Taking a cruise — at least for most passengers — means eating a lot. The experience, however, is not all about gluttony, meals (especially dinner) served in the main dining room (MDR) harken back to a time gone by.
When you eat dinner in the MDR on a Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Free Report or Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Free Report ship it’s not a quick-serve affair. Passengers may not dress for dinner as they did in days gone by, but an MDR dinner isn’t meant to be an in-and-out affair. The evening meal on a cruise ship is meant to be time to connect with your family and travel mates after a long day.
Both cruise lines offer the option of a late seating or an early one where you will get the experience of having the same waiters every night. Those waiters introduce themselves on night one and keep track of food allergies, preferences, and anything else that might make your experience better.
Royal Caribbean and Carnival change their MDR menu each night, offering a handful of new choices for entrees, appetizers, and desserts along with a steady list of recurring items. Diners can order a soup, salad, or appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. If you want a soup, salad, and an appetizer (or more than one) you can order that and the same is true for your main course and dessert.
The experience can take 90 minutes to two hours. Your waiters can speed things along if you ask, but it’s meant to be a leisurely meal, Now, Royal Caribbean has begun testing a major change to the concept along with another new policy that passengers will not like.
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Royal Caribbean Tests a Huge Dining Change
Royal Caribbean has been testing a revised MDR menu on Symphony of the Seas, according to a report from Matt Hochberg of the Royal Caribbean blog, who first reported the news, The change involves a slimmed-down menu that eliminates the “Classics” section.
This menu offered basic choices including a New York strip steak, grilled chicken, and spaghetti bolognese. It was the same every night and served as a backup for parents traveling with teenagers too old for the kids menu, but with limited palettes and adults who just like to keep things basic.
“The impetus for making the change is for the guest experience in an effort to simplify the dining room menu, which would allow the service to speed up,” wrote Hochberg, who spoke to the Royal Caribbean about the change.
Currently, the test is only being done on Symphony of the Seas and the cruise line “is adamant they will be listening to guest feedback onboard the ship for their opinions,” wrote Hochberg, whose blog is not affiliated with Royal Caribbean.
In addition, the company also made a change to one of its most popular offerings, lobster tails, which are generally served on the second formal night of sailings six nights or longer. Previously, while your entree was served with one lobster tail, you could get more if you asked. On the test menu, a second lobster tail would cost $16.99 plus an 18% gratuity.
Carnival Recently Made Major Dining Changes
Carnival recently made some fleet-wide changes to its main dining room options. The biggest (and least popular) change might be that it cut down on how many entrees passengers can order.
The cruise line shared those changes in an email to passengers booked on upcoming sailings.
“We want you to enjoy your favorites and sample offerings you haven’t tried before while dining with us in the main dining room, but we encourage you to follow the golden rule of dining: take what you want but eat what you take. And remember, you can always ask for a half-portion if something looks too enticing to pass up. Guests may continue to order a second complimentary entrée if they choose; however, effective immediately, a third entrée will incur a US $5 charge (AU$7),” the company shared.
Under the previous policy, passengers could order as many main courses as they wanted.