The good news for foodies continues: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as some snacks and beverages, are included in your cruise fare. But, onboard specialty restaurants often have a modest extra fee, and even the main dining room may charge a little extra for some special items.
Here’s a quick look at cruise ship dining options:
The main dining room is a sit-down venue, usually open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On small ships, the main dining room may be the only dining option, but menus change daily, so there’s little chance of becoming bored. Depending on your cruise line, the main dining room may have a dress code, especially in the evening. You may be assigned to share a table with other passengers, which can be a great way to make new friends.
Many ships have a casual buffet, often located on the Lido Deck and open most of the day. A swimsuit alone may not be acceptable attire, but if you toss a sundress or shirt and shorts over your suit, you should be fine. The buffet is a good option if your companions have different tastes in food – there’s usually a wide selection, including fresh fruit, vegetables, salads, pasta, and proteins. Buffets used to be self-serve, but most now have table service: a member of the staff will plate your choices and deliver them to your table.
Specialty restaurants are small, cozy venues that often feature a specific type of cuisine. Some open only in the evening, and most require reservations.
If you’re on a larger ship, you may also find a brewpub or wine bar that serves tapas or other delicious bites. Many ships provide one more convenient dining option: a room service menu that’s available 24 hours a day.
Wherever you dine on a cruise ship, the wait staff will be knowledgeable and ready to make recommendations. You can ask to have menu items prepared in a specific way (grilled rather than sautéed, without salt, etc.). Finally, if you have special food needs, ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, to help you inform the cruise line about your needs in advance.