Carnival Cruise Line makes a big main dining room change

Regular cruisers seem to resist change even when it's arguably for the better. That's because people go into a cruise with certain expectations and when something changes, those expectations may not be met.

That makes it incredibly difficult for cruise lines to make any changes to their menu which became evident last year when both Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) and Royal Caribbean completely overhauled their main dining room (MDR) menus.

Related: Royal Caribbean makes a huge free dining improvement

When you serve thousands of passengers on each ship and millions of people each year, every tweak you make invariably gets rid of someone's favorite item. Royal Caribbean, you can argue, made negative changes to its dinner menus (albeit at least partially for noble reasons.)

The cruise line pared down its MDR menus and moved to a themed night set-up in the interest of cutting down on food waste and offering faster service. Royal Caribbean also dropped the "Classics" section of its menu which offered basic items like shrimp cocktail, French onion soup, New York strip steak, spaghetti bolognese, a basic chicken, and a few others. 

That arguably made the experience worse for picky eaters or families with young kids who don't have more daring palettes.

Some Carnival changes, like the cruise line charging $5 for every entree after the second one, could be seen as negatives. Carnival's MDR changes, on the other hand, were more focused on revamping its menu than on taking things away. Yes, a few items disappeared, but many more were added as the cruise line worked with its Chief Culinary Officer Emeril Lagasse. 

Lagasse's position is not honorary.

Image source&colon Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival makes another key MDR change

When a cruise line adds something to serve some passengers, other cruisers see it as it taking something away from them. If Royal Caribbean, for example, expands its vegan offerings or adds more Chinese dishes, passengers who no longer see their favorite item offered as often (or at all) will draw a line between the two situations.

That's how some Carnival passengers may take its latest dining change which Brand Ambassador John Heald shared on his Facebook page.

"Every ship now has a gluten-free menu each night. You will need to ask your waiter for this because it is not on the app or the QR code yet. Here it is for tonight and if you need this menu, just ask your waiter as I said, and he or she will bring it. But there is a different gluten-free menu every night," he shared.

The menu contains some new items and many items that were already available that are naturally, or can be made, gluten-free. Carnival also has vegan and vegetarian menus that can be requested.

Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean offer gluten-free sections of their buffets.

Carnival and Royal Caribbean want to keep passengers safe

Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean will work to offer food that meets all dietary needs. In the past, however, someone with a gluten allergy or other food intolerance might have to pick their meals the night before or order from a limited selection of dishes.

They were also at the mercy of whether their waitstaff would fully understand their allergy. Someone who's allergic to tree nuts may not be allergic to peanuts. That's a bit nuanced and it can lead to problems.

Adding a gluten-free menu, along with the vegan and vegetarian menu, makes it easier for waitstaff to serve people with those allergies or preferences. It also frees up some of their mental bandwidth and time to work with passengers who may have less common dietary restrictions.

For any special dining requests including allergies, both cruise lines have email addresses passengers can use to alert the ship before their cruise. That gives the cruise line time to make special arrangements or even bring on alternative ingredients if needed.     

Royal Caribbean does not have a printed gluten-free menu but offers many gluten-free items. The cruise line recommends that passengers tell their head waiter of any dietary concerns and that cruisers share those issues with specialty restaurants as well.


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