The Grande

4 Royal Caribbean features inspired by something else

In:
13Jan2016

When Royal Caribbean designed its cruise ships, they built these ships from the keel up to offer guests amazing experiences, and in some cases, the inspiration for new features or areas was from something outside the company.

In business, once a concept or idea is proven to be succesful, it is not unusual for companies to start adopting it into their products to improve their offerings. With Royal Caribbean, they are not afraid to branch out and try new ideas that have the potential to attract new customers.

Today, we look at a few different aspects of the Royal Caribbean cruise experience that were borrowed, adopted or inspired by something outside the company.

Virtual balcony

One of the most impressive innovations that Royal Caribbean has rolled out in the last few years are its virtual balcony staterooms, where inside staterooms offer real-time high definition views of the ocean.  It is essentially a balcony experience for an inside stateroom price.

The idea to display live outdoor views in inside rooms was first done by Disney Cruise Line with their virtual portholes when they debuted on the Disney Dream in 2011.

Photo by atlassb

Royal Caribbean took that concept and made it significantly larger.  Virtual balconies are 80-inch LED screens recessed into the wall, complete with curtains and faux balcony imagery.

Royal Caribbean chairman and CEO Richard Fain mentioned Royal Caribbean saw what Disney was doing and decided to improve upon it. 

"We actually had looked at the idea, and we didn't think that the technology and the receptivity from the public was there," Fain says. Disney "proved that the public does value something like this."

North Star

One of the signature features on Royal Caribbean's Quantum class cruise ships is the 300-foot observational pod known as North Star, which gives guests 360-degress views of everything around.

The idea for North Star was inspired by the London Eye, but instead of placing it on a ferris wheel, there is just one pod and it is attached to a giant robotic arm.

Photo by Khalid M.

Royal Caribbean chairman and CEO Richard Fain said in an interview, "Quite frankly, the success of the London Eye had a lot to do with this."

The Grande

When Royal Caribbean designed its formal night, all the time restaurant, The Grande, on Quantum of the Seas, it went back in time for inspiration.

The design for The Grande is evoked, "by the grandness and classic detailing of European ocean liners."

Photo by Retronaut

Essentially, The Grande is a throwback to the kind of dining rooms the golden age of ocean liners featured. It's when dining was not just a task, but a time-honored ritual.

Boardwalk

On Royal Caribbean's Oasis class ships, the Boardwalk neighborhood is always popular with guests because of the pleasing aesthetics, fun activities and great views of the sea.

The Boardwalk neighborhood was inspired by both the seaside piers that dot the coast of England and the nostalgic boardwalks of yesteryear such as Coney Island.

Photo by Martin Nicolaus

The focal point of the Boardwalk is the traditional, hand crafted carousel, which would be common on many boardwalks.  There is also hot dog stands, ice cream, and even a candy shop called, "Candy Beach" (get it?).

Restaurant Review: The Grande on Quantum of the Seas

In:
09Dec2014

Today we are taking a closer look at the restaurant on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas where it's formal night, every night, The Grande.

The Grande is one of five complimentary sit down restaurants aboard Quantum of the Seas and it's a throwback to the classic days of cruising where everyone is dressed up and the food matches the elegance of the dress.

The Grande is open for dinner and I had a chance to check it out for myself to see what it's like to have formal night on a ship that did away with formal night.

Atmosphere

Walking into The Grande, the look and feel of the restaurant is exactly what you might expect to find in a restaurant where getting dressed up is a must.

There's lots of whites with simple, yet elegant designs on the furniture, walls and tables.  The restaurant evokes a sense of classiness that I think most people expect when they hear about a restaurant that is formal.

Unlike the other complimentary restaurants for dinner, The Grande requires its guests to be dressed up. Royal Caribbean does note that Smart Casual dress code is acceptable on embarkation day but other days, it's formal.

For fans of getting dressed up for dinner, the Grande is your restaurant and you can get dressed up as many nights as you want when you dine here.

Eats

Like the upscale dress, the menu at The Grande is about traditionally fancy foods.  You will find escargot, bisques, and cuts of meat that are typically found at upscale restaurants.

When you are seated, you are served small baguettes along with butter.  Whereas in the American Icon Grill there were rolls, at the Grande we are moving up to higher end bread.

For appetizers, I started with two choices I had come to really enjoy on Royal Caribbean ships: beef carpaaccio and escargots.

I found both dishes to be just as good as I rememberd on other ships.  The carpaaccio was so thinly sliced that you could not even pick it up with a fork, but had to scrape it off the plate.  

Royal Caribbeans fans will know that escargot was hard to find on many ships due to a worldwide shortage (who knew!) but it was readily available on Quantum of the Seas and with the bread an absolute delight.

Moving onto my entree, I opted for the eggplant Napoleon, which is a combination of Ratatouille and eggplant parmesan.  

This was the kind of entree I could have had another serving to enjoy.  The eggplant was not breaded and together with the goat cheese fondue, tomatoes and spinach created a very vibrant taste.  

Overall

I think of all the complimentary restaurants I ate at on Quantum of the Seas, The Grande was my favorite.  

The dishes served at The Grande are traditional and going with what's known to work I believe is a good angle.

It should be noted The Grande does serve Lobster Tail every night.  I do not eat lobster but I know there are those that always looked forward to "lobster night" on Royal Caribbean cruises and so this is the place for you.  In fact, this is the strength of Dynamic Dining.  Rather than lobster tail just once per cruise, you can now have it every night.

The dress code was not a problem for me because I always enjoyed dressing up for dinner to begin with.  It's not to say you must wear a tuxedo or formal ball gown to eat here.  Rather, a collared shirt and nice pants with appropriate shoes will get you in for men.  Women can opt for a cocktail dress or something equivalent and satisfy the requirements.

I came away impressed with The Grande because of the particularly tasty food, much of which will be familiar to fans of the main dining room on other Royal Caribbean ships.