What to Expect on Cruise Ship Dining
If food plays a big part on your vacation decision, read up the 9 points below to manage your expectations and get the best out of the experience.
Variety of dining options are offered
Expect a lot of dining options to delight your taste buds onboard as cruise ships typically houses a variety of restaurants, cafés, bistros, etc. A typical cruise ships have a main dining room where you can order from an American and Continental menu. These have large tables for sharing with other guests and more often than not requires a dress code. If you opt for a more casual dining, most ships have a buffet restaurant near the pool. There are also ships that houses specialty restaurants where one can enjoy international or themed cuisines such as Italian, Japanese, French, etc.
Major meals are included
The fare you paid for already covers for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the main dining room and buffet restaurant. However, some specialty items will cost extra. Please note that other dining venues, some upscale or sit-down specialty restaurants, may not be free
Exclusive Restaurants for Suites
Sophisticated cruisers will appreciate that Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and MSC offer exclusive restaurants for their suite guests. These reserved restaurants feature 5 star cuisine not available elsewhere on the ships. Other lines offer suite guests free specialty dining allowing you to sample different flavors without ever needing to face the crowds in larger main dining rooms.
Room service is generally free
If you are not looking forward to elbowing with other guests, you can always choose to have your food delivered to your room. You can order from the room service menu which usually offers Continental breakfast and an all-day offering of appetizers, pizza, sandwiches, hot dishes and desserts. The service is free 24/7 although some cruise lines may charge extra for off-hours delivery.
Off-hours snacking Whenever You Want!
We get it, you’re on vacation and most likely want to sleep in and not wake up until nearly noon. Don’t worry about being ran out of food – most cruise ships offer a portion of the buffet to continue serving food during late afternoon. Or you may opt for room service or dine in in one of the ship’s coffee shops where you can enjoy pastries and some small snacks.
Yes, you can have your food taken out
Not feeling like fancy dining? Or getting tired and want to leave the dining room? All you need to do is ask the kind waiter to pack your left-over so you can take it with you!
Bringing own food is allowed
Most of the cruise ships are not too strict in regards to the food you bring onboard – so yes you can bring your favorite snack or that delicacy you picked up from the last port. However, there’s already so much food onboard that you will find absolutely no need to pack up your own.
Kid-friendly menus are available
The buffet will always have kid favorites to choose from – pizza, pasta, sandwiches, burgers and sweet treats like ice cream and cakes. Onboard cruise ship restaurants also have a children’s menu for your picky-eaters. The kids are also free to order off the usual menu if they want to and you can just ask for this to be served in a smaller portion. However, if you are bringing an infant, make sure you pack a baby food with you as this is not usually being offered.
Dietary restrictions and preference are accommodated
Cruise ship restaurants generally have options for vegan, low-salt, low-carb or gluten-free diet. Some preferences though should be pre-ordered before the cruise (e.g. Kosher food). If you have a doctor prescribed diet or have severe allergic to food, it is best to inform your travel agent or the cruise line ahead of time.
Food - and more food!
One thing is fore sure - no matter what cruise you and your travel agent pick out - there will be no shortage of the best all you can eat food!
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Blog author. Former travel editor for Compete Magazine, awarded top 25 travel writing blog 2018 & 2019..