Royal Caribbean's immersive train car restaurant brings the Old West and Far East to its next new cruise ship

23 May 2024
Elizabeth Wright

Royal Caribbean is building a restaurant that will make you feel like you're dining on a train traveling through the Old West.

Utopia train concept

Utopia of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's sixth Oasis Class ship, will be the only ship in the fleet to feature an immersive train car dining experience. 

Though still two months from entering service, the excitement around the brand-new specialty restaurant continues to grow. 

Royal Caribbean Blog had an exclusive opportunity to visit Royal Caribbean's headquarters in Miami, Florida for a sneak peek regarding what guests can expect when dining at Royal Railway - Utopia Station. From the unique dishes, specialty cocktails, and overall ambiance, I can confirm it's worth the hype. 

Welcome aboard


Royal Caribbean has been steadily improving its cocktail game, and you can expect a range of new beverages to set the mood with the Royal Railway.

Royal Caribbean's beverage team worked to develop new alcoholic beverages that reminisce about the Wild West.  The idea is the drinks evoke the spirit of the specific time period and place your train will visit.

Early ideas for cocktails include a Pisco Sour, a drink that was popular in San Francisco during the era, to cocktails inspired by the Gold Rush and even a bourbon cherry Coke for something a bit more mainstream. 

Since Utopia Station is very much a family-friendly specialty restaurant, kids can enjoy a non-alcoholic Sarsaparilla served in a flask. 

Special effects and a new atmosphere


Royal Caribbean's team was intent to set the mood by crafting this experience to have a real feel to it.

Some ideas include a departure board, boarding ticket, and mingling with other passengers.

The immersive experience begins before you step onto your designated train car. 


"This is truly a storytelling platform," said Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President and Chief Product Innovation Officer. 

It's clear the intent is to give passengers something completely different from a traditional cruise ship specialty restaurant, and in its early stage of development, they have some really fun ideas.


The Wild West theme, which is the first to debut on Utopia when the ship launches in July, is what Schneider referred to as a "long form" story that's a "lean in family experience." 

Schneider discussed how "short form" stories aren't out of the picture, though. 


"Short form would be whiskey tasting through the Tennessee mountains, or when we do our wine tasting today, we sometimes do it in [the] Main Dining [Room].”

“It would be much better to [do a] wine tasting in a room like this're flying through Napa and can...pair wines with things as that kind of immersion," he said. 

Despite being an immersive dining experience, train passengers have time between theatrical moments to mingle with their party and enjoy the meal. 


Just like dining theater of the past, there will times where something is happening to capture your attention, and other times to enjoy being in the restaurant.

The experience is meant to appeal to guests of all ages, with jokes and elements targeted to be understood by different age groups. The guidebook, for instance, reads, “Ever since becoming a dry county in 1861, spirits here have been pretty low.”

A menu to match the journey


During our preview, the experience was an overview of what guests might expect onboard. It's not quite set yet, including the menu.

We were given an idea of what Royal Caribbean has in mind, as a means of understanding the overall idea and pace of the meal.  

Don't assume anything shown on the menu will make the final cut, but it's clear there's a motif in mind.  This will not be just another steakhouse, Italian restaurant, or something else familar.


The menu certainly seemed like it borrwed ideas from classic Western United States fare, to new takes on old favorites.

If nothing else, I hope the "Fart & Dart beans" name makes the final cut.


It's clear Royal Caribbean has built upon the concept of an entire menu with a cohesive theme, similar to Wonderland or even the Mason Jar.

Royal Railway's menu incorporates fun ideas along with crowd pleasers.  The “Royal Railway Cigar” dessert is one idea they are working on, and it ties back into the story of the ride.


From the steam on the platform to various effects on the train, the goal is to “trick” everyone’s senses as they walk into Utopia Station


While you may technically be on a cruise ship, you’re supposed to believe you could be boarding a train to the Wild West. 

Every seat, for instance, is equipped with a "butt-kicker." According to Schneider, “The intent of the butt-kicker is it’s timed with the noise jostling, so when you saw the actor kind of jump forward…these seats got a butt-kick…that butt-kick will be episodic"

They’re also working on incorporating scents into the experience, so if there’s an explosion, you should smell a hint of sulfur. However, they must be able to evacuate the smell for the next group. 


During my ride, I also heard a gunshot echo throughout the train car. In the future, however, passengers should expect to hear bandits running “across” the top of the car. 

Once completed, Utopia of the Seas will be one of the largest cruise ships in the world


Coming in at 236,860 gross registered tons and 1,188, Utopia of the Seas is slightly larger than Wonder of the Seas, the newest Oasis Class ship at sea that launched in 2022. 

As Royal Caribbean's first-ever ship built targeting the short cruise market, guests will find numerous brand favorites and new experiences on 3- and 4-night cruises to The Bahamas. 

It's meant to attract passengers who may be weary about committing to a weeklong cruise but still want to get a taste of what makes Royal Caribbean one of the most popular mainstream cruise lines in the world. 


"There will be nothing better on planet Earth than having a phenomenal experience and party vibe onboard Utopia of the Seas," said Michael Bayley, President & CEO of Royal Caribbean International.

Guests can begin their day at the lively Lime & Coconut Bar on the pool deck before transitioning to the brand-new Caribbean-themed bar, Pesky Parrot, in the Royal Promenade. 

After enjoying a tropical cocktail, passengers can make their way to one of the many dining options onboard, whether it's Royal Railway - Utopia Station, the classic Main Dining Room, the two-story Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, or casual Windjammer Marketplace. 

Read more: Utopia of the Seas restaurant and dining guide


Of course, it isn't a Royal Caribbean cruise to The Bahamas without a stop at their award-winning private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay

Guests have the option to enjoy the exciting amenities on the ships, ranging from the zip line to the FlowRider surf simulator, miniature golf, Perfect Storm water slides, and more, or venture ashore and test their bravery at Thrill Waterpark, relax at Coco Beach Club, head to the adults-only Hideaway Beach, or enjoy the complimentary lounge chairs and umbrellas scattered throughout the island. 

However you decide to spend your vacation on Utopia of the Seas, Royal Caribbean promises that it will be a memorable getaway.

Read more: Photos show Utopia of the Seas beginning her sea trials

Utopia of the Seas' inaugural voyage is slated to depart from Port Canaveral (Orlando), Florida on July 19, 2024

Initially, Utopia of the Seas was scheduled to begin making regular sailings on July 22; however, construction moved faster than planned, and Royal Caribbean bumped the highly-awaited maiden voyage up a few days. 

Rather than a 4-night cruise to The Bahamas, Utopia's first cruise will be a 3-night voyage to The Bahamas, with all planned itineraries afterward remaining unaffected.  

Port Canaveral is the second largest cruise terminal in the world, surpassed only by PortMiami, which is home to Icon of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship. Utopia of the Seas will be joined by Star of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's second Icon Class ship, in 2025. 

Elizabeth graduated from New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute with her M.A. in Journalism in May 2023. Growing up, she had the privilege of traveling frequently with her family and fell in love with cruising after sailing on the Oasis of the Seas her freshman year of high school. She wanted to pursue a career that highlighted her passion for travel and strengths as a writer. 

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