Royal Caribbean Makes Long Overdue Update to Traditional Dining

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Icon of the Seas
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

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Royal Caribbean recently announced an update to its traditional dining plan that I think a lot of frequent floaters will like. We’ll talk about that in a minute, but first, let’s go over what “traditional dining” means.

Icon of the Seas
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

What is “Traditional Dining?”

For years, cruise line dining consisted of essentially two options, the casual buffet and the formal dining room. The buffet was come as you are whenever you want during service hours. The dining room was different, more like a sit-down restaurant, and with two options – early or late seating. The meaning of “early” and “late” varied by cruise line, and even by home port of a ship within the same cruise line, but typically early seating has been around 6pm, and late seating has been around 8pm. You head to the dining room at a set time, at the same table, with the same wait staff every night.

As ships grew larger and interests changed, this traditional dining pattern has been enhanced with the addition of specialty restaurants like Royal Caribbean’s Chops Grille, a steakhouse experience. But the traditional dining room experience has evolved as well, with the addition of “my time” dining, or dining in the main dining room at any time or Norwegian’s “free style” concept where you visit the main dining room whenever you wish, usually not with the same wait staff or at the same table.

a restaurant with tables and chairs

Personally, I prefer late seating vs. early when eating in the main dining room. It’s a “me thing” for sure, but I find 6pm is just too early, especially if you’re coming in from a full day of shore touring. I prefer to get back on the ship, have some time to relax, maybe grab a pre-dinner cocktail, and then head to dinner. But do I really need 3 hours to do that? No! While I prefer late seating to early, what I’ve always wanted was something in between. I like having a set time for dinner, and I especially like having the same waiter, but I really don’t want to have to wait until 8:30pm or even later at times to eat. Basically, that means I’m in the dining room until 10pm, and what do I want to do after dinner that late? Sleep….and miss all the nightlife on the ship.

Enter Royal Caribbean’s New Update to Traditional Dining

Royal Caribbean seems to have come up with a solution to my dilemma. As first reported by Royal Caribbean Blog (not affiliated with the cruise line), Royal Caribbean International is about to rollout a third “middle” dining time for traditional dining. The new concept has already been tested on Wonder of the Seas, and Royal’s latest mega-ship, Icon of the Seas. The experience will be the same as the other set dining times, same table, same server team, just at a time that is in between early and late seating.

Personally, I think this is a great change, and one that will be well received by guests. I’m quite likely to be a cruiser who takes the “middle” option on all of my upcoming Royal Caribbean cruises.

What do you think of this change?

-MJ

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4 COMMENTS

  1. You never explained what the middle dining time option will look like. You announced it but didn’t follow up with what it will look like.

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