Pilot changes for Arthur’s
(Somehow my previous post on this topic disappeared so I’m attempting to recreate it from memory. Sorry to those of you who previously commented.)
We recently returned from the Yuletide Spirit tour aboard the MS Grace. I will write a detailed review once I feel better from the lousy cold I brought home.
I’d like to quickly let everyone know about a pilot program we experienced. Arthur’s will be open for dinner by reservation only, with serving family-style. Thus did not go over well with the passengers, as there was no option for a more casual dinner, especially after a long day of touring. They also have modified the menu for lunch, eliminating such favorites as the great mac and cheese. (When we inquired about it one day at lunch, they kindly made it for us!). We did not experience this on the MS Joy the prior week.
There was a lot of grumbling on board, and the staff encouraged us to put this on our surveys. We were also given a mid-cruise survey specific to the food service. Curiously, there was no “what did you not like”; there was a lot of writing between the lines.
There is also a pilot of a new menu format in the Compass Rose.
I’d be interested in knowing if this pilot is occurring on any other ship. I don’t know if it’s being driven by Tauck or Scylla.
Sorry you lost your original post. I look forward to your review, especially the potential menu changes.
Arthur's on every ship we've been on required reservations at dinner just to make sure there was sufficient seating but the menu was ala carte. Never seen "family style" dining there. Lunch usually didn't require reservations except on the Andorinha. The menus have varied from tour to tour.
mfrancis, sorry about your cold. We also returned with one. 2 weeks to recovery. I will be very interested in any future posts since we have planned this trip for next Dec. Hope you feel better soon.
We were on the Grace in October and noticed the changes in Arthur's as well. In 2016 we were on the Swiss Jewel and at that time Arthur's was called the Bistro and the dinners were advertised as more intimate and nicer than the Compass Rose. (French menu several nights and Italian on others) As Claudia said, they asked for reservations. We were happy going to the Compass Rose so didnt experience The Bistro or Arthur's at dinner.
I am also curious as to the changes they will be making for 2023. What changes we noticed we assumed was because of covid and people trying to put distance from others so it is interesting to know they were doing a pilot program.
Mfrancis, had they started the new menu in the Compass Rose on your trip?
Happy Holidays to everyone!
Birder49 - yes, again piloting a new menu format with two chef’s selections, a meat and a fish. Those were on the left side of the menu. Beef was not always available as one of the standard offerings. On our first night, it was a strip loin instead of tenderloin. It never should have left the kitchen, it was totally inedible (5 at our table ordered it). The chef was appalled, said she had a new supplier. Thankfully the food improved as the week progressed.
Can you please give some examples of the "family-style" offerings when you provide your overall review of the cruise? Thanks in advance.
Kfnknfzk -- we didn’t eat there at dinner so I don’t have any examples.
We were also on Yuletide Spirit and offer an opposing opinion.
First, the "family-style" description which seemed (to us) a bit off-putting wasn't at all what we are used to in the US. Not, big plates/bowls/etc to be passed around a large group. Instead, it was a 4-course meal where the first course was a charcuterie board shared between two people (we saw other tables with more than 2 couples and each couple had their own board). Meat, cheese, vegetables and fried mushrooms. The second course was an individually served "surf & turf" consisting of two beef medallions topped with shrimp. The third course was again shared between a couple (as in served on a common plate) consisting of a pulled pork BBQ slider apiece, and fries also in individual servings. Finally, dessert: Bananas Foster! (but, without being flambeed since non-alcoholic) or other ice creams. All courses accompanied by wines or your other favorite beverages. Still quite informal, or at least no more formal than Compass Rose. We think that any level of dress acceptable elsewhere on the ship would be perfectly fine.
We thought the new Arthur's was great! We ate there twice during the second half of a 7-night cruise. Even given that the menu doesn't change.
We also really enjoyed Arthur's at lunch where the standout (to us) item was a Reuben sandwich with the usual ingredients (lean brisket, cheese, sauerkraut and dressing). It was served as a panini (having been pressed) which, while unusual, turned out to make the sandwich much easier to eat than the taller-than-your-mouth versions. They also offered beef or salmon or vege burgers. Probably other things we don't recall.
We'll be in 2 Tauck river cruises in 2023 and expect to have more pleasant dining experiences in Arthur's.
Portolan - glad to know you enjoyed it. The issue for our group and others we spoke with was the inability to get a casual meal in the evening, like a burger. The Compass Rose menu was very formal. We had lunch several times at Arthur’s, the burgers were great, as was the Reuben like you described.
I have ordered burgers in the Compass Rose. They get them sent over from Arthur’s. It has never been a problem. After all, this is Tauck. They go beyond what lesser companies might do. That being said, if there is a new menu at Arthur’s, not sure if you could still get a burger.
BSP51 - there were 6 young-ish women traveling together. They were going to go to Arthur’s at dinner without a reservation to order burgers. I never asked what happened. I’m sure Tauck took care of them someway.
Thank you, Portolan, for your great description of the multi-course meal. It sounds wonderful. Can you tell me if they post the menu for the multi-course meal ahead of time so guests can decide whether or not they wish to make a reservation? Thanks!
I look forward to your review of the tour.
I am taking a river cruise in April 2023 aboard the MS Emerald. Besides the changes to the food menus, has the service aboard the ships stayed the same? We were always very happy with the staff.
ddicarlo - we’re also on the Emerald in April, beginning in Paris on 4/19. Having just completed two back to back river cruises, I can say we were pleased with the service, it was just as we experienced prior to the shutdown. Can’t speak for France tho.
kfnknfzk: I don't know if they had the menu available ahead of time. I just asked the staff member in Arthur's and she described what I described. But, it was the same set for the cruise and perhaps (much?) longer than that?
I'm not sure there is much we'd add to mfrancis' review of the trip which described things very well. We, too, had also done Christmas Markets cruises on both the Danube and Rhine and understood that this cruise would be different though we got a nice dose of markets and the holiday decorations. One disappointment--a real first world problem--was the lack of glühwein mugs personalized to the year and market like is/was common in the German and Alsatian markets and which we collect. Just paper cups. I'm guessing that this was a side-effect of the pandemic since I imagine the markets probably ordered a lot of mugs for 2020 to no use and maybe again in 2021. Possibly if things continue to normalize, they'll be back in the future.
Portolan - I agree about the glühwein mugs! I brought home 10 from my two weeks but only 2 from Yuletide - one from the cafe in Rotterdam and one from Brussels. None had the year 2022 on them. I now have a collection of 23!
I don’t know why pilots always get blamed for these experiments. (;-)
Thanks for the clarification, Portolan.