ABOARD CARNIVAL FREEDOM — Carnival Cruise Lines’ implementation of a new main dining room program is taking longer than anticipated, said the line’s chief marketing officer, Jim Berra.

After a news conference, Berra said Carnival has been tweaking the features of American Table and American Feast, the dining room concepts it developed with the input of Union Square Hospitality Group.

Four of Carnival’s 24 ships have been piloting the concept. Berra said Carnival wants to make sure it has the bugs worked out before the changes expand to the rest of the fleet. There is currently no ship being targeted for expansion of the program, he said.

Carnival has been doing what Berra termed “A/B testing” of variations on ships with similar itineraries. One discovery is that the idea of sharing common appetizers at a table isn’t playing as well at sea as it does in land restaurants. It works best during “Anytime Dining,” when guests are generally eating with people they know, but less well when dining with strangers, Berra said.

He said the upgraded bread and water service has been well received, as has the “Port of Call” items on the menu, which are matched to the port the ship is visiting on the day of the meal.

American Table is the everyday complimentary dining in Carnival’s main dining room on the Carnival Glory, Liberty, Inspiration and Imagination.

American Feast is a more elegant, celebratory version that is offered twice during each voyage.

Both feature redesigned menus, a new style of service and cuisine with an emphasis on American origins.

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly.

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