On board Dining
What are the dining options?
You won’t believe the varied selection of entrees, appetizers, salads, soups, vegetables and desserts, every time you sit down. And there’s virtually no limit on what or how much you can order. Both your wait staff and kitchen staff work unbelievably hard to ensure you are satisfied and happy after every meal. Just because your cruise ship offers plenty of delicious food doesn’t mean you have to come home a few pounds heavier. You can choose low-cal, spa, or fitness menu selections that are just as tempting as the regular menu. Additionally the fitness centre isn’t far away – jog, do aerobics, work out in the gym, swim, golf, play tennis, and much more. Burning calories was never so much fun!
It’s all about choices! One evening you might enjoy the elegant atmosphere of the main dining room while another you opt for your ship’s casual dining restaurant or one of the ship’s specialty restaurants.
Regardless, you’ll find an endless selection of entrees, appetizers, salads, soups, sides and desserts every time you sit down. And there’s virtually no limit on what or how much you order. But just because your cruise ship offers plenty of delicious food doesn’t mean you’ll come home out of shape. You can choose low-calorie, spa or fitness menu selections that are just as tempting as those on the regular menu. Burning calories was never so much fun!
What about meal times?
Like many things on a cruise, there are choices and more choices. During the day, there are many different places to eat – in the formal dining room, on deck in a casual setting, in a pizzeria, at an espresso bar – just to name a few. At night, most ships offer several venues. Some ship’s dining rooms can accommodate all guests at one time, known as single seating. Many ships offer you a choice of several eating times, and others encourage you to come to dinner whenever you like (open seating). More traditional ships have two seatings in their formal dining rooms, which differ only by time: typically 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Frequently, you can choose to dine at night someplace other than the formal dining room, such as in an intimate restaurant that features Italian, Chinese, Japanese or Southwestern cuisine. More and more cruise lines are opening up their informal Lido areas to evening dining, where the dress and dishes are always casual and you may even be able to eat out under the stars. And a large number of ships also offer romantic in-cabin dinners. The choice is yours!
Additionally, most ships have 24-hour room service. Some lines are even letting you order off the dinner menu (during dinner hours) if you prefer to eat in your cabin.
Is it better to eat dinner early or late?
Typically, Early Seating hours for dinner are between 6:00 and 6:30 pm. If you have Late Seating you’ll sit down for dinner between 8:15 and 8:45 pm. Which time is better is a matter of personal preference. Our CMEatSEA Coordinators can review group functions and assist you in deciding what time is best for you.
Some things to consider when trying to decide between Early or Late Seating include:
Early Seating is preferable if:
- You don’t like to go to bed on a full stomach.
- You generally go to bed between 10 pm and Midnight.
- You are taking a very “At Sea” intensive itinerary with multiple days spent on the ship. On these days you do not need to worry about getting back to the ship in time for dinner.
- You are an early riser.
Late Seating is preferable if:
- You are a night owl, who catches a second wind later in the evening
- You don’t want to feel rushed for dinner after a day in port.
- It takes you or your spouse a long time to get ready for dinner.
- You don’t mind finishing your meal around 10:15 or 10:30 pm.
Other factors to consider include:
- Your itinerary
- The conference schedule and social functions
Is there a dress code for dinner?
Dressing for dinner falls into 3 categories: Formal, Informal (also called semi-formal) and Resort Casual.
Breakfast & Lunch: no special dress code, even in the dining room. Shorts and tasteful t-shirts are acceptable. No swimsuits or cover-ups. Shoes must be worn.
Dinner: no shorts. Many cruise lines also stipulate no jeans in the dining room in the evening.
Casual: slacks and sport shirt.
Informal: suit or sports coat with tie; some ships don’t mention a tie.
Formal: dark suit or tuxedo.
Some newer ships now have alternative dining facilities where you can dress almost any way you want to. On a seven-night cruise they will normally have two formal nights and one or two informal nights. Three and four night cruises have one formal night. If you would really like to go completely causal or informal, look into one of the “sailing ships” (Windstar Cruises or Star Clipper) or one of NCL’s “Freestyle” ships.
I have special dietary needs. Can these be accommodated?
Most ships can accommodate salt-free, low-carbohydrate, Kosher, or other diet preferences. However, this request must be made in advance, so be sure to advise your CMEatSEA Coordinator of this requirement when you book your cruise. Again, you should speak to the Maitre’d or your waiter once you are on board to confirm the choices for your dietary needs.
Please let your CMEatSEA coordinator know if you are celebrating a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, graduation etc).
How do I handle tipping?
Your gratuities are included in the taxes, fees and gratuities but we do suggest “CIA”.
CIA – A tip from seasoned cruisers. Although your gratuities are prepaid, a little extra “Cash In Advance” ($15-$25) offered to your cabin steward on day one goes a long way towards ensuring not just great, but exceptional service. Feel free to ask your cabin attendant for just about anything and they will do their very best to accommodate you.