Insider Tips For Dining On A Cruise

Answers to the most common questions we hear.
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With 24 ships sailing to more than 250 destinations around the world—and with guests just as globally diverse—Royal Caribbean delivers fresh, delicious and authentic cuisine catered to a range of tastes and preferences. Food-lovers who cruise have much to look forward to: when you dine on board, there can be a different lineup of menu options at the nearly 20 venues you can experience on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Featuring everything from casual pizza and burger joints to formal and innovative dining concepts (like Japanese hibachi and authentic Italian pasta), variety forms the base of offerings. Travelers’ feedback drives enhancements and new additions to our menus—which our chefs test and collaborate on across our fleet. “Guests today are even more food-savvy,” says Michael Gilligan, directory of culinary operations at Royal Caribbean. “Everybody knows good food, and we place special emphasis on quality—that’s what we pride ourselves on.”

There’s also flexibility—chefs on board adapt menus and dishes to accommodate dietary requirements. And menus already note items that are vegetarian, or gluten- or dairy-free. To help you navigate all your options, we’ve gathered the most commonly asked dining questions we receive, so you have all you need before you set sail. Bon appetít.

1. Is food included in my cruise, or do I have to pay for it?

Dining at our complimentary venues is included in the cost of your cruise.

You also have the option of choosing to reserve a seat at specialty dining restaurants for a nominal cover charge per person—but if you want to try more than one, you’ll save more if you book a specialty dining package.

2. Is it the same dinner menu each night?

No. Our chefs work to ensure your meals never feel repetitive or staid. Menus change daily at our complimentary dining facilities.

At our specialty dining restaurants, menus also may change, because they operate in similar ways that restaurants on land do: they take into account what’s available locally and in season, and like the menus at all dining venues, are always being tested by the team for tweaks or enhancements. Menus at specialty dining restaurants are designed for variety and innovation, and during your cruise you’ll have plenty of time to try whatever dish might catch your eye.

3. Do I need to make reservations for our meals?

Reservations aren’t required for complimentary dining venues, but our My Time Dining and My Family Time Dining programs give you flexibility when you eat, while reserving you a table. With My Time Dining, 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 plans. To ensure quick seating, make your reservations before you start your vacation, particularly if you’re planning to eat during the most popular window, 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 serves your kids 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.

Note that reservations are needed for our specialty dining restaurants. To make sure you get a table, you can make your arrangements online by going to royalcaribbean.com/cruiseplanner. Note that you can start making reservations 90 days before you sail until two days before your cruise begins. If you’d rather consider your options in person, you can make a reservation at the restaurant once you’ve boarded the ship.

4. Does Royal Caribbean offer alcohol packages?

Yes, and we have non-alcoholic packages, too, which cover water, soda, coffee, tea, and more. Information on these packages can be found here, and packages can be purchased in advance up to two days before your cruise at royalcaribbean.com/cruiseplanner, as well as on board.

Royal Caribbean even has a new soda package and VOOM internet bundle. The “Classic Soda and VOOM One Device,” is $19 per person, per day; in addition, there’s an option that combines the “Deluxe Beverage Package” with Wi-Fi for one device.

5. Do drinks packages apply to all venues on the ship?

Guests can enjoy their beverage packages at any of our bars or lounges, the Windjammer Café—a modern and casual food hall open for every snack and meal time—the main dining room, and specialty dining restaurants. Room service and minibar are not included.

6. Can I bring drinks on board?

For the most part, no: guests cannot bring liquor, fortified wines or non-alcoholic beverages on board. They can, however, bring personal wine or champagne on the day they first board their ship—two 750 ml bottles per stateroom, to be exact. If you purchase wine or liquor in port during your trip, we’ll store it on board for safekeeping and return it to you on the last day of the sailing.

7. Do we need to tip?

Prepaid gratuities are automatically added to your reservations. Some guests choose to recognize particularly exceptional service with an added cash gratuity throughout their cruise.

8. Is there room service?

Yes, we offer a diverse in-room dining menu (located in your stateroom), which is available day and night and includes a service fee.

Have a question we didn’t answer above? Perhaps our Dining FAQ can help. For more information on dining venues and meal packages, or to research your next cruise, head here.

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