Why Royal Caribbean Is Eliminating Its Classic Menu Options

You might think the main appeal of a cruise like Royal Caribbean is the romantic lure of the open sea, or docking in beautiful destinations like Aruba or Alaska, but true fans know that the best part is the massive variety of great food available, from expansive buffets to fine-dining restaurants. Modern cruises have evolved into all-inclusive resorts on the sea, replete with cocktail lounges, sports bars, and meals from all-star chefs. With these high expectations from cruise ship regulars, it has become a big deal for a line to announce changes to their food options, like Royal Caribbean did recently with its "Unlimited Dining Package."

While Royal Caribbean cruises offer quite a few specialty dining options like Japanese or Italian restaurants, the core focus is on the main dining room, which offers complimentary breakfast, lunch, and dinner to all passengers. According to The Street, it's normal for the main dining room menu to rotate each day, often around a loose regional theme like Mexican cuisine. This option has been unchanged for years, but Royal Caribbean has recently been testing out a major alteration to the process on one of its Symphony of the Seas ships, focused on the "classic" menu options that remain the same even as the theme rotates.

The goal is a more efficient dining experience

The main room dining on Royal Caribbean may center on the rotating menu, but one section called "classics," was designed to stay the same. It offers a few basic options like herb-crusted salmon and spaghetti Bolognese, which The Street states were good for diners who might not want to experiment with unfamiliar food. That is about to change, however, as Royal Caribbean Blog confirms that new main room menus will be rolled out in January, and the classics section has been eliminated. Royal Caribbean claims the changes are not final, but notes they have been made after extensive customer feedback.

Speaking with Royal Caribbean Blog, Linken D'Souza, Global Vice President of Royal Caribbean Culinary, Dining & Beverage, listed several factors behind the change, the top being the increasingly long time it takes to dine in the main hall, with a two-person dinner often taking an hour and a half. He also notes that crew members have been overwhelmed by the large menu and excessive special requests. The hope is that a more streamlined menu will result in both faster service and fresher food, with more consistent quality across ships. 

While some fans might bristle at fewer options, it is in line with restaurants as a whole shrinking their menus to focus on quality, and with the number of alternate dining options beyond the main room, cruise patrons should still have plenty to choose from.