Royal Caribbean's new main dining room menus are officially here.
Symphony of the Seas is the one of the first cruise ships in the fleet to launch the official new menu following weeks of testing, along with Wonder of the Seas.
In late 2022, Royal Caribbean began testing new menus onboard the Symphony of the Seas. After receiving positive feedback from guests, they announced that they were going to permanently change the menus on all ships within the fleet.
Royal Caribbean cited the swiftness of service as the primary reason for implementing new menus. Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International's President and CEO, said that guests often complain about the length of dinner service.
In addition to a new design, each night's menu will have a theme: French, Italian, etc. There are still no sugar added and vegan options available, as well as premium selections.
A Maine lobster tail can be purchased for $16.99, Chops Grille filet mignon for $19.99, and surf & turf for $34.99.
Here's a first look at the new menus onboard the Symphony of the Seas.
The theme for the first night is "Welcome Aboard," and the cuisine served is American. The menu features some "classics" from the old menu, including the caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, escargots, New York strip steak, spaghetti bolognese, Royal cheesecake, and ice cream.
All sailings will feature the Welcome Aboard menu on the first evening.
The dining theme of night two onboard the current Symphony of the Seas sailing is French Night.
It seems as though the primary feedback they received for the menu was in regard to the desserts, as many of them have been updated compared to the sample menu that was tested last month.
Sailings six nights and longer will offer the French Night menu on the first formal night.
All sailings will feature the Italian Night menu on at least one evening.
On Caribbean sailings, the Caribbean Night menu comes out on the first evening at a Caribbean port.
On Mexico sailings, the Mexican Night menu comes out on the first evening at a Mexico port.
The Royal Night
Gone are the days of ordering multiple lobster tails. If you'd like a second, you'll now be charged $16.99 plus 18% gratuity.
Sailings six nights and longer will offer The Royal Night menu on the second formal night.
Sailings six nights and longer will offer the British Night menu on at least one evening.
Bon Voyage Night
Sailings six nights and longer will feature the Bon Voyage menu on the final evening
The kids' menu is offered every night of the sailing and does not change.
What's different about the menus?
One change is more of a cohesive theme to each night, with different cuisines and cooking styles highlighted in each day's menu.
Look for themes such as Italian, American, or Caribbean themes, with the chef's featured choices listed at the top of the menu.
Something else guests may notice is the removal of the "classics" section, which offered a subset of menu options that were available each night and never changed.
Royal Caribbean is also limiting guests to one lobster tail for no additional cost on the evening the broiled lobster is available.
Prior to this change, guests could order unlimited lobster tails, but the realities of the lobster trade forced Royal Caribbean's hand in part.
Royal Caribbean can only buy 90% Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified food, which means that lobster needs to be either farm raised or wild caught. A recent shift in Maine lobster purchasing due to environmental concerns has places like Whole Foods halting the purchase of the items.
As a result, Royal Caribbean has changed to buying Canadian lobster that is still MSC certified.
Importance of guest feedback
It's been a few years since the last time Royal Caribbean refreshed their dining menus, which is why they relied on guest feedback when curating the new menus.
During the testing phase, they sent a team of six people onboard the Symphony go the Seas who were responsible for conducting in-person meetings with 30-40 passengers per day. In addition, surveys were sent out via email.
In an exclusive interview, Linken D'Souza, the Global Vice President of Culinary, Dining, & Beverage said, "If there's four or five modifications we can make, we'll iterate and make those changes. If there's a theme that's not working and we're seeing a lot of dissatisfaction on a specific day within the cruise period, we'll review that experience."
A quicker, more consistent dining experience
As previously mentioned, one of the reasons for this change is to decrease the time guests spend in the Main Dining Room.
The company believes that dinner should last around 75 minutes. Prior to the new menus, passengers could spend 95-120+ minutes at dinner. A shorter dinner service allows guests to get enjoy other activities during their cruise vacation.
If you do not want a faster dining experience, all you have to do is tell your waiter.
"I think holistically, when you look at both the service experience we create with the theming of nights and then the food that's layered in...you're going to see hotter, fresher, more consistently plated, beautiful food," said Mr. D'Souza.
When will the new menus be on all ships?
Royal Caribbean expects the new menus to be available on all ships by early February.
The current plan is to begin the new menu deployment in January, and by early February, it should be available on all ships across the fleet.