The Focus on Food | Travel Research Online


The Focus on Food

Susan Schaefer

Apparently food is on focus of several cruise lines right now, with recent announcements from Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Holland America. Over the past few years, cruise ship food has been slipping in quality as far as many passengers have been concerned. It appears that the cruise lines have listened, and changes are coming.

Royal Caribbean ditches Dynamic Dining

Royal Caribbean recently announced that they are eliminating Dynamic Dining from all ships except for Quantum of the Seas. When it was introduced, Dynamic Dining was a new approach to cruise line dining, but even after some tweaking it hasn’t caught on with passengers. The basic premise of Dynamic Dining was that passengers did not have to be tied to one restaurant or one particular seating time for dinner every night. Instead passengers were free to pick from several no-charge restaurants and make reservations for times they wanted to eat every night. The problem was that there was no traditional dining option offered, which didn’t sit well with seasoned cruisers that liked have the same server and same table mates every night.

Royal Caribbean tweaked the program and introduced Dynamic Dining Classic. Under this new enhancement, cruisers could rotate through the restaurants with their assigned servers and table mates. They planned on rolling out Dynamic Dining to the Oasis class ships, and then eventually the rest of the fleet. They changed their minds and decided to keep it solely on the Quantum class ships.

Even with the inclusion of the classic option, and limiting Dynamic Dining to the Quantum class of ships, it has not been popular with passengers. Ultimately, the announcement came down that effective November 27, 2016 they are eliminating Dynamic Dining on Anthem of the Seas, keeping it on Quantum of the Seas (currently sailing in China). To replace Dynamic Dining on Anthem, Royal Caribbean will offer My Time Dining with both flexible and traditional options. They four dining rooms that had been included in Dynamic Dining (American Icon, Grande, Chic, and Silk) will be used to support the new system. American Icon and Silk will be assigned to My Time Dining while Grande and Chic will be used for the traditional early and late seating times. And each night all four dining rooms will offer the same menu.

Celebrity Cruises enhances their culinary program

In late August, Celebrity announced that they will be making enhancements to their dining programs and restaurants over the next several months. Some of these enhancements include replacing Bistro on Five (a surcharge crepe restaurant) with Sushi on Five. An a la carte menu will include hand-rolled sushi, fresh table side grated wasabi, house-made soy sauce, a variety of starters and entrees, and an array of cocktails, Japanese beers, and sakes. Celebrity is also rolling out the Tuscan Grille fleet-wide with a new menu as well.

In addition to menu enhancements, Celebrity announced they will be the first cruise line to use Dine Aware. “The only standard for the food and beverage industry which focuses on food allergy and intolerance communication and experiences. Guests with special dietary needs will be able to dine confident with Dine Aware.”

And just a few days ago was Celebrity’s announcement that they are extending their popular “Top Chef at Sea” program through 2017. The ultimate opportunity will be the change to cruise with an incredible lineup of Top Chef contestants onboard Celebrity Silhouette for New Year’s Eve.

And the focus on food isn’t limited to shipboard dining venues. They now offer chef-led culinary excursions as well. The Chef’s Market Discoveries provides guests with an opportunity to experience local fare and culturally inspired dishes in more than 40 destinations.

Holland America and America’s Test Kitchen

Not to be outdone, Holland America just announced their new partnership with America’s Test Kitchen to offer an enticing selection of live onboard cooking shows and hands-on workshops, where guests will learn foolproof techniques and user-friendly recipes to make delectable dishes with confidence. This new culinary programming will begin aboard ms Westerdam October 18, 2016 for the ship’s Mexico season and on ms Nieuw Amsterdam November 13, 2016 for the Caribbean season. By June 2017, the program will be rolled out fleet wide.

Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations, she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at or by phone at (888) 221-1209.

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