Life On Board

Dining on Board

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Lido Buffet and Main Restaurant Alternative Dining Restaurants Room Service The Captain's Table Dietary Restrictions

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Food—tasty and plentiful—is available almost around the clock on most cruise ships, and the dining experience at sea has reached almost mythical proportions. Nearly every cruise passenger can expect numerous opportunities to satisfy hunger pangs: coffee and continental breakfast for early risers, a buffet breakfast, sit-down breakfast in the dining room, casual buffet lunch, sit-down lunch in the dining room, midafternoon ice cream and snacks, afternoon tea, casual buffet dinner, formal dining room dinner, and a midnight buffet or canapés offered by waiters passing through public rooms.

Tip: Especially on large mainstream ships, you'll find a wide variety of dining venues, but many of them may carry an extra charge.

Lido Buffet and Main Restaurant

Every major ship has at least one main restaurant and a Lido, or casual, buffet alternative, which are the two main destinations for daily dining. Meals in the primary and buffet restaurants are always included in the cruise fare.

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Alternative Dining Restaurants

Specialty restaurants carrying a surcharge are an increasingly common option (especially on mainstream ships), with opportunities for fine French fare, steak houses, and more. There may also be out-of-pocket spots for sweet treats like ice cream and pastries, or specialty coffee.

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Room Service

Room service is delivered straight to your cabin door and is often available 24 hours a day; it's especially popular for having breakfast in (morning coffee on the balcony, anyone?) or for satiating late-night cravings. It's generally free, though note that some cruise lines (like Carnival and Norwegian) have been playing around with charging for at least some room service menu items of late. On some luxury lines, you can order from the full restaurant menus and dine in your room.

The Captain's Table

You’ll know that you’ve been included in an exclusive coterie when an invitation arrives in your stateroom to share a formal dinner with the captain. Preference goes to frequent repeaters of the cruise line, occupants of expensive suites, and couples that might be celebrating a special event like a honeymoon or wedding anniversary.

Dietary Restrictions

You'll know that you've been included in an exclusive coterie when an invitation arrives in your stateroom to share a formal dinner with the captain. Preference goes to frequent repeaters of the cruise line, occupants of expensive suites, and couples that might be celebrating a special event like a honeymoon or wedding anniversary.

Cruise lines make every possible attempt to ensure dining satisfaction. If you have special dietary considerations, such as vegetarian, low-salt, gluten-free, or kosher diets, or food allergies, be sure to indicate them well ahead of time, and check to be certain your needs are known by your waiter once on board.

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