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Experience Dining Onboard a Cruise

Feb 26, 2008
If there is one thing the every cruise buff knows, its food. From newbie to experienced pro, the dining onboard has always been a hot topic of conversation and even a key selling point for those new to the industry. If you have not heard about or experienced the massive array of choices that cruise lines offer their passengers, here is a quick breakdown on what you can expect to feast on while you sail the seven seas.

Cruise Ship Buffets
If you like restaurant buffets, you will love them on a cruise ship. You will find everything from a breakfast, lunch and dinner-style buffets to low-fat and everything in between. Anything you ever dreamed about for breakfast can be found in this casual breakfast alternative to the dining room. If you don't mind not being served, they are a quick way to have your breakfast favorites and enjoy the meal -- and the view -- if you choose to start the day outside.

In warm climates such as the Caribbean, afternoon buffets at the Lido area by the pool are a popular choice because you can stay outside and enjoy alfresco meals in very casual clothes. There is typical American fare, such as hot dogs, hamburgers and fries, as well as stir-fry choices, pizza, drinks and desserts. Dinner buffets offer a wider selection and midnight buffets are not for the faint hearted.

The Queen Mary 2 even boasts Kings Court, which takes up about half a deck of various food stations. Some lines, such as Crystal Cruises, have themed lunch buffets that may be a barbecue, Asian, South American/Cuban or Mediterranean.

Alternative Cruise Ship Dining
While many cruisers are perfectly happy with the traditional onboard dining rooms, others choose alternative dining options, often called specialty restaurants. Most of these do have a charge, as in a regular restaurant, and many also require reservations well in advance due to their popularity.

Some examples include Holland Americas Pinnacle Grill, specializing in cuisine of the Pacific-Northwest and Crystal Cruises Jade Garden, featuring Asian cuisine of Wolfgang Puck and sushi bars created by famous chef Nobuyuki Nobu Matsuhisa. There are also other dining establishments such as, French, Italian Trattorias, steakhouses, Pan-Asian, sushi, Meditteranean, Tapas/Tex-Mex and Teppanyaki.

There is an ever-growing selection of great snacks on cruise ships. In addition to freshly made pizza, there are pastries, cookies, sandwiches, calzones, nachos, hot dogs, sushi, salads, freshly made ice cream and yogurt. Celebrity Cruises offers Celebrity Bites,the ultimate in snacking. These late-night treats are served by white-gloved waiters and include a wonderful selection of hors d'ouvres and canape's.

Some Royal Caribbean International ships boast Ben & Jerry's ice cream, as well as Midnight Treats. Many lines also have afternoon tea, complete with scones, desserts and English-style finger sandwiches. Holland America Line offers Royal Dutch High Tea, accompanied by a string trio. Snacking has never been better. And if you miss that Starbucks fix, that can be found on some Holland America ships as well.

Room Service
Most cruise ships offer room service from breakfast to dinner and some even around the clock. What a way to start the day you can select the time and choose from a breakfast menu for room service to get you going in the morning.

If you prefer to stay in your cabin for lunch and dinner, maybe for a romantic dinner on the balcony, many restaurant items can be brought to your room. Many of the cruise lines also offer a kids' menu with standard fare in in-cabin dining.

Healthy Choices
If you have been eating healthier foods, you're not alone. And don't be concerned about eating the wrong things when you cruise. There is a wide variety of healthy food options, so if like many, you want to keep up those good eating habits while at sea, you will be able to. They are not only healthy, but delicious as well!

To keep up this healthy lifestyle, most lines offer alternatives that are low in fat, cholesterol and sodium. Some lines have even gone totally trans-fat-free, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Crystal Cruises and Royal Caribbean. Both heart-healthy and vegetarian selections are available, and they are so good, you wouldn't know they are so healthy!
About the Author
Joe Ewart is a 30 year cruise industry veteran and a member of the Cruise Lines International Association Hall of Fame. He is CEO and editor of http://www.CruiseJungle.com an informational cruise web site desgined for consumers.
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