The approach to dining in the main dining rooms on the Quantum class ships is different than on other cruise ships. Whereas on most cruise ships, there are one or two big main dining rooms, the Quantum class ships have four dining rooms each with a different theme. In addition, on the first Quantum class ship, Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean did away with the traditional two-seating cruise ship dining system in favor of a flexible dining system called “Dynamic Dining,” which promised to allow guests the freedom to dine wherever and whenever they liked.
In general, the initial guest reaction to the dining operation on Quantum was not positive. This was due in part to poor communication and technological failures. In addition, a surprising number of guests said that they missed the traditional cruise ship dining system in which they developed friendships with their table companions and waiters over the course of a voyage.
Listening to this feedback, Royal Caribbean not only addressed the technological problems but made significant modifications to the main dining room operation on the second Quantum class ship, Anthem of the Seas. We asked Executive Sous Chef Tobias Friendenburg to outline some of these modifications.
A choice of options
“On Anthem, you have the choice Classic or Dynamic Dining.”*
“The Classic is like the classic dining that we have on the old ships.” Guests who opt for this system choose to dine either at the early seating or the late seat. They dine at the same time with the same table companions and the same waiters each evening.
But there is a twist to the new system - - the guests can rotate through the four main dining rooms through the course of the cruise. To illustrate, 'today, we are having dinner at table 308 in Chic. Tomorrow, we are going to American Icon where we are going to have table 308.”
Your waiter follows along with you through the four restaurants. Consequently, “he has four different uniforms. This is his Chic uniform. He has a Grande uniform, an American Icon uniform and a Silk uniform in case he needs to change the restaurant.”
If a guests likes a particular restaurant, he or she does not have to rotate. “I can also go every single night to Chic at my table with the same waiter.”.
Turning to the other option, “basically, the Dynamic Dining is that you can go at any time and go to any of the four [main restaurants] You go at the time you want to any of the four. It is like the My Time dining before.”
This option offers flexibility. “For example, if you go out on a tour and when you come back you want to go to a restaurant, you can.”
The drawback to such flexible systems is that more people might decide to go to a particular restaurant at a particular time than the restaurant can handle. In such instances, “there [may be] no table available.”
However, to avoid this situation, guests can make a reservation just like at a restaurant ashore. “You can do a reservation either by dialing 7000 or you can do it online also.”
The decision to try either Classic Dining or Dynamic Dining is not irrevocable. “You always can change. You can always go and say 'I tried the new Dynamic concept, I don't like it. So please book me back into the classic system. That is one of the nice things - - you leave the guest a choice.”
Each of the four main restaurants on Anthem has its own theme that runs through the décor and the cuisine. On Quantum of the Seas, while the menu used by each restaurant was different than the menus used in each of the other restaurants, it remained the same throughout the voyage. On Anthem, that is no longer the case.
“Basically, we have three different menus.” The first menu combines dishes from each of the restaurants. It is used on the first night of a cruise in all four restaurants in order to give guests an idea of the type of dishes served in each restaurant.
“Then you have menu A and menu B” in each restaurant. These menus are unique to a particular restaurant. A restaurant will use either its A or B menu on a given night and then switch to its other menu on another night. Thus, the Grand restaurant may use its Elegance menu one night and use its Opulence menu on another night. Along the same lines, Chic might use its Cosmopolitan menu on one evening and its Metropolitan menu on the next. The idea is to give guests more variety.
In addition, guests can make requests. “As a guest, you need to let us know what you are missing. If I have it onboard, we will make it.”
These changes to the dining operation are in direct response to feedback Royal Caribbean received during the first few months after Quantum entered service. On Anthem, the chefs actively seek guest comments in order to fine tune the operation.
“We are happy for every feedback that we get. If you don't tell me what you don't like or what you are missing, I don't know. We try to do everything that we can to make you happy with the food. The feeback is way more positive than we had on Quantum.”
Chef Friedenburg's favorites from the main dining rooms: “The surf and turf, you must taste because we cook it in a special way. The rib eye you must taste. The chicken with the onion crust from Chic is really delicious. The sea bass in Chic and the sea bass in Silk are phenomenal. The Asian-style duck in Silk is a must have.”
*When Anthem entered service, the official name was “Dynamic Dining.” Under that umbrella, you had Dynamic Dining Classic and Dynamic Dining Choice. Dynamic Dining Classic was the traditional style system whereas Dynamic Dining Choice was the flexible system. This nomenclature produced much confusion both among guests and staff. As a result, most people came to call the the traditional system Classic Dining and the flexible system Dynamic Dining.
Cruise ship inside interview - Royal Caribbean International - Anthem of the Seas - Executive Sous Chef