Monday, October 15, 2012

Royal Caribbean Debuts Dining Room Enhancements

Over the past few years, cruise lines have invested a lot of money into including a mixture of specialty restaurants in their new builds, as well as reconfiguring space on older ships to add them. Many cruisers embrace having the choice of dining in restaurants that are dedicated to Asian fusion cuisine, regional Italian, Brazilian churrascaria, French bistro, or whatever, regardless of the added cost.  That positive feedback, however, is not unanimous!  Guests that choose not to pay additional surcharges for alternative dining venues counter that since the inception of the specialty restaurant, the selection and quality of the food in the “free” main dining room has deteriorated.

Those critics may now stand and applaud Royal Caribbean, for actually “putting their money where their guest’s mouth is!” In an announcement made last week, the cruise line stated that they’ll make a multi-million dollar investment to culinary enhancements in the main dining room, fleet-wide. Guests can look forward to seeing an increased variety of menu options, a focus on the authenticity of international flavors, and improved choices for guests with dietary restrictions.

The chef’s of Royal Caribbean can boast of serving a variety of classic favorites that guests would order each and every, evening if possible. Well, now it is possible! Escargot (lots of garlic, please), shrimp cocktail (make mine jumbo, with a tangy sauce), an aged hand-cut Manhattan steak (I eat mine medium rare), crème brulee (ah, the juxtaposition of the crispy/creamy texture)...  I just have one question. Why didn’t my absolute favorite, the Vadalia onion tart, make the list?

New menu offerings will include upgraded entrees such as rack of lamb and surf and turf.  Very fancy, Royal Caribbean! I, for one, have missed the lobster tails and will certainly look forward to trying the rack of lamb!  There will be new menu items that mimic what’s “hot” at restaurants about town; for example, the premium beef sliders are sure to be popular! Daily entrée dinner salads will now be served, and appreciated by many, I'm sure. Now don’t worry, the culinary team did not forget about the most important part of the meal - dessert! There’s a new “hot from the oven” blueberry peach crumble (I hope I can have mine topped with vanilla ice cream), sticky bread and butter pudding, and sumptuous carrot cake!  It all sounds delicious, but how about adding a quintessential, super moist, chocolate cake smothered in a rich, glossy dark, frosting?

 Three cheers to Royal Caribbean for taking a closer look at the increasing demand of heart-healthy, gluten-free and lactose-free menu options for guests! In response to that need, the cruise line has enlisted the expertise of a registered and licensed dietitian and nutrition consultant to evaluate existing menus, create new offerings for guests with dietary restrictions, and shape the cruise line’s current gluten-free and lactose-free program into a more guest-friendly experience.

All low calorie, gluten-free and lactose-free options will be clearly identified with respective menu icons as well as menu selections that can be modified to fit these requirements for guests. The updated menu format also includes a new vegetarian symbol, which is the official symbol of the European Vegetarian Union and considered the most widely used vegetarian symbol worldwide for easy recognition.

Specialty restaurants are a wonderful option for cruisers, but no guest should feel it necessary to pay a surcharge in order to enjoy a great tasting, beautifully presented meal. Dinner in the main dining room has always been an important part, quite possibly the most important part, of the entire cruise experience. I’m glad Royal Caribbean sees it that way too.

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