Royal Caribbean just announced a huge shakeup to their core dining experience that will debut on the Quantum class vessels. Gone are the large three-story main dining rooms [MDR]. The Quantum of the Seas will feature several smaller restaurants in its place in a concept called Dynamic Dining. Looking back at it now, the deck plans clearly show a partition running down the center of where the MDR is traditionally located.
In order to promote the Dynamic Dining concept, Royal Caribbean President Adam Goldstein took to Google+ Hangouts (Bravo to your social media department for this idea) to discuss it further. They launched My Time Dining in 2009 which was the precursor to Dynamic Dining he said. My Time Dining allowed them to test out the concept of large volumes of passengers not dining at a set time every night. When developing Dynamic Dining, they built off of this knowledge and were able to evolve it even further.
There are basically 4 restaurants for the former MDR: American Icon, Chic, Silk and Grande. Coastal Kitchen being exclusive to suite guests, so we’ll disregard that for now. Adam Goldstein assured guests that menus in the four will be much larger than the current MDR offerings. This should easily accommodate multiple nights at the same restaurant.
When actually looking at the each venue, they are rather androgynous in their descriptions. It should be easy to find a variety while still adhering to the theme concept. Take for example American Icon Grill. Billed as a homage “to the classic american road trip.” This mean comfort food. That can include a wide range of plates and won’t limit chefs.
Royal Caribbean is actually streamlining their Food & Beverage department. My understanding is that while they increased the number of items on the menu and the numbers of galley’s throughout the ship, they have eliminated all the inconsistencies and variables the main galley would go through every night. They replicated how most land based restaurants work as every galley cooks the same menu every night.
The most “ethnic” is Silk which is described as just having “spices” from the far east. With 18 restaurant concepts throughout the ship, there should be plenty of options for longer voyages.
The overall formal nights have been removed. Royal Caribbean thought that it was rather troublesome to have an entire ship get dressed up all at once, which makes sense. The Grand will offer that traditional experience to those who still like it. It is available on every night of the cruise.
This is a key play in terms of brand differentiation from NCL’s Freestyle dining concept. I don’t believe NCL would ever have something similar to this; EVER.
An interesting thought: by secluding the strict, formal, dress code to only one restaurant, this should help families out. They will no longer need to go out an buy a new wardrobe for everyone just for a couple of nights on their cruise.
The Grand is billed as a throwback to the luxury liner era. Judging by the render to the left, its rather hard to see it. There are some dark wood elements, especially on the pillars and windows, but I don’t recall a liner that has a bright magenta carpet. I’ll wait to see the final product before starting the real snarky comments. If you want to see how its done, look at sister brand Celebrity and what they did with the Olympic onboard the Millennium.
All this discussion and we haven’t even began to touch on the specialty restaurants. There will be an additional 10! Wonderland, Jamie’s Italian, Michael’s Genuine Pub, Devinly Decadence, Chops, Izumi, Chef’s Table, Johny Rockets, Café Promenade, and Sorrento’s. Plus the Windjammer Buffet, a cafe at Two70, and a SeaPlex Dong House. Yikes that’s alot!
For Jamie’s Italian Royal Caribbean tapped a name brand Celebrity chef in England’s Jamie Oliver. So this is a British Chef cooking Italian on a ship sailing out of New York/New Jersey.
All in all this is really a hybrid option between the regimented Carnival or the old-Royal Caribbean MDR experiance, and the very flexible NCL. In the end of the google hangouts session, Adam Goldstein said that at this point they are “laser focused” in making sure this works on the quantum class before even considering rolling out fleet wide.
In the live feed comment section of the hangout, I saw more than a few commenters say that Royal Caribbean was forgetting about the loyal traditionalist cruiser. Are they? Its a valid question, but I hope they read the above. I think its a viable alternative to the freestlye (pun intended) nature of rivals NCL. They are at least keeping the formal night that traditionalists seem to love.
As a closing thought, keep in mind that the Third Oasis -class is currently being constructed in France. If the new concept is a huge success, which I’m sure it will be, then I wonder if Oasis will build these venues into them. With the huge amount of space available onboard those ships, I’m extremely curious what Royal Caribbean can come up with.