Inside Royal Caribbean’s Main Dining Room Menu Changes

The cruise line has been testing some major main-dining-room menu changes that would involve no longer offering “classics” each night.

Experienced cruisers generally dislike change. Every ship seems to have a contingent lamenting how things aren’t what they used to be. 

And that attitude prevails as well on a variety of Facebook message boards devoted to cruising.

A few times each week you’ll see an exchange where someone asks about dress-code enforcement in the main dining room or on formal nights. Someone invariably replies that the rules have gotten pretty loose and, at least on Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Free Report or Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Free Report, anything short of a bathing suit probably will be ignored.

Some who remember the days when everyone dressed for dinner endlessly complain that these rules have loosened. And standards of dress aren’t the only changes longtime, and even more recent, cruisers complain about. 

Cruising has a certain amount of ritual to it, and any changes make a lot of regular passengers wary.

That’s why Royal Caribbean has been treading very carefully when it comes to making changes to its main dining room menus. These menus, which have been largely unchanged for years, appear set for a major overhaul, but only after the cruise line extensively workshops the changes.

Image source: Nora Tam/South China Morning Post via Getty

Royal Caribbean Tests Major Main Dining Room Changes   

Currently, Royal Caribbean ships offer a standard menu format in the main dining room. Each night has a rotating selection of choices served alongside “classics,” which include chicken, New York strip steak, spaghetti bolognese, and appetizers like shrimp cocktail, escargot, and French onion soup.

The setup gives a number of choices to people who want something new each night while it offers familiar favorites to the less daring. The menus may vary slightly by ship, but the core concept of a rotating menu next to a fixed one (along with some added-fee options from the Chops steakhouse) is always the same.

Now, Royal Caribbean has been testing a new format on Symphony of the Seas, Essentially, the cruise line wants to simplify its main-dining-room offering while cutting down on food waste. To do that it has tested the idea of dropping the “classics” section and having a different menu theme each night.

The cruise line has also surveyed some past customers on potential main-dining-room changes, and it’s clear that changes won’t be made lightly.

Here’s What Royal Caribbean’s New Main Dining Room Menu May Look Like

While some of the new menus have appeared in the Royal Caribbean app and others were shared via the email survey, Royal Caribbean Blog tracked down six printed menus that have been served on Symphony of the Seas.

In addition to new choices, the menus also have a new format. Each night has a theme like Mexican, Italian, or “Royal Night.” The new menus offer “Chef’s Recommendations” for each course at the top, with a more limited selection of choices below.

The themes aren’t absolute. Italian Night and Mexican Night offer some choices that are neither of those. In addition, some of the classic choices make the menu, but they’re offered on a rotating basis, not every night..

Royal Caribbean says this test on Symphony of the Seas is designed to garner feedback from guests, the Royal Caribbean Blog, which is not affiliated with the cruise line, reported. 

Royal Caribbean “emphasized the importance of ‘swiftness of service’ when it comes to eating in the dining room. By having more consistency of what’s being prepared in the kitchen, they can produce food faster,” the blog reported.

The cruise line has not shared a timeline for making a decision, and, of course, these changes might not be implemented or might be implemented in a lesser form.

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