Dining On A Cruise Ship

One of the best things about a cruise is the decadent food.   From gourmet dining three times a day, to 24 hour snacks and 24 hour room service, the endless parade of tempting deliciousness boggles the mind, temps your tongue and fills you with joy throughout the day and night.  

Dining on a cruise provides an incredible and delightful value for all cruise passengers.   The cost of gourmet dining three times a day, plus snacks on a land based vacation would alone exceed the cost of the cruise fare.   Cruising is an unbeatable value with the quality and abundant foods, accommodations and entertainment all rolled into the cruise fare.  

Lets discuss some of the intricacies of this most delicious subject of dining on cruise ships. 

What Dining Options Are Included in the Cruise Fare?


The cruise fare is unparalleled in the travel world for value per vacation dollar.  While cruise lines have unique policies, cruise ship dining has basic commonalities.   

Included in cruise fares are usually three categories of dining.  The first is Main Dining which has set windows of time to dine.  Main Dining is usually in a beautiful, formal dining room with full wait staff attending to your every wish.    

The menus in the main dining rooms have a variety of options including international fare.  Oftentimes, the menu is inspired by the destinations visited by the cruise ship.  

​A second form of dining that is included in the cruise fare is casual dining.   This often includes an extensive buffet where passengers can serve themselves from a plethora of options.    Plus, there are smaller cafes and pool side burger and/or pizzerias for quick snacks.

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third form of dining that is included in the cruise fare is room service.  Yep, you read that right.  Most cruise ships include room service in the cruise fare.    With so many dining options included in the cruise fare, a cruise is a vacation for your taste buds too.  

What is Specialty Dining on Cruise Ships?


Included in most cruise fares is main dining, casual dining and room service.  There also is offered on most ships Specialty Dining venues.   Usually these cost a nominal cover charge and require reservations.   

Specialty Dining venues elevate the already fabulous food aboard to levels that delight even the pickiest epicureans.    

Specialty Dining options include sushi (charged a la carte),  stake houses, french cuisine, continental, spa fare and so many other options.    With group cruise discounts we often get our group clients free dinners at the cruise ship's specialty dining venues.  Read more about group cruise discounts and perks here.  

What About Drinks on Cruise Ships?

Water, juices and milks are included in most dining venues (main dining, casual dining and room service).  If you want bottled water, sodas, specialty mixed drinks or alcohol drinks, you will most likely have to pay extra.   

Most cruise lines offer drink packages with all you can drink options.   If you purchase your drink package before your embarkation date, you can save up to 30% compared to the cost of purchasing drink packages on-board.   

​Also most cruise lines will allow you to bring on-board your own drinks and even some alcoholic beverages.   Although corkage fees and restrictions apply.  Be sure to check your cruise line's individual policy. 


What About Special Diets on Cruise Ships?


Cruise lines are very sensitive to special diets and do everything they can to accommodate special needs.   If you have a special dietary concern, but sure to tell us and we will notify the cruise line in advance. 

​Additionally, on your first day aboard you can meet with your waiter in Main Dining and explain to him or her your dietary restrictions.   They will work with you through out your cruise to make sure your needs are met and your expectations exceeded.  

How Do I Tip My Waiter on a Cruise Ship?

With all this amazing food and attentive service, you may be wondering how to show your appreciation to your wait staff.   

​At the end of your cruise, your on-board credit account will be charged between $13 to $18 per cruise day for each person in your cabin.   These amounts vary by cruise ship and also by the your type of stateroom.  Suites often times are charged more gratuities.  Check with your cruise line's gratuity policy or ask us and we'd be happy to let you know what gratuities to expect. 

These gratuity charges are divided among the cruise ship staff.  Your wait staff will receive gratuities from these charges.   If you feel that they deserve more or less than the standard gratuity automatically charged, simply go to the Purser's Desk on-board and ask for an adjustment. 

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