Royal Caribbean has set a new course with its “Dynamic Dining” concept for the Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas newbuildings.
At a special media event in New York City on Wednesday night, Royal Caribbean showed off what it calls a “new era of dining at sea.” Quantum of the Seas is set to launch this fall, with a Nov. 2 maiden voyage across the Atlantic from Southampton to its homeport Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J., and Anthem of the Seas will set sail in April 2015.
Some innovative onboard amenities had been known and well-publicized for months. For example, both ships will come loaded with unique activities such as a skydiving simulator, bumper cars, SeaPlex indoor active space and North Star, a London-eye type attraction that takes passengers in an enclosed capsule above the ship for 360-degree views.
Now, cruisers can also get a dining experience unlike anything they’ve seen before on a Royal Caribbean ship. Instead of a traditional main dining room with set dining times and assigned tables, passengers can choose from among 18 eating spots on Quantum and Anthem. The locations include five complimentary “main restaurants,” seven signature specialty dining options and six casual eateries.
The line also revealed an online reservation system that will become active May 15 and allow passengers to choose when and where they want to dine and book their reservations before departure.
How the line would handle its dining had served as a point of intense rumor and speculation as passengers booked on Quantum’s first cruises received cryptic responses when trying to determine whether they could book their preferred dining time in the main dining room.
Royal Caribbean finally shared its revolutionary plan. The array of smaller non-fee main restaurants marks a radical departure for the line, which has always featured main dining rooms with set dining times on its ships.
The line said the time was right to give its guests more flexibility.
“The guest experience has been the hallmark of everything we’ve done for more than 40 years,” said Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Adam Goldstein. “We’ve pushed the boundaries in everything that we’ve done. We’re known for a lot of firsts.”
Passengers on Quantum and Anthem may choose to eat at five complimentary, full-service main restaurants.
American Icon Grill offers classics like New England clam chowder, shrimp po boys, Buffalo mac and cheese, Southern buttermilk fried chicken, New Orleans gumbo and surf and turf (Maine lobster and ribeye). The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner (reservations only needed for dinner).
Chic serves creative entrees such as potato encrusted Icelandic cod, salmon strudel and boneless beef ribeye with creamed spinach and roasted corn salsa. It’s open for dinner only.
Silk offers a pan-Asian menu with cooking influenced by the flavors of India, Vietnam, China, Japan and Thailand. Open for dinner only, options include pho chicken, coconut crusted prawn, hibachi steak, curried lamb and crispy Beijing duck.
The Grande Restaurant offers formal night every night. Appetizers include duck pate and bacon roasted scallops. The elegant dining spot features main courses like Chateaubriand Wellington, chicken a l’orange and rack of lamb.
Coastal Kitchen is available to suite class cabin holders. The menu works to blend Mediterranean and California influences and offers combinations like sea bass ceviche, asparagus and leek tart, salmon steak and an array of flatbreads, with toppings such as fig and prosciutto or fennel sausage. The restaurant serves breakfast lunch and dinner (make reservations for dinner only).
Coastal Kitchen seats 128 guests. The other main restaurants can accommodate about 430.
The ships will feature four new for-fee dining options, three with celebrity chef partners, as well as traditional Royal Caribbean specialty venues.
Wonderland plays on the Louis Carroll tale of Alice and leads diners “down the rabbit hole” to where chefs twist traditional culinary concepts to create truly imaginative meals. Try foods in a full range of flavors, temperatures, textures and portion sizes. These include tempura salmon caviar, liquid lobster, smoked salmon eggs, naan bread tacos with pork belly, sashimi of red and white tuna and milk chocolate panna cotta.
Jamie’s Italian is the first cruise ship eatery for British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. The menu includes crab and avocado bruschetta, Italian spiced chicken wings, crispy squid, lamb lollipops and wild mushroom and smoked mozzarella risotto.
Michael’s Genuine Pub marks James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz’s first American gastropub at sea. The chef expands his partnership with Royal Caribbean after collaborating on the 150 Central Park restaurants on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. The pub on Quantum and Anthem will features such bar snack fare (priced a la carte) as crispy pig ears, smoked fish dip and deviled eggs, all to be washed down with Michael’s Genuine Home Brew craft beer or accompanied with a bourbon flight.
Devinly Decadence at Solarium Bistro offers healthy meal options for those who might want to track their calories more closely. Devin Alexander, New York Times best-selling author and chef of TV show “The Biggest Loser,” crafted a menu full of guilt-free versions of popular meals like a low-cal burger and fries, cheesy jalapeno chicken sandwich and sausage penne bake as well as 100-calorie sweet treats. Breakfast is complimentary at this venue.
Royal Caribbean also brings the line’s enhanced versions of its longtime familiar options: Chops Grille (for-fee steakhouse), Izumi Japanese Cuisine (a la carte pricing), Chef’s Table (16-seat exclusive meal experience inside Chops), Windjammer Marketplace (buffet with 24-hour grill), Café Promenade (24-hour snacks, sandwiches and pastries), Johnny Rockets (a la carte pricing for burgers, fries and shakes) and Sorrento’s (pizzeria).
Additionally, Quantum and Anthem will have two new complimentary eateries, SeaPlex Dog House (hot dogs and sausages) and The Café @ Two70 (pressed sandwiches and custom salads).
With all these dining possibilities, Royal Caribbean says it’s sure that it is offering something to suit all tastes.
“The culinary experience is so important to our guests,” Goldstein said.
Written by John Roberts