New Dining Options Discussed in Our Latest Live Chat

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Last week I hosted a live chat with a focus on the Oasis of the Seas’ dining offerings. I was joined by two of my Hotel Operations colleagues, Frank Weber, VP, Food & Beverage Operations, and Ken Taylor, Director, Restaurant Operations. Our listeners asked over a thousand questions! An interesting twist was that many of the questions came from children. Obviously there is no way to field such a staggering number of questions but our fearless moderator Jessica Correa, Director, Brand Innovation & Alliance Marketing, does her best to select questions that are indicative of the key themes as the questions are flooding in. I’m sure some of the listeners believe Jessica only wants to relay softball questions. They don’t know Jessica. I’ve worked with her for many years and I can assure you she’s not particularly interested in making my life easy. Just kidding, Jessica.

There was a lot of interest in understanding which dining opportunities will be free and which will be for a charge and how much of a charge. Our goal is to offer a wider range of opportunities to eat “for free” than ever before and also provide numerous additional choices at a range of price points that we would only offer for a charge. You can check out the transcript of the chat at or the press release we issued right after the chat to review the choices and the charges.

The day after the chat, Richard Fain, Lisa Bauer and I had lunch in our test kitchen and tasted some of the offerings from 150 Central Park, our new fine dining concept that will carry the highest per person charge ($35) onboard Oasis of the Seas. It was outrageously delicious. Anyone who has dinner there will be very happy they did. By the way, we mentioned that on July 7th you will be able to book your Oasis of the Seas specialty dining meals online like you do for your shore excursions, wine packages, etc.

I’ve done two live chats in the last two months. During the first one I responded by typing the answers so everyone could read them as I responded. To be totally truthful, I spoke the answers and in real time they were typed for me. This time, Frank, Ken and I spoke our answers into the telephone. I’m curious to hear our readers’ preference for reading vs. listening to the answer.

  • Cristian

    Hi, i’m from Italy, and i’m very happy of this…. Good job Adam, and good luck….

  • cristian

    By the way, when i’m on holiday i’m happy to eat some typical food or something special, so i could remember the place that i’ve seen, not only with the eyes, but with another sense too….

  • Kenneth Greenstein

    Sailed on the Monarch of the Seas recently and had dinner appetizers in the Jade Restaurant. The quality was superb, the presentation outstanding, and the service and hospitality of the staff first rate. The portions were smaller than I’m acustomed too as the customary size of a Spicy Tuna Roll is “6” pieces but at Jade they were only 3 pieces. As a whole, “Jade” was a pleasurable experience, I personally would like to see a more generous portion for the paying customer.

  • Sandy Schubert

    Hi Adam listened to the chat and I really enjoyed it. I am pleased to see the number of free dining availabe. The ones that have cover charges appear to be reasonable for those who desire to use these venues.Looking forward to my next cruise.

  • robert t

    I liked the personal approach of the audio chat. Thanks to all of you who fielded the questions.

    However, in audio format some issues were too detailed to fully digest. (pardon the pun!) For example, the list of restaurants, the meals that they are open for, and their charges.

    I suggest combining “audio chat” and “presentation” formats. To do so effectively, you need to allow a longer period beforehand for questions (say, 48 hours). Jessica can forward some to you or others to prepare a visual response such as photos, lists, statistics, etc. Of course, Jessica could hold back those questions that don’t require a detailed or visual response such as the question about your favorite restaurant.

    I realize that this approach would entail more effort for you but I believe that it would make the information much more useful for us.

    (BTW Kudos to Ken for courageously choosing the ice cream parlor as his favorite.)

  • Leland

    There was a time when I felt a little guilty because instead of drinks or the casino, my goal was to do my best to eat the ship “out of house and home”…. or should I say “ship and home”.
    Now, I’m more excited than ever and I clearly see I’ll never eat all the food on board – I’m totally convinced the time of my life will be experienced in the endeavor!
    Thanks very much for making it possible to have every vacation an unforgettable experience!

  • Louis PLocker

    Why can’t portable (folding) bikes be brought with you on vacation. One of the answers I received is its a vehicle, and they are not allowed. The whole point of a folding bike is to take it with you on vacation.

  • thomas Young

    What seems like many years ago I worked for then the most successful Retail Giant in the world at the time. K mart got a new look a new chairman and lot’s of new ideas. The ideas in and of the selves couldn’t miss or so it seemed. They were going to team up with names like Martha Stuart, Jaquelyn Smith, Jerry Baker the gardening expert, and others a nd develop a line of goods that would appeal to the upper class. This was a bold move as Kmart owned Blue Collar America. In this move which seemed logical they were going to completely revamp the structure of the store. They were going to go from basically 2400 Mom and Pop stores run by managers tailoring the mix to their local clientle to a central run company. This would be a huge undertaking and a never before accomplished feat if accomplished.
    The results were devastating. They alienated their blue collar customers, and the few white collar folks they won over would tell their worst enemy they had gotten a great deal at K mart of all places. Their former clients would tell the world about the bargain they got. Walmart picked up the fallen and the rest is Retail History.
    So that brings us to the Oasis of the Seas. If it is a ship for the masses and their is a venue all can enjoy then let me congratulate you fine folks in advance. If 1/10 of your cruisers leave the ship thinking that their business is no longer important and all the experienced staff was in the cash venues then you will join a long list of Retail Giants that will self destruct over the next 2 decades. Many people will be sacrificing all year to go on this cruise and looking forward to the time of their lives. Others will be doing it on a whim with money to burn. They will do it because it is trendy and once it no longer is they will move on.
    When preparing all these great venues please keep in mind the word of mouth your loyal customers have provided over the last few decades and don’t loose sight of their importance and key to your future success.
    You have and continue to offer a great product. If you make that product unaffordable for your most loyal customers or if they feel no longer important to you then the game is over and it will cost way to much money to get back what you had in the first place.
    Keep up the good work and stay as loyal to your customers as they are to you.


    Hello, :)

    I would love to go on a cruise. If there is a program or giveaway of a cruise leaving out of Baltimore, MD I would love to receive it. My husband and I would be most gracious. A change of scenery would do wonders during this time for us.

  • Ivan

    “My Time Dinning” defently is not for us. As Dimond Plus menbers (we stared sailing sin the Song of America). We consider than fallowing the stps of the “others” that offer the so call free style crusing is not such a grat innovation.
    1. Rembering on maiking the reservation for that evening.
    2. No matter what you will end up waiting fot the empty table.
    3. Differnt table and differnt stward.
    4. When you start the salad, across the table
    someone else one the dessert.
    5. People in and out in the midle of dinner.

  • robert t

    I eagerly listened to your online chat about the array of dining alternatives. However, I am very disappointed about two revelations:
    (1) the number of restaurants with additional charges, and
    (2) à la carte pricing.

    (1) too many restaurants have additional charges
    I read your blog about “Balancing Great Value and an Array of Choices” and I understand that some unique experiences should be priced extra. However, we all eat, and we all like variety. Yet, 50% of the restaurants are priced extra!

    (2) à la carte pricing
    à la carte pricing ruins the vacation dining experience for those of us who rarely, if ever, see menus without prices. That experience alone significantly enhances my vacation. It’s wonderful that I can order anything on the menu without considering the price. Or, if I choose to pay a cover charge, I know the price beforehand and I shouldn’t be distracted with prices on the menu.

    Even more confusing is the pricing for the Seafood Shack that combines a cover charge, restrictions on what I can order, and à la carte pricing! And why, after paying $25 additional for Chops Grille, must I pay extra for a specialty coffee or your Royal Caribbean coffee blend? Please don’t tell me that you don’t think most people want a truly great coffee!

    All this leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. You tease me with all these dining options, but you’re trying to get your hand in my pocket just too many times!

    I suggest these changes:
    – Remove à la carte pricing for Vintages and replace it with complementary tapas with minimum bar purchases.
    – Remove à la carte pricing for Isumi’s and replace it with a $15 cover charge.
    – Reduce the cover charge for the Solarium Bistro from $20 to $15 thereby making the dinner cover charge the same for Isumi’s, Solarium Bistro, and Giovanni’s Table.
    – Ideally, remove the cover charges for Johnny Rockets and the Seafood Shack. Or, if you really feel the need for greed :), at least offer a package that includes all non-alcoholic beverages, the Ice Cream Parlor, Johnny Rockets, and Seafood Shack. If you keep the cover charge for Seafood Shack, please remove the menu restrictions and the $3.50 charge for each additional item (even if it means increasing the charge).
    – Remove the extra charge for specialty, non-alcoholic coffees at the upgrade restaurants (even if it means increasing the charge). The only extra charge in upgrade restaurants should be for alcoholic beverages; even sparkling water should be included.

  • Keith

    I would like to know why there are no 7 day western carribean cruises that include a stop in Key West anymore? I took a couple 7 day western carribean cruises in the early 90’s and Key West was one of my favorite stops. Also I’ve noticed that alot of the 7 day cruises have only three stops. Is this a cost cutting measure?

    • Adam

      Keith, we try to offer variety with our different 7 night Caribbean itineraries and generally offer patterns to the Eastern and Western Caribbean from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral while offering Western Caribbean itineraries from Galveston on a seasonal basis. We also offer 7 night Southern Caribbean itineraries from San Juan and Colon, Panama. The specific ports and the number of ports varies from home-port, region and ship. On a 7 night cruise we offer between 3 and 5 ports of call. Logistics, time, distance and port attractiveness and infrastructure are all taken into consideration. Virtually all of our 7-night cruises to the Western Caribbean are on an Oasis-, Freedom-, or Voyager-class ships that physically do not fit into Key West. If there ever is a dredging project to widen the channel to Key West we will look for opportunities to send larger ships there. We regularly offer Key West our shorter cruises of 5 nights or less where we utilize our smaller ships.

  • Jim

    I hope that RCCL quickly figures out that cruisers don’t want to be “nickel and dimed” to death on a cruise. I have to believe you have one heck of a marketing organization behind you, doing all the inbound market research to determine what your customers really want. I am fine with having value-add options available as a choice. RCCL wants to make money for its shareholders, and I can’t fault them for that. However, when the value-add model becomes the norm, where I find myself monitoring my bill on a daily basis because of all the add-ons, then I know it’s time to stop cruising and do something else. During the last couple of cruises I did with RCCL I heard more people complaining about this than in the past. I would rather pay 5-10% more for my cruise and not worry about it than deal with it on an a-la-carte basis.

    Please, RCCL, listen to us experienced cruisers and stop monkeying with a winning formula. You’re doing things that are starting to negatively impace the cruise experience. Please stop it!

  • Linda

    My family truly loves cruising with Royal Caribbean. Have no complaints. PLEASE don’t change your tipping policy or fixed seating time option! I will not cruise with NCL and would have to think long and hard to sail on HAL. The level of service is not the same when tipping is automatically added and dining when you want is chaotic! RCL does it right!

  • Jeff leonard

    I really enjoyed the audio chat. During the chat it was stated that we would be able to reserve the specialty restaurants on-line beginning on 9 July. I am on the Oasis on 8 May and am unable to make reservations. Are there requirements as to how far away from the cruise you can make reservations?

    • Adam

      Jeff, the dining reservations system is open according to the schedule below for future sailings. You can book your dining reservation from Feb. 1, 2010.

      Web Release Date | Voyages FROM : TO
      8/15/2009 | 10/1/2009 : 12/31/2009
      10/15/2009 | 1/1/2010 : 4/30/2010
      2/1/1010 | 5/1/2010 : 8/30/2010
      6/1/2009 | 9/1/2010 : 12/31/2010

  • John Narkin

    I have cruise many times before and don’t mind paying the cover charge for Chops. My wife and I would like to have a nice quiet dinner with just the two of us on special occasions while on the ship.

    My only issue with the turn RCCL is taking is with all the areas they are now charging for. Part of the reason for the cruise is to get onboard and relax. Not have to worry about every little thing. It just seems that RCCL is charging for every little thing at this point. I don’t mind paying extra for alcohol, but maybe add an option for an all inclusive package, to include alcohol, soda, and specialty dining. That would be a program I would love to see.

  • H. Steele

    With all your innovations… please consider an area designated for “adult diners” only, on the second seating… Most of your accommodations could handle this as easily as MTD… And would be “nice” to put something in place for your adult cruisers… it does seem lots of focus on families and other special interest… which is fine, just would like this given some consideration… thank you.

  • Kathy

    Can you make reservations for anytime dining for the whole week at one time? Or do you have reserve daily?

    • Adam

      Kathy, guests are able to make reservations either each day or for the entire week depending on what they are more comfortable with. Thanks for asking.

  • RCL4Ever

    I too have to chime in regarding all the additional fees for dining (specifically on the Oasis). You’re already asking quite a hefty cruise fare which most of us are willing to pay but now you’re asking us not only to pay those astronomical cruise fares but also expect to pay for items such as candy, donuts, etc. I just tried to book my family reunion on the Oasis and was quickly rejected by the planning committee because of all the additional fees associated with sailing on this ship. In today’s economic times, when will you all give the consumer’s a break. As high as the cruise fare is a lot of this “for fee” stuff should be included. As others have stated you need to really consider an all inclusive package in addition to making the Seafood Shack flat fee like Johnny Rockets. Thanks for allowing me to add my 2 cents. :-)