Royal Caribbean's unlimited dining package won't be as unlimited as it has been in the past.
The terms and conditions for Royal Caribbean's unlimited dining package have been updated to add a daily limit to the a la carte restaurants where guests pay per item.
On the Cruise Planner website, some sailings now show an update for the a la carte pricing, "For restaurants with a la carte pricing, you’ll receive a $20 food credit, which can only be used once a day."
Prior to this change, there was no limit at a la carte restaurants and guests could return to any a la carte restaurant on the same day and get another $20 per person credit.
Examples of restaurants with a la carte pricing include Playmakers and Portside BBQ.
In the past, the $20 per person credit was determined by your seating. Once the check was closed out, you were free to return and start a new tab with another round of $20 credit.
There's been no change to Izumi sushi, which still carries a $34.99 food credit or the option to use the prixe fixe menu.
Similarly, there's been no change to specialty restaurants that have a cover charge, where guests can enjoy unlimited visits to specialty dining restaurants every night of your sailing and lunch on sea days.
Dining packages have become very popular with cruise fans, who enjoy the ability to dine at as many specialty restaurants as they like for a fixed price. With Royal Caribbean rolling out new specialty dining concepts in recent years, the focus on specialty dining has been greater than in years past.
Read more: Is food included on a Royal Caribbean cruise?
Izumi hibachi price change
In addition to the change in policy related to the a la carte restaurants, it looks like the cost to eat at Izumi hibachi is going up as well.
The policy now lists a $15 surcharge for dining package guests to eat at hibachi, instead of $10.
Teppanyaki dining at Izumi is one of the most popular specialty restaurants on any Royal Caribbean ship. Reservations often are sold out by the first day of the cruise, if not earlier.
Why did Royal Caribbean make this change?
There's no official word why Royal Caribbean added a limit of one use per day for the fixed price menu.
Based on my own experience with the unlimited dining plan, it's possible this change was made to cut down on guests overusing the package benefits at restaurants such as Playmakers.
Being a sports bar, often guests may linger at the bar to watch more than one game, or return later on for the evening game and order more food.
It's also possible this was meant to reduce crowding at these locations.
How the unlimited dining package works
Royal Caribbean introduced the unlimited dining package in 2019 to replace the Ultimate Dining Package and it allows guests to enjoy their meals at specialty restaurants as many times as they’d like, based on availability.
Guests are not able to make reservations for specialty dining before the cruise when they have a dining package. Instead, they must wait until they got onboard a ship to make reservations.
Once at the restaurant, all the guest has to do is inform their waiter that they have a dining package and the waiter can then verify it and charge it appropriately.
There are a few exceptions to what is included with the dining packages: Teppanyaki/Izumi Hibachi is included, with a $15 surcharge, and Chef's Table is included, with a $49.99 surcharge.
It's not included with premium dining experiences, such as Wine Pairings Dinners, Taste of Royal, Mystery Dinner Theater, Culinary Activities, and Holiday Celebration Dinners.
Dining packages do not include room service, mini bar, or restaurants at Perfect Day at CocoCay.