Cruise 101: Tips For Dining Onboard

Grab a table at the ship’s best restaurants.
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Today’s most discerning eaters know that a cruise vacation is one of the best ways to sample a range of cuisine at a level of quality that’s often hard to do on your own. When you sail with Royal Caribbean, for instance, you can look forward to options that emphasize creativity and flexibility—think menus designed by famous chefs, expertly sourced ingredients, culturally authentic eats and innovative atmospheres that make each meal an experience.

With more than 20 dining concepts that range from cafés and to-go stands to formal sit-down dinners, you’ll see nothing if not variety onboard: low-key Italian and authentic Japanese sushi, a Mexican taqueria, a traditional steakhouse and more. Royal Caribbean boasts the first food truck at sea, and the artistic dishes served at the formal Wonderland create an other-worldly experience just as the name suggests.

Our intuitive service—created to meet all your needs, dietary restrictions and general food preferences—ensures you’ll enjoy your meals on any of our ships or itineraries. No matter what you want to try, you won’t be disappointed.

Before you start your vacation, you’d be smart to plan ahead: making reservations and purchasing dining packages before you sail gives you peace of mind and could net you great discounts. This guide will help you navigate your options and plan your onboard dining experience to best complement your vacation.

Main Dining

The main dining room is the central place on board for savoring your meals. Featuring traditional dining options such as early or late seating times, don’t let the term “traditional” fool you—this is one of the most laid-back approaches to dining on board because once you’ve selected your seating time, no reservations are necessary.

By opting for traditional dining, you can choose between early or late seating times (times vary according to your cruise itinerary), and are assigned a dining table with your party. Bonus: Your waiter will be with you each night and learn your preferences. Plus, they’ll learn your favorite dessert and have it ready for you.

Flexible Dining

If your style is more about experiencing as much as you can onboard and on land, there’s My Time Dining and My Family Time Dining. My Time Dining gives you the ability to make reservations when you want. Reservations are encouraged for each evening, but you’ll be able to choose a different time each day, so you can seamlessly schedule dinner around the rest of your onshore and onboard plans. To ensure quick seating, make a reservation for each evening prior to the start of your vacation, particularly if you’re planning to dine during the most popular window, which is from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

For those traveling with smaller kids, My Family Time Dining allows parents to get into the dining room right away and ensure that your kids are served first. Then they get whisked off for a night of fun activities by the ship’s dedicated Adventure Ocean staff, while parents stay and enjoy a leisurely dinner and some alone time. This perk is offered during the early seating time in the main dining room, for families with children ages three to 11.

Specialty Dining

If you opt for a specialty dining package (available on every ship), you’ll give yourself the chance to experience the most dynamic restaurants on board, ranging from formal dining experiences to more casual ones full of personality, to our special collaborations with celebrity chefs. Longing for the flavors of Italy? Savor authentic pasta and salumi at Jamie’s Italian, the restaurant at sea that Royal Caribbean created with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver for Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas. Oliver created the rustic, authentic menu—which is inspired by the Italian way of life—in collaboration with the cruise line’s chefs.

Missing home? The comfort food classics served at Michael’s Genuine Pub—a collaboration with James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz—is available on Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas. Design an evening around the fanciful molecular gastronomy at Wonderland, get your sushi fix at Izumi or head to our signature steakhouse, Chops Grille. Packages for three, four or five specialty restaurants are available, and if you book before you sail, you can enjoy your first night at your pre-selected spot, and have staff ready when you arrive to handle your other dinner reservations.

Keep in mind that there are other eateries throughout the ship, some complimentary (like Sorrento’s pizza) and some that you pay a la carte (like Johnny Rockets). Before you board, explore the rich dining experiences available across Royal Caribbean ships; and don’t forget our beverage packages, which complement your meals with the perfect cocktail, glass of wine or beer. No matter where you’re headed, or for how long, your culinary adventures will be a big part of an unforgettable cruise vacation.

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