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Royal Caribbean International has stirred up strong consumer reaction with the announcement of its Dynamic Dining concept on the two, 4,180-passenger Quantum ships: Quantum of the Seas, debuting this November, and Anthem of the Seas, coming into service in April 2015.
Consumer reaction online has been vehement and excited — pro and con — and rumors are flying, giving agents an opportunity to demonstrate their expertise.
Royal Caribbean is eliminating the main dining room in favor of 18 restaurants, five of them complimentary full-service venues. Dress codes are different from one to another, as are menus; included choices range from New Orleans’ gumbo and Southern buttermilk fried chicken in the American Icon Grill to Silk’s Pan-Asian menu, contemporary cuisine in Chic or classic European dining in The Grande, where every night is formal. Coastal Kitchen, exclusively for suite guests, combines California and the Med in its cuisine. A new reservations system launching May 15 allows guests to choose their dining and dress every night.
New casual complimentary eateries include The Café @ Two70, serving hot-pressed sandwiches, and SeaPlex Dog House, described as the first food truck at sea.
Among the restaurants with fees, Quantum will showcase celebrity chefs, from British star Jamie Oliver (Jamie’s Italian) to James Beard Award-winning Michael Schwartz (Michael’s Genuine Pub). Devin Alexander, from the television series “The Biggest Loser,” will design dishes of 500 calories or fewer in Devinly Decadence at Solarium Bistro. Another new specialty restaurant, 62-seat Wonderland, combines a surreal ambience with creative, magical food.
Signature Royal Caribbean restaurants Izumi Japanese Cuisine, Chops Grille steakhouse, and Chef’s Table will return on the Quantum-class ships with a new look, as will Johnny Rockets.
There are a number of mistaken ideas being batted back and forth by consumers. For instance, travelers posting to CruiseCritic.com had the impression that those who chose the included formal restaurant The Grande would have to pay a fee if they dined there more than once. Not so - they can put on their formal wear and order lobster every night of the cruise if they wish.
Others are sure the Dynamic Dining concept will spread to the rest of the fleet immediately and they will be unable to have their set time and set table on already booked cruises. Royal Caribbean has indicated that the concept is being placed only on Quantum and Anthem and that it would be years before they extended it to earlier vessels, if they decided to do so. It would require some serious reshuffling, since the previous Royal Caribbean ships were built with main dining rooms rather than the assortment of complimentary venues seating just under 450 that characterize Dynamic Dining.
On the positive side, several veteran cruisers expressed pleasure that the new Windjammer Marketplace Lido buffet will now have a 24-hour grill, and they liked the idea that they could stick with one favorite cuisine among the complimentary restaurants if they wished, or try them all.
Quantum will showcase Dynamic Dining on cruises from Cape Liberty, N.J., to the Bahamas and Caribbean, while Anthem will debut on Mediterranean itineraries sailing from Southampton, U.K.