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How Royal Caribbean's Main Dining Room works and what to expect

25 Oct 2023
Calista Kiper

The Main Dining Room on a Royal Caribbean cruise is the focal point of the dining experience.


It's not just a place to go for dinner, but an institution of eating on a cruise ship. It serves two or three meals per day, and it's part of a history of cruising that continues today.

The Main Dining Room is complimentary, but how can you prepare to have the best dining experience possible?

In this article, we will explore what you can expect while dining in Royal Caribbean's Main Dining Room.

Read more: Your really dumb cruise ship dining questions answered

What is the Main Dining Room?

The Main Dining Room is a large, sit-down restaurant with waiter service that is included in your cruise fare.

The Main Dining Room is a multiple-level dining space on all Royal Caribbean ships, spanning 2 to 3 floors depending on the size of the ship.

On a few Quantum Class ships, the Main Dining Room is split up into multiple smaller rooms, but this is the exception.

Complimentary and open to all cruise passengers, this location provides a beautiful view when you're looking up or down at diners around you. 

Icon of the Seas main dining room

Royal Caribbean intentionally designed the Main Dining Room with an upscale and elegant atmosphere. 

Read more21 Tips for the Best Cruise Ship Main Dining Room Experience

Depending on the ship, you will find a variety of Dining Room themes, each with unique decor. 

The ambiance is designed to provide a sense of luxury, providing a more formal dining experience than you would have at the Windjammer Buffet or other complementary venues.

The beautiful views are one of the most enjoyable aspects of dining in the Main Dining Room. 

Much of the Main Dining Room offers ocean views, especially during sunset dinners, creating a stunning panoramic backdrop for your meal.

Traditional Dining vs My Time Dining


So, what time can you eat?

For breakfast and lunch, guests are seated as they arrive. Signs posted outside the Dining Room will advise the hours it is open.

For dinner, the Dining Room opens in the evening from 5:30 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. 

Typically, your Main Dining dinner experience is divided into two seating options: flexible, “My Time” dining or traditional, assigned dining. 

My Time dining gives you the flexibility to choose what time you eat each night. 

You will be assigned a specific dining location on your SeaPass, but other than that, the choice is up to you.

My Time Dining most commonly runs between 6:00 and 9:30 P.M., and is first-come, first-served.

Traditional dining has a specific assigned mealtime and table. There is usually an early seating starting around 5:15 - 5:30 P.M. and a late seating around 7:30-8:00 P.M.

If you do have an assigned traditional dining time, it’s essential to show up on time to respect the waitstaff and kitchen’s planning. 

Main Dining Room on Voyager of the Seas

As they are working to feed most of the cruise's passengers, the dining room staff work on a specific schedule you want to be mindful of.

You can make your selection between these two dining times when you book your cruise. Make sure you select your preferred preference, as this can be hard to change once you’re onboard.

With both options, there is a possibility that you will be seated with other guests.

You can contact the cruise line beforehand to request to be seated at a smaller table with just your party.

If you do end up with other guests, always be polite and pleasant so everyone enjoys their meal. 

What's on the menu each day

Menu from Wonder of the Seas

Royal Caribbean cruises are renowned for their gourmet cuisine. 

The Dining Room menus are crafted to cater to a wide range of tastes, offering a varied selection of dishes. 

You can expect a mix of classic and contemporary dishes, including local influences based on the cruise’s ports of call.

The Main Dining Room serves breakfast and dinner, with a focus on the multiple-course dinner. Lunches are served only on sea days. 

The dinner menu is the most popular and common menu in the Main Dining room, featuring a multiple-course meal with appetizers, main courses, and desserts. 

At the top of the menu is the chef’s recommendation for each course, but you can mix and match items from anywhere on the menu.

When you place your order with the waiter, you will be expected to order all your courses at once, so be prepared with your choice of drinks, appetizers, main course, and dessert.

Royal Caribbean ships now serve a standardized dinner menu with a theme for each night. 

Welcome aboard menu - revision 1

For the first night, the theme is “Welcome Aboard,” with American cuisine.

The exact order of menus will vary depending on your itinerary, but this is the pattern we've observed thus far:

The theme of night two is French night, which is usually offered on the first formal night of six-night or longer sailings. 

All sailings also feature the Italian night, and on Caribbean sailings, the Caribbean night menu comes out on the first evening the ship stops at a Caribbean port. 

On sailings to Mexico, the Mexican night menu comes out on the first evening the ship stops at a Mexican port. 

A Mediterranean night menu is also offered, as well as British night and “Bon Voyage” night on the last evening. 

Kids MDR menu

Royal Caribbean also offers a kids' menu every night of the cruise that does not change.

What's included and what costs extra

Lobster tail

The majority of the menu options at the Main Dining Room are included in your cruise fare. 

In addition, you can order as many dishes as you like. Feel free to order more than one appetizer, main course, or dessert. 

There are just a few menu items that cost extra. The extra cost items are limited to three premium selections: Chop’s Grille filet mignon, Surf and Turf, and extra lobster on formal nights (only 1 lobster is complimentary per person). 

Complimentary drinks include water, coffee, tea, juice, and lemonade. 

However, you will pay an extra cost for beverages such as soda, specialty coffees, mocktails, and alcoholic beverages. If you have a drink package, you can get those drinks included as the beverage package benefits work in the Main Dining Room.

Main Dining Room dress codes

Family in dining room

So, what can you wear inside the Main Dining Room?

Royal Caribbean's Main Dining Room generally has a flexible dress code that varies depending on the time of day. 

To be perfectly frank, while there is a dress code listed, in practice it is rarely enforced and you will see plenty of other guests dressed casually.

During the day, more casual wear, such as comfortable clothing like shorts, T-shirts, and sandals, is acceptable. 

Main Dining Room

In the evening, however, the dress code is typically more smart or resort casual, Meaning slacks, collared shirts, skirts, sundresses, and close-toed shoes.

And on formal nights, you'll have the opportunity to dress up in your finest attire. Some passengers even opt for tuxedos, cocktail dresses, and evening gowns. 

No matter the day, most passengers usually dress according to the night’s theme when they visit the main dining room.

As stated earlier, the dress code is far less stringent than it sounds and Royal Caribbean does not enforce the dress code much, if at all.

On various theme nights, you will also find that the main dining staff dress up for the theme and even encourage you to join in and party.

How dinner works each night

Family in Main Dining Room

Royal Caribbean takes pride in delivering impeccable service, including in the Main Dining Room. 

Your dining team will be attentive, friendly, and eager to accommodate your needs. 

MDR Waiters

Usually, you are assigned a dedicated wait staff for the length of the cruise, a waiter, and an assistant writer. 

On your cruise, you will get to know your waitstaff, and they will get to know your dining preferences. 

Beyond the attentive service, the Main Dining Room experience also sometimes includes live music and entertainment, especially on specific themed nights. 

Symphony of the Seas main dining room

At the beginning of your meal, the wait staff will ask if you’re celebrating a special occasion. 

If you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or engagement, the main dining room staff will be happy to help you celebrate and style. 

You may be treated to a special dessert, a musical serenade, or a beautifully decorated table. 

They will also ask if you have any allergies and do their best to accommodate your dining needs. They can even cook your meals ahead of time if you have specific dietary restrictions. 


At the beginning of your dinner, the waitstaff will also ensure you don’t have any shows you need to schedule and your time that evening. 

Read more: 7 cruise ship main dining room rules to follow — Plus 1 to break

Can you eat breakfast in the Main Dining Room on Royal Caribbean?

Yes, breakfast is served everyday in the Main Dining Room. It is complimentary and served to your table, just like all of the Main Dining Room’s meals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Main dining room

Is there lunch in the Main Dining Room on Royal Caribbean?

Lunch is only served in the Main Dining Room on sea days. The menu changes daily.

How long does it take to eat in the Main Dining Room on Royal Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean strives for each meal to last around 75 minutes, or an hour and fifteen minutes.

Since their standardized menu change, each Main Dining Room meal lasts 70-90 minutes on average.

Of course, you can always tell your waiter when you need to leave or cut your meal short.

Can you wear jeans to the Main Dining Room on the cruise?

Yes. You can wear both casual and formal clothing in the Main Dining Room, although resort casual is closest to the dress code. 

Can you take food back to your room?

Yes. You can ask your waitstaff for a plate-to-go, especially if you’re running out of room for dessert!

Calista Kiper graduated from Wheaton College, IL, with a B.A. in English Writing. 

Growing up traveling around the world, she developed a passion for diversity and cross-cultural communication. From her first cruise on Wonder of the Seas, she has delighted in the intersection between travel, diversity, and writing in the cruising world.

Calista spends her free time reading, cooking, and researching the latest human-interest stories. 

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