April 25, 2023
(8 a.m. EST) -- A new dining concept is on track to debut on Royal Caribbean's Utopia of the Seas in 2024.
Drawing inspiration from the allure of classic trains and their iconic dining cars, the cruise line will introduce an immersive dining experience that will take diners on virtual train rides throughout the world, while enjoying food and beverages of the destinations displayed on digital screens.
In its current unfinished iteration, the concept will feature a train station design with a bar that leads to two train car facades where diners will embark on their digital journeys.
At the train station portion, passengers will be able to see their reservations on a digital screen that emulates the classic split-flap display used in train stations and airports of yesteryear.
Inside the faux train cars, which will be decorated and built to the specifications of actual train cars, diners will encounter a handful of tables placed next to windows with digital displays, where footage of destinations will flash by.
According to Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean's chief product innovation officer, food and destination are the two aspects of a Royal Caribbean cruise that are most appealing to passengers. The immersive experience seeks to marry both while providing virtually endless storytelling opportunities. Some ideas include a wine and chocolate tour of Napa Valley, a Wild West-themed experience (complete with actors in period garb) and a Polar Express-themed experience for the holidays.
Although the details of the dining experience -- from the exact content of the menu to the look and feel of the venue -- are still under development, the train model will remain in place as the main engine behind the restaurant.
The Royal Caribbean executive also revealed that the new restaurant, which still lacks a name, will be located aboard Utopia of the Seas in the same location where the sushi restaurant Izumi currently sits on other Oasis-class ships: Symphony of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.
Schneider hinted that Izumi might still make an appearance elsewhere on Utopia of the Seas. On the upcoming Icon of the Seas -- set to arrive in January 2024 a few months before the Oasis-class ship -- Izumi is set to be located in the Central Park neighborhood.
Royal Caribbean's upcoming dining experience is the latest development in a trend of immersive dining venues. Princess Cruises recently introduced its 360: An Outstanding Experience aboard Enchanted Princess and Discovery Princess, while Disney Wish's Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge and Avengers Quantum Encounter also combine digital technology with character encounters.