Wondering about Cruise Dining?

LeeMike4I’ve asked some wonderful friends and guests of ours, Lee Whitman and Michael Daschuk, to share their tips for first time cruisers. Today their sharing tips about dining on the ship in this final post of their 4-part series.  In Part 1, they shared everything that happens from arriving in port until you preparing to board the ship, Part 2 was things you may want to do first when you board the ship, and Part 3 was  about lost luggage (God forbid) and your stateroom.  If you have any questions about your first cruise or comments you’d like to add, please leave your comments below.  We’d love to hear from you! 

So Much Food!

Dining aboard a cruise ship offers you so many food choices at so many different places on the ship, and you’ll want to try them all.  Let’s start in the dining room.  With traditional dining on most cruise ships, you will be assigned to a table, a time, and a dining room, where you’ll eat with the same people every night.  When you book your cruise, you can express a preference for the size of table and time for your meal seating, and the cruise line can usually accommodate you, unless you’ve booked at the last minute. Typically, you will be eating your evening meal during an early seating, around 6 pm, or a late seating, around 8 pm. If you are traveling with friend or family who you want to dine with, just ask Judy to link your reservations for dining purposes.  This will ensure that you are all seated together at the same table or, in the case of large groups, at nearby tables.  Most lines offer “Anytime Dining” these days, too, where you can eat when you want and with whoever you want, and some cruise lines only offer this open seating dining. 

If you don’t feel like going for dinner, the same food, with very few exceptions, is usually available via room service, but only during dining hours.  At other times, the room service menu will be more standard fare.  Room service is usually included as part of your cruise fare, but a tip of a few dollars to the person who delivers your meal is expected.  (This is one of the rare times you use cash on a cruise.)  Another option is the buffet, which is open only certain hours.  Some buffets are set up like a cafeteria line, while others have stations scattered around the buffet area.  Check out the entire buffet area before selecting your meal, as you will find different foods in different areas, and you may find something you love at the end of the line after your plate is filled. 

You can have your room service breakfast delivered by ordering it the night before using your in-room interactive television (if available), by placing a door hanger order form on your doorknob at night, or by calling room service and ordering directly. You can usually request a time range when you want the food to arrive. If you wait until the morning, you can still order; it just may take a little while to come. Sometimes, the delivery waiter will call you just before they deliver the tray, so you have time to make yourself decent and to make awaken you for the delivery.  This works for a great wakeup call, even if you just want a carafe of coffee while you’re getting ready in the morning.  If you’re a big coffee drinker, you may want to bring your own large travel mug which will allow you to walk away from the buffet with a better supply of coffee than the tiny mugs they use.

Breakfast and lunch will also be served in the buffet and in at least one dining room, and you can usually get a burger or hot dog at the pool grill around lunch time.  You need to watch your daily newsletter to see where and when breakfast and lunch will be served. But don’t worry, you will never be hungry once you board the ship. 

I mentioned in part 2 of this series getting reservations for any specialty restaurants as soon as you board the ship.  The food in theLeeChefTable dining room is usually very good, but it is mass produced to serve to thousands of guests at the same time.  You will enjoy exceptional food and service in the specialty restaurants, as your food is prepared as it’s ordered, and some menu items are even prepared tableside.  It’s a dining experience that requires at least a couple hours or more, and you may be charged a small charge for dining there or for certain items on the menu. 

Some cruise lines offer in-room or balcony dining for guests booked in balcony staterooms or suites.  There is usually a small additional charge for these meals as well, but these can be nice for a special occasion for a couple.  Just read your daily newsletters to find out about special meal opportunities on your cruise.  Bon Appetit! 

Part 1:  Boarding Your First Cruise?

Part 2: What a Beautiful Ship –  First Things First

Part 3: Lost Luggage? Cozy Staterooms?

Part 4:  Wondering about Cruise Dining? 

If you’d like to read some of Mike and Lee’s reviews of their past cruises or listen to their podcasts, check out their website, www.cruisenotebook.com.  And, if you need help booking your cruise or resort vacation, please visit my website, Best Cruise Planners.

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