Video: Royal Caribbean food secrets — Discounts, tips and more!


We love a little intrigue as much as the next person, but nothing beats finding out about a secret, right? Today, we are talking about dining on Royal Caribbean in our latest RoyalCaribbeanBlog video.

For instance, did you know you on Oasis Class ships you can enjoy breakfast at Johnny Rockets without any additional cost?

We also have ways to avoid lines at the Windjammer buffet stations, getting a discount on a specialty restaurant, where your drink packages work and a lot more.  Check out this video for our tips and tricks!

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single video!

So check out the video and then let us know: What are your favorite Royal Caribbean dining secrets? Share them with us in the comments below!

Top Ten Royal Caribbean Dining Tips


Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise means you will visit great ports of call, experience wonderful entertainment and of course, enjoy some really good food. Royal Caribbean delivers fresh and delicious cuisine that caters to a range of tastes and preferences.

To help you navigate all your dining options, we have an assortment of tips and tricks for ensuring you have all the best information before you step onboard your ship and begin chowing down.

1. Don't order just one anything

Whether you are dining in the main dining room or Johnny Rockets or a specialty restaurant, don't settle for just one entree or one appetizer.  

Royal Caribbean allows passengers to order as much as you want in most cases, which means you are free to try dishes and sample what you want.  Most often passengers act like they do in a land restaurant and only order what they wish to pay for but on a cruise, order as much as you want!

2. Bring dinner back if you can't make it

If you or someone can't make it to dinner for whatever reason, be sure to tell your main dining room waiter that someone cannot make it to dinner and they will be sure to wrap up an entire meal (including dessert) to bring back to your stateroom.

This can be a good option if someone is not feeling up for going to dinner but needs to eat.

In fact, you can take food to go from pretty much any venue. Whether you are bringing food to someone else, or cannot finish what you have, taking leftovers is perfectly fine.  

3. Bring your own wine

Royal Caribbean allows passengers to bring up to two bottles of wine per stateroom onboard their cruise on embarkation day. Be sure to pack the wine in your carry-on luggage only.

You can enjoy the wine in your stateroom, or bring the bottles of wine to any bar or restaurant onboard. If you choose to open the wine at a bar or restaurant, you could be charged a $25 corkage fee.  

Bringing your own wine can be a great way to save money and expand your choice of wine to enjoy on your cruise.

No, you cannot bring any other alcoholic beverages onboard with you. Those will be confiscated.

4. Have your wine follow you

Whether you buy a bottle of wine onboard your cruise or bring your own, if you do not finish that bottle in one night, have your waiter store it for you.  And if the next night you choose to have dinner elsewhere, like the Windjammer or a specialty restaurant, just tell your new waiter you have a bottle of wine stored for you.

They will ask your stateroom number and within a few short minutes your wine will appear.  This is a great way to keep using the same bottles of wine without pressure to "use it or lose it".

5. Get food allergies and special requests taken care of on day one

If you or someone you are travelling with has a food allergy or a special dietary request, go to the main dining room on embarkation day and ask to speak with the head waiter on duty.

Once you speak with him or her, you can convey any special requests you may have and get it in place for the rest of your cruise.

6. Pre-book hibachi

We are advocates of pre-booking as much as you can via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site to save time and money, but when it comes to the wildly popular Izumi hibachi option available on select Royal Caribbean ships, pre-booking is critical.

The teppanyaki dining at Izumi is quite popular and seating is limited. Therefore, if you absolutely want to experience it on your cruise, pre-book it via the Cruise Planner to ensure a spot.  It is quite common for Izumi to sell out spots for hibachi, especially once onboard the ship.

7. Book a specialty dining package to save money

If you are interested in dining at more than one specialty restaurant, your best bet to save money is to purchase a specialty dining package.

Specialty dining packages can be purchased online via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.  These packages will absolutely save you money compared to booking individual restaurants a la carte. 

The "catch" with dining packages is you cannot book a specific restaurant or time until you board the ship, and must dine at one restaurant on either night one or two. Not to worry, booking reservations is simple enough once you get onboard, so be sure to make reservations once onboard.

8. Avoid lines for meals

If you are looking for less-crowded options for any meal, always consult the Cruise Compass for all venues open.  Too often, cruisers gravitate towards the main dining room or Windjammer for meals.  While these are great spots, always consider other venues for quicker service.

Venues such as Cafe Promenade, Park Cafe, Sorrento's Pizzeria, Solarium Bistro and Cafe Latte-tudes offer complimentary dining choices that can be quick and simple.

9. Have My Time Dining? Make reservations

If you have selected My Time Dining for your dinner choice in the main dining room, the best strategy is to make reservations to minimize waiting for a table.

While reservations for My Time Dining are not required, having a reservation greatly reduces your wait time, especially if you want to dine at at peak times (6pm - 8pm). Moreover, the larger your group, the more important reservations are to ensuring there is a table waiting for you.

You can pre-book reservations for My Time Dining via the Cruise Planner site or make reservations while onboard.

10. Make dietary requests before you board

If you have a dietary restriction, then you may want to let Royal Caribbean know about them up front. 

Royal Caribbean can accomodate dietary needs such as food allergies, gluten-free, Kosher, low-fat, and low-sodium.

In additional, vegetarian meals (including Indian-style vegetarian) are available on all menus in the main dining room.  Guests do not need to make a special request for these meals.

Lactose-free/soy milk, Ensure, and Kosher meals are available no extra charge. All you have to do is notify Royal Caribbean at least 45 days prior to sailing (90 days for European/South American Itineraries).

You may also send an e-mail request to special_needs@rccl.com; please include in the e-mail the guests' names, booking number, ship name and sail date.  It's best to make requests like this at least 90 days in advance of your sailing.

More Royal Caribbean dining tips

Here are a few more helpful Royal Caribbean dining resources:

Spotted: Chops + 1 Dining Package


Royal Caribbean has added a new specialty dining option where you can reserve a dinner at Chops Grille specifically, plus an additional dinner at a different specialty restaurant.


Dubbed the Chops + 1 Dining Package, it is available on select cruises to be booked via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site. One dinner must be redeemed on the  the first or second night of the sailing. The second dinner can be redeemed any other night of the sailing.

Second dinner of package may not be redeemed in Chops Grille. For venues with a la carte pricing, package includes a $35 food credit. 

Not valid for premium experiences including Chef’s Table, wine pairings dinners, Izumi Hibachi experience, Mystery Dinner Theater and Holiday Dinners. 

The cost of the package ($75 per person) includes a  40% discount on bottles of wine under $100 and 20% on bottles above $100 during your meals.

Children between the ages of 0-5 are complimentary and ages 6-12 are $10.

Here's the one must-eat place on every Royal Caribbean ship


Every Royal Caribbean ship seems to have at least one place that veteran cruisers will tell you is a must-eat spot.  Perhaps it is because of a special dish, or the value the restaurant offers, or maybe it just is the only ship with that kind of restaurant.  

Regardless of why, here is our list of the number one must-eat spot on every Royal Caribbean ship. As you might imagine there is some carryover between the ships, but if you can refer to this post before going on your next sailing.

Adventure of the Seas

Izumi: Adventure of the Seas features the only Royal Caribbean ship to have an Izumi location on the Royal Promenade

Allure of the Seas

Park Cafe: Kummelweck sandwiches are a must-eat snack. 

You might also like Sabor in the Boardwalk neighborhood.  Try the guacamole.

Anthem of the Seas

Wonderland: A signature Royal Caribbean specialty restaurant that combines a fun experience with creative foods.

You might also like Cafe @ Two70 where you can find the exquisite roast beef sandwiches.

Brilliance of the Seas

Park Cafe: Kummelweck sandwiches are a must-eat snack. 

Empress of the Seas

Windjammer: Free brunch mimosas and Bloody Marys are available at the Windjammer on sea days.

Enchantment of the Seas

Chops Grille: Royal Caribbean's signature steak house is never a mistake. 

Explorer of the Seas

Izumi: Hot rock (Ishiyaki) plates are rocks that are heated to 575 degrees °F, where guests take raw meat and vegetables and cook them on the rock, right at your table. 

Freedom of the Seas

Sabor Modern Mexican: The guacamole alone is worth the price of admission.

Grandeur of the Seas

Park Cafe: Kummelweck sandwiches are a must-eat snack. 

Harmony of the Seas

Wonderland: Harmony introduced the first two-story Wonderland location and in addition to the creative decor, Wonderland is an experience and a fantastic meal.

You might also like Izumi Hibachi for a fun and creative experience, where your chef cooks your food in front of you with a splash of entertainment thrown in.

Independence of the Seas

 Izumi Hibachi and Sushi: Exotic Asian-inspired dining experience gives guests the chance to enjoy fresh sushi and experience skilled chefs cooking tableside on teppanyaki grills.

Jewel of the Seas

Izumi: Hot rock is essentially a rock slab heated up to 575°F and served with raw meat and vegetables that you can cook at your table.  

Liberty of the Seas

Sabor: The guacamole and handcrafted margaritas (made with reposado tequila) are definitely tasty.

Majesty of the Seas

Compass Deli: A complimentary venue that serves up hand-pressed paninis and wraps made to order, along with a small side-salad bar and an array of hot soups and cookies. 

Mariner of the Seas

Jamie's Italian: Family-style appetizers and freshly made pasta combine for a terrific meal. Try the Antipasti Plank.

Navigator of the Seas

El Loco Fresh: Complimentary and tasty Mexican street fare that is great for a midday snack or casual meal.

Oasis of the Seas

Park Cafe: Kummelweck sandwiches are a must-eat snack. 

You might also like Sabor in the Boardwalk neighborhood.  Try the guacamole.

Ovation of the Seas

Jamie's Italian: British Chef Jamie Oliver offers a pleasingly rustic Italian decor and the menu include his trademark "planks" -- boards filled with meats, cheeses or vegetarian bites that are designed to be shared as starter. 

You might also like Wonderland. Whimsical specialty restaurant inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Eating at Wonderland is as much about the food as it is the experience.

Quantum of the Seas

Wonderland: A signature Royal Caribbean specialty restaurant that combines a fun experience with creative foods.

You might also like Cafe @ Two70 where you can find the exquisite roast beef sandwiches.

Radiance of the Seas

Park Cafe: Quick grab and go that serves up breakfast, salads, panini sandwiches, soups. Also offers late-night snacks.

Rhapsody of the Seas

Park Cafe: Kummelweck roast beef sandwiches are a must-eat snack. 

Serenade of the Seas

Park Cafe: Kummelweck roast beef sandwiches are a must-eat snack. 

Spectrum of the Seas

Wonderland’s Dadong: a new outpost of Chinese chef Dong Zhenxiang, renowned for his much-coveted roast duck dish.

Symphony of the Seas

El Loco Fresh: Complimentary outdoor Mexican eatery that features a terrific salsa station, where you can take your pick from homemade guacamole, fire-roasted tomatoes, pico de gallo and many more toppings. 

You might also like Park Cafe for the roast beef kummelweck sandwiches.

Vision of the Seas

Park Cafe: Kummelweck roast beef sandwiches are a must-eat snack. 

Voyager of the Seas

Izumi: Hot rock (Ishiyaki) plates are rocks that are heated to 575 degrees °F, where guests take raw meat and vegetables and cook them on the rock, right at your table. 

Top 8 most common Royal Caribbean dining questions


Royal Caribbean's cruise ships offer an incredible amount of food and dining venues onboard.  Guests will discover fresh, delicious and authentic cuisine catered to a range of tastes and preferences. Whether you are a foodie or just enjoy classic comfort food, there is a lot of great dining choices to choose between.

We get a lot of questions about dining and eating on Royal Caribbean, so we have answers to some of the most commonly asked dining questions. Grab your fork and knife and let's dive into these common Royal Caribbean dining questions.

What food is included with my cruise? Is there food I have to pay for?

A Royal Caribbean cruise offers complimentary food as well as specialty dining. This means there are venues onboard your ship that serve unlimited food that is included with your cruise fare, along with some additional options that have an extra charge.

In short, there is ample opportunity to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks inbetween without additional cost. The exact complimentary venues will depend on the ship you sail on, but here are some common ones that pretty much every ship has:

  • Main dining room
  • Windjammer buffet
  • Grab and go spots for food, such as Cafe Promenade, Cafe Latte-tudes, Sorrento's, Boardwalk Dog House, Park Cafe, etc.
  • Johnny Rockets (for breakfast on Oasis Class ships only)

In addition, Royal Caribbean offers its guests the choice to dine at specialty restaurants. Most specialty restaurants have a simple cover charge that includes most of the food on the menu, although there are a couple of specialty restaurants that forgo the cover charge and simply charge you for what you order.

Pro Tip: If you are interested in trying more than one specialty restaurant, you can save a lot of money with a specialty dining package.

Is dinner the same every night?

No, the main dining room and Windjammer buffet both alternate their menus each evening to ensure there is something different. Complimentary dining venues change their menus daily.

Specialty restaurant menus do not usually change.

Do I need to make reservations for our meals?

Depending on which dinner option you choose, the answer to this question may differ. For dinner, guests can choose between traditional dinner or My Time Dining at the time of booking their cruise.

If you are booked for traditional seating at dinner, then there is nothing to reserve ahead of time for the main dining room dinner.  Simply arrive at the designated dining time and you will be seated at the same table each evening.

If you are booked into My Time Dining, then you have the choice of making reservations in advance. With My Time Dining, reservations are recommended for each evening, but you have the option to choose a different time each day of the cruise. We recommend making reservations in advance via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site to ensure quick(er) seating, particularly if you prefer to dine at peak dinner times (6:30pm - 8:00pm).

For specialty restaurants, you certainly want to make reservations.  Walk-up seating may be available, but it is common for specialty restaurants to get booked up. To make sure you get a table, you can make your arrangements online by going to Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.

Does Royal Caribbean offer unlimited drink packages?

Yes, Royal Caribbean offers unlimited drink packages that include alcohol, as well as some that are just non-alcholic beverages.

There are three basic drink packages to consider:

Drink packages can be purchased before the cruise via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site, as well as onboard. 

Pro Tip: Booking a drink package before your cruise is the best option financially, as the drink packages are usually discounted when bought online.

Can I use my drink package anywhere on the ship?

Yes, Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages work at any venue onboard the ship.  This includes any bar, restaurant or lounge, including the Windjammer, main dining room or specialty restaurants.

The only exception is drink packages are not accepted for room service or minibar orders.

Pro Tip: Drink package benefits extend to Royal Caribbean's private destinations of CocoCay and Labadee.

Can I bring drinks on my cruise?

Guests can bring up to 12 standard (17 oz) cans, bottles or cartons per stateroom. Distilled water or specialized beverages such as, milk for medical purposes, dietary or infant use, are permitted.

Guests may also bring up to two 750 ml bottles of wine or champagne per stateroom.  

Guests cannot bring liquor or fortified wines at any time.  If you purchase wine or liquor in port during your trip, Royal Caribbean will store it on board for safekeeping and return it to you on the last day of the sailing.

Pro Tip: Be sure to keep any beverages you bring onboard with you in your carry on luggage.  If you put non-alcoholic beverages or wine in your checked luggage, it will be delayed in delivery to you room by security.

Do I 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.

Is there room service?

Yes, there is room service available but it has a $7.95 per order service fee.  The service fee is per order, so you can order as much food as you want in each order and only pay the service fee.

There is a complimentary continental breakfast room service option.

Room service is available 24 hours per day.

Royal Caribbean My Time Dining versus Traditional Dining


Royal Caribbean offers its guests two choices for enjoying dinner in the main dining room: My Time Dining or Traditional Dining. 

Each option allows for a style of meal aimed at the individual cruiser's preference and if you are wondering if My Time Dining is a better choice or if traditional dining is the way to go, then this blog post should help sort it all out.  

Traditional Dining

Traditional dining is an option for dinner where you choose between an early or late seating (sometimes referred to as "first seating" or "second seating").

In traditional dining, you are assigned the same table to dine at for each evening of your cruise and you will have the same dining time, table mates, and wait staff for each evening of the cruse.  

In some cases, you may be seated with other guests from the cruise (especially if you are traveling in a smaller group).

The advantages of traditional dining are:

  • Simple planning: Same time each night for dinner, so nothing to plan ahead
  • Personalized waiter service: Since you will have the same wait staff each evening, they will make an effort to get to know your habits.
  • Great for larger groups.
  • Evening show times are often scheduled around traditional dinner times.

My Time Dining

My Time Dining is a choice you have to have dinner at the Main Dining Room, where there is no assigned time or table.  Rather, you have the choice of making reservations in advance or simply showing up and waiting for an available table.  

You can make reservations for My Time Dining either before the cruise on Royal Caribbean's site, or once you are on the ship.  My Time Dining is a lot like dining out in your local town, where you can opt to call ahead and make a reservation or walk up to the restaurant and see what availability there is.  Moreover, the flexibility in dining times means being able to eat dinner on your schedule.

With flexibility comes responsibility, as it is up to you to make reservations when to dine.  While you can show up and wait for a table, we highly recommend making reservations in advance to limit wait times.  

If you like, you can request the same wait staff each evening, but it may result in a longer wait for an available table.

The advantages of My Time Dining are:

  • Greater choice of dining times: My Time Dinner is available each evening between the hours of 6:00 and 9:30 p.m.
  • Great for scheduling around shore excursion plans.
  • Getting a table is simple for smaller groups.  
  • Less likely to be seated with other guests.

Choosing between My Time Dining and Traditional Dining

Ultimately, the decision of which option is better will come down to your personal preferences, as well as some other factors related to your group.

In a nutshell, My Time Dining offers greater flexibility in what time you eat, but there can be waits for to be seated.  Sometimes the wait can be as long as 45 minutes during peak times.  This can be mitigated by making reservations in advance, although for some people planning ahead defeats the point of My Time Dining to some extent.

Traditional dining is a simpler approach to dinner in the main dining room since it requires very little work up front.  Traditional dining requires you to adhere to one of two dining times, which may be too early or too late for your taste. Moreover, you may be seated with other guests and that has been hit or miss in terms of personalities clashing.

Larger groups (more than six people) will find it significantly easier to stick with traditional dining so that they can have the same table assignment each evening.  Getting larger groups seated near each other at the same time in My Time Dining is not a simple task.

If you place a high priority on seeing the shows each evening onboard, you can go with both, but traditional dining times are usually already scheduled around the entertainment.

Both My Time Dining and Traditional dining adhere to the main dining room dress codes each evening, which includes formal night.

Your thoughts

Which dinner option do you prefer? Is there an advantage to one over the other, in your opinion?  Share your experiences and post your questions in the comments below.

Video: Culinary Creativity in Royal Caribbean’s Test Kitchen


At Royal Caribbean’s test kitchen, located at the cruise line’s Miami offices, great culinary minds come together to experiment with tasty ideas. From concept to reality, many signature Royal Caribbean dining experiences first came to life in the kitchen. The recipes that rise to the top are tested on board, where guests can get a taste and offer feedback until they have been tweaked and perfected, resulting in mouthwatering fare that thrills travelers at sea.

Avoid these ten Royal Caribbean dining mistakes


Whether this is your first Royal Caribbean cruise or your fiftieth, there are certain nuances and "secrets" to dining on a Royal Caribbean cruise that can be overlooked.  These lapses can result in time or money wasted, or perhaps simply missing out on something you might have otherwise preferred to try. 

Here are a few Royal Caribbean dining mistakes to avoid on your upcoming Royal Caribbean cruise.

Waiting to book specialty dining onboard

When researching your Royal Caribbean cruise, it is easy to make note of the really enticing specialty restaurants onboard, and then deciding to dine there once you get onboard the ship. Perhaps this decision is made in an effort to spend onboard credit or just an assumption that there will be plenty of tables available any night of the cruise.

The reality is specialty dining has never been more popular on Royal Caribbean ships.  If you value dining at a specific time and day, or want to enjoy a meal on a formal night or holiday, booking a reservation in advance is critical.  

Royal Caribbean allows guests to book reservations online prior to a cruise, which ensures you get the exact time and day at the restaurant of your choice.  And you can even use your onboard credit for pre-cruise purchases now!

Only ordering one entrée

Did you know that in the main dining room (and some specialty restaurants) you can order as many entrées, appetizers or desserts as you like?

Often first-time cruisers will order food like they do when they go out to a restaurant at home: one appetizer, one entrée and maybe a dessert. But on a Royal Caribbean cruise, not only can you order as much as you want, you should!

The serving sizes of entrées in Royal Caribbean restaurants tends to be on the small side. Plus, you are absolutely allowed to order as much as you want in the main dining room.  This is a great opportunity not only to indulge, but to also try out some new foods, like escargot!

Not bringing wine onboard with you

If you enjoy wine, did you know Royal Caribbean allows guests to bring up to two bottles of wine per stateroom onboard?

While Royal Caribbean prohibits bringing beer or other alcohol on your Royal Caribbean cruise, guests are permitted to bring up to two bottles of wine with them.  If you have more than one room, start multiplying that allotment by the number of rooms you have.  And yes, champagne is allowed too since it is technically considered "sparkling wine."

Not checking your table on embarkation day

If you are in traditional dining for dinner, each guest will be assigned a table in the main dining room upon embarkation.  The table number and dining room is denoted at the bottom of your SeaPass card.  But did you know you can change your assignment?

On embarkation day, a smart idea is to head down to the main dining room and locate your table to see where you are located and what size table you have been assigned.  If the location is not to your liking, or perhaps you are seated at a table larger than your party (which likely means you will be seated with other guests), you can speak to the head waiter on duty and request a change.

The head waiter will do their best to accommodate you, but we have found there is a bit of flexibility with changes.

Not making My Time Dining reservations

If you opted for dinner on your schedule in the form of My Time Dining, while you can just show up and get a table for dinner, we believe it is best to make reservations in advance.

Unless you eat dinner very early or very late, there can be a wait associated with guests who walk up for dinner.  

The wait may be short or long, but it is still a wait.  Prior to your cruise (or even once onboard), you can (and should) make reservations for each evening to ensure you are seated quickly. No one likes to wait to eat, and since the option is there, take advantage of it.

Skipping lunch in the main dining room

Were you aware on sea days the main dining room is open for lunch?

The main dining room for lunch is an easily overlooked lunch option, because many guests either are unaware of it or assume the menu is not different from other venues.  In fact, the lunch menu is quite different and will change every day it is open.  Moreover, lunch in the main dining room features the amazing salad and pasta bar, known as the Tutti Salad bar.

Not buying a drink package before the cruise

If you decide a Royal Caribbean unlimited drink package is worth it, do not wait to buy it onboard the ship.

First, if you purchase it onboard you will have to spend time buying it.  Often there are lines on embarkation day to buy the drink package, and then there is a bit of paperwork associated with its purchase.

Second, if you buy the drink package online before your cruise, it will absolutely save you money on the total cost! There are discounts offered for the drink package if purchased prior to the cruise, which means money saved for something else on your vacation.

Skipping specialty dining because it costs extra

If you are new to cruising, it is easy to skip over specialty restaurants simply because there is an additional cost to them.   I get it, on principle why should you pay more for food when there is plenty of great food available that included with your cruise fare?

The specialty dining onboard a Royal Caribbean ship augments the complimentary food, and offers cuisines and service not found elsewhere on the ship.  Sushi, steak, Mexican, hibachi and much more are available with specialty dining and these restaurants are a great way to celebrate a special occasion, or toast to a wonderful holiday.

You certainly do not have to dine at a specialty restaurant every day, but sprinkling in one or two meals at a specialty restaurant is a great strategy for enhancing the cruise experience.

Missing out on pool deck ice cream

Whether you are six or sixty, do not miss out on the free soft-serve ice cream (technically it is frozen yogurt) available on the pool deck.

If you hang out near the pool long enough, you will likely see guests walking around with ice cream cones.  No pool day is complete without a frigid treat from the soft-serve machine.  If you cannot locate the ice cream machine, ask a crew member for directions.

One great tip is to grab a cup from the Windjammer and fill that up with ice cream.  Better yet, bring ice cream to the pool bar and amazing drinks can happen!

Paying full price for kids at specialty restaurants

If you have kids that are 12 years old or younger, do not pay for them when making a specialty restaurant reservation before your cruise.

Royal Caribbean offers special pricing for children at specialty restaurants, but there is no option online to take advantage of kid pricing.

Instead, make reservations just for the adults in the group, and then inform the restaurant upon check-in that you have children with you.  

We want to hear from you! What is your best tip for avoiding a Royal Caribbean dining mistake? Leave a comment and share with us below!

How to eat healthy while on a Royal Caribbean cruise


Many of our readers may have taken the first step in trying to better themselves with a New Year's resolution to lose weight and eat healthy (or healthier).  It is an admirable decision that takes a lot of hard work to reach the goal that they may have in mind, but a Royal Caribbean vacation does not mean those goals have to fall to the wayside.

Eating healthy on a Royal Caribbean cruise is far from an oxymoron.  Rather, it is a state of mind that is definitely achievable with the right kind of planning, and a little motivation.  While Royal Caribbean cruises are well-known for their amazing indulgences, there is no reason you cannot have a great time and still lose weight on your trip!

It is also worth noting that I am not a nutritionist, doctor or health official.  I do not even play one on television.  This post is about sharing tips and strategies I have learned over years of cruising that one can use to help reduce weight gain onboard.

Determine your goals before you leave

Before you take a bite of any food onboard, or even step onto the ship, it is important to define what measures of success you want to achieve.  For some people, it might mean losing weight while onboard, while others may simply endeavor to "minimize the damage done" onboard. Regardless of what your opinion, you should have a goal in mind.

Depending on what your objective is, how you dine onboard will reflect those ambitions. There is quite a wide gamut of ways to eat healthy onboard, so it is important to know what you are aiming for before starting.  Trying to ensure no weight gain is going to be much different than trying to drop ten pounds.

Regardless of what your goal is, everyone's body is different and weight loss regiments are also equally specific.  One strategy might work for one person, while that same methodology might not work for another.  Your best bet is to figure out before your cruise what works best for you.  Is it a low-carb diet? Avoiding fats? Avoiding meat? Speaking with your doctor or nutritionist might be a logical first step.

With that in mind, let us jump into some general strategies for keeping those pounds off while onboard!

Spend lots of time on the sports deck

Before we even talk about one morsel of food, one solid strategy to keeping the weight off is engaging in physical activities.  Royal Caribbean ships offer quite a bit of onboard activities, including lots of sports activities on the sports deck.  Every Royal Caribbean ship offers a multi-purpose sports deck that has plenty of physical fun, including basketball, dodge ball, soccer and rock climbing. 

Likewise, there is a complimentary fitness center on every Royal Caribbean ship that offers free weights, weight machines, treadmills, exercise bikes and more.  There are also optional fitness classes that can really get your cardio going, albeit for an additional cost. Heck, taking the stars instead of the elevator helps a little bit too.

The more time you can spend on the sports deck and expending plenty of energy, the more calories you will burn and that is a great way to offset a lot of what you may end up eating onboard, healthy or not.

Ask for food not on the menu

Do not assume what is on the menu is the only food available to you.  When dining in the main dining room or even the Windjammer, you can always ask the wait staff for something else that is more suitable for your diet.  Assuming they have the ingredients onboard, I have found the culinary team extremely helpful in accommodating these sorts of requests.

You might order a dish on the menu, but with a different preparation (no salt or grilled instead of fried). I always order a serving of Indian curry with my main dining room dinners because I prefer Indian cuisine, and they tend to be a healthier choice too. On some cruises, I requested a plate of chopped vegetables for a Mediterranean salad be prepared each morning in the Windjammer. 

Your best bet is to speak to the head waiter and discuss options.

Skip the alcoholic beverages

Generally speaking, alcoholic beverages are one big area of the cruise experience worth skipping to keep those calories off.  Cocktails and beer have alcohol in them, which the body will convert to sugar and nearly every diet and nutritional regiment I have ever encountered has recommended limiting your sugar intake. It may not be nearly as fun to follow this suggestion, but it is a great way to cut down on a very common area of empty calories.

There is also an added bonus for skipping the booze: you will save a considerable amount of money too.  Royal Caribbean drink prices are not exactly inexpensive, so by skipping the drinks not only are you limiting your sugar intake, but you are also saving a lot of money.

It is worth noting that some diets do allow for a glass of red wine or two per day as part of a nutritional day. Depending on your goals and weight strategy, this might be one way to leave a little indulgence in your day.

The best variety will be in the Windjammer...

Ordinarily, buffets are not the place someone on a diet is recommended to visit, but the Windjammer buffet is also the best spot to find the greatest variety of choices. I feel one of the stumbling points of any diet is the feeling of, "there is nothing for me to eat here."  At the Windjammer, you will find plenty of unhealthy foods, but also more healthy options than anywhere else onboard.

For breakfast, the egg station is your best bet for a cooked-to-order omelet. You can get most kinds of omelets here (unless you are on an Oasis class ship, then head to the main dining room).  For lunch and dinner, there will be grilled fish, curries, steamed vegetables and lots of salad choices.

I freely admit the Windajmmer is a double-edged sword and there are lots of other foods that will be very tempting.  Stay strong, soldier!

...or skip the buffet

If the buffet is too much of a temptation island for you, then you might find refuge in the main dining room for breakfast and dinner (lunch on sea days).  

The main dining room has a menu that you can choose from, and it also allows for more customizations.  As mentioned earlier, speak to the head waiter about any dietary restrictions you may have and they are quite accommodating.  Keep in mind that requests should be made as early as possible. Often, the dietary request will be ready for the next meal because the chef needs to prepare the items ahead of time.  Nonetheless, the staff in the dining room work very hard to accommodate guests' needs.

Another advantage of the main dining room is portioning is easier and self-control is easier than in the Windajmmer.

Check out the Tutti Salad bar

On sea days, make a point to eat lunch in the main dining room.  You will find a custom salad station, known as the Tutti salad bar.

This is the kind of all salad bars, with fresh ingredients that are prepared just the way you like it.  You tell the staff what you want in the salad, and they will chop it all up for you. Because of the wide array of ingredients available, it is a bit hit with those looking to find healthier choices.

Your ideas

Have you tried to eat healthy while onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise? Share your experiences in the comments!

25 must-read Royal Caribbean dining secrets


A Royal Caribbean cruise is a family vacation that millions of people look forward to taking each year, and good planning can enhance that vacation experience even further.

After more than a decade of Royal Caribbean cruises, we have perfected some expert tips and advice to get the most out of your Royal Caribbean cruise.

Today, we are sharing our 25 must-read Royal Caribbean dining secrets to ensure you have the best possible cruise experience!

1. Make dining reservations

Simply put, the best way to ensure you get into any Royal Caribbean specialty restaurant that you want is to make a reservation in advance.  You could wait until you arrive onboard the ship, or even chance it to simply walk up and ask for a table, but you are risking the restaurant of your choice filling up.  Make a reservation online via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site or as early as possible once onboard the ship.

2. Do date night on a cruise

Royal Caribbean cruises are the perfect vacation for honeymooners and anyone looking for a romantic evening out.  Plan ahead and treat your favorite person to a signature dinner at 150 Central Park or Chops Grille. Or order ice cream and cookies to your stateroom via room service, or take a ride on the carousel together in the Boardwalk.

3. Don't miss the must-eat items

After years of eating on Royal Caribbean ships, we have amassed our own list of "must-eat" dishes, treats and snacks across the fleet. Fan-favorites, such as the Tutti salad bar, Labadoozie, escargot, savory bites and pretty much anything from Sabor are high priority when onboard a Royal Caribbean ship. 

To read up on our favorites, check out our list of 15 amazing things you can eat on Royal Caribbean article.

4. You can reserve specialty restaurants before your cruise

A very common question we receive is, "when can I start booking specialty restaurants on my Royal Caribbean cruise?" and the answer is "it depends." Generally speaking, specialty restaurant reservations will open up sometime between 90 and 60 days prior to embarkation day on your cruise. The exact time frame will depend on a variety of factors.

The best reason to book dining in advance is to guarantee a spot for you and your family, as well as break up the total cost of the cruise. By booking these activities early, you can ensure you have the time and day that you want all lined up.

5. There are free beverages available throughout the ship

Believe it or not, you do not have to pay an extra dime onboard for beverages on your Royal Caribbean cruise. There are plenty of drinks included in your cruise fare to keep not only your thirst quenched, but also satisfied.

Here is the list of drinks that are included in your cruise:

  • regular coffee
  • decaffeinated coffee
  • tea
  • iced tea
  • tap water
  • milk
  • chocolate milk
  • lemonade
  • flavored waters
  • juices (at breakfast, not fresh squeezed)
  • hot chocolate (via instant packets)

These drinks are available throughout your cruise at a number of locations, so there will always be somewhere to get something to drink for free.

6. Research your dining options

Royal Caribbean ships offer more dining locations than ever before - everything from upscale dinners, to restaurants serving up burgers and fries. Take your time and research your options, and to that point, Royal Caribbean Blog has a list of Royal Caribbean restaurant reviews to provide a good starting point for learning about each dining choice available.

7. Free breakfast in Johnny Rockets

On Oasis class ships, Johnny Rockets is open for breakfast and it is included in your cruise fare. During breakfast, you will find classic American fare (just like the other meals), including pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, eggs, French toast and more.

Besides the price tag, Johnny Rockets is often a less crowded spot for breakfast, so if you need a break from breakfast in the Windjammer, head over to the Boardwalk and start your morning there.

8. Try My Time off peak hours

Royal Caribbean's My Time Dining allows guests to enjoy dinner on their schedule, but if you want to avoid the dinner rush, try eating off-peak hours.

We have found the most popular times to have dinner in the main dining room while on My Time Dining is between 6:30pm and 8:00pm.

Guests can make reservations for shorter waits, but if you want to truly avoid lines, try to go early or late: before 6:00pm or after 8:00pm.  

9. Research the Specialty Dining Packages to see if it meets your needs

Many Royal Caribbean guests are opting for dining packages, which allow guests to get a discount on multiple specialty restaurants. Guests can choose between 2, 3, or even unlimited specialty restaurants on their Royal Caribbean cruise with up to 40% off the price if they were purchased individually.

The only caveat to the dining packages is one of the restaurants must be experience on the first or second night of the cruise.  Nonetheless, the cost savings offered by the dining packages is perfect for someone who wants to experience many of the best Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants.

10. Look for alternatives to avoid buffet lines

The Windjammer is the epicenter of any Royal Caribbean ship's dining experience, because it offers the greatest variety of food onboard in a casual, buffet style experience. This popularity can lead to a crowded experience during peak dining times.

The good news is there are great alternative spots available that will keep you satisfied and likely get you in and out a whole lot faster.

These locations include:

  • Park Cafe
  • Cafe @ Two70
  • Cafe Promenade
  • Sorrentos
  • Compass Deli (Majesty of the Seas only)

11. Communicate food sensitivity or special diets before your cruise

If you have a dietary restriction, special need or just prefer to have your food prepared in a certain way, your best bet is to let Royal Caribbean know about those kinds of requests prior to your cruise.

The best way to do this is by emailing special_needs@rccl.com; please include in the e-mail the guests' names, booking number, ship name and sail date.

You should also make a quick stop in the main dining room on embarkation day.  There will be a head waiter on duty to speak with, and that person can confirm they have your dietary needs on file and make any necessary changes too.

12. Ask for a specialty restaurant deal

If you are walking around your ship and a waiter from a specialty restaurant asks you if you would like to dine at a specialty restaurant, your next question should be what kind of special can they offer you.

Waiters walking around looking to drum up business for their restaurants can sometimes lead to a discount off the regular price.  This strategy may not always work, but it is worth trying.  Heck, you might even consider going to a restaurant and politely asking if there are any specials or discounts if you want to book something.

13. Bring food from onshore

The ports of call your ship will visit offer a tremendous array of amazing food, but your culinary indulgences are not limited to when you are on shore.  Aside from alcohol, you can bring food back onboard the ship with you to enjoy later. Whether that is a freshly baked baguette, chocolates or something jarred for later, you can take it back with you for enjoyment later in the cruise or back home.

Keep in mind that the United States has strict laws about bringing back certain fruits and vegetables, so be sure to read up on these laws prior to bringing anything home.

14. When in doubt, do not be afraid to ask.

If you have questions about the food or the menu at a restaurant, do not be afraid to ask your server about it. Royal Caribbean offers a tremendous amount of flexibility for the most part when it comes to making substitutions or accommodating dietary needs. They truly want you to be happy, so be sure to communicate any needs to the wait staff. In the main dining room, you can speak to the head waiter about any gluten-free, vegan or other dietary needs.

15. Fill up at the buffet

At the core of any Royal Caribbean cruise is the Windjammer buffet, which offers all-you-care-to-eat choices throughout the day. This is a fantastic choice for families or groups of guests that have wide variations in taste, as well as for picky eaters. For these reasons, the Windjammer buffet can be a wise choice for keeping everyone happy. 

Not only is the Windjammer very accommodating in tastes, it also offers a wide variety of choices and we have found the food quality to be quite good. In fact, some guests will eat exclusively at the Windjammer during their cruise.  That might be a bit much for our tastes, but keep in mind it is available most times of the day and evening.

16. Look for the cooking stations in the Windjammer

In addition to the array of food available in the Windjammer buffet, there are also cooking stations that offer custom-made dishes.  In the morning, this usually takes the form of an omelet station and each evening, there is a different choice offered.  There are custom-made pasta, Asian stir-fry, crepes and more regularly offered. 

Check with the Windjammer wait staff for a schedule of options.  These cooking stations not only offer the freshest food choices, but they will make it exactly to your taste.

17. Consider booking a dining event

In addition to traditional restaurants, Royal Caribbean offers on select ships dining events, including a Chef's Table experience, mystery dinner and prohibition party.

These events are a fun alternative to a typical mean, and offer entertainment in addition to the food and drink that these specialty restaurants are well-known for offering.

18. Drink packages work at all specialty restaurants

Royal Caribbean's drink packages have become extremely popular with guests, and the good news is the drink package benefits work at specialty restaurants too.

Be sure to ask your waiter about any exclusions, but a majority of cocktails, beers and liquors will be included in the drink package benefits.  This means extra value from a drink package and an opportunity to sample some exclusive beverages available only at specialty restaurants.

19. If this is your first cruise, do not underestimate the importance of specialty dining

Even if you have visions of riding the FlowRider, hanging by the pool and catching a show on your first Royal Caribbean cruise, first time visitors should not overlook the important of planning your meals.

Royal Caribbean dining choices, both complimentary and specialty, offer unique dishes and impeccable service that has the potential to be every bit as memorable as time spent at the pool or onshore. 

20. Room service is complimentary for suite guests

If you are staying in a suite, there is no service charge for room service orders.  

While there is a ton of great food onboard your ship to enjoy, sometimes ordering room service is a great mid-meal snack, breakfast option or take it easy evening choice. Ordering is as simple as picking up the phone and calling in your order.  Soon thereafter, your food order will be brought up to your room and served wherever you like.

21. Have picky eaters?

Many of us go on a Royal Caribbean cruise and would prefer to eat chicken nuggets for every meal than try something new... and that is okay! Royal Caribbean is a safe haven for those with specific likes and dislikes. Check out the menus before you make your dining reservations to ensure there is something that everyone can eat.

Anything on the menu can be served as an entree, regardless of if it is listed as an appetizer, side dish or kids' menu item. Here are a few more tricks and tips for dining with a picky eater on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

22. You can bring your own water onboard

Did you know you are allowed to bring water or other non-alcoholic beverages on your Royal Caribbean cruise?

On boarding day, each stateroom may bring up to two 750 ml bottles of wine or champagne, as long as one guest is of legal drinking age. Corkscrews will be provided for guests to enjoy their drinks in their stateroom. If guests wish to enjoy their wine or champagne in our dining or bar venues, there will be a corkage fee applied.

Guests may also bring non-alcoholic beverages as carry-on items on boarding day. Non-alcoholic beverages may not exceed 12 standard (17 oz.) cans, bottles or cartons per stateroom. Milk and distilled water brought on for infant, medical, or dietary use are permitted. 

23. Take advantage of dining discounts onboard or pre-cruise

Royal Caribbean is known to offer pre-cruise discounts on various aspects of the cruise experience, including specialty dining.  In an effort to spur reservations, Royal Caribbean will discount specialty restaurant reservations and dining packages to guests that prebook on Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.

Check your Cruise Planner site often, because offers can change from week to week.  And you can always cancel and rebook if prices drop!

24. Include your companions in the dining planning.

Traveling on a Royal Caribbean cruise with picky eaters, disinterested teenagers, first timers, a stressed out spouse? The best way to ensure that everyone has a great time on the cruise is to make them all feel invested in the trip planning. And who does not want to give their opinion on food? Share menus, reviews, and restaurant options with the family or your other traveling companions and get their feedback and favorites. This is an especially great idea for budding chefs!

25. Enjoy eating outdoors

On certain Royal Caribbean ships, there is an outdoor seating option that is available to enjoy a little al fresco dining.

The Windjammer on Radiance and Quantum class ships offers an area at the rear of the ship to enjoy any meal with a fantastic view of the ship's wake.  Also, restaurants in the Central Park and Boardwalk neighborhoods of Oasis class ships also offer outdoor seating.

On any Royal Caribbean ship, food from the Windjammer buffet may be brought to anywhere on the ship, which means the kids can stay in the pool while an adult gets the food and brings it back to the pool area.