Redefining Dynamic Dining on Anthem of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International has fine-tuned the Dynamic Dining program on the new Anthem of the Seas. The program, which was introduced last year on Quantum of the Seas, replaced one or two huge main dining rooms with four complimentary restaurants. It was envisioned as a way to offer travelers more variety and flexibility, allowing them to choose when, where and with whom they eat dinner.
But the new program ran into snags on Quantum of the Seas when people couldn't get into the restaurant of their choosing, orders were delayed, and overall service suffered. "Anytime you do something different, there are bumps in the road," said Brian Abel, vice president of food and beverage operations for Royal Caribbean.
Now, as Quantum's sister ship enters service, a revamped version of Dynamic Dining is in place to smooth out those bumps. Five things were changed.
Two menus were devised for each restaurant to add more variety, and they're switched out halfway through the cruise.
To minimize crowding during peak dining times, the company added about 200 seats among the four complimentary restaurants. Plus, the service fee was eliminated at the Devinly Decadence health-food eatery, opening up another free 135 seats.
The ship determined "the right ratio of waiters and assistant waiters to the flow of guests," Abel said, so the service is "equivalent to what you see across the fleet." The high-tech behind-the-scenes system also was adjusted to ease the reservations process and make sure orders are served in a timely fashion.
And, perhaps most importantly, Dynamic Dining is now offered in two formats — Choice and Classic. Dynamic Dining Choice lets people make reservations for the four complimentary restaurants online in advance, at kiosks onboard or through the Royal iQ app.
The new option, Dynamic Dining Classic, lets passengers dine at the same table, with the same companions and wait staff, every night. The kicker is they move among the four free restaurants, so they still get variety, but they also get the traditional dining preferred by many.
Plus, by the time they start repeating restaurants, the second menu is in place so they have new choices. Early dining is at 6 p.m. while the late seating is at 8:30 p.m.
It might sound logistically complicated, but Abel said the table number is the same for each restaurant and is pretty close to the same location. The room keycards have codes to show which restaurant is booked for which night.
Since the new program was launched about a month ago on Quantum of the Seas, about 36 percent have chosen Dynamic Dining Classic, and of those, about 70 percent preferred the early sitting, Abel said. Many choosing the traditional dining arrangement are older past passengers, but some are younger or new to cruising, and were encouraged to choose that option by their travel agents, he said.
A few other dining developments: Royal Caribbean also is trying out fees for room service items, charging $4.95 for "slightly elevated offerings," including some by Chef Michael Schwartz, who oversees Michael's Genuine Pub onboard.
Also, Jamie's Italian, the specialty restaurant by celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver, has switched from a $30 surcharge to a la carte pricing on Anthem of the Seas. The prices raised a few eyebrows on the two-night christening voyage. The signature cured meat selection served rustic-style on a wooden plank was a reasonable $10, an arancini margherita appetizer (fried rice balls) was $7.50, and a green salad $4. But the main courses were priced at $15 for Jamie's Italian Burger served with smoked mozzarella and mortadella, $25 for lamb chops, $20 for baked salmon, and $15 for eggplant parmigiana or baked lasagna. Pasta was available in small and larger portions; the prawn linguini was priced at $10 and $18, while the truffle tagliatelle was $9 and $17.
Abel said the change was suggested by Oliver's team. Although well-known in the U.S., Oliver has a higher profile in the U.K. where he operates about 50 restaurants. The prices on Anthem of the Seas' menu are about 75 percent of what he charges in his land-based restaurants, Abel said, and so might seem more reasonable to Brits. It remains to be seen if the a la carte pricing will remain in effect when the Anthem moves to Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J., in November. Jamie's on the Quantum will remain a flat surcharge, even when it moves to China, Abel said.
More by Theresa Norton
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