September 13, 2016
(5 p.m. EDT) -- Following nearly two years of feedback on its Dynamic Dining rotational dining concept, Royal Caribbean has pulled the plug by removing it from Anthem of the Seas.
Piloted on Quantum of the Seas when the ship launched in November 2014, Dynamic Dining replaced the traditional cruise ship main dining room experience with a system that required passengers to eat in a different restaurant at a different table and with different waiters each night.
Starting with Anthem's November 27 sailing, passengers will be assigned to one of four dining venues and will eat there for the duration of the voyage, marking the implementation of Royal Caribbean's My Time Dining concept, which is used throughout the rest of the fleet. Cruisers opting for set-seating dining (6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.) will be assigned to either Chic or The Grande, and those who choose flexible dining will be placed in Silk or American Icon.
"What's great about a cruise vacation is that it's easy, but Dynamic Dining made it a little bit more complicated to plan each night," Mark Tamis, Royal Caribbean's senior vice president of hotel operations, told Cruise Critic when asked why the change was made. "We heard pretty loud and clear from our guests that the benefit the My Time Dining model provides would outweigh the benefit of having this [Dynamic Dining] variety."
To keep that variety intact, the menu will be the same at all four restaurants, but it will change every night.
"These are new and upgraded menus from around the fleet," Tamis noted, explaining that they're only found on Oasis of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Empress of the Seas at this time. The improved menus are currently being tested, and there are plans to roll them out on Ovation of the Seas when it begins sailing from Australia, shortly before they're made available on Anthem. The goal, Tamis said, is to have them on all ships in the fleet (with the exception of Quantum), but no official schedule has been finalized.
Tamis added that formal nights will make an appearance on Anthem, with one each on sailings of fewer than seven nights and two each on cruises of seven nights or more.
Additionally, Tamis said show times have been tweaked to allow more flexibility for passengers who plan to see shows either before or after dinner. Some matinees will also be offered.
Anthem of the Seas is the only ship in the fleet that uses Dynamic Dining.
When it was introduced on Quantum, cruisers initially complained that the idea was confusing and that the service was slow as the result of understaffing. The line had planned to implement the experience on other ships in the fleet, including Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas in 2015, but halted the rollout.
Logistical changes were made to Dynamic Dining on Quantum, and passengers noted marked improvements, but the concept was removed from the ship in mid-2015 when it relocated to China.
When Anthem of the Seas launched in April 2015, Royal Caribbean introduced Dynamic Dining Classic, a Dynamic Dining offshoot that allowed passengers to choose a set dining time with the same waiters and table number each night -- albeit at a different restaurant.
"When [passengers] told us they missed the option of having the same service staff every night, that's when we tweaked Dynamic Dining a little bit," Tamis said.
Debates over the topic have been heated on the Cruise Critic message boards, with some cruisers saying good riddance and others mourning the soon-to-be loss.
"The Dynamic Dining concept was my least favorite part of the Anthem!" says boards member karn0875. "… Even in the dining rooms, there was always an element of chaos!"
"Wonderful news!" adds johnjen. "This means there's hope yet of us sailing on Anthem again. We absolutely hated Dynamic. Back to traditional dining we hope!"
"We spent 39 nights on Quantum and really enjoyed DD," remembers woodyren. "By far the best dining experience we have had on any ship."
"REALLY disappointed with this," says robbykapnj. "We mainly booked our cruise on the Anthem in December due to Dynamic Dining Classic -- the ability to rotate to different restaurants with different environments."
Editor's Note: Menu appears courtesy of Royal Caribbean. Menus are examples only and are subject to change.
--By Ashley Kosciolek, Editor