How to change your dining time on a Royal Caribbean cruise


Dinner on a Royal Caribbean cruise for many guests involves a visit to the venerable main dining room. When you book your cruise, you will choose between traditional dining times or My Time Dining. Regardless of which you choose, here is how to change your dining times.

Traditional Dining

If you are booked in traditional dining, then you are either in early or late eating. This means whichever option you pick, you have a set dining time for the entire cruise. No advanced reservations are necessary, and you always have the same waiters, table mates and table assignment.

Early seating is usually around 5:30pm, and late seating around 8:00pm. The exact times will vary according to your cruise itinerary.

If you want to change your traditional dining time, you can contact your travel agent (or Royal Caribbean if you booked directly) to have the change made.  Assuming there is availability, you can move from one of the traditional dining times to the other, or opt for My Time Dining.

Once onboard the ship, it can be more challenging to make this change, but not impossible.  Ask to speak to the head waiter onboard for assistance.

My Time Dining

My Time Dining allows guests to pick a dining time anytime between 6:00 and 9:30 pm (times vary by ship) each evening. 

Reservations are encouraged, especially if you can pre-book before your cruise, but you have the ability to choose a different time each day.  This allows for a more flexible dinner schedule that you can curtail around your plans onboard or onshore.

You can manage reservations for dinner even before your cruise, by visiting Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site and scheduling something.  Reservations can be made, modified and deleted prior to the cruise, as well as once onboard.

If you have My Time Dining, you can change your dining times before the cruise via the Cruise Planner site. Onboard the ship, there is a dining hotline you can call from your stateroom phone to modify reservations. 

If you want to change to traditional dining, you can do so by contacting your travel agent (or Royal Caribbean if you booked directly). Keep in mind that traditional dining has a maximum capacity, and it is not unheard of to be put on a waitlist, especially if you try to change close to your sailing.

Do you prefer traditional or My Time Dining? Let us know which you usually reserve and why in the comments below!

A look back at 50 years of Royal Caribbean dining with Linken D'Souza


Royal Caribbean is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and a great deal of Royal Caribbean's legacy is based in the culinary offerings. Dining on Royal Caribbean has transformed over the years, with more and more new options, innovations and approaches to delivering outstanding cuisine. From the dining rooms, to the buffet, to the pizza and even robot bartenders, Royal Caribbean is never one to shy away from pushing the envelope with what can be delivered to ships.

At the heart of Royal Caribbean's food and beverage operations is Linken D'Souza, Global Vice President Culinary, Dining & Beverage. 

He and his team have the task of making the food, drinks and meals onboard an unforgettable experience for guests. Mr. D'Souza has worked for Royal Caribbean in this capacity for about two and a half years, and his team carries a tradition of striving to serve up the best dining experience.

"What hasn't changed is the ability of our staff to produce just an amazing product, amazing service to along with it, and I think that's what has kept us so strong as an organization."

"I think the key to research is to understand the guests, creating a product that they really want, and then taking their feedback. We're in the process of creating the new Giovanni's restaurant that will launch in the next little while, and in fact yesterday, we did a tasting onboard the ship with our guests to really get a sense of what they liked, what they didn't like. That's just one step. We'll go through three or four iterations before we launch Giovanni's Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar on Freedom of the Seas."

Of course, plenty has changed in Royal Caribbean's 50 years of operations, and the options guests have to dine at has grown every year.

"If we wind back time to 1969 with the Song of Norway, and you think about the two venues we had onboard, which was the dining room and the Windjammer, which was essentially a window that served burgers and hot dogs, to Symphony of the Seas, our flagship here in the United States. Sixty-five food and beverage venues onboard, that's a huge evolution."


To commemorate Royal Caribbean's 50 years, a limited edition hardcover book was created and given to guests sailing on Symphony of the Seas this week as part of the 50th Anniversary Birthday Cruise.  All guests can read the book for free by downloading the eBook.

Mr. D'Souza looked at the evolution of dining, explained the research that goes into a new restaurant and even talked about they pick a featured dish that eventually ends up on the menu. Listen to episode 327 of our interview with Linken D'Souza in its entirety below.

Be sure to subscribe to the RoyalCaribbeanBlog Podcast at Google Podcasts, Apple PodcastsTuneIn, and Stitcher.

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.