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phoenix_dream

Suite guests in Blu - enough!

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Ok, I know this will get some people flaming me, but here goes anyway.  IMHO it is time to stop the practice of letting suite guests eat in Blu on a 'space available basis'.  I am a regular Aqua Class passenger and now retired, sail Celebrity 7-8 cruises per year (some 10+ days).  My observations here are based on many, many nights in Blu.  I will also say that occasionally I do sail in suites and I have no issue with the changes I suggest.  I am a big believer that rules should be fair to everyone, and followed by everyone.

 

Why do I have that opinion?  With the revolutionizing of the ships, more Aqua Class cabins are being added.  Logically, this increases the number of passengers eating in Blu exponentially.  There is not room in Blu to add more tables (on M class at least, and little room on S class), so the restaurant is becoming more and more crowded.  On our last cruise on Reflection, which already had more AQ cabins even before any revolutionizing, there were extra tables crammed into Blu which made it less comfortable, more noisy, and still there were lines out the door 10-12 couples deep at all times before 8:30 p.m.  And yet suite guests were allowed in (I know this for a fact). 

 

Second, it has been our experience that most Maître d's do not follow the 'space available basis' rule (not saying it never happens, but we have yet to see it).  On our most recent cruise, the Maître d' actually told us that 1/3 of the suite guests were eating in Blu on a daily basis.  This did not sit well with us, as we had to wait for a table 6 out of the 7 nights of our cruise - getting a beeper and needing to go sit in a bar as there was no seating outside the M class Blu restaurant.  The wait times ranged from 15 to 45 minutes.  So much for the 'space available basis' rule. 

 

Third, when suite guests eat in Blu it has been our experience that extra 'perks' are offered to them that are not offered to everyone actually paying for the restaurant.   Specifically, at least on our Reflection cruise, they were allowed to order off the MDR menu which caused the waiters to have to make the long trek down to the MDR kitchen, meaning they were off the floor for as much as 10-15 minutes at a time (this info came from the waiters themselves).  This obviously considerably delayed service for everyone else.  It is not really an issue on M class as they share kitchen space, but on S class this should not be allowed.

 

Fourth, when in Luminae, the guests have the option of ordering off the MDR menu if they do not like their own menu (at least I know on S class they do).  So they already have two full menus to choose from.

 

Finally, AQ guests are not allowed to eat in Luminae, so why are suite guests allowed to eat in Blu??

 

On a more subjective level, it is my opinion that this is wrong, and is just not fair to the paying Aqua Class passengers!  I understand why the process was initiated back in the days before Luminae.  Celebrity created a special, nicer (than MDR) restaurant and suites (who paid more) were not allowed to use it.  So they decided to let them enter on a space available basis.  Ok, I can understand that.  But now there IS a special restaurant that is nicer than Blu and yet the practice continues.  They've added more AQ cabins, and yet the process continues.  This is just not right and it is time to stop the practice.  Suite guests sailing with non-suite customers have the option of paying for them to eat in Luminae with them.   If they will not completely stop the practice, perhaps rather than limiting suite entry into Blu on the not-usually-followed practice of 'space available' suite guests should be required to pay to eat in Blu as they are taking up space originally planned for AQ passengers.  That would at least slow down the practice.

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My first Celebrity experience was in AQ on Reflection.  We really enjoyed Blu.  From that point forward, we booked only suites and really enjoyed Luminae.  Not once since moving from AQ to a suite have I considered dining in Blu.  I had no idea it was as common of an occurrence as you described.  I would have to say that I agree with your arguments.  Advertised perks should be honored for the guests who purchased the category to which they are associated.  I'd be miffed in AQ passengers were admitted into Michaels on a "space available" basis because the privilege of doing so is not included in the fare.  You raise some very good points and I thank you for posting.

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While better training of the MaitreD staff in Blu would perhaps lead to more consistent enforcement, you make good points and I suggest that you send a letter to corporate headquarters laying out your argument. As they are unlikely to see this comment here, that is the best way to try to influence them to effect a change 

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1 minute ago, WestLakeGirl said:

I suggest that you send a letter to corporate headquarters laying out your argument. As they are unlikely to see this comment here, that is the best way to try to influence them to effect a change 

A letter is a great idea!  I have been told on more than one occasion that Celebrity reads these boards on a pretty regular basis.  Maybe to more avenues to change the better.

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29 minutes ago, WestLakeGirl said:

While better training of the MaitreD staff in Blu would perhaps lead to more consistent enforcement, you make good points and I suggest that you send a letter to corporate headquarters laying out your argument. As they are unlikely to see this comment here, that is the best way to try to influence them to effect a change 

I doubt better training would be the answer. I am more inclined to believe it is allowed because X doesn't want to deny or offend their suites  passengers over anything they want. In all the X offerings and on their website it clearly states that AQ Class has the "Exclusive" use of the Blu restaurant, nothing said about Suites having access too.

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No flaming from me!

 

Everyone on this board is entitled to express their opinions and feelings...

 

We dine in suites and do not use Blu, although we did occasionally for breakfast in the pre Luminae day’s...

 

We are not great fans of the Luminae dinner menu so mainly dine in speciality restaurants. As we usually book a RS this is at no additional cost to ourselves. I guess the snag is if other suite guests (without included speciality dining) feel the same about the Luminae menu then they may some days migrate to Blu if they don’t just want to choose from the MDR menu...

 

Like you, I do think it is unfair if Blu is busy.

 

I can understand a suite guest wanting to experience Blu if they are considering Aqua for a future cruise...I can understand if you have friends in Aqua that you may want to dine there one night...The snag seems to be in your experience that it isn’t just an occasional visit, it is a regular occurrence...

 

If you do decide to go ahead with a letter why not ask for the number of suite guests to be counted visiting daily and that they should be politely asked the reasons for their choice of Blu over Luminae.

 

In the interim perhaps suite guests wanting to visit  Blu should be organised by someone with a more managerial role...Suite guests should be clearly told ‘By prior arrangement only’....No more just arriving...this would take some pressure of the M’D of Blu having to say ‘No’...

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Only time we had a dinner in blu was also pre luminae days and I was not impressed, love luminae. 

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5 minutes ago, chemmo said:

I can understand a suite guest wanting to experience Blu if they are considering Aqua for a future cruise..

Is the same true if I want to try Luminae to see if I want to try a future cruise in a Suite? As a AQ passenger I would never ask to have the embarkation lunch in the MDR that is reserved for Concierge class passengers, even though I would prefer  that over the 10th deck buffets.

Edited by terrydtx

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2 minutes ago, terrydtx said:

Is the same true if I want to try Luminae to see if I want to try a future cruise in a Suite?

Guest in luminae are charged I believe about 30 also may need to be invited 

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3 minutes ago, George C said:

Only time we had a dinner in blu was also pre luminae days and I was not impressed, love luminae. 

From what I have heard multiple times, many suite passengers seem to not like the menu in Luminae - too limited, too fussy/fancy (their comments, not mine, although as it happens I agree).   If this is really true, I would think Celebrity should look into modifying the Luminae menu.  They could certainly keep the items they have, but they could add more 'meat and potatoes' options for people who prefer more simple fare.  Since there is better service in Luminae (from my admittedly limited experience) and the area is more spacious, perhaps a change like that could solve the problem completely and easily.

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1 minute ago, phoenix_dream said:

From what I have heard multiple times, many suite passengers seem to not like the menu in Luminae - too limited,

Interesting.  I find this to be the case with the Blu menu.  DH and I always make the rounds each day as part of our "exercise" to peruse the menus and often turn away from the Blu menu being less than impressed by the offerings.

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OP

This has been my  position since Luminae was added as an exclusive for suite guests.  When they had no restaurant, BLU was opened to them on space available basis.. but now they use it as a second suite dining venue more often than not as many prefer it or like the variety  .  Not even sure why they use it for breakfast...menus  are or should be made similar.  We have our first suite res coming up in 2021 so will have a first hand experience as to  why Lumjnae spills over. ( maybe  cruising with friends in AQ but they could always invite them to Luminae for a fee)

 

On Reflection ( perhaps pre Luminae), the Michaels concierge was lining them up en masse, and walking them  right into BLU ahead of AQ guests  on line, with apparent blessing of maitre d. After many complaints over sev days by many, this was stopped...but still goes on more  quietly.  

 

BLU has become overwhelmed and understaffed and no longer as special as it was 

 

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I fully agree with the OP.....but clearly suite guests can walk on water so the chances of a maitre d actually telling a suite guest that they have to wait is very unlikely to happen.  We only book Aqua on M-class ships because we like the rear facing cabins on deck 11....we actually prefer 1A's on S-class ships and find that the food/service in the MDR is as good as aqua....and often there is less wait since we book reservations for every night which you can't do in Blu.  

 

IMHO, Celebrity is making a marketing mistake by not allowing aqua passengers to even try luminae.  If it's as good as Celebrity would like us to think it is, then maybe it would sway us to book a suite.  We'll just never know. 

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I think your experience on the Reflection is probably not typical of the other S class ships. We have only done one Reflection cruise in 2015 (which was while Luminae was being built) and every evening there were queues even at 8.45. It is a function of the whole extra deck of what are mostly suites plus a fair number of AQ and Concierge cabins. At that time it was either Blu or the MDR and we have never repeated cruising on Reflection because of that.

 

The only extra cabins on the S class ships are 4 inside cabins which make no difference at all to Blu.

 

We have not been in Blu since Luminae opened by we do value the ability to go there if we feel the need. You may be paying more for your AQ cabin but we can pay much more than double the cost of an AQ for a suite. 

 

In our experience (we did our first 6 cruises in AQ on the Eclipse and the Silhouette) there is no such a huge issue on these ships. We may have had to wait but never for very long and the hosts after a couple of days have been happy to move our gratuities to the Blu tips pool.

 

We would never jump the queue if we if decide to try Blu again. We always did just join the end of the queue. 

 

There are two sides to every argument. 

Edited by Gordoncruickshank

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We have typically been in Aqua over the last few years.  We did our first suite in December on Edge.  My wife is a very picky eater and found the Luminae menu not to her satisfaction a couple nights.  We went to Blu a couple times as she always liked it on previous cruises.  The dining room was never more than half full.  About half way through the cruise we went to Luminae because of a dish I really wanted.  She mentioned to the waiter that she didn't really see anything she liked on the menu.   His response completely changed her outlook on Luminae.  He told her they could make lots of other dishes that aren't listed on the menu (and they are not coming from other kitchens).  He brought her a twin filet mignon that was much better than what we had in Fine Cut.  After that night, we won't be back in Blu when in suites.

 

I think Celebrity needs to do a better job of communicating what can be done, and following their rules.  Based on that one waiter talking to her, now she only wants to book suites and not Aqua anymore.  3 months till our next suite on Silhouette.

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phoenix- I mostly agree with you except for one statement.

"Finally, AQ guests are not allowed to eat in Luminae, so why are suite guests allowed to eat in Blu??"

 

Blu is included in the price that suite guests pay but not vice versa.  Should either Suite guests or Aqua guests be excluded from the MDR when it is busy since they have their own restaurants?  

I understand your frustration and we usually sail suites but have never dined in Blu.  I think the vast majority of suite guests do not dine in Blu.  So what is the real problem?  Blu is too small for the increased number of Aqua guests - perhaps exacerbated by a few suite guests showing up at peak times.  Your letter should perhaps focus on the real issue- it might be more effective than using a few suite guests as the reason for overcrowding.

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Just a thought-- Perhaps the Maitre'd  , na, he wouldn't be offered a , na,  --- and , who would offer $$$ for extra preferential treatment ?

The Concierge lunch in the MDR is no big deal.

We prefer to go up to the Spa Cafe . 

The Oceanview Cafe is a ''wild house " on day 1, and sometime on day 2,3,4, etc., but, we usually meet nice people.

One time someone even asked us where we were from and if we enjoy cruising. 

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44 minutes ago, George C said:

Only time we had a dinner in blu was also pre luminae days and I was not impressed, love luminae. 

That was our experience.  IMHO, if suite guests or whomever want an item off the menu in the MDR, then they should go to the MDR.

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I've been denied as a suite guest from dining in Blu (asked several different people to see if the initial answer changed, even), so it does happen.  I don't think Celebrity is going to give up the flexibility to use their own judgment based on the situation.  As several already noted, on some cruises on some nights there is plenty of space so why not allow them to make guests happy if it's doable?  I think it's right to complain to the head office if it's not being managed well, though.

 

I also think this could be particular to Reflection due to how many extra people are on the ship.  The last time I sailed it in suite class, we could not request a dining time in Luminae after 5:30pm or before 8:30pm on any night and even with the later dining time we had to wait 5-10 minutes for a table.  Other little things like being able to leave your carryon's in Michael's Club during embarkation lunch weren't allowed, either.  Just a different experience from the other ships because I think there are too many people to look after but not enough staff to do it. 

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1 hour ago, WestLakeGirl said:

While better training of the MaitreD staff in Blu would perhaps lead to more consistent enforcement, you make good points and I suggest that you send a letter to corporate headquarters laying out your argument. As they are unlikely to see this comment here, that is the best way to try to influence them to effect a change 

 

This was my sentiment exactly. Your post was articulately written and well supported, unlike many of the bellyaching posts on this website. I would also encourage you to voice your opinion to Celebrity and hopefully things will change by the time I'm able to afford to cruise AQ!

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37 minutes ago, ghstudio said:

IMHO, Celebrity is making a marketing mistake by not allowing aqua passengers to even try luminae.  If it's as good as Celebrity would like us to think it is, then maybe it would sway us to book a suite.  We'll just never know. 

 

Isn't AQ more expensive than suites? That is probably your answer. Why tempt a top-paying customer to pay less next time in downgrading to a suite.

 

I wouldn't know as I sail stowage class and am satisfied with the MDR on Celebrity. It's miles ahead of Norwegian, that's for sure.

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I would agree with all the points made.  I think the fuzzy language of "space available" is the problem.  I tend to eat around 630-7 time and usually never have had problems with Blu but will see when I sail on the Reflection in November.  Im fine with waiting a few minutes for a table overall.  Guess I will just have another drink.  Once on the cruise no need to rush.  But with more Aqua cabins and folks wanting to eat in Blu I definitely can see space being and issue on the ship.  

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8 minutes ago, bEwAbG said:

I've been denied as a suite guest from dining in Blu (asked several different people to see if the initial answer changed, even), so it does happen.  I don't think Celebrity is going to give up the flexibility to use their own judgment based on the situation.  As several already noted, on some cruises on some nights there is plenty of space so why not allow them to make guests happy if it's doable?  I think it's right to complain to the head office if it's not being managed well, though.

 

I also think this could be particular to Reflection due to how many extra people are on the ship.  The last time I sailed it in suite class, we could not request a dining time in Luminae after 5:30pm or before 8:30pm on any night and even with the later dining time we had to wait 5-10 minutes for a table.  Other little things like being able to leave your carryon's in Michael's Club during embarkation lunch weren't allowed, either.  Just a different experience from the other ships because I think there are too many people to look after but not enough staff to do it. 

 

So do you need to  reserve  dinner times in Luminae...as opposed to no res taken  in BLU?    5:30 or 6:00 is good for us  but much later than that will mess up my Type 2 meal plan.    We have abandoned AQ Class for our next few cruises..so we'll see what happens.

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45 minutes ago, ghstudio said:

and often there is less wait since we book reservations for every night which you can't do in Blu.  

Maybe this is the way forward, get Blu guests to book a time!

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Its an odd one this.  We only ever cruise in upper suites so went staight from MDR (when that was the only option) to Luminae.  I've looked at the Blu menu but simply never been tempted to try it.  Luminae is too good and the options there so broad so between that and speciality there is just no need.

 

28 minutes ago, TeeRick said:

Blu is included in the price that suite guests pay but not vice versa. 

 

This is absolutely right.  Suite prices have increased massively and part of what they pay for is the ability to eat in Blu if they want to - yes it is marketed as "space available" - but define space available.  Other than Reflection - which does seem to have issues with dining queues not in any way limited to Blu - it doesn't seem to be a problem.

 

Walking suite guests past the Blu line - presentationally not the best.  But this is exactly what happens with priority tenders, priority boarding etc. as well.

 

1 minute ago, bigbadandugly said:

 

Isn't AQ more expensive than suites?

 

 

Umm - no. Not all.  It varies from itinerary to itinerary, and from time of booking, things like forces discount etc. but many suites cost more, and some a lot more. 

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