(6:30 p.m. EST) - Royal Caribbean International is revolutionizing its dining program, throwing out much of the old and ushering in a new era of MDR-less, flexible, multichoice dining -- at least onboard its much-anticipated newbuilds Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas.
Called Dynamic Dining, the new program will give passengers a choice of 18 restaurants, of which seven will be fee-free for all guests: four full-service and three casual eateries. A new reservations system also will be used onboard so passengers can decide when, where and with whom they want to eat each night.
"Dynamic Dining provides a whole new level of flexibility, variety and quality," Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, executive vice president of operations for Royal Caribbean said.
Royal Caribbean, a line long-associated with brand partnerships (think DreamWorks and Fisher-Price), is bringing three celebrity chefs into the Quantum Class fold, including the Naked Chef himself, Jamie Oliver. James Beard award-winning chef Michael Schwartz and Biggest Loser chef Devin Alexander also will have restaurants onboard.
Another highlight of the new program: Formal night will no longer be pegged to a specific night but instead to a restaurant at which it will always be formal night.
On the House
Rather than one or two main dining rooms, four included, full-service restaurants will be featured on Quantum and Anthem of the Seas. Each will feature a set menu. Rather than being forced to elect early or late seating, passengers can visit any of the four venues for dinner at any time they like.
The dress code at three of the dining rooms will be casual, but The Grande is for those who love to dress up in their finest. A nod to the bygone era of ocean crossings, The Grande will offer timeless dishes to diners clad in elegant evening wear. Lobster lovers take note: the popular crustacean will be available every night.
The other three venues are:
•American Icon Grill: a modern take on classic American regional cuisine with dishes like reuben turnovers and New England Clam Chowder;
•Chic: a contemporary eatery serving modern dishes made from scratch, such as potato crusted black cod and mint crusted lamp chops;
•Silk: a Pan-Asian restaurant with dishes like Saigon shrimp and Szechuan beef short ribs;
Suite passengers get one more fee-free choice with Coastal Kitchen, a Mediterranean-inspired sit-down venue serving items like golden beet salad and grilled vegetable flatbread.
For-Fee Specialty Restaurants
|Michael's Genuine Pub||$|
Onboard Quantum and Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean is taking its penchant for brand-label
partnerships up a notch with three specialty restaurants created by celebrity chefs, including the first-at-sea outpost of Oliver's Jamie's Italian.
With more than 30 locations in the United Kingdom, the for-a-fee Jamey's Italian offers Italian favorites using seasonal ingredients. Dishes include seafood bucatini, crab spaghettini, and porchetta.
"Royal Caribbean shares my approach to food and dining," Oliver said of the partnership. "To serve simple, fresh ingredients in a warm, inviting ambience."
Another celebrity-chef inspired venue will be Michael's Genuine Pub, the next evolution of Royal Caribbean's partnership with James Beard award-winning chef Schwartz. The pub will offer simply prepared gastropub fare including pulled pork sliders and deviled eggs.
And in the Solarium, passengers will find Devinly Decadence at Solarium Bistro, a sit-down restaurant designed by Alexander, a New York Times bestselling author and chef for television show The Biggest Loser. All dishes, like chicken satay with peanut dipping sauce, served at Devinly Decadence will have fewer than 500 calories.
Other for-fee restaurants onboard Quantum and Anthem of the Seas will be:
•Wonderland: described by Royal as an "elaborate feast for the senses" in which chefs "twist their culinary kaleidoscopes to invent a dreamscape of never-before-seen fare." Items on the menu include wasabi and apple smoke crip, sweet & sour bonito bacon, and vanishing noodles.
•Favorite Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants returning: Chops Grille steakhouse, Izumi Japanese Cuisine and Chef's Table.
Prices for the specialty restaurants have not been set yet.
Laid Back 'Round the Clock
Several come-as-you-are eateries will be featured on board Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas as well.
In addition to the for-a-fee Cafe Promenade and Johnny Rockets, four complimentary options will include:
•Windjammer Marketplace: the line's signature buffet, which includes made-to-order specialties, an on-site bakery and a 24-hour station called The Grill;
•The Cafe @ Two70: a gourmet marketplace serving hot-pressed sandwiches, salads made to order, handmade soups and more;
•SeaPlex Dog House: a food truck at sea offering gourmet hot dogs within SeaPlex, Royal Caribbean's largest indoor activity space at sea with activities like bumper cars and roller skating;
•Sorrento's:a casual Italian eatery serving up pizzas, paninis, salads and plenty of sweets.
The 167,800-ton, 4,180-passenger Quantum of the Seas will sail seven- to eight-night Bahamas cruises, eight- and 11-night Eastern Caribbean cruises, and a 12-night Southern Caribbean itinerary from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey, beginning in November. The ship will include a host of new features such as indoor skydiving, bumper cars, trapeze lessons, studios with balconies and inside cabins with "virtual balconies."
Fleetmate Anthem of the Seas will sail itineraries from Southampton to the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and France and Spain during the summer and from Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean during the winter.
--By Dori Saltzman, News Editor