Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

We asked our readers their favorite snack on a Royal Caribbean cruise

01 May 2024

Eating on a cruise ship is one of the major draws of this type of vacation, and there are plenty of great snacks to enjoy along the way!

From fancy specialty restaurants to complimentary snack stops, there's a cuisine for everyone to try.

But over the limited length of your cruise, you won't get the chance to try everything. Many ships have 8-10 dining venues onboard, so you'll never be able to try every dish at each one.

To maximize your time, you'll need to know the essentials that keep cruisers coming back for more.

The grove

We took to Facebook to poll our readers on their thoughts.

Through a post on the Royal Caribbean Dining Facebook Group, we asked users about their favorite snack on any Royal Caribbean ship.

We received hundreds of comments, with readers sharing dishes that they grab the first thing when they get onboard and meals that have them Googling the recipe when they get home.

Here are the top snacks in the whole Royal Caribbean fleet.

Coconut Ranger cookies

Kathleen Smith (and many other readers) shared that her favorite snack is the coconut ranger cookie.

Peggy Czerkies added that she brings Ziplock bags on her cruise just to tuck those cookies away and bring them back to the cabin.

The Coconut Ranger cookies are a fan favorite, a must-try snack that's offered at complimentary venues like the Park Cafe and Promenade Cafe.

Read more: Top 5 signature Royal Caribbean foods

The Ranger cookies are essentially chewy coconutty praline cookies. They can be made with whatever you have lying around, like oatmeal, or chocolate chips.

Royal Caribbean's version adds shredded coconut chips and coconut milk for the extra texture and flavor.

Cruisers love these cookies for their sweet, nutty flavor and chewy texture. Some commenters shared that they like to sandwich the cookies around a scoop of soft-serve ice cream for an extra kick of sweetness.

Sorrento's Pizza

Pepperoni pizza

Steve Cohen goes straight for Sorrento's Pizza when he needs a midnight snack.

Sorrento's Pizza is a Royal Caribbean staple, a complimentary pizza place open most of the day serving up New York-style pizza.

Specific times vary depending on the sailing and day, but Sorrento's is often open from 11:00 A.M. up until 2:00 A.M.

The venue is a casual, open-air space that is usually located somewhere central in the ship, like on the Royal Promenade.

Hot, gooey slices of pizza come in several flavors: cheese, pepperoni, Margherita, and Carnivore.

You can choose as many pieces and flavors as your heart desires.

Tuna sandwiches

Park Cafe

The Park Cafe or Cafe Promenade is a small, complimentary venue often open in the afternoon, perfect for a late lunch or afternoon snack.

These areas serve up a variety of salads, fruits, and small sandwiches.

Nicole Decker likes the tuna sandwiches, calling them, "amazing for when we wanted something savory."

The sandwich selections change daily, so you can always keep coming back to find new favorites.

There are even gluten-free and other options for those who have dietary restrictions.

Read more: 10 unique foods you will find on Royal Caribbean


The kummelweck is another favorite sandwich offered at the Park Cafe, Cafe Two70, and Cafe Promenade.

It's a Western New York tradition, a warm, sliced roast beef sandwich on a kummelweck roll.

The kummelweck is a cruiser staple, something that fans come back for over and over.

Cafe Promenade

Ann-Marie Skiffington Butler called the sandwich "to die for," and many users echoed her sentiment.

Joe Bellardini wrote that he loves these sandwiches, and the Park Cafe is the "first place place I hit after boarding."

We lost count of all the comments praising this sandwich!

Roasted tomatoes

Debbie Brommeland Riefner shared a more unusual favorite snack: roasted tomatoes in the Windjammer.

The complimentary buffet on all Royal Caribbean ships serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the roasted tomatoes can usually be found at breakfast.

Debbie commented: "I could eat my weight in them for breakfast... weird because I don't eat tomatoes for breakfast at home."

These roasted tomatoes are a warm, savory favorite, perfect with bacon, eggs, or alone with a sprinkle of salt.

Feta-stuffed sweet peppers

Greg Burdine commented that his favorite snack is the feta-stuffed pimentos served at Vintages bar.

Vintages is a popular nighttime bar venue, decorated in dark and heavy woods, with a quiet elegant atmosphere.

The bar is known for its alcoholic drinks, particularly a selection of fine wines.

However, snacks are also served here at an extra cost.

The feta-stuff sweet peppers cost $2.50 and are made by stuffing pimentos (aka sweet cherry chili peppers) with feta cheese.

They're a small, savory snack—the perfect pairing for a red wine, such as merlot.

Chocolate croissant

Royal Caribbean's chocolate croissants can be found around breakfast time, usually at the Windjammer or the Main Dining Room.

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

Rochelle Root Bushey loves the chocolate croissants, "so much that I pick up an extra at breakfast and save it for later."

Saving items for later is always a bonus of being on a cruise ship.

You can tuck your food into a Ziploc bag, or a napkin, or even just bring the plate back to your stateroom.

The food will be there when you're ready to enjoy it again.

Oatmeal raisin cookies

Melanie Lorino commented that she likes Royal Caribbean's oatmeal raisin cookies located at the Windjammer and cafes.

"[They're] never my go-to cookie but Royal nails it," she wrote.

Royal Caribbean's oatmeal raisin cookies are an extra-warm, extra-soft version of the familiar snack.

You'll be able to find them at almost any complimentary dining venue, such as the Windjammer, Park Cafe, or Cafe Promenade.

Read more: 11 things you should never do at a cruise ship buffet

Funnel cake

Another set of favorite Royal Caribbean snacks can be found off the ships and on Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The cruise line's private island has beaches, pools, chairs, and—more importantly—a variety of popular, complimentary snacks and meals.

Beth Ballard Bean commented that the funnel cake on CocoCay is her favorite.

It's a hot, deep-fried scramble of batter, topped with powdered sugar and served on a small plate.

You'll see lots of guests—from old to young—enjoying this free snack on Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Read more: What to do at CocoCay? 18 things to try on your visit

Buffalo chicken crunch roll

Katina Bradley commented that her favorite savory snack is the Buffalo chicken crunch roll.

Playmakers is the Royal Caribbean arcade and sports bar.

This venue is located on Freedom of the Seas, Icon of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Star of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas, and Wonder of the Seas.

Playmakers SOTS

In addition to showing sports games and offering arcade machines, Playmakers serves casual finger food and beers at an extra cost.

The Buffalo chicken crunch roll is a crunchy wrap of chicken and melted cheese. It comes with buffalo and blue cheese sauce and is sold for $5.

Beyond the Buffet: Exploring Royal Caribbean's unique onboard cuisine

23 Dec 2023

Just like how food at a baseball game is more than hot dogs or cracker jack, the food choices on a Royal Caribbean cruise go beyond eating at the buffet.

Family eating at Chops Grille

According to an internal Royal Caribbean study, the top two reasons people choose to go on a cruise are for the destinations and food. With that in mind, a cruise ship has to offer more than just a salad bar.

AAA conducted a survey that showed 52% of U.S. adults are likely to consider a cruise vacation in 2023, and that number is likely to grow.

In fact, you might be surprised at the variety of dining choices found on cruise ships today. On the brand new Icon of the Seas, you'll find more than 40 ways to eat and drink, with 20 new and signature ways to eat onboard the ship.

All of those choices are meant to cater to every taste palate, while ensuring adventurous eaters have something to satisfy their needs as well.

If you're new to cruising, here's why the food on Royal Caribbean may very well impress you.

Culinary Delights

Chef in Action

Depending on which ship you choose, there could be a great variety of restaurants to choose from, some that are included and others that cost extra.

The complimentary dining usually caters to the widest possible audience, with dishes of varying cuisines. You'll find Italian, French, American, Indian and more in the ship's Main Dining Room.

The Main Dining Room has a themed menu each evening, which was revamped in January 2023.

Specialty restaurant overview

When you think of gourmet dining on Royal Caribbean, inevitably your focus will shift to the specialty restaurants onboard. This is where the line puts its greatest effort in delivering a culinary experience.

Royal Caribbean’s specialty restaurants offer a wide range of cuisines, from Italian to Japanese and barbecue.

Each cruise ship has its own set of restaurants. The list of specialty dining venues includes:

  • Chef's Table
  • Cafe Latte-tudes
  • Samba Grill
  • Izumi
  • Giovanni's Italian Kitchen
  • Portside BBQ
  • Johnny Rockets
  • Wonderland
  • Fish & Ships
  • Sabor
  • Chops Grille
  • Teppanyaki
  • Jamie's Italian
  • Room Service
  • Cupcake Cupboard
  • Hooked Seafood
  • Sugar Beach
  • Sabor
  • Starbucks
  • Sichuan Red
  • Giovanni's Table
  • 150 Central Park
  • The Mason Jar
  • Desserted
  • Pier 7
  • Empire Supper Club
  • Celebration Table
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade

Each restaurant has its own cuisine and style to it, which gives guests the choice to dine there.  There's plenty of food included in the cruise fare, but the idea is to give passengers the option of enhancing their cruise with additional variety.

Signature Dishes

Giovannis food

At each specialty restaurant, you'll find tantalizing choices, but which meals truly stand out as a must-try?

I hand picked a few notable dishes that stand out as the best choice at the top restaurants.

Giovanni's pizza

Giovanni's Italian Kitchen

Seven cheese pizza does indeed have seven kinds of cheeses, and the blend is impressive.

Hooked food

Hooked Seafood

The Messy Fish Sandwich is a fried five-ounce piece of cod on a brioche bun, dressed with lots of tasty coleslaw and pickles. Ask for extra napkins.

Campfire cookie

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade

Campfire cookie is a freshly baked cookie and covered with roasted marshmallows served piping hot, with a side of ice cream.

Server cutting beef tenderloin

150 Central Park

Beef tenderloin for two is sliced tableside with a duo of sauces to try.

Goat Cheese Salad

Chops Grille

Crispy Goat Cheese Salad might not be one of the steaks on the menu, but it might be the perfect salad combination.

International flavors at sea

Chef preparing a dish

Royal Caribbean prides itself by offering global cuisine on its cruise ships, and it's apparent in the menu choices.

The Main Dining Room alone will have food on each night that is inspired by India, Italy, France, and Southeast Asia. With a different theme every night in the Main Dining Room and Windjammer buffet, you'll find a great deal of food from around the world.

If you want to go beyond those choices, the specialty restaurants cater to specific global cuisines. There are two different Italian restaurants on Royal Caribbean ships, with Giovanni's focusing on traditional Italian food and Jamie's Italian leveraging celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's modern view of the food.

Izumi sushi is the creation of Master Chef Travis Kamiyama, whose 30 years of experience brings both traditional and signature sushi that caters to the international market.

The Mason Jar has comfort foods that include buttermilk biscuits and jalapeno cornbread served with Cajun and whipped honey butter, lobster n’ crawfish gumbo, crab beignets, fried green tomatoes, charred watermelon salad, shrimp n’ grits, blacked Cajun catfish and beef brisket.

Unique dining experiences

Live music in Empire Supper Club concept art

Individual dishes are great, but what about meals that stand out as an event on its own.

Royal Caribbean has offered for years the Chef's Table on all of its ships. It's a limited capacity meal led by the ship's Chef de Cuisine.

You'll sit at a white tablecloth dinner with five exquisite courses, and each is paired with the perfect wine to bring out the flavor on the menu.

Seabass at Empire Supper Club

Coming to Icon of the Seas is an even more elevated experience, with the Empire Supper Club.

This is where you'll go for an eight-course menu of premium American cuisine, accompanied by live music played during your meal. Each musical number and every cocktail is carefully curated and perfectly paired to complement each course.

Tony Abou-Ganim

Tony Abou-Ganim has worked with James Beard Award-winning chefs, Bellagio and more to come up with the meals and cocktails.

Wonderland is another original Royal Caribbean creation that is loosely based on the magical world of Alice and Wonderland.

The menu is broken down into and inspired by five different natural elements: sun, ice, fire, earth, and sea. Nothing is what it seems, but the result is an array of dishes that might surprise you with how it tastes versus how it looks.

Culinary classes

Sushi making class

In addition to sit down meals, there's an opportunity to learn how to make these foods at home.

Some ships offer cooking classes, where you get a hands-on tutorial on how the chef's on a ship make the food you eat in a restaurant.

This includes:

  • Sushi making class
  • Guacamole making class
  • Cupcake decorating class

Behind-the-scenes kitchen tours

Galley tour

It's difficult to explain how much work goes into preparing meals for the thousands of guests and crew members every day on a cruise ship.

The ship's kitchens are a 24/7 operation, and you can get a peek at how it works with an all access tour.

Royal Caribbean offers two types of tours that will take you to the ship's galley, which is where the food is prepared and served.

The "Sip. Tour. Brunch." event is an extra cost experience where guests are taken backstage to the ship's galley, followed by enjoying brunch in the Main Dining Room.

If you want to see more, go for the "All Access Ship Tour" that includes not only a visit to the galley, but also the ship's bridge, engine control room, laundry facilities, and waste management area. It's a tour hour look at how cruise ships work.

Catering to dietary preferences

Mariner of the Seas dining room

Whether you prefer to eat a certain way or have special needs, Royal Caribbean offers many choices.

Vegetarian and vegan options

You'll find many dining choices for vegetarian and vegan guests.

The Windjammer buffet has plenty of vegetarian and vegan option for each of its meals. Whether pasta with marinara, a salad, fresh fruit, oatmeal, soup, or avocado toast, you’ll certainly be able to find something to eat.

Indian food is a popular vegetarian alternative, and there is a vegetarian option served at each meal. Plant-based milks are also available on request for cereal and coffee.

In the Main Dining Room, there's even more options there. Each day will have a vegan choice listed.

Read moreVegetarian and Vegan Guide to Royal Caribbean

Allergies and special requests


Royal Caribbean can cater to dietary needs, such as food allergies, gluten-free, kosher, low-fat, and low-sodium.

Lactose-free/soy milk, ensure, and kosher meals are available at no extra charge. Just 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 [email protected]; please include in the e-mail the guests' names, booking number, ship name and sail date. E-mails will receive an automated response. We kindly ask that guests do not call Royal Caribbean International suppliers with specific questions.

Beverage experiences

Cocktail being made

The variety of choices on Royal Caribbean is not limited to food, as there's lots of cocktails, beers, and wines to enjoy.

Certainly the stereotypical "I'm on a vacation" drinks are available, but the cruise line aims to go well beyond those beverages.

Signature cruise ship cocktails

Mason Jar drinks

Royal Caribbean's drink menu has come a long way from pina coladas, daiquiris, and mimosas. While you can certainly order those drinks, they've greatly expanded their offerings too.

Here's a few of the top choices you can order to wet your whistle on a cruise.

PB&J Old Fashioned

Mason Jar

PB&J Old Fashioned is made with Skrewball peanut butter whiskey, Kentucky bourbon, strawberry jelly and walnut bitters and served with a mini crustless PB&J as a garnish.

Cucumber Martini

150 Central Park

The Cucumber Martini is made tableside and is a mix of cucumber, basil,Monin lemon grass syrup, sweet and sour mix and Grey Goose Vodka.


Grand Sabor Margarita is a real crowd pleaser because it's big on flavor and delivers the exact Mexican cocktail you envision when you order it.

Bamboo Lounge drink

Bamboo Room

The Royal Zombie matches up with the Polynesian-themed bar quite well. It's served in a tall tiki glass, topped with crushed ice, fresh mint and a cherry.


Pool bar

Goombay Smash is inspired by the islands Royal Caribbean's ships have visited for decades as a way of honoring The Bahamas.

Read moreTop 10 cocktails to try on your next Royal Caribbean cruise

Bars and lounges with unique drink menus

Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues on Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has stepped up their beverage game over the last few years, with certain bars having different drink menus.

There's a common menu used across the fleet, but select bars and lounges have a special menu to order from.



On Oasis Class ships, Wonderland spans two decks, with its own bar and drinks you can only order at this restaurant. Bartenders use innovative flavors and artisanal ingredients to create whimsical cocktails that are as pretty as they are tasty.

Mason Jar bar

Mason Jar

The bar side of The Mason Jar is designed like a sprawling southern porch, and the drink menu has a focus on bourbon and fresh flavors. 

Schooner Bar on Radiance of the Seas

Schooner Bar

Royal Caribbean updated the Schooner Bar menu in 2023 with new options. The featured drinks have all been updated with suggestions for fun drinks to try.

Planning tips for food enthusiasts


If you're ready to tackle Royal Caribbean's dining scene, you'll want to arm yourself with a few important tips.

Make reservations in advance at specialty restaurants

Chops Grille

You're not alone in wanting to get a seat at the hibachi table or Empire Supper Club, so advanced reservations are not just a suggestion, they're a necessity.

Book reservations before your cruise via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.  Don't wait until you get onboard because it's quite common for restaurants to sell out in the months leading up to the cruise.

You can always cancel with no penalty a dining reservation if you change your mind before the cruise, so there's little risk. 

Take advantage of a dining package

If you think you'll eat at more than two meals at a specialty restaurant, you should buy a specialty dining package.

Royal Caribbean offers a few types, including an unlimited option.  No matter which you choose, you'll need to purchase it before the cruise.

With a dining package, you'll need to wait to make reservations until you get on the ship.  As long as your dining times are flexible, the dining package should work out well.

Keep in mind some restaurants are not included with the dining packages, such as Chef's Table or Empire Supper Club. You can still get a discount with a package, but it's not covered in its entirety by the package purchase.

Read moreUltimate Guide to Royal Caribbean's Unlimited Dining Package

You can order more than one appetizer or entree

Couple in main dining room

Whether you are dining in the Main Dining Room, Giovanni's, Mason Jar, 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!

Royal Caribbean is dropping Ben & Jerry's ice cream from its cruise ships

12 Dec 2023

Royal Caribbean's partnership with Ben & Jerry's ice cream is coming to an end.

Ben & Jerry's ice cream

The cruise line informed travel agents that the line will remove Ben & Jerry's from its cruise ships before the end of the year.

Royal Caribbean has ice cream shops that stocked the Vermont brand ice cream on 13 of its cruise ships.

In an announcement to travel agents, the line said the final date will be December 15, 2023, "Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Shop onboard 13 of our ships will be moo-ving out and making way for something sweeter!"

Ben & Jerry's ice cream

Replacing Ben & Jerry's will be an in-house brand of ice cream.

"We're excited to announce that our own Ice Cream Parlor will be replacing Ben & Jerry's. We hope your clients saved room for dessert!"

The partnership brings to an end a multi-year deal that has had the ice cream on many of its ships for a long time. Ben & Jerry's cost extra, and was not included in the cruise fare.

Ben & Jerry's at Cafe Lattetudes

Depending on the ship class, you could find Ben & Jerry ice cream as a stand-alone location on the Royal Promenade, or as a section of another venue.

The standalone locations had Ben & Jerry decor, seating, and of course the signature cows nearby.

A change to the sweet cabins

Did you know on Royal Caribbean's Freedom Class cruise ships there was one cabin that was themed to Ben & Jerry's signature cow mascot?

These special cabins had extra perks that came with the room, but they too are already on their way out.

Ben & Jerry's ice cream certificate

These rooms (cabin 6305) included Suite Lounge access, as well as free ice cream every day.

The cow decor was dropped in 2022, but the benefits remained.  Then in 2023, we received reports that the benefits were also being removed.

What will replace it?

Ice cream

Royal Caribbean has not announced what ice cream will replace it exactly, but it's likely going to be the same sort of ice cream the line has planned for Icon of the Seas.

Sprinkles is the name of the complimentary soft serve ice cream available on the new cruise ship.  

It's not clear what the new venue name will be. Cups & Scoops was one brand available on the original Oasis Class ships, but Sugar Beach has been the name of the dessert shop

Sorrento's pizza on Royal Caribbean cruise ships

13 Nov 2023

On a Royal Caribbean cruise, the excitement doesn't only unfold in the vast ocean views or the thrilling onboard activities—it's also found in the delicious and convenient dining options. One such gem is Sorrento's Pizza, a grab-and-go style restaurant perfect for pizza lovers seeking a quick and satisfying bite.

Who doesn’t love a free slice of pizza?! You will find this great pizza at Sorrento’s Pizza on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. 

Location and atmosphere

Serving area

Depending on which cruise ship you're sailing on, the location (and even name) of Sorrento's may vary.

Sorrento's restaurant is strategically placed in a central and easily accessible location on Royal Caribbean ships.

On many ships, it's nestled on the Royal Promenade, and it serves as a pitstop for cruisers on the move. On Voyager Class ships, Sorrento's pizza is part of Cafe Promenade.

Pepperoni pizza

On some older ships like Radiance and Vision class ships, you'll find it located in Park Cafe.

Whether you're in the mood for a speedy lunch between activities or a late-night snack after a show, Sorrento's is there to cater to your cravings, the casual atmosphere sets the stage for a laid-back dining experience.

You simply need to find the Sorrento's, get in line, order at the counter, and then you will be handed your pizza on a plate!

Sorrento's Pizza on Allure of the Seas

You have the option to dine in and grab a table after using the walk-up counter to order your pizza or you can take the food to go and enjoy your pizza elsewhere on the ship. 

At the end of the counter, they will have condiments like ketchup, ranch, red pepper flakes, and parmesan.

Beverages, including sodas and alcoholic drinks, are available for purchase.

Additionally, within the restaurant, a complimentary water station is conveniently provided.


Sorrento's Pizza on Oasis Class ship

Sorrento's expansive operating hours are an enticing feature for many guests. Sorrento’s is open almost all day with a constant but quick line that ensures you are getting fresh pizza all day long.

While encountering no line at Sorrento's is a rarity, fear not – their efficient system ensures a quicker experience than it might initially appear. Sorrento's operates from 11:00 am to 3:00 am on average, though specific times may vary, so be sure to check your cruise app for the exact hours during your voyage.


Three slices of pizza

Sorrento’s Pizza does not have a set everyday menu, so you can expect some level of variety

While the classic cheese and pepperoni pizzas remain constants offered everyday, the offerings vary daily. Indulge in a rotation of options, from the carnivore pizza loaded with meat, to the refreshing veggie, smoky BBQ, exotic Caribbean Dream, classic Margarita, and more. Each day brings a delightful surprise for pizza lovers.

Sorrento's also offers some antipasti options, you will see complimentary options like seasoned cheese, salami, olives, artichokes, grilled vegetables, and mussels (excluding oasis and allure for the antipasti options).


You can also find the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine at Sorrento's, which you will need to purchase a soda cup to use. You do receive a soda cup with a drinking package so be sure to grab one.

Tip: Customize your experience by ordering a whole pizza tailored to your personal preferences for yourself or your family, complete with the toppings of your choice. They can cater to gluten-free, or vegan options.

If you want a gluten-free pizza, you just need to ask. There's no charge for it.


Sorrento's Pizza on Harmony of the Seas

Every food item at Sorrento’s is included in your cruise fare.

You do not need to use your SeaPass card unless you order a soda or alcoholic beverage. 

Royal Caribbean ships with a Sorrento's location


You'll find pizza available on every Royal Caribbean ship, but only some cruise ships have a dedicated Sorrento's location.

  • Allure of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Wonder of the Seas
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Odyssey of the Seas
  • Spectrum of the Seas

Sorrento's will also be on new ships Icon, Star, and Utopia of the Seas.

Sorrento’s is one of Royal Caribbean's most popular restaurants. With its central location and delicious pizza, Sorrento's quick service pizza is a convenient and delightful choice for cruisers.

So, the next time hunger strikes, make a beeline for Sorrento's Pizza and savor the convenience and deliciousness that comes with every slice. 

Royal Caribbean food: Review and guide

01 Mar 2022

There is no question that dining on a Royal Caribbean cruise has become a major aspect of the cruise experience.  The food available onboard ranges from simple and classic to extravagant and contemporary.  In short, there are a lot of great dining choices available on Royal Caribbean.

Odyssey of the Seas dining room

With so many choices, often guests preparing for their cruise have many questions about what is included, which options are available and how it all works.  What follows is our guide to understanding better the basics of dining on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Complimentary food

Simply put, there is plenty of great food included in the cost of your Royal Caribbean cruise. One can easily go an entire cruise and enjoy nothing but food that has no additional cost from morning to night. After all, that is what the concept of a cruise has been for a long time.

Royal Caribbean ships have different names and venues for its dining options, but you will find some basic characteristics among them all to prepare you for what to expect.

Main Dining Room

Main Dining Room

The main dining room is the stalwart institution upon which cruise ship dining was established.  It has changed over the years, but the principles remain the same and the Main Dining Room available on all Royal Caribbean ships.

Guests may dine in the main dining room for dinner every night and breakfast every morning. Lunch is served in the main dining room on sea days only. The Main Dining Room is a large, sit-down restaurant with waiter service that is included in your cruise fare.

For dinner, Royal Caribbean offers a traditional set time with assigned seating, or an alternative first-come, first-served option (My Time Dining).  Both offer the same menu, which changes every night and in both cases, there is the possibility that you will be seated with other guests. Guests can contact their travel agent or Royal Caribbean prior to the cruise to ask to be assigned to a smaller table if they do not wish to sit with other guests.

Dinner is the most popular and common time to dine in the main dining room, when the main dining room offers appetizers, entrees and desserts to choose from. You may order as much (or as little) as you like and it's nearly all complimentary, with the exception of a few premium dishes that have an additional surcharge. Premium beverages, such as soda, alcohol and specialty coffee, are also not complimentary in the Main Dining Room but can be purchased individually or as part of a beverage package.

Breakfast and lunch is less formal than dinner, with guests seated as they arrive, with posted hours of when the dining room is open. In both cases, the meals are served to you at your table.  The breakfast menu does not change, but the lunch menu changes each day.

The main dining room has a dress code.  Dinner has a dress code that changes each day, while breakfast and lunch have a more casual dress code requirement. When guests hear the word, "dress code," that often causes a lot of concern about what to wear.  The reality is on most nights, guests can easily wear what would be defined as "resort casual," which can mean a sundress or skirt for women and a collared shirt and slacks for men.  "Nice" jeans are appropriate for both men and women too.  On formal nights, the suggested attire gets a bit fancier, with cocktail dresses or gowns for women and suits for men.

Windjammer Cafe

Windjammer buffet

First time cruisers often imagine a large buffet when they think of eating on a cruise, and the Windjammer is the closest thing to that concept.  

The Windjammer Cafe is a buffet restaurant that is included in your cruise fare, which serves meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Windjammer locations are not open all the time, but have long enough hours to cover nearly all the times guests would like something to eat.


The Windjammer has lots of seating and even more food variety than anywhere else on the ship. You will find burgers, soups, sandwiches, ethnic dishes, salads, pastas, desserts, and much more every day. Guests will find the greatest variety of food at the Windjammer compared to any other dining location on the ship, complimentary or paid.

The buffet is self-serve, so guests walk up to the buffet station and use serving spoons or tongs to place food on their plate.

Guests can sit at a table to eat in the Windjammer, but are also free to take their food elsewhere on the ship, like the pool deck.  There are wait staff who will clear plates, clean tables and bring you drinks.  

Unlike the Main Dining Room, the dress code for the Windjammer is casual.

The Windjammer is a great alternative to any sit down restaurant, including the Main Dining Room. In fact, some guests opt to eat exclusively at the Windjammer for dinner instead of the Main Dining Room. After a long day in port or onboard, some guests do not want to get ready for a long sit down meal and prefer a quick, casual dining experience.

Quick service restaurants

The bulk of complimentary food on a Royal Caribbean cruise is available from quick service restaurants, which offer quick, grab-and-go food to guests.  Quick service restaurants offer sandwiches, burritos, snacks, pizza and everything between.  Each Royal Caribbean ship will offer a number of these locations around your ship, so you are never too far away.

There is usually limited seating available at these locations, but most guests get the food and then bring it somewhere else on the ship to eat, such as their stateroom or by the pool.  It is designed for guests that want something quick to eat on their way to somewhere else.

Complimentary quick service restaurants on Royal Caribbean include:

  • Aquadome Market, a food hall with different booths offering freshly prepared dishes on Icon Class ships
  • El Loco Fresh, a grab-and-go Mexican restaurant with burritos, quesadillas, nachos, beans, and rice
  • Mini Bites, offering burgers, fries, hot dogs, quesadillas, omelets, salads, and more
  • Doghouse, a hot dog and sausage stand with a variety of meats and toppings
  • Park Cafe, offering salads, soups, sandwiches, and breakfast on Oasis Class ships
  • Cafe at Two70, offering salads, soups, sandwiches, and breakfast on Quantum Class ships
  • Sorrento’s Pizza, a pizza slice restaurant with several types of pizzas and antipasti
  • Cafe Promenade, offering coffee as well as small pastries, sandwiches, and fruit

Some quick service restaurants come with an extra cost:

  • Fish & Ships, offering fish and chips as well as other quick bites like chicken tenders and a lobster roll
  • Johnny Rockets Express, offering hamburgers, sandwiches, fries, onion rings, and milkshakes

Room Service

Room service is available 24 hours per day on your Royal Caribbean cruise.

Royal Caribbean charges a $7.95 per order fee for room service. Whether you order one item or ten items, a $7.95 fee per room service order will be levied.  There is a complimentary breakfast option, with menu items like muffins, bagels, oatmeal, and toast, that will not incur the $7.95 fee.

Just like room service at a hotel, you can call room service and place an order to have a crew member deliver the food to your room.  Royal Caribbean has also added a room service ordering option via the stateroom television, which simplifies the ordering process.

The room service menu does not change and is limited in scope.

Specialty dining

In addition to all the food included in your cruise fare are specialty dining options. Specialty dining restaurants carry an extra cost to dine there. The exact amount extra will vary from restaurant to restaurant, and ship to ship.  

In most cases, the specialty dining options offer a greater variety of food choices than what is available at complimentary dining locations. Royal Caribbean has designed its specialty restaurants around themes or cuisines (Italian, steakhouse, sushi, etc).

Royal Caribbean recommends making a reservation in advance for its specialty restaurants to ensure there is seating available, but there is usually walk-up availability (although there is a greater risk of waiting to be seated).  Unlike the Main Dining Room, you will not be seated with other guests with the exception of the Izumi Hibachi experience.

Specialty restaurants are priced in one of two manners: cover charge or à la carte pricing.  With a cover charge, there is one price for all the food on the menu (except for beverages).  There can also be a surcharge for ordering more than one entree, although this rule varies based on the specialty restaurant you happen to be dining at.  À la carte dining charges you just for what you order, and is similar to how food is billed at a conventional land-based restaurant.

Specialty dining can be booked prior to a cruise via Royal Caribbean's website or once onboard the cruise.  Reservations made online for a specialty restaurant with a cover charge will charge that amount at the time of booking.  Reservations made for specialty dining onboard your ship will not be charged to your SeaPass account until you dine at the restaurant.

Specialty restaurant venues on Royal Caribbean include the following:

  • Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, a Japanese restaurant with traditional teppanyaki and an extensive sushi menu
  • Chops Grill, Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse
  • Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen, the newest Italian restaurant in Royal Caribbean’s fleet with a pizza and pasta menu along with dishes like chicken parmigiana
  • Giovanni’s Table, a traditional Italian restaurant offering items such as pasta carbonara and eggplant parmigiana
  • Jamie’s Italian, a modern take at Italian cuisine that features the famous meat and cheese plank along with homemade pasta
  • Wonderland, a molecular dining experience with an Alice and Wonderland theme
  • 150 Central Park, an elegant restaurant focusing on locally sourced ingredients

  • Samba Grill, a traditional, all-you-can-eat-meat Brazilian rodizio
  • Sabor, a Mexican restaurant with tacos, quesadillas, and small plates
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, which features classic bar food including nachos, sliders, fries, and chicken tenders
  • Johnny Rockets, offering classic American fare
  • Hooked Seafood, a seafood restaurant highlighting dishes and flavors from the Northeast, including clam chowder and oysters
  • The Mason Jar, a southern-inspired restaurant with fried chicken, lobster and crawfish gumbo, and brunch options
  • Portside BBQ, a barbecue restaurant with a variety of barbecued meats and comfort food side dishes
  • Chef’s Table, a six course meal where each course paired with a different type of wine

Specialty restaurant costs

The cost of specialty dining varies considerably and the same restaurant can have a different price depending on the ship. The price of a restaurant can also fluctuate from sailing to sailing.

Most specialty dining has a flat-fee surcharge, ranging from $10 (Johnny Rockets) or $38 (Jamie’s Italian) to $80 (Chef's Table).  Most specialty dining restaurant cover charges fall into the $20 to $45 range. Dining at a specialty restaurant for lunch can often be half the price of dinner while still providing the same menu.

The à la carte priced restaurants will have item prices ranging from just a few dollars up to around $20.

Some guests may wish to purchase a dining package before their cruise. By reserving an Ultimate Dining Package or 3-night Dining Package, guests can enjoy a variety of restaurants at a lower cost than purchasing meals at each restaurant individually.

Specialty restaurant hours

All Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants are open for dinner, with some open during breakfast and/or lunch.

Lunch meals at specialty restaurants usually are priced a bit lower and only on sea days.  Breakfast is quite rare to be offered at Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants aside from an included breakfast for Pinnacle members. Some specialty venues, like Johnny Rockets on Oasis Class ships, transform to offer breakfast for no additional fee.

For breakfast or lunch, advanced reservations are not usually available nor required.

Kids at specialty restaurants

Royal Caribbean welcomes children that are 12 years old or younger to its specialty restaurants (when accompanied by an adult) and even offers them special pricing.

Kids ages 6-12 can dine at specialty restaurants for a $10 cover charge. Kids 5 years old and under eat free.

In fact, some specialty restaurants have a special kids menu that offers kid-friendly favorites from the regular menu.  Children under the age of 5 will have a menu similar to the kids menu from the Main Dining Room.

Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, 150 Central Park, and Chef's Table do allow kids, but are best enjoyed by children 13 years or older.

Dietary restrictions and special requests

Royal Caribbean is very accommodating when it comes to guests with special dietary needs. The cruise line can handle a number of requests, such as food allergies, gluten free, Kosher, low-fat, and low-sodium.

Vegetarian meals (including Indian-style vegetarian) are available on all menus in the Dining Room and Windjammer Cafe every day. Guests do not need to make a special request for these meals.

Lactose-free milk, ensure, and kosher meals are available at 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).

A selection of non-dairy milks is available at coffee shops and at the Windjammer or Main Dining Room upon request.

For any and all dietary requests, contact your travel agent or Certified Vacation Planner and request that the remark be noted in your reservation details. If you made your reservation online at, you may add your request to the "update personal information." section. You may also send an email request to [email protected].

Please include in the email the guests' names, booking number, ship name and sail date. E-mails will receive an automated response. 

More Royal Caribbean food info

This blog post is just the beginning of the many options, choices and tips about dining on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  Here are a few more resources that will help you better understand what to expect once onboard:

The weirdest foods you can eat on a Royal Caribbean cruise

11 Dec 2021

Royal Caribbean serves its guests thousands of meals and snacks across every ship on a daily basis, including a few items that may make you raise an eyebrow when you see it.

Liquid mushroom truffle risotto

Because Royal Caribbean serves an international clientele, there are going to be things on the menu that are not what you are used to. Expanding your palate is one thing that makes going on a cruise fun, but every so often there is a dish that is so different you can't help but think, "that is weird."

I try to be as open minded as possible when I go to any restaurant, but I've run across a few foods on Royal Caribbean that are just too much out of my comfort zone to give a try. I'm certain there are plenty of people who love these foods, but it seems like those foods are at best an acquired taste.

Whether you want to be an adventurous eater, or just want to gawk at what else there is, here is my list of five weird foods served on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Truffle & Eggs pizza

I love the new menu at Giovanni's Italian Kitchen, but the Truffle & Eggs pizza is something I thought about a lot and could never get myself to try.

This pizza has a fried egg on it, which evidently is a very common thing in Europe.

Linken D'Souza, Royal Caribbean's Global Vice President Culinary, Dining & Beverage, told me when Giovanni's launched about the decision to include a fried egg on pizza, "We've gone back to recipes traditionally seen in Europe. So, for example, it's very rare for you to see a fried egg on a pizza."

"That's actually very common in Europe. There's actually restaurants and every pizza they serve will do a fried egg on it."

I know they say, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do," but I think I'll stick to one of the other eight other amazing pizza options on the new Giovanni's menu.

Tomato water

This article could have been almost entirely made up of foods from Wonderland specialty restaurant, but I decided to pick just one that stood out as the weirdest, which is the tomato water appetizer.

Let me start off by saying I love tomatoes, but the tomato water serving is just strange in its taste, serving, and texture.

Essentially, each guest is given a test tube of the tomato water to drink as a shot. Tip your head back, close your eyes and look out stomach, because here it comes.

Besides the presentation being odd, not even an ardent tomato lover like myself really wants nothing but straight tomato essence. 


Royal Caribbean Classic: Escargot | Royal Caribbean Blog

While a staple of Royal Caribbean's main dining room menu, the first time anyone sees escargot on the menu is almost certain to evoke an "eww" after hearing what it is.

Escargot is baked snails, and it is indeed a delicacy.

The menu describes the escargots bourguignonne as, "tender snails drenched in melted garlic-herb butter."

This is one weird dish that I've grown to enjoy, mostly because it's more garlic and butter than anything else. But I also try not to think too much about what I'm about to eat when I eat it.

Beetroot & Dill gravlax

Something I only saw for the first time a month ago was variations of gravlax in the Windjammer on Odyssey of the Seas.

Gravlax or graved salmon is a Nordic dish consisting of salmon that is cured using a mix of salt and sugar, and either dill or sprucetwigs placed on top, and may occasionally be cold-smoked afterwards.

While I've seen plenty of smoked salmon in my day, the beetroot and dill gravlax made me stop and stare.

Nick Vitani posted photos in the Royal Caribbean Dining Facebook group of the gravlax that was served on Navigator of the Seas and it elicited quite a few comments.

British foods (if you're not from Britain)

Adventure OTS, 13 Night Snowbird Migration Quebec to Ft. Lauderdale Oct. 8, 2018 - Page 3 - Live Blogs - Royal Caribbean Blog

We have many readers here from the United Kingdom, and while I appreciate all of your support, there are some weird British food in the Windjammer I have always shaken my head at as I walk by for years.

Royal Caribbean will offer traditional British foods in the Windjammer, such as bangers and mash or Yorkshire pudding. You see these foods on European itineraries, but they also show up on North American sailings as well.

I am the first to admit it's only weird because I'm not British (and even as an American, grits are equally weird), but I have yet to find the motivation to try "English Bacon" or "English Bangers".

What food is included on Royal Caribbean?

17 Sep 2021

You'll have a choice on a Royal Caribbean cruise to enjoy food included with your cruise fare, or spend extra on other food.

Main Dining Room on Voyager of the Seas

While not all the food on Royal Caribbean is included, there is enough food and drink for you to enjoy that is included so you will not need to pay extra for food.  However, you may feel inclined to pay for drinks or meals anyway as a way to enhance your cruise.

Depending on the ship you sail on, the exact venues with complimentary (included) food will vary, but here are some basics you can expect on any Royal Caribbean ship:

  • Main dining room
  • Windjammer Cafe (buffet)
  • Grab-and-go coffee shop (Cafe Promenade, Cafe Latte-tudes, or Cafe Patisserie)
  • Pool deck quick food (El Loco Fresh, Boardwalk Dog House, Park Cafe)

Read more: Royal Caribbean food guide

The two primary places you will find the widest selection of food included with your cruise is in the main dining room and Windjammer.

Main dining room

Icon of the Seas main dining room

The main dining room is open for breakfast and dinner every day of your cruise, and for lunch on sea days.  The main dining room is a sit down restaurant where you have assigned seating.

For dinner, there are two types of main dining room seating: traditional and My Time Dining. 

Traditional dinner is when you pick between early or late seating.  Every day your dining time is the same, and your waiters and table mates are the same.

Food in main dining room

My Time Dining offers flexible dining times, where you can reserve times in advance or show up and wait for an available table. You will likely have different waiters and table mates every day, unless you request otherwise.

Read moreMy Time Dining versus Traditional Dining

Nearly all the food available in the main dining room is included with your cruise fare, with the exception being alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, and some upcharge items at dinner (steak or lobster).


The Windjammer Cafe is the classic cruise ship buffet, and it is open for all meals every day of your cruise (the Windjammer is currently closed for dinner in 2021 while there is limited capacity, but will eventually re-open for dinner).

The Windjammer offers the widest selection of foods to eat, with different buffet stations you can walk up to and pick from.

All the food you see in the Windjammer is included.  Just like the main dining room, alcoholic drinks and soft drinks cost extra.

Read moreGuide to Royal Caribbean's Windjammer Cafe buffet

Room service

There is a service charge for room service, where you pay $7.95 per order.  Whether you order one or ten items, the service cost is the same.

You can order a continental breakfast option that has no service fee in the morning, which consists of coffee, tea, and assorted breakfast choices.


Royal Caribbean includes some beverages with your cruise fare, which cover the basics to keep you refreshed and hydrated.

The drinks included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare are:

  • tap water
  • milk
  • tea
  • coffee (regular and decaf)
  • lemonade
  • iced tea
  • flavored waters
  • juices (at breakfast and not fresh squeezed)
  • Hot chocolate (via instant packets)

Read moreWhat drinks are included with your Royal Caribbean cruise?

10 Ways to Save Money on Your 2019 Royal Caribbean Vacation | Royal Caribbean Blog

All other drinks cost extra, including alcohol, soda, and juices.

Royal Caribbean offers guests beverage packages that can be purchased to save money on these extra drinks.  Drink packages are worth it if you drink enough every day of your cruise to "break even" on the package cost.


Sorrento's on Allure

Besides meals, there is also a good assortment of food you can munch on between meals.

Depending on the Royal Caribbean ship you sail on, the exact venues will vary, but there are some common options for something small to eat that has no additional cost.

  • Cafe Promenade, Cafe Latte-tudes, or Cafe Patisserie
  • Park Cafe
  • El Loco Fresh
  • Boardwalk Dog House
  • Sorrentos

These locations are open most hours of the day and night, and you will find sandwiches, pizza, desserts and much more.

Not only are these grab-and-go restaurants included, they offer some very tasty choices that many cruise fans really enjoy.

Some top favorites include:

  • Roast beef kimmelweck sandwiches from Park Cafe
  • Pizza slices from Sorrentos/Cafe Promenade
  • Cookies from Cafe Promenade, Cafe Latte-tudes, or Cafe Patisserie

Perfect Day at CocoCay

Royal Caribbean opens Perfect Day at CocoCay | Royal Caribbean Blog

Perfect Day at CocoCay is Royal Caribbean's private island in The Bahamas, and there is a surprising amount of food included with your visit to the island.

Lunch is served at the island, and there are a few different dining venues you can go to that should be close enough to anywhere you are relaxing.

Not only is there a lot of food included at Perfect Day at CocoCay, it is really good too.

  • Skipper's Grill
  • Chill Grill
  • Snack Shack

Cups of water are available at no additional charge at these venues.


Do's & Don'ts of Labadee | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean also has a private destination on the coast of Haiti, called Labadee.

Just like CocoCay, lunch is served for all guests to enjoy.

  • Columbus Cove Cafe
  • Cafe Labadee
  • Dragon's Cafe

Cups of water are available at no additional charge at these venues.

More information

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - Top 5 things I ate on a cruise this year

14 Jul 2021

Listen to the Show

Of the three ships I've been on so far, I ranked the top 5 things I've eaten so far onboard!

Share with me your thoughts, questions and comments via...

On this episode:
Running time:

10 unique foods you will find on Royal Caribbean

13 Apr 2021

Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise means a lot of things, including eating some incredible foods along the way.

Royal Caribbean has steadily increased the quality and variety of its food choices over the years to bring some interesting and assorted options to try.  Not to worry, the staples of any cruise vacation are still on the menu, but if you are looking for something a little bit different, you will find some tasty alternatives.

Here is my list of the top 10 unique Royal Caribbean foods worth trying out.


Escargot is hardly limited to Royal Caribbean, but these days it is one of the few places I ever see it regularly offered on the menu and it has become a signature dish of the main dining room.

If you are not aware, escargot is an appetizer of cooked edible land snails. I know it sounds gross, but it is really tasty (primarily because it is saturated in garlic and butter).

A French delicacy, you can order it every day in the main dining room and combined with a roll, tastes great.

Seafood tower

Chops Grille is Royal Caribbean's signature specialty restaurant, and from time to time they modify the menu to try to tweak its offerings.  One of their newest creations has been a real hit with clam, mussels and crab claw fans.

An optional add-on, the seafood tower is a multi-story serving of shrimp, clams, lobster, crab and more.

For shellfish lovers, this is a popular option and it is easy to share among the people at your table.

It comes in two sizes: Grande and Imperial and served with traditional garnishes and sauces.

Lobster roll

Royal Caribbean's latest specialty restaurant, Hooked, has a good mix of options, but their lobster roll is definitely the signature dish.

Lobster rolls are one of the great American foods, and Hooked serves up Maine Lobster rolls is everything a lobster roll should be: heavy on the lobster, light on the mayo, and served on a grilled bun with a side of homemade chips

Beef tenderloin for two

If you asked me where you can find the best steak on Royal Caribbean, I would point to the beef tenderloin for two at 150 Central Park.

A holdover from the "old menu", this dish is recommended for two people, but easily enjoyed alone as well.

The tender cut of beef is terrific, and I like that the waiter will prepare and carve it at your table.

Almost anything served at Chef's Table

There is no culinary experience on Royal Caribbean quite like the Chef's Table.

You don't have to be a super foodie to enjoy Chef's Table, as it is more of a guided eating experience than a serving of the most exotic foods one can find. That being said, you wont find pizza or chicken nuggets on the menu either.

The fixed menu serves each dish with an accompanying glass of wine that the host as picked out to be the perfect pair. 

I was leery of the experience at first, but it turned out to be a very interesting and satisfying meal. Keep your calendar open, because a meal at the Chef's Table can easily last 4 hours.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean Chef's Table dinner review

Antipasti planks

From the first day Jamie's Italian opened on a Royal Caribbean ship, the antipasti planks were the breakout hit.

A terrific appetizer, you will find cured meats, pickles and tempting cheeses, pumpkin panzerotti, Prawn linguine that everyone at the table can pick from.

Giovanni's Table also has its own Cheese and Cured Meat Plank to consider as well.

Hot rock

Not a sushi fan? You can still enjoy a great meal at Izumi with the hot rock dinner choice.

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.

You have the choice of mixed seafood, chicken breast, chicken and beef skewer rock or beef tenderloin.

Izumi Ryu Futomaki roll

If you love sushi, and want to try the ultimate roll on the menu, my suggestion is the Izumi Ryu Futomaki roll.

This is a really big roll that could easily be your meal. Located on the Chef's Signature Rolls part of the menu, it is comprised of assorted sashimi, scallions, scallions, spicy aioli, cream cheese, wakame salad, house ginger teppan dressing and a spicy chili thread.

Not only is this a giant sushi roll, it is also a deeply satisfying roll and the kind of thing to order when you really want a filling meal. 

Ice cream in a football helmet

You can never really go wrong with ice cream, and Royal Caribbean's ice cream sundae in a football helmet is as good as it looks.

Served in a souvenir helmet, the "Touchdown Sundae" has five scoops of ice cream with just about every syrup you'd want on top, complete with whipped cream and other toppings.

Another good sharing dish, it is something unequaled elsewhere onboard.

Sabor guacamole

There is almost an art to guacamole, and Sabor's offering is consistently one of the best out there.

Prepared fresh after you order it, the guacamole is worth the price of dining at Sabor alone.  In fact, Sabor's recipe has become our family's preferred guac recipe at home because it seems to balance the ingredients just right (although we like to go heavy on the lime juice).

Definitely not out of a jar, the guacamole should be a must-order item to share, and do not be afraid to ask for more when your group wipes the bowl clean.

Cruise FAQ: Dining

20 Mar 2021

Let's face it: Dining is as essential to the cruise experience as the ocean itself. Despite the ubiquitous nature of food on cruise ships, passengers have plenty of questions about the logistics of it all.

Here, for your reading pleasure, is a compilation of the most frequently asked questions about dining on cruises.

How does dining work on a cruise?

All major cruise lines' ships include three types of dining in their cruise fares.

First, travelers looking for something quick and casual can enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and between-meal snacks at the self-serve onboard buffet. It's free and generally includes several stations with a selection of cuisines. This option affords a ton of choice, making it great for picky eaters or cruisers with dietary restrictions.

Second, each ship will also have at least one main dining room (MDR), which offers less-casual waiter-served meals from a set menu each day.

The MDR is always open for dinner, and depending on the cruise line, passengers will have their choice of set seating or anytime dining (an assigned dining time at the same table with the same waiter each night, versus dining any time between set hours at the first available table). If you choose the former, you might also end up sharing a table with other cruisers.

Third, room service is available nearly around the clock on most ships. While most charge for deliveries between certain hours, breakfast is usually included in the price of your cruise.

You can order it by filling out the order form in your cabin and hanging it outside your cabin door before you go to sleep. (It's a nice service on port days when you might be crunched for time before early-morning excursions.) Keep a few small bills handy for delivery tips.

Just about every ship also has a number of alternative eateries onboard. The larger the ship, the more options you'll have. Although some are gratis, most come with additional costs. 

The culinary staffs on most mainstream cruise lines' ships are adept at catering to special dietary requirements. If you're a vegan or vegetarian, you've got food allergies, you keep kosher or you're on a special diabetic or low-sodium diet, simply let your cruise line know when you book your sailing, and the onboard chefs will work with you to come up with some tasty options.

Read moreTop Ten Royal Caribbean Dining Tips

Is dining free on a cruise?

As mentioned above, dining is free at the buffet and in the main dining room. Room service breakfast is also complimentary on most vessels.

Nearly all ships feature a selection of alternative restaurants, as well. While some are included in the price, others levy either a set per-person fee or a la carte charges. Check with your cruise line for more details and pricing.

Read moreWhat's included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare

Do I have to dress up for dinner on a cruise?

Each cruise line's dress code is different. Sailings used to be luxurious vacations where passengers yearned to dress to the nines, but that's often no longer the case. As such, many brands' formal nights have been made optional or downgraded to, simply, "elegant."

Usually voyages of a week or less in length will host one dress-up night, when passengers can feel free to wear anything from a sun dress or nice slacks with button-down shirts to ball gowns and full tuxedos. Longer sailings may have additional opportunities to get dolled up.

A standard rule of thumb is to avoid jeans on these nights, or you might be asked to dine in the buffet instead.

Otherwise, resort casual attire (including nice jeans) is acceptable. Most lines just ask that passengers refrain from wearing shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops, swimwear and baseball caps to dinner at any time.

Read moreTen Royal Caribbean dining mistakes

Can I wear jeans to dinner on a cruise?

Yes, you can wear nice jeans (no holes) as long as it's not formal or elegant night. On those nights, jeans are not allowed in the main dining rooms on most ships.

Can you eat whenever you want on a cruise?

For the most part, food is available around the clock on most ships. Even in the middle of the night, you can order room service (for a fee) or pick up free late-night nibbles at the buffet or from the 24-hour pizza shops found on many vessels.

With the number of alternative restaurants available onboard and readily available cafe baked goods and soft-serve ice cream machines, there's almost always something to help you feel less peckish between meals.

For dinner, you'll be assigned to a specific time if you select set seating and choose to eat in the main dining room. Otherwise, you can make reservations at alternative restaurants for times that best suit you or roll up to the buffet or poolside barbecue whenever you'd like (during their hours of operation, of course).

Read moreHow to eat healthy while on a Royal Caribbean cruise

What happens to leftover food on cruise ships?

The people responsible for provisioning cruise ships have the logistics down to a science, so there's little waste.

Ships are equipped with extensive below-deck areas for dry storage, as well as freezers and refrigerators that keep everything at the appropriate temperatures so nothing spoils. Food ingredients left over from one sailing are simply used on the next one.

Leftover prepared food is disposed of in several ways, which include incineration, offloading in port as compost or fertilizer, and grinding it until it's liquefied enough to be released into the ocean (far away from land) as fish food.

Are drinks free on a cruise?

Basic beverages -- tap water, iced and hot tea, drip coffee, lemonade and some juices (with breakfast) -- are included in the price of your cruise.

Soda, bottled water, specialty coffees, smoothies, milkshakes, most juices, energy drinks and alcohol cost extra. If you plan to drink a lot of these, cruise lines sell beverage packages for a set per-person daily charge that can offer a cost savings if you drink enough.

You'll have to do the math to determine whether purchasing a package would be worth the money.

Read moreWhat drinks are included with your Royal Caribbean cruise?

Do cruises have room service?

Yes, all mainstream oceangoing cruise lines feature some sort of room service. Most offer basic breakfast items for free, but you might have to pay extra for fare from the expanded breakfast and all-day menus. Most late-night orders also incur nominal fees.

Although not required, it's polite (and appreciated) to tip a dollar or two to the person who delivers your order.

Read more25 must-read Royal Caribbean dining secrets

Subscribe to Food