Royal Caribbean Confirms New Menu Testing, Fleetwide Changes

Royal Caribbean is planning to roll out streamlined menus to the entire fleet, speeding up service and dining room efficiency.

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Royal Caribbean International has confirmed testing of the new main dining room menu aboard Symphony of the Seas, with hints to a fleetwide rollout to be coming soon. Several reasons are given for this change, and guest feedback has generally been positive.

Menu Changes Confirmed

Royal Caribbean International began testing new, slimmed-down main dining room menus aboard Symphony of the Seas in mid-November, removing classic “everyday” staples such as strip steak and spaghetti bolognese and instead focusing on new themed menu nights.

Now, in a statement provided to Cruise Hive, the cruise line has confirmed the menu shift and that guests aboard the Oasis-class ship are just the first to test the new menu.

“Guests on Symphony of the Seas are the first to experience the theme night menus,” the statement read. “Based on comments so far, it’s being very well received.”

Royal Caribbean Dining Room
Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock

This language indicates that the new menu will indeed be spread to the entire fleet of 26 vessels, an idea that was confirmed by Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean’s chief executive, during a media event aboard Wonder of the Seas.

According to Bayley, the new menu is likely to be rolled out starting in January 2023, though there is no indication of which ships may be the first to begin using the revamped menu, nor how long it will take to convert the menu offerings on all Royal Caribbean ships.

The rollout is likely to be gradual as new dishes are introduced and chefs become familiar with their preparation, as well as depending on how supplies for previous menu selections are depleted on different ships.

Why Is a New Menu Needed?

While there has been great speculation that the new, less extensive menu is a cost-cutting measure as food prices continue to rise, Royal Caribbean is citing that service efficiency and guest experience are the driving considerations behind the change.

“The guest experience is top of mind and a driving force behind everything we do,” the statement explained.

The cruise line has been gathering feedback from guests aboard multiple Symphony of the Seas sailings, and has received positive comments about improved service speed without guests feeling rushed if they prefer a more leisurely meal.

Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas Dining
Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock

With so many entertainment options available aboard larger cruise ships, many guests do prefer a more efficient meal in order to make showtimes or meet up with friends and family members for evening activities. In general, a main dining room dinner may last from 75-100 minutes or longer, and the menu changes are intended to speed up service slightly.

This can be especially critical when show reservations are necessary to ensure available seating, and guests don’t want to miss the entertainment because of an excessively lengthy meal.

Crew member feedback is also being taken into consideration with the menu and service changes, and the menus continued to be tweaked for maximum appeal and efficiency.

New Menu Style

The most visible change to the new menu offerings is fewer selections, but the overall variety remains intact.

In addition to exciting “theme nights” featuring Caribbean, Italian, French, Mediterranean, and American cuisine, every night’s menu will offer beef, chicken, fish, and vegan entrees to meet a wide variety of dietary needs and preferences.

The cruise line’s “Royal Night” – a formal event with elevated dining options – will offer cold water lobster as a featured entree, along with additional selections.

Regional menu items will also remain available but will be restricted to a single appetizer, entrée, and dessert offering rather than several choices. These menu items are themed to port destinations, and will also have seasonal variations as necessary to ensure high quality and appeal.

Guests should note that these changes only apply to the main dining rooms. At this time, menus in specialty restaurants are unchanged, and the buffet continues to offer a diverse range of dishes for more casual dining at each guest’s preferred pace.

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