I’ve picked up a few pieces of information on these points, so here we go.
Dynamic Dining: Royal Caribbean introduced this on their Quantum-class ships; it’s a change to the traditional dining model. As I understand it, instead of a single (or multiple, identical) Main Dining Room, there are multiple different dining rooms, with different menus. In addition to the four or so complimentary dining room there are a number of extra cost ones as well. The change is that passengers now can – need to? – make reservations for the evening meal in advance; in other words, they are completely free to eat wherever they like. I did a post about this some while ago, although I admit that I didn’t get all the details right. At that time Royal Caribbean announced that over time Dynamic Dining would be rolled out to their other ships, as appropriate, and certainly to the Oasis Class. Since then the first two Quantum class ships have entered service – Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas – and based on reports from them, some issues have arisen in the operation of Dynamic Dining. Here’s a link to a review by Sharon Poole of a cruise on Anthem of the Seas in which she talks about it, and here’s another link to a review by Malcolm Oliver.
The point of all this is that I have learned (thanks, Malcolm) that Royal Caribbean have now announced that Dynamic Dining will not after all be rolled out across other suitable ships. I think Malcolm’s analysis is spot on – this is a big change that brings a lot of extra complexity, and Royal Caribbean are finding out the hard way just how much. As Malcolm says, this is in contrast with NCL who have been doing something similar (which they call Frestyle Dining) for a number of years, have been slowly enhancing it bit by bit, and have designed their ships around the concept. Anyway, here’s a link to the announcement on an RCI site.
Per-menu item pricing: Staying with NCL, I’ve learned that they are going to start switching to per-item (a la carte) pricing in some of their extra-cost speciality restaurants. For example, in Cagney’s Steakhouse starters will range from $4.99 to $7.99, and main courses from $17.99 to $29.99. I don’t know if this will permit additional items on the menu, presumably at the higher prices, but that would seem sensible. When I first read this my initial reaction was rather negative, but on reflection I can see some advantages – it might, for instance, be possible to just order one course at a price lower than the previous cover charge. In any case, I gather that Royal Caribbean already do per-item pricing in at least some of their extra-cost restaurants, and Val has reminded me that even on P&O, facilities such as The Glasshouse provide different food accompaniments at varying prices. I suspect therefore that this will be the way of the future. NCL are making the change first on their new ship, Norwegian Escape, in October, and will roll it out to the rest of the fleet in the New Year. It’s also worth saying that not all extra cost restaurants will use a la carte pricing. Here’s a link to the relevant NCL Press Release.
Changes to Queen Mary 2: Finally, there is news that QM2 will undergo a significant refit in 2016. It will take 25 days (27 May to 21 June) at Blohm+Voss, Hamburg. In addition to all the usual refurbishment that happens on these occasions, QM2 will gain 15 single cabins, an extra 10 dog kennels (apparently the existing kennels are in heavy demand), and 30 new Britannia Club balcony cabins. Here’s a link to the relevant press release.