In recent days, two cruise lines have made changes to their main dining room menus, both of which impact the tremendously popular broiled lobster tail offered on special evenings. But why the changes?
Royal Caribbean Charging for Extra Lobster
Royal Caribbean International is testing a charge for multiple lobster tails ordered in the main dining room aboard the Oasis-class Symphony of the Seas.
Broiled lobster tail has always been a popular entrée for formal night dinners, and some guests choose to order multiple lobster tails to truly indulge on that special evening. Now, however, that extra lobster now comes with an extra cost.
A charge of $16.99 (USD) plus an 18% gratuity will be added to a guest’s account for ordering a second lobster tail. While not explicitly stated, it is likely the surcharge will also apply to a third, fourth, or any other additional lobster tails a single guest may order. The first lobster tail remains free of charge.
No direct explanation has been given for this new surcharge, but it is likely to help mitigate rising costs of such luxurious food, as well as to reduce food waste from over-ordering.
Another change to the lobster dish is its origin. Traditionally, Caribbean lobster has been offered in the main dining room, but now, the menu clarifies that the new entrée is cold water Maine lobster.
Maine lobsters are typically larger and “meatier” than Caribbean lobster, and while the tastes are similar, some seafood aficionados report a slightly “sweeter” taste to Maine lobster, though much depends on how to delicacy is prepared.
Maine lobsters also have the classic large claws, while Caribbean lobster is a spiny lobster and has no claws. The tails are served in cruise ship dining rooms.
With Symphony of the Seas now serving Maine lobster, it is likely the meat from the claws could be used in lobster rolls, bisque, or other menu offerings.
At the moment, the lobster changes are only aboard Symphony of the Seas, but depending on how the changes are received, the surcharge and lobster source change may be rolled out to the entire Royal Caribbean Fleet.
These changes come at the same time that overall streamlined menus are being tested aboard Symphony of the Seas in an effort to expedite service without compromising overall dining quality.
Lobster Changes Aboard Carnival Cruise Ships
Carnival Cruise Line is also making changes to its main dining room that will dramatically impact lobster availability.
Starting November 7, 2022, the cruise line has added a $5 (USD) charge to all extra entrees in the main dining room, though the first entrée remains complimentary, as do all appetizers and desserts.
Guests onboard Carnival ships have commented via various social media platforms about often ordering multiple lobster tails when they are available, particularly since the portion size can occasionally be small.
Ordering multiple broiled lobster tails will now incur that extra entrée charge, however, though just at the $5 rate – the same as for any other extra entrée, with no higher charge for lobster explicitly.
The small size of the broiled lobster tails would indicate the source of the seafood is likely Caribbean lobster, though Carnival does not clarify the origins of the lobster served onboard its vessels.
While this charge is applied on all Carnival cruise ships, not just a single test vessel, it should be noted that broiled lobster tail is not served on every cruise.
Several years ago, Carnival Cruise Line dropped the broiled lobster tail from its menus entirely on sailings of five nights or less, reserving it as a specialty for longer cruises.
On shorter sailings, guests have been treated to lobster bisque instead. Lobster tail is always available in the onboard steakhouse specialty restaurant, regardless of sailing length.
With rising costs of seafood worldwide, these changes are not surprising. Depending on the retailer, amount of lobster purchased, and type of lobster, the seafood delicacy can range from $40-150 (USD) per pound.
Whole tails are generally more expensive, but offer the greatest proportion of meat and an elegant, classic presentation. Many cruise guests enjoy pairing lobster tail with a prime rib or steak for a decadent surf-and-turf.
In addition to lobster tails, other popular lobster dishes aboard cruise ships include lobster salad, lobster rolls, lobster bisque, and different types of sushi. The meat is also often used in other seafood salads, soups, or pasta dishes.
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With cruise lines focusing on sustainability and reducing food waste, it is likely that guests will start to see more lobster dishes available to ensure this expensive meat does not go to waste.