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Celebrity’s ‘Evening Chic’ Dress Code

Eclipse

At first glance, the latest attempt to define how people should dress when going for dinner on Celebrity cruise ships could be called splitting hairs. 

Or threads.

No more “formal” nights in the dining room. They’re being replaced by “evening chic” nights. What’s evening chic?

“Dressier than smart casual, less dressy than formal.”

Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that what Celebrity is really trying to do is this: Allow Eclp-Diningpeople to wear designer jeans to the dining room as part of dressing up while making sure they don’t wear ripped jeans…designer or not.

That’s called “too” casual. So are shorts and t-shirts and, yes, you’d think that people wouldn’t have to be told how to dress when going to a “dining” room. But they do.

So in Celebrity’s case, and only on “evening chic” nights, you must dress up by wearing a sports jacket and designer jean (men) or a “flirty dress” (women). You will, of course, still be welcome if you wear a tuxedo or evening gown since that attire is still part of the cruise experience for a shrinking crowd.

What we’d like to know is…who’s going to enforce the dress code? It has been our experience on any number of ships that when certain attire (specifically shorts) is not allowed at dinner, you can always find somebody — and more than one person — in the dining room wearing shorts, and sometimes t-shirt, too.

In the news…

• Liberty of the Seas to Galveston to be largest ship ever home-ported in Texas
• Royal Caribbean now charging for RFID bands on Anthem of the Seas
• Splendour of the Seas to become the Thomson Discovery next June

Today at portsandbows.com: Cirque do Soleil and MSC cruise ships


Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
4 nights
January 18, 2016
Miami (return): CocoCay, Nassau
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $74
www.royalcaribbean.com

Dynamic Dining’s Classic Change

You may recall that we wrote last summer (okay, we hope you recall that we wrote last summer) how something had to change with the dining rooms on Allure of the Seas, then Royal Caribbean’s newest ship.

Our reasoning (in the unlikely event that you have forgotten) was that when you have two traditional dining rooms with 1,100 and 1,400 guests and a lot of empty tables, and one pick-your-time-to-eat dining with 2,067 guests — many of them waiting to get in — then you had a problem.

Or at least a change waiting to be made.

The change will happen on Anthem of the Seas, the next new Royal Caribbean ship, scheduled to arrive in April. This is not exactly the Dynamic Dining concept the cruise line Grandeur dining roomannounced months ago, whereby instead of one main dining room, diners could choose from smaller rooms and eat when they wished.

The “traditional crowd” evidently objected.

So Royal Caribbean creatively designed an off-shoot of Dynamic Dining and is calling it Classic. It’s for people who want to eat at fixed times: early or late. It gives these traditionals a chance to experience all four complimentary restaurants, each of which has a distinctive menu. It means their “wait staff” will move with them. And it gives the cruise line a better opportunity to avoid line-ups at one dining room when there are empty tables at another, by controlling how much of a restaurant is dedicated to early/late seatings — remember, people have to sign up for it in advance.

What Royal Caribbean really did was listen to its customers and, if this more-flexible Classic concept works on Anthem of the Seas, expect it to be rolled out over the fleet in time and refurbishments.

Remember this time where you read it first.

Just like last time, right?

Today at portsandbows.com: Perks continuing for Norwegian

Carnival Elation
4 nights
September 10, 2015
New Orleans (return): Cozumel
Inside: $289
Cost per day: $72
www.carnival.com

Dining Time…Whenever You Want?

 

Nobody's going to come right out and say so, but the sands appear to be shifting for My Time Dining on Royal Caribbean ships.

When Allure of the Seas goes in for refurbishing in the fall, it's suspected that more than half the dining room space will be allocated for My Time, as opposed to the traditional, fixed-time seatings. When the new Quantum of the Seas arrives in November, there's talk the whole ship will be My Time…and Anthem of the Seas plus two more Oasis Class ships are in the horizon.

My TimeWhy more My Time?

Two reasons come to mind.

One is there has been a definite change in cruise passengers' eating habits. On one typical evening at the three-tiered many dining room (Adagio) while we were on Allure of the Seas, the two "traditional" dining-room levels seated 1,100 and 1,400 diners. The My Time room had 2,067 customers that led to a waiting room full of hungry passengers, some delayed for as long as 45 minutes. The two floors below — both traditional seating — had empty tables.

The second reason contributes to the first. Entertainment on new ships is often not fixed…as in dinner, show, comedy — in that order. There is more happening throughout the evening on big ships, so fixed-time dining is much less desirable. In addition, with a younger demographic comes changing, less-rigid (i.e. less-traditional) eating habits that are the norm today.

What remains to be seen is if the entire cruise industry will adopt "my time" as the only time.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Carnival Miracle
16 nights
September 18, 2014
VancouverNawiliwiliKahuluiHonoluluKonaHiloLos Angeles
Inside: $1,399
Cost per day: $87
www.carnival.com

A Taste of Carnival's Food Concept Branding

This one's for carnies. Not the people who coax you into trying to toss a ring around the neck of a Coke bottle or deflate a balloon with a dart to win a four-inch stuffed pig for the little one in your family…but the people who make Carnival their cruise line of choice.

The dictionary defines carnies as employees of a Carnival, but what do dictionaries know anyway? Every cruise line has its loyalists, so Carnival's are going to be Carnies, for better or for worse.

This news is for them…

Because Carnies have been asked for their feedback on food, the cruise line is floating a change in concept for dinner. Actually, two concepts. One is calledCarnival Dream dining roomAmerican Table, the other American Feast. More than anything, it appears to be an attempt at branding Carnival's food offerings, the way many cruise lines do with styles of eateries.

Carnival's doing it with menus in the dining rooms of four ships: Glory now, Liberty in January, Imagination and Inspiration in February. If it's a success — and that's where you Carnies can continue to have a say — the concepts will blanket the entire 23-ship line by the end of 2015.

American Table is being offered on Cruise Casual nights, which is most of them, and will feature an "exceptional American cuisine" like a modern restaurant with menus that the patrons designed. The entrees are being inspired by the ports of call…most of which are in the Caribbean.

American Feast is simply kicking it up a notch. It's scheduled for Cruise Elegant nights, once or twice a voyage. No mention of black ties and long gowns, because such things are rarely in the luggage of Carnival cruisers, but Carnival is promising a "more elegant, more elaborate" style of serving. That will be reflected in the menus (mojito cured ham, broiled Maine lobster, etc.) and it's safe to assume if you did wear a black tie, you would be more than welcome.

In the final analysis, Carnival is saying the decision to take American Table and American Feast fleet-wide will be made by its people.

Yes, the Carnies.

Norwegian Sky
4 nights
January 6, 2014
Miami (return): Grand BahamaNassauGreat Stirrup Cay
Inside: $149
Cost per day: $39
www.ncl.com

Explorer of the Seas…Changes

The Explorer of the Seas will be going in for a major refurbishing after Royal Caribbean introduces Quantum of the Seas near the end of 2014. 

Having been on Explorer of the Seas, we have five unsolicited suggestions on what to change — and five on what not to change — when this beautiful, 13-year-old ship gets a facelift.

What not to change:

1. Stairway of the Stars: As artwork on ships goes, this is fascinating for our demographic. It was not just photos and artifacts of "stars" like Bruce Springsteen, the McCartneys and The Rolling Stones, it was also items like a self-portrait by Peter Falk and paintings by Herb Alpert.

2. Promenade: It's not likely to change much because it's a staple on Royal Caribbean ships now and it (almost) always gives you an idea exactly where you are on the ship, and it exposes the heart of the ship from several perches on the floors above.

3. Ice Rink: Having an ice rink on a cruise ship is cool and, besides being a double-entendre, that makes it unique in the industry.

4. Quality of food and servers: We ate in the main "My Time" dining room every night on this 9-day cruise…because that's where we wanted to be. The servers — Tankica Gogova and Vivek Golsalves — became friends and the head waiter (Balachandran Sankaranutty) was exceptional. The food was so good we didn't dare take a chance on missing the new items each night.

5. A changing day-of-the-week inserted in carpet in elevator: Hey, it's a small thing, but doesn't everybody forget what day it is when you're on a cruise?

What to change:

1. Spanish omelette on the breakfast menu in the dining room: This creation is eggs, potatoes and onion…no ham, no peppers, no spices. Even in Spain, they call that a potato omelette. One of the staff said "Don't have it" — too late.

2. Room 9514, and any others like it: This room is directly below the bridge, on the starboard side, which is fine. It has an ocean-view window and if you walk over to take a look at the view, anybody over five feet tall is certain to bump your head on the curved ceiling.

3. Internet: Always an issue on cruise ships, this one only had hot spots and, in this day and age, having it everywhere on the ship is becoming the common practice. As an aside, and this doesn't apply just to Explorer of the Seas, don't you wonder if cruise staff who depend on Internet connections, too, have the same slow speed as passengers who pay 75 cents a minute? Just wondering…

4. Televisions: This is certainly a no-brainer, because almost nobody has what one Explorer staffer said his daughter called "fat TVs" nowadays. The fat shall become flat. However, when the renovators get rid of the old TVs, they should make sure that access to CNN doesn't go with them.

5. Window tables for two: For those of us who enjoy "My Time Dining" and who enjoy each other's company because cruising is not a mission to make new friends, getting stuck under a staircase or against the back wall at every meal is unacceptable when there are many tables for four not being used by the windows.


Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas
7 nights
July 7, 2013
Seattle (return): Juneau, Skagway, Tracy Arm, Victoria
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $114
www.royalcaribbean.com

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