Royal Caribbean (RCL) - Get Free Report began rolling out its new main dining room (MDR) menus at the start of the year. The changes include making every night follow a theme (including Welcome Aboard, American, Italian, Mexican, Caribbean, and Mediterranean) and getting rid of the "classics" section of the menu.
That change might be even bigger than moving to theme nights as staples that used to be offered every night now only appear once or twice during a seven-night cruise. Diners will feel that impact in two ways. First, some passengers had a favorite appetizer on the "classics" list -- escargot and French onion soup, for example.
Second, the "classics" section offered basic items including New York strip steak, spaghetti bolognese, salmon ,and a basic chicken. That was a comfort for picky eaters or parents of teenagers who might not be culinary adventurers. Those items do still pop up, but not every night, and that could push some passengers to opt for a specialty restaurant or the Windjammer buffet on nights the menu does not meet their liking.
But while the new menus have received most of the media (and social media) attention, that's not the only change the company has made. Royal Caribbean has also changed its lobster tail policy and many passengers are not going to be happy.
Royal Caribbean and Carnival Both Make Lobster Changes
Royal Caribbean ships on 6-night trips or longer offer a formal night (actually called "Dress Your Best" night where lobster tails are served in the main dining room on the free menu. It's always possible to purchase a lobster tail in MDR from the small list of items from the Chops steakhouse menu every night, but on formal night, they are included.
Previously, Royal Caribbean offered passengers as many lobster tails as they wanted (and actually ate). Servers would sometimes even go around the dining room bringing them to passengers before they even asked for one.
Now, under the new rules, passengers who want a second lobster tail (and any after that) will pay $16.99 plus an 18% gratuity for each one they ask for.
Passengers, it should be noted, can still order a second entree along with their lobster tail (and many opt for a steak to make it surf and turf) free of charge. You can also have seconds, or even more portions of any other entree, but lobster tails are being limited to one complimentary tail per seating.
Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) - Get Free Report has enacted its own entree policy which impacts lobster lovers as well. It is now charging $5 per entree after a passenger has had two entrees. That counts for lobster tails as well, meaning that a Carnival cruiser could have 5 lobster tails (two free and three at $5 each) for a little less than Royal Caribbean's charge for a second tail.
Royal Caribbean, Carnival Changes Are Not All About Money
While passengers quickly blame any change on financial cutbacks, that's not the only thing motivating Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Both want to cut down on food waste and having a slimmer menu does that as does making people think twice before ordering an entree they may not really want.
In addition, Royal Caribbean Group President Michael Bayley has said that many passengers have said that dinner takes too long. In the past, dinner could be a two-hour affair. Now, the cruise line is shooting for 75 minutes for the evening meal.
The new menus are already beginning to appear on some Royal Caribbean ships. Fully rolling them out is expected to be completed at some point in February. Bayley has said that the cruise line may continue to make tweaks based on customer feedback as the changes roll out around the Royal Caribbean fleet.