Royal Caribbean International is testing several main dining room menu changes as well as new price increases and charges onboard one ship, Symphony of the Seas.
These changes are designed to test whether or not kitchen efficiency, serving times, and wait times can be improved for a better guest experience, but there may be other reasons as well.
Dining Menu Changes
Several changes have been made to the ship’s menu offerings, slimming down options and removing classic staples that had previously been available every night.
The removed items include entrees with wide appeal, such as strip steak, grilled chicken breast, salmon, and spaghetti bolognese.
These items have often been comfort food for cruisers who may not have adventurous tastes, or who may be overwhelmed by all the options available onboard.
Another change to the menu is fewer overall options, with regional specialties now restricted to a single appetizer, entrée, and dessert offering rather than several choices.
There are still diverse items available, however, and each night continues to feature a beef, chicken, fish, and vegetable entrée option to suite different dining tastes and dietary requirements.
The smaller menus are also more closely themed with French, Italian, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and other overall tastes guiding the full selection. These themes are often, though not always, tied to destinations to give guests a taste of the region they are visiting.
It must be noted that these changes only apply to the ship’s main dining rooms, as menus in the popular specialty restaurants are unchanged, and the buffet continues to offer a diverse array of dishes for more casual dining.
Charging for Lobster
In addition to the selection changes, guests aboard Symphony of the Seas have also noticed a new charge listed on the main dining room menu.
Now, ordering multiple broiled lobster tails on the formal evening of a cruise will have a fee of $16.99 (USD) plus an 18% gratuity per tail, though the first lobster tail remains free of charge.
No direct explanation has been given for this new surcharge, but it is likely to help mitigate rising costs of such luxurious food, as well as to reduce food waste from over-ordering.
Why the Changes?
The overall menu changes should make kitchen operations more efficient as there are fewer dishes to prep and prepare when serving thousands of guests each evening.
In the main dining room aboard a large cruise ship – and the Oasis-class Symphony of the Seas is one of the largest in the Royal Caribbean fleet, hosting as many as 6,680 guests when fully booked – dinner can routinely take 1.5-2 hours or longer.
This can make it challenging for guests to enjoy all the evening activities available, including production shows, comedy acts, and more, if dinner service runs long.
Many guests get frustrated if they’ve had to make reservations for the once-in-a-sailing events, only to miss out or have to abandon dinner before service is completed.
Now, the shorter menu should help speed up the kitchen, which will also speed up service in bringing dishes to guests’ tables.
No guests are being rushed through dinner service, however, and everyone is welcome to linger and enjoy a leisurely meal if they prefer.
Royal Caribbean is gathering feedback from guests aboard Symphony of the Seas in order to continue refining these changes.
No announcements have been made as to whether the changes will be rolled out to the rest of the fleet, but if successful and positively received, other Royal Caribbean ships are likely to see similar dining changes.