The relationship between passengers ships and trains goes back to the genesis of both forms of transport during the Industrial Revolution in Britain, when railways were built to carry passengers from the major towns and cities of the UK to its primary shipping ports.
Today, many cruise line’s offer rail-cruise combo holidays, with a luxury train expedition either before or after a voyage, harkening back to that early relationship.
Aboard Utopia of the Seas guests will be able to experience both simultaneously. The new dining concept doesn’t have a name yet, but at a preview of the immersive restaurant at Royal Caribbean’s headquarters in PortMiami, the media was given a taste of the experience.
The restaurant will use large high-definition screens serving as train windows to take diners on virtual train rides throughout the world, while enjoying food and beverages of the destinations displayed.
The experience begins with a train station design with a bar that leads to two train car facades where diners will embark on their digital journeys. Dinner reservations will be displayed on a digital screen in the station that emulates the classic split-flap display used in train stations until the late 20th century.
The ‘train cars’ will be decorated and built to the specifications of actual real-life train cars, although Royal Caribbean have not yet revealed which trains they will emulate. Currently, the world’s two most luxurious trains are the Belmond Orient Express in Europe and the Blue Train in South Africa.
The destination experiences hinted at by Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean’s Chief Product Innovation Officer, suggest the cruise line might go in a different direction. 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 during Christmas.
The exact content of the menu and final design of the ‘train’ is still under development, but the train model will be the basis of the experience.
The new restaurant 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, according to Cruise Critic, which noted that aboard the upcoming Icon of the Seas Izumi will be located in the Central Park neighborhood.
Royal Caribbean’s train-based dining experience marks the expansion of an immersive dining trend started by Disney Cruise Line, which combined high-tech digital technology with character interaction in its Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge and Avengers Quantum Encounter aboard Disney Wish.