and table size can vary each night. If a specific time is unavailable, the Open Dining by Reservation system will suggest an alternative.
Michel reiterates, "For guests who prefer two dining seatings in the main dining room, nothing will change. We have many, many passionate repeat guests who look forward to having their same evening dining room table, who enjoy cultivating the bonds that develop amongst tablemates and who appreciate the attention that comes with having the same senior waiter and waiter. Perfect Choice Dining adds another flexible dimension, delivered with Crystal's penchant for unparalleled service and attention to detail."