Enjoying Cruise Ship Dining

Two weeks on a cruise ship can be a dream holiday, but if you’re a picky eater, you might find yourself having a few sleepless nights over what food to expect. The good news is, cruise ship dining tends to come with a huge amount of variety and if you’re sensible about it, you can really make the most of your culinary experience while on board.


First up, if you’ve got dietary requirements and you’ll need your food to be specially prepared, this shouldn’t be a problem. Do your research to find out which cruises will be happy to help out with this (this should include most of them!), and be sure to let them know what your requirements are when you book. That way you can you relax and enjoy your cruise without having to pester the waiter every mealtime.

It’s also good to remember that dining rooms on cruise ships vary a lot when it comes to cuisine, dining style and formality. Big liners will have a main dining room with table service by a waiter and a formal dress code, as well as a number of casual buffets, cafés and bars. Smaller liners, for example river cruises, are likely to be more limited in the dining options they offer — just something to bear in mind if you’re looking to go on a culinary adventure.

Another thing to be aware of is that not all food on cruise holidays is included in the package price. You can expect breakfast, lunch and dinner to come free with your ticket, but usually only if you’re eating in the main dining room. Alternative eateries around the rest of the ship will likely cost extra, as will most drinks — which means sadly you’ll have to shell out for your wine!

Ultimately, your dining experience on a cruise ship can be anything you want it to be. If you have a little extra cash, you can take advantage of the alternative restaurants or, if you’re keen not to go over the package price, you can stick to the main dining room — a great place, incidentally, to make new friends. If you’re into more casual buffet dining, which could be wise if you have young kids, make an effort to keep the other guests sweet by adhering to the long-established etiquette: no line-cutting, no eating on the move, and certainly no hands in the buffet trays! If you do have little ones, it’s also a good idea to have a word with them about acceptable behavior before taking them into any dining areas.

Fruits and Tarts -- Formal Brunch Aboard the Celebrity Equinox, 12-09-2011

If this is your first time ever on a cruise, it’s the perfect opportunity to sample everything on offer even if it means spending a little more. After all, taking a cruise is all about treating yourself to the finer things in life. Bon appétit!

Images by Noodles and Beef and Corvair Owner, used under Creative Commons license

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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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