Dining

There will be a buffet on Royal Caribbean ships when cruises resume

In:
Category: 
01Jul2020

Many cruise fans have been wondering what Royal Caribbean's plan will be for keeping guests healthy while onboard their ships, including what the fate of the Windjammer buffet will be.

It seems we have a definitive answer from the head of Royal Caribbean's food and beverage: there will be a buffet.

Royal Caribbean Global Vice President Culinary, Dining & Beverage, Linken D'Souza, spoke on the fate of the buffet in a webinar question and answer with travel agents on Wednesday and confirmed the buffet will remain.

Mr. D'Souza was asked about if there will be a buffet on Royal Caribbean's ships, and while Royal Caribbean has not divulged its plans for which policies and changes will be made onboard its cruise ships, he was able to dispel rumors and concerns surrounding what will happen to the buffet.

"Windjammer is one of my favorite spots, and we will continue to have a buffet at Royal Caribbean. We have worked through a variety of different scenarios, from employee service to individual portions to individual tongs for self-service, to finger koozies that you can pick up hot dishes with that can be washed and sanitized. So we continue to work through a lot of the details."

"But rest assured, the buffet will exist. There may be some small modifications that allow us to ensure that we have a really great, healthy return to service. But your favorites and what you're used to at the Windjammer will still be there."

"So I'll I'll put that to rest. We will absolutely have a Windjammer with all of your favorites in a very similar fashion to what you've had previously and maybe some different service steps to ensure healthy service."

Buffet indecision

The origins of the idea that the Windjammer might go away started in May, when Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley mentioned the cruise line was working on their plan to keep guests healthy and the buffet experience came up.

"I think in the beginning, there will not be a buffet in the beginning, that's how I see it. It depends again upon the timing. We will utilize the space, we will utilize the Windjammer, but in all probability it won't be a classical buffet. It will be something more akin to a restaurant."

While Mr. Bayley did not say the Windjammer buffet was gone, it opened up the idea that significant change could occur. A week later, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain had a different take on the buffet's fate.

"It doesn't mean that you don't have a buffet. I think it's very likely that you're not going to see that on land or sea."

The changing nature of recommendations by health professionals, as well as the organic discussions Royal Caribbean has had internally likely caused the answer to change depending on the week.

With Mr. D'Souza's affirmation today, it appears guests will have a buffet experience to look forward to once cruising resumes.

Not just Royal Caribbean with buffets

If the idea of a buffet remaining on a cruise ship when cruises resume sounds odd, other cruise lines are keeping theirs as well.

When Norwegian Cruise Line announced their new policies for guests, they indicated buffets and beverage stations will be full service with staff available to serve guests.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line announced while self-service buffet stations have been suspended, all food and beverage will be served by crew members wearing face masks, hats, aprons, and gloves.

Video: Royal Caribbean dining questions I get asked all the time!

In:
Category: 
04Feb2020

I get asked plenty of questions related to eating on a Royal Caribbean ship, but today I am answering the most common dining questions!

Dinner, drink packages, and tipping are just a few of the top dining questions cruisers want to know, so this new video is all about sharing answers to these top queries.

And if you love this video, there’s plenty more for you to enjoy over on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What is one dining question you have always wondered about?

How to change your dining time on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
Category: 
20Nov2019

Dinner on a Royal Caribbean cruise for many guests involves a visit to the venerable main dining room. When you book your cruise, you will choose between traditional dining times or My Time Dining. Regardless of which you choose, here is how to change your dining times.

Traditional Dining

If you are booked in traditional dining, then you are either in early or late eating. This means whichever option you pick, you have a set dining time for the entire cruise. No advanced reservations are necessary, and you always have the same waiters, table mates and table assignment.

Early seating is usually around 5:30pm, and late seating around 8:00pm. The exact times will vary according to your cruise itinerary.

If you want to change your traditional dining time, you can contact your travel agent (or Royal Caribbean if you booked directly) to have the change made.  Assuming there is availability, you can move from one of the traditional dining times to the other, or opt for My Time Dining.

Once onboard the ship, it can be more challenging to make this change, but not impossible.  Ask to speak to the head waiter onboard for assistance.

My Time Dining

My Time Dining allows guests to pick a dining time anytime between 6:00 and 9:30 pm (times vary by ship) each evening. 

Reservations are encouraged, especially if you can pre-book before your cruise, but you have the ability to choose a different time each day.  This allows for a more flexible dinner schedule that you can curtail around your plans onboard or onshore.

You can manage reservations for dinner even before your cruise, by visiting Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site and scheduling something.  Reservations can be made, modified and deleted prior to the cruise, as well as once onboard.

If you have My Time Dining, you can change your dining times before the cruise via the Cruise Planner site. Onboard the ship, there is a dining hotline you can call from your stateroom phone to modify reservations. 

If you want to change to traditional dining, you can do so by contacting your travel agent (or Royal Caribbean if you booked directly). Keep in mind that traditional dining has a maximum capacity, and it is not unheard of to be put on a waitlist, especially if you try to change close to your sailing.

Do you prefer traditional or My Time Dining? Let us know which you usually reserve and why in the comments below!

A look back at 50 years of Royal Caribbean dining with Linken D'Souza

In:
Category: 
05Nov2019

Royal Caribbean is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and a great deal of Royal Caribbean's legacy is based in the culinary offerings. Dining on Royal Caribbean has transformed over the years, with more and more new options, innovations and approaches to delivering outstanding cuisine. From the dining rooms, to the buffet, to the pizza and even robot bartenders, Royal Caribbean is never one to shy away from pushing the envelope with what can be delivered to ships.

At the heart of Royal Caribbean's food and beverage operations is Linken D'Souza, Global Vice President Culinary, Dining & Beverage. 

He and his team have the task of making the food, drinks and meals onboard an unforgettable experience for guests. Mr. D'Souza has worked for Royal Caribbean in this capacity for about two and a half years, and his team carries a tradition of striving to serve up the best dining experience.

"What hasn't changed is the ability of our staff to produce just an amazing product, amazing service to along with it, and I think that's what has kept us so strong as an organization."

"I think the key to research is to understand the guests, creating a product that they really want, and then taking their feedback. We're in the process of creating the new Giovanni's restaurant that will launch in the next little while, and in fact yesterday, we did a tasting onboard the ship with our guests to really get a sense of what they liked, what they didn't like. That's just one step. We'll go through three or four iterations before we launch Giovanni's Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar on Freedom of the Seas."

Of course, plenty has changed in Royal Caribbean's 50 years of operations, and the options guests have to dine at has grown every year.

"If we wind back time to 1969 with the Song of Norway, and you think about the two venues we had onboard, which was the dining room and the Windjammer, which was essentially a window that served burgers and hot dogs, to Symphony of the Seas, our flagship here in the United States. Sixty-five food and beverage venues onboard, that's a huge evolution."

 

To commemorate Royal Caribbean's 50 years, a limited edition hardcover book was created and given to guests sailing on Symphony of the Seas this week as part of the 50th Anniversary Birthday Cruise.  All guests can read the book for free by downloading the eBook.

Mr. D'Souza looked at the evolution of dining, explained the research that goes into a new restaurant and even talked about they pick a featured dish that eventually ends up on the menu. Listen to episode 327 of our interview with Linken D'Souza in its entirety below.

Be sure to subscribe to the RoyalCaribbeanBlog Podcast at Google Podcasts, Apple PodcastsTuneIn, and Stitcher.

Video: Royal Caribbean food secrets — Discounts, tips and more!

In:
25Jul2019

We love a little intrigue as much as the next person, but nothing beats finding out about a secret, right? Today, we are talking about dining on Royal Caribbean in our latest RoyalCaribbeanBlog video.

For instance, did you know you on Oasis Class ships you can enjoy breakfast at Johnny Rockets without any additional cost?

We also have ways to avoid lines at the Windjammer buffet stations, getting a discount on a specialty restaurant, where your drink packages work and a lot more.  Check out this video for our tips and tricks!

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What are your favorite Royal Caribbean dining secrets? Share them with us in the comments below!

Top Ten Royal Caribbean Dining Tips

In:
Category: 
06Jun2019

Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise means you will visit great ports of call, experience wonderful entertainment and of course, enjoy some really good food. Royal Caribbean delivers fresh and delicious cuisine that caters to a range of tastes and preferences.

To help you navigate all your dining options, we have an assortment of tips and tricks for ensuring you have all the best information before you step onboard your ship and begin chowing down.

1. Don't order just one anything

Whether you are dining in the main dining room or Johnny Rockets or a specialty restaurant, don't settle for just one entree or one appetizer.  

Royal Caribbean allows passengers to order as much as you want in most cases, which means you are free to try dishes and sample what you want.  Most often passengers act like they do in a land restaurant and only order what they wish to pay for but on a cruise, order as much as you want!

2. Bring dinner back if you can't make it

If you or someone can't make it to dinner for whatever reason, be sure to tell your main dining room waiter that someone cannot make it to dinner and they will be sure to wrap up an entire meal (including dessert) to bring back to your stateroom.

This can be a good option if someone is not feeling up for going to dinner but needs to eat.

In fact, you can take food to go from pretty much any venue. Whether you are bringing food to someone else, or cannot finish what you have, taking leftovers is perfectly fine.  

3. Bring your own wine

Royal Caribbean allows passengers to bring up to two bottles of wine per stateroom onboard their cruise on embarkation day. Be sure to pack the wine in your carry-on luggage only.

You can enjoy the wine in your stateroom, or bring the bottles of wine to any bar or restaurant onboard. If you choose to open the wine at a bar or restaurant, you could be charged a $25 corkage fee.  

Bringing your own wine can be a great way to save money and expand your choice of wine to enjoy on your cruise.

No, you cannot bring any other alcoholic beverages onboard with you. Those will be confiscated.

4. Have your wine follow you

Whether you buy a bottle of wine onboard your cruise or bring your own, if you do not finish that bottle in one night, have your waiter store it for you.  And if the next night you choose to have dinner elsewhere, like the Windjammer or a specialty restaurant, just tell your new waiter you have a bottle of wine stored for you.

They will ask your stateroom number and within a few short minutes your wine will appear.  This is a great way to keep using the same bottles of wine without pressure to "use it or lose it".

5. Get food allergies and special requests taken care of on day one

If you or someone you are travelling with has a food allergy or a special dietary request, go to the main dining room on embarkation day and ask to speak with the head waiter on duty.

Once you speak with him or her, you can convey any special requests you may have and get it in place for the rest of your cruise.

6. Pre-book hibachi

We are advocates of pre-booking as much as you can via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site to save time and money, but when it comes to the wildly popular Izumi hibachi option available on select Royal Caribbean ships, pre-booking is critical.

The teppanyaki dining at Izumi is quite popular and seating is limited. Therefore, if you absolutely want to experience it on your cruise, pre-book it via the Cruise Planner to ensure a spot.  It is quite common for Izumi to sell out spots for hibachi, especially once onboard the ship.

7. Book a specialty dining package to save money

If you are interested in dining at more than one specialty restaurant, your best bet to save money is to purchase a specialty dining package.

Specialty dining packages can be purchased online via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.  These packages will absolutely save you money compared to booking individual restaurants a la carte. 

The "catch" with dining packages is you cannot book a specific restaurant or time until you board the ship, and must dine at one restaurant on either night one or two. Not to worry, booking reservations is simple enough once you get onboard, so be sure to make reservations once onboard.

8. Avoid lines for meals

If you are looking for less-crowded options for any meal, always consult the Cruise Compass for all venues open.  Too often, cruisers gravitate towards the main dining room or Windjammer for meals.  While these are great spots, always consider other venues for quicker service.

Venues such as Cafe Promenade, Park Cafe, Sorrento's Pizzeria, Solarium Bistro and Cafe Latte-tudes offer complimentary dining choices that can be quick and simple.

9. Have My Time Dining? Make reservations

If you have selected My Time Dining for your dinner choice in the main dining room, the best strategy is to make reservations to minimize waiting for a table.

While reservations for My Time Dining are not required, having a reservation greatly reduces your wait time, especially if you want to dine at at peak times (6pm - 8pm). Moreover, the larger your group, the more important reservations are to ensuring there is a table waiting for you.

You can pre-book reservations for My Time Dining via the Cruise Planner site or make reservations while onboard.

10. Make dietary requests before you board

If you have a dietary restriction, then you may want to let Royal Caribbean know about them up front. 

Royal Caribbean can accomodate dietary needs such as food allergies, gluten-free, Kosher, low-fat, and low-sodium.

In additional, vegetarian meals (including Indian-style vegetarian) are available on all menus in the main dining room.  Guests do not need to make a special request for these meals.

Lactose-free/soy milk, Ensure, and Kosher meals are available no extra charge. All you have to do is notify Royal Caribbean at least 45 days prior to sailing (90 days for European/South American Itineraries).

You may also send an e-mail request to [email protected]; please include in the e-mail the guests' names, booking number, ship name and sail date.  It's best to make requests like this at least 90 days in advance of your sailing.

More Royal Caribbean dining tips

Here are a few more helpful Royal Caribbean dining resources:

Spotted: Chops + 1 Dining Package

In:
23Apr2019

Royal Caribbean has added a new specialty dining option where you can reserve a dinner at Chops Grille specifically, plus an additional dinner at a different specialty restaurant.

 

Dubbed the Chops + 1 Dining Package, it is available on select cruises to be booked via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site. One dinner must be redeemed on the  the first or second night of the sailing. The second dinner can be redeemed any other night of the sailing.

Second dinner of package may not be redeemed in Chops Grille. For venues with a la carte pricing, package includes a $35 food credit. 

Not valid for premium experiences including Chef’s Table, wine pairings dinners, Izumi Hibachi experience, Mystery Dinner Theater and Holiday Dinners. 

The cost of the package ($75 per person) includes a  40% discount on bottles of wine under $100 and 20% on bottles above $100 during your meals.

Children between the ages of 0-5 are complimentary and ages 6-12 are $10.

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