Roast Duck, Caviar and Wine are little exaggerated expectations. If not grand, decent experience is what we were expecting, especially if you are presented with this picture.
But our experience was next to Jack and Rose's experience in Titanic (ok, the ship didn't sink, and we are all safe.. just keep on reading..). I bought vouchers online because I wanted to treat my sister and her family to a nice buffet - at least something unique and memorable. I thought I was lucky to get the deal just on time. There were 41267 vouchers sold!
It is noted that we must call for reservation, so I did. I was expecting weekends would be fully-booked. There were two time slots - 6PM and 8PM. Again, I was feeling lucky to get a slot for 6PM the same day I called in. So we decided to have dinner there after whole day of strolling in the mall. We were still feeling full from the lunch we had at Zao Vietnamese Bistro (thank God!) and we were early at the dock area (we arrived at 5PM) that gave us time to talk to the others who were waiting on the sea side.
One of the old guys told us they (he and his wife) were referred by a friend; the other group sworn on how good the salad is. It was their second time. She even gave us a tip that we must get as much because we wouldn't have time to do a "second round".
Looking at the "ship" - it looked so old and rustic. But I was not judging it yet. The food must be good. But when I saw the buffet table - it is just a small buffet table - now I wonder how would they fit all the food in there?!
When the receptionists and the crew finally changed their uniforms and opened the registration, we were surprised that it would still be a first come, first served basis. They have the list of all those who called - most of us have vouchers bought online. So we finally got our stamps (on our wrists) and we were just waiting to board. The buffet table was situated at the lower deck, so we decided to just get a table in there since we had kids and senior. Those who would want to stay at the upper deck need to pay additional Php100 per head.
My mom needed to go to the washroom, and the crew was kind enough to let us in and use the washroom. When I got inside the yacht, I knew we were in trouble. It looks rustic and dirty, the washroom needs maintenance. Argh.
When I stepped out from the washroom, they already let people in. We got table beside the buffet table. We waited and waited. Glad that we would have buffet compared to the other yacht beside us which only offers a set-menu. A waiter asked if we wanted to order drinks for Php50 regardless if it is bottled water, soda or iced tea. We just ordered for the kids. Good thing that I always bring bottled water. Or we could just drown ourselves with house water. We could worry about diarrhea after.
When the buffet was finally opened - reality was presented to me - there were only 3 dishes - and there were staff members serving the food in our plates. I felt like a convict.
The yacht started sailing, and I just tasted the food in my plate while the other guests were lined up behind our table. My family and I were so disappointed and we just laughed about the experience and enjoyed each other's company.
The whole experience is sooo disappointing, the chairs were just plain monoblock-type, the tables were covered with plastic. I was not expecting cushioned chairs, but at least something close to what was pictured in the deal. I forgot to mention that when we got to the buffet table (we were actually second on the line), there was a cockroach on the table (I was so disgusted!). I was just thinking the crew is certified food servers and they know about food handling.
Curious what's on the buffet table?
I honestly don't know what's in there. A pork dish, beef dish, and veggie dish with noodles - they all tasted the same. They are seasoned with Instant Seasoning Agent. If I don't die from food poisoning, I might die from the foul smell of the sea water.
And yes, there is a salad bar - actually a salad plate, but even the carrots were not edible. I was guessing they were not even cooked. Someone should teach the chefs how to blanch!
The food below is a good two servings - my sister and her kid's share
I know we were not the only ones who were expecting a good meal, and a good experience. Most of the diners were even dressed to impress. There were even a couple who I suspect was on a date mood - the girl was wearing really nice minidress and sexy shoes. I was glad I just came in shorts because I was even thinking of wearing my new maxi dress and pretty hat - Haha Thinking about it makes me laugh. I would just save it for that walk-in-the- park mood.
I understood why one cannot do a "second round". It was already halfway of the trip and there were still people on the line (those who stayed on the upper deck).
I could tell from their faces that I was not the only one disappointed about the whole experience. To cap the meal, we were served with these:
One per person please!! That's what they call buffet!
The mommy beside our table was so mad because she even paid extra (full price of Php545 for one of her kids). I feel her. I paid half of the regular price and I was so disappointed and I honestly wanted to leave the place, but we felt like prisoners in that ship - we all wanted the so-called cruise to end.
My mom kept on telling me this was such a bad idea. She said that we had rode so many yachts in the past whenever we go to Cebu, and paying for this experience was not worth-it. Fine I was scammed. All of us in that yacht. I told her I just wanted to treat the family - had I only known, we could have just ate in Yakimix.
But no one knows. The deal has ended and buyers already paid and bought the deal. As soon as I got home, I checked the net for some reviews of the buffet cruise. Tadaaah! I was presented with, not reviews but rants and more rants. You want more? I was thinking, Prestige Cruise may be offering a decent service, but offers a different "package" for those who bought the deal.
I usually read reviews and blogs before trying out a new product or service, but this one, since it was a deal which I bought earlier, no one would know what's in there. My friend went on a buffet cruise few months back and I was impressed with her experience. It is now too late to sell the other two vouchers I bought. I don't want anyone to experience the same disappointment. I will just try to ask for a refund, and if I fail, well, charge to the experience.
Lessons? Well, I no longer trust Group Buying Sites. I only trust few sites and few merchants.
Here's the text included in the Fine Print of the Deal:
The restaurant's extravagant dinner buffet celebrates traditional Filipino recipes, but house specialties also include other internationally-inspired dishes. (There were only 3 dishes!!) They serve the very best in authentic dishes, all of which is prepared freshly on the premises by their experienced and talented team of chefs. The buffet is packed full of flavour, using top ingredients and classic Filipino technique to form the modern approach to the enjoyment of food. This is fine-dining on the sea without it being stuffy.
MetroDeal gourmands can treat their stomachs to this culinary delight during the ship's cruise time of 1 hour and 15 minutes, departing everyday at 6pm and 8pm. So while you enjoy exquisite dishes such as the mouthwatering Pot Roast, the delicious Pollo Antonio or various heavenly cake selections as desert among others, (maybe they served that Pot Roast and Pollo Antonio differently, but there were no cake at all! We only had brownies!) you'll experience a fascinating ambience that will also guarantee you a visual feast, while the cruise ship, which has space for up to 200 people, settles gently into the Manila Bay. Don't miss out on this unique MetroDeal and save wonderful 54%.
I don't know which government agency is incharged of false advertising, is it DTI? But I am not counting on that. The government might be too busy checking Baby Books and looking for names to replace existing road and street names.
So now, I am just crossing out this backlog blog post. Just to post something good about the cruise, well, you can take lots of pictures and just pretend you have fun.