The culinary opportunities offered by dining at sea have always been a major ingredient in the cruise industry recipe for success. Long before multiple eateries, some included in the deal and others for a nominal fee, a ship’s main dining room was the place to be for each and every meal. Today more than ever before, an abundant number of dining options are available to cruise travelers with no end in sight as highly competitive cruise lines continue to evolve their culinary efforts. We have reached the point where dining has risen to be a bona fide qualifying factor in deciding which cruise line is a good fit for each individual traveler.
“The industry shows no signs of slowing down, with 24 million passengers expected to sail in 2016, a dramatic increase from 15 million just 10 years prior,” says the Cruise Lines International Association trade group in their State Of The Cruise Industry Outlook, tagging continued evolution of the cruise industry as a driving factor. That evolution includes a focus on hardware with new, innovative ships being offered, each one packed with dining possibilities.
In the past, each cruise line had some superstar signature menu items that would bring passengers back for more. Travelers expected a ‘lobster night’ or ‘prime rib night’ as events not to miss and checked posted dining menus each day to be there for them. But that was at a time when the alternative to visiting the main dining room was 24-hour room service or a buffet. Today, as multiple dining venues offer a wide range of culinary possibilities, the choice is more difficult.
Today, cruise lines often have more dining venues to choose from than there are days in a standard 7-night itinerary. In top end dining offerings, cruise lines might source local ingredients from the ports visited along the way; answering the consumer call for trendy eateries at sea as well as a focus on fresh as never before.
Cruise travelers of today can get a good idea of what is on the menu in advance from a variety of sources. More importantly perhaps, they can also go deep into the theory and thought that went into those menu creations cruise lines hope will bring them back for more. Cruise line recipes are not all that hard to find. Copies of menus, photos of menu items and more are available through YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest and more.
As we might expect, there is a whole lot more to this story as cruise lines continue to differentiate themselves from one another. Look for more on this topic in future posts, covering cruise line efforts to win our loyalty, engaging us with everything from going ashore to shop with the ship’s chef to teaching us how to make their fabulous creations at home. Odds are that there is a cruise line offering that will meet just about any personal dining preference. Helping readers figure out which cruise line that might be, that focus will continue throughout the year.
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