Adam Goldstein, CEO and President of Royal Caribbean International, unveils Dynamic Dining
Last week Royal Caribbean unveiled a revolutionary new dining system for its Quantum class ships – - the forthcoming Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and a ship to be named later. The presentation quite impressed me because the new system, which Royal Caribbean is calling “Dynamic Dining” is so different than what anyone – - including Royal Caribbean – - are presently doing.
Traditionally, cruise ship passengers were assigned to a specific table in the ship’s main dining room for their meals. On larger ships where the main dining room could not accommodate all of the passengers at the same time, each passenger was assigned to either the early or the late seating.
In the 1990s, this began to change as ships developed buffet restaurants that became a viable alternative for breakfast and lunch. However, for dinner, passengers continued to be assigned to a specific table at one of the two seatings on most ships. Some ships began to add a specialty restaurant where you could dine for an extra charge.
Early this century, Norwegian Cruise Line developed Freestyle dining. Its ships have more than one main dining room plus an array of specialty restaurants. Guests could eat in any of the main dining rooms or in any of the specialty restaurants when they wanted. No assigned tables, no assigned dining times.
In response, almost all of the other major cruise lines have added flexible dining options. Usually, one part of the main dining room follows the traditional system while another part has a system that allows guests to come when they chose. On ships that have multiple dining rooms, typically, one dining room is devoted to the traditional system while the other(s) have flexible dining. The menus used in all the dining rooms are the same. These lines have also added more specialty restaurants as time has passed to give the guests more alternatives.
With Dynamic Dining, Royal Caribbean is doing away completely with the traditional dining system. Instead of one main dining room, there will be five complimentary dining rooms as well as an array of extra tariff specialty restaurants. It is up to the guest to decide where and when to dine.
Dynamic Dining differs from Freestyle dining chiefly in that each of the complimentary dining rooms will be different with a unique theme and a unique menu. One will be American favorites, one will be a grand formal restaurant, one will be very hip and cutting edge, one will be Asian-inspired and one will be a California-style venue.
In addition, each of the complimentary restaurants is a relatively small venue and each has its own galley. (On most ships with multiple dining rooms, all of the food is prepared in the same galley). Thus, the chefs will be able to give more time and attention to each meal. This should enable them to make more sophisticated dishes.
To prevent more passengers than a particular restaurant can handle all arriving at the same time, Royal Caribbean is instituting a reservations system. Making reservations for cruise ship specialty restaurants is something passengers are used to but it is a rare exception for complimentary dining rooms. In any event, Royal Caribbean has developed an app that will enable guests to make reservations before they board and while on ship. There will also be other more traditional means of making reservations.
Dynamic Dining is a bold move. It promises to offer more choice and variety in cruise dining. At the same time, there are risks. For example, the traditional dining system lends itself to getting to know your fellow passengers. Over the course of the cruise, you often become friends with the people that dine at your table each night. This is particularly important to solo travelers.
There is also the question of how passengers will react to having to make reservations for dinner. Requiring reservations could dampen the feeling of being able to decide at the spur of the moment where and when to dine. Also, will people who purchase their cruises near the sailing date be disadvantaged because people who booked the cruise earlier have taken all the choice spots.
I tend to think such concerns can be dealt with using a little creative thinking. Thus, I look forward to seeing this concept in action. Moreover, the food samples served at the unveiling event in New York were excellent.
I spoke with several Royal Caribbean executives including Adam Goldstein, Presidenmt and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, about Dynamic Dining. That article is at http://www.beyondships2.com/quantum-of-the-seas-dining.html The article also covers the new specialty restaurant offerings on Quantum including venues developed in partnership with celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver, Michael Schwartz and Devin Alexander.
Turning from Royal Caribbean’s newest ships to the grand dame of the fleet, we have a photo feature showing Majesty of the Seas as she traveled on one of her short Bahamas cruises. http://www.beyondships2.com/majesty-of-the-seas-in-the-bahamas.html There is also a video of Majesty at sea. http://www.beyondships2.com/majesty-at-sea.html All of this augments our profile of Majesty of the Seas. http://beyondships.com/RCI-MJOS-Profile.html