Food is one of the main things discussed when a cruise vacation is mentioned. Besides food for survival, people like to eat. Cruise lines realize this truth and work to cater to it. From the moment that you set foot on the cruise ship, you are informed about where the first meal is located and that it is now available. For many cruisers, this marks the beginning of days of almost non-stop eating. Not only is food plentiful on cruise ships, but there are a variety of dining options available.
Most guests choose to eat at least one meal per day in the formal dining room.
Depending on the size of the cruise ship, a ship may have one or more formal dining rooms. On larger ships, the dining room will usually be on multiple decks. Generally, a two deck dining room is standard on newer ships. The dining room is open for all three meals each day except when some cruise lines close the dining room for lunch when in ports of call. A few cruise lines and on some lines a few ships offer open dining options in the dining room. What this means is that you are not locked into a specific early or late seating but can float between them as your activities for the day require. When open seating is not an option, all guests are assigned to either early or late dining with a specific table assignment. Early seating happens around 5:30 or 6:00 p. m. Late seating normally is about 8 p. m. Seating changes require a visit to the dining room management staff.
The dining room is relatively formal dining for each meal of the day.
In the formal dining room, the wait staff with put your napkin on your lap and allow you to order from menu options. Breakfast includes choices of egg, meat, breads, and bakery goods. A variety of juices, coffee, and other beverages are available at breakfast. The lunch menu will feature several entree and dessert choices. At both breakfast and lunch, the service is very good but does not usually match the evening meal.
Dinner is the meal that is expected to rise above the rest for a fine dining experience on a cruise ship.
Depending on the length of the cruise, evening diners may have from one to three formal nights when guests are expected to dress up for the meal. While this consists of slacks and a sport shirt for many, most will wear some form of more formal evening wear. Regardless of whether or not it is a formal night, cruise lines try to give the feel of four or five star dining in the dining room for the evening meal. A minimum of a three course meal is offered. The wait staff work hard to learn your name and preferences by the second night. This meal is a great opportunity for many people to sample or eat things that are normally not a part of their dining experience due to availability or price.
The second most popular dining area on the ship is the buffet line.
While all of the meals anywhere on the ship are all you can eat, the buffet feels like it is all you can eat. You walk by the mountains of food and select the type and quantity that you want. There are stacks of various entrees, desserts, and salads. For a large number of guests, the buffet is the preferred dining choice for breakfast and lunch because it feels much more relaxed. You can have your meal inside the enclosed area or carry it out to the open deck. The buffet allows you to eat a course, take a break, and eat some more. It is also open slightly more than the formal dining room.
Some type of fast food is available nearly twenty-four hours per day.
Depending on the ship, you will also be able to choose from deli sandwiches, pizza, and hamburgers for your meals. These meals are made non-stop on some cruise ships. If you have a desire for a piece of pizza at 2 a. m., it is probably available. While not many guests make this their only food choice, at some point, most passengers will opt for the quick meal over the larger offerings.
Finally, you can have room service.
Some ships will offer their complete dinner menu to guests through room service. The same is true for breakfast and lunch. Most ships, however, offer a more abbreviated menu through room service. The breakfast is often continental. Lunch, supper, and other times have various types of sandwiches and light fare available. If you like a danish and coffee right after rising in the morning, room service is perfect for you.
Larger and more modern ships have other dining rooms available for cruisers.
These dining rooms are not included in the cost of the cruise. A meal in one these optional dining rooms will cost $25 and up. The food is slightly upscale from the formal dining room. It is also served in a smaller more intimate and perhaps romantic setting. On large ships, several choices of optional dining areas are possible.