One of the things that always has set cruises apart from other types of vacations is that meals are included in the basic price of the trip — at least for those who stick to the main dining room on ships.

Even on mass-market lines such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, passengers have been able to order whatever they wanted from the main dining room menu — from lobster to steaks — for no extra charge.

But the long-held practice may be coming to an end. Industry watcher Cruise Critic reports this week that Royal Caribbean is testing the idea of charging for premium steaks in its main dining rooms — a radical departure for the line.

Cruise Critic says Royal Caribbean has begun levying $14.95 per person for a 10-ounce, organic Black Angus steak in the main dining rooms of two ships — Freedom of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas.

A spokesman for Royal Caribbean tells Cruise Critic that there’s still a smaller “free” steak available to diners on the ships. But Cruise Critic says its cruising members are reporting otherwise, and it looks like it could turn into a Grade A brouhaha. The development already has caused an explosion of anger on Cruise Critic’s message boards, where members clearly have a beef with the concept.