Cruise Travel Frequently Asked Questions

Dining Questions


Can I eat anytime I want? What about room service?

Breakfast options on the larger cruise lines include either breakfast in the main dining room with table service or a buffet that may run until 11.00am.

Lunch will be the same, offering either a 3 course meal in the main dining room or an all-you-can-eat buffet.

You can often find an afternoon tea option, or café serving premium coffee and light snacks or an ice cream bar to tide you over until dinner.

With the increase in speciality dining options, particularly on larger ships, you are spoilt for choice on where to eat.  Note that speciality dining venues come at an extra cost, usually in the form of a set-priced surcharge.

Some lines also let you order off the main dinner menu (during dinner hours) if you prefer to eat in your cabin.

After a night of entertainment, dancing or karaoke, you may also come across a midnight buffet if you’re still peckish.

The large ships have room service available 24 hours a day. Some cruise lines charge for this and others offer it complimentary.

The answer is yes, you can eat anytime you want.

Are there non-smoking areas?

Today, virtually all ships offer only a limited area in which to smoke.  You will find, with the exception of a cigar club or similar, all indoor venues and cabins are non-smoking.  You will usually find a designated area on the deck which permits smoking.

You will find that if you have a balcony cabin, you are no longer permitted to smoke on your balcony either.

Can we celebrate a special day?

Most cruise lines will even treat you to a complimentary cake and a chorus to honour the occasion.

Advise your travel agent at the time of booking of your special event.  For an occasion like an anniversary, you may be requested to provide a copy of your marriage certificate to verify the occasion.

What about tipping?

Tipping/gratuities are a way for cruise staff to supplement their income.  On most cruise lines it is expected, and where it is not, you will be advised.

Many cruise lines require gratuities to be pre-paid with your cruise fare.  This is a convenient way to pay for your gratuities, as it is a set amount, paid in your local currency, which means you don’t need to allow for additional funds when you travel.

If you have pre-paid your gratuities, you are still welcome to pay more if you feel the service provided exceeded your expectations.

What do I wear to dinner?

Dinner falls into 3 categories: Formal, Informal (also called semi-formal) and casual. You will usually receive a guide with your cruise documents as to whether your cruise has any formal nights, and how many, and some clothing suggestions.

Breakfast & Lunch: no special dress code, even in the dining room. Shorts and tasteful t-shirts are acceptable. No swim suits or cover-ups.

Dinner - Casual: slacks (nice jeans) and sport shirt for men; pants, skirt or dress for women

Dinner - Informal: suit or sports coat with tie (some ships don't require a tie for men); smart pant suit, skirt and blouse, or dress for women

Dinner - Formal: dark suit or tuxedo for men; evening dress for women

On expedition style ships, you will find the dress to be casual during all meal times.

Can I get a special diet?

Most ships can accommodate salt-free, low-carbohydrate, gluten free or other diet preferences. However, this request must be made in advance, so be sure to advise your agent of this requirement when you book your cruise.

What if I don't like my tablemates?

Rarely is this a problem. However, if you wish to move to another table, speak with the Maitre d'. He'll make every effort to seat you with more compatible dining companions...discretely and politely.

Can we get a table for two?

On the more upscale cruise lines such as Crystal or Seabourn, a table for two is usually no problem. It's on the large cruise ships where this request is a little more difficult to confirm.

The newer ships are being built with more tables for two. We can never confirm a table for two, we can only request it.

If you get on board and you didn't get a table for two, see the Maitre d’. Maybe he can do something for you if it's available.

I Am Not A Morning Person, Will I Miss Breakfast?

Breakfast and lunch are always available in the buffet, which is open for a longer duration than the main dining room. Breakfast is usually served until 10 a.m. or later.

Many larger ships also have an onboard café where you can purchase coffee and light refreshments throughout the day.

Is cruise ship dining as good as I've been told?

Everything you've heard about cruise ship dining is true. You'll find a varied selection of courses every time you sit down. And there's virtually no limit on what or how much you can order.

Many cruise ships offer speciality restaurants which provide a more exclusive menu (but do come at an additional cost), and some even host a “Chef’s Table” premium dining experience.

Just because your cruise ship offers plenty of delicious food doesn't mean you'll come home out of shape. You can choose low-calorie, spa, or healthy menu selections that are just as tempting as the regular menu. You can also jog, do aerobics, work out in the gym, swim, play tennis, and much more. Burning calories was never so much fun!

Which is better, Early or Late Dining?

As a rule of thumb, Early Dining means you'll have dinner between 6 pm and 6:30 pm. Late Dining means you'll have dinner between 8:15 and 8:45 pm. There are many reasons why one dining may be better for you than another.

You may want Early Dining if:

You may want Late Dining if:

Not all cruise lines have set dining times, so you can dine whenever you like.  You may not be seated at the table of your choice, and may need to share with strangers, but it makes a good way to meet other travellers.

Larger cruise ships offer a casual buffet restaurant, at which you can dine at your leisure.