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Royal Caribbean's Dining Changes

Okay, so we didn’t connect ALL the dots when telling you the “sands appear to be shifting” with dining on Royal Caribbean ships. It was logical to us, while on an Allure of the Seas cruise, that something had to change because there were line-ups to get into My Time Dining and empty tables in the main dining room.

The suspicion, we said, was that more space would be allocated to My Time Dining.

We underestimated Royal Caribbean.

The change is more dynamic. Hey, there’s a good word. And so it was that the venerable cruise line went about introducing Dynamic Dining or, as the press release says, its Oasis-dining room“flexible dining” program. The My Time Dining concept is history, replaced by one where “passengers can decide when, where and with whom they want to eat each night.”

Hmm, isn’t that like “my time?”

The Dynamic Dining reservations system, for all 18 restaurants (11 with fees, seven without), will be launched next month on Quantum of the Seas and next spring on Anthem of the Seas. Right now, Oasis of the Seas is in drydock and being refurbished to accommodate the Broadway show CATS and…Dynamic Dining.

Allure of the Seas will be next. Not wanting to usurp the buzz of a new concept on the new ships — Quantum and Anthem — Oasis will not actually roll out Dynamic Dining until after the newbies do, even though it will be physically ready this month.

That means “next year.”

The cruise line probably would have preferred waiting until then to make the announcement, but word leaked out of the shipyard where Quantum is being built in a tweet, and was later confirmed by Royal Caribbean. Nothing has been said about Allure of the Seas. That’s just our educated guess, and…

We’ve been wrong before.

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival Live news

Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas
5 nights
January 24, 2015
Port Canaveral (return): Cozumel, Grand Bahamas
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $79
www.royalcaribbean.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

Planning a Cruise After Booking One

Ways to plan a cruise. Every cruise line has them, in one form or another. One that seems to be catching some attention is Royal Caribbean's — called Cruise Planner — and, since we have a Royal Caribbean cruise on the horizon, it seemed a good idea to try it out.

Cruise Planner is to be used online because, frankly, just about everything is these days. It's designed to allow passengers to book reservations, activities and entertainment long before they walk up the ramp to board the ship. And as long as you have more spare time BEFORE the cruise than you will have on the ship, it keeps you from cutting into your vacation time.

We started with shore excursions, because they always seem to fill up first.

One of our ports is Falmouth, Jamaica. One of the sights to see there is Dunn's River Falls. This was a no-brainer. Click. Booked.

Entertainment…

On Royal Caribbean's big ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, the featured shows are Broadway musicals Hairspray and Chicago, respectively. Since we're going on Allure, Chicago it is. Click. Booked.

Restaurants…

We've always been fans of My Time Dining, because of its flexibility. But for people who eat dinner as early as 4 p.m. (we have friends who are earlybirds) and as late as 10 p.m., making that decision days or weeks before the cruise doesn't work. But you can choose not only the time you want to eat on each day of your cruise, but how many people you want to dine with each night.

That would be one.

You can also book meals in the "for-fee" restaurants. On Allure of the Seas, Chops Grille is $35, Giovanni's Table is $25, the Samba Grill is $30, Rita's Fiesta is $10 (or $20 with cocktails) and there's a Lafite Wine Tasting Experience for $23, for four wines from the famous Chateau Lafite.

Still thinking, still thinking…

There's also the spa, other free entertainment (it's all free), and activities ranging from Barbie to FlowRider lessons to an all-access tour.

The bottom line: The Cruise Planner is simple, detailed and easy to negotiate. Other cruise lines may be this good, but Royal Caribbean got this one right.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Snapshots of the new Regal Princess

Celebrity Infinity
10 nights
July 14, 2014
London (return): Paris, St. Peter Port, CorkDublinLiverpoolGlasgow, Holyhead
Balcony: $3,179
Cost per day: $317
www.celebritycruises.com

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