Choose a cruise line with varied dining options

It used to be the standard rule on cruise ships that you were seated at the same dinner table at a set time with the same waiters and guests every night of your cruise. Well, no more. Almost every ship these days has one or more specialty restaurants. You may have to pay a small supplement (usually $10 to $20 per person) to dine in these restaurants, but they almost always offer made-to-order meals just like in a shoreside restaurant. Many cruise lines now offer much less structured dining. Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, allows you to dine wherever and whenever you wish; a helpful board in many public rooms and outside each restaurant gives you the average waiting time for every restaurant on the ship.