Royal Caribbean's Windjammer Cafe is the cruise line's preeminent buffet option and a popular choice for many guests throughout the day. The Windjammer serves up food for all meals, and offers a laid back experience with enough variety to satisfy nearly any palate.
Here is what you need to know about The Windjammer Cafe on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
The look and decor of the Windjammer depends on the ship you are sailing on, but in general it features a classic nautical look with lots of deep blues and wood around the entire venue. After all, the word "windjammer" refers to a merchant sailing ship.
Most Royal Caribbean ships have two entrances to the Windjammer, one on each side of the elevator banks closest to the Windjammer.
As you walk in, in most cases the Windjammer is a mirror split, where buffet stations on either side of the restaurant offer the same food as a means of splitting up crowds.
You will find ample seating in the Windjammer, with tables, booths and even high tops on some ships. Seating is first-come, first served and there is wait staff that roam the restaurant to help clear tables, serve drinks and and assist in any special requests.
All Windjammer locations have lots of seating with views of the ocean. On certain classes of ships (Quantum and Radiance class), there is outdoor seating towards the rear of the Windjammer. Regardless of where you sit, it is usually quite easy to get a good view of the ocean.
How it works
If you have ever been to a buffet style restaurant, the Windjammer Cafe should be no different in approach. As you enter the Windjammer Cafe, you pick up a plate and utensils that are rolled in the napkin. You then proceed to any buffet station you like and wait your turn to serve yourself.
There is no limit on how many servings or visits you can make to the Windjammer, and the Windjammer Cafe is a complimentary dining choice on all ships.
The proper protocol for serving yourself in the Windjammer is to always take a new plate when you go up to get more food. Reusing plates is a health hazard on a cruise ship, so you simply leave any used plates and utensils on your table and one of the Windjammer waiters will collect it.
Royal Caribbean typically breaks up cuisines offered via each Windjammer buffet station. For lunch or dinner, there is a salad station, an international foods station, a soup area, etc. You can easily walk around the Windjammer to "scope out" the choices and then enter the line for whichever station appeals to you.
For breakfast, you will find a myriad of traditional breakfast options, including eggs, bacon, cereal, sausage, yogurt, fruit and more. With the exception of the Oasis class ships, there is a custom egg ordering station that is a really popular and fabulous choice. The breakfast food choices rarely change (if ever) during your sailing.
There is also coffee and tea stations set up near the entrance of the Windjammer for easy access to getting a cup of coffee to start your day.
At lunch and dinner, you will find a wide selection of food, with dinner offering the greatest variety of choices. Meals at these times combine typical American cruise fare (burgers, hot dogs, salads and sandwiches) with a lot of international foods.
The exact menu will change on a daily basis, but there is usually a few consistently offered choices that will form the core options.
In the evening, the Windjammer Cafe usually has a theme to the menu, where a special menu is offered in addition to the usual fare. Some examples are Mongolian grill, Mexican, pasta station, etc. The great thing about these stations is the food is prepared just for you and that means you get exactly what you want in your dish.
The Windjammer is also home to a lot of vegetarian and gluten-free choices. The signs for each food will indicate if they satisfy a particular need, but you can always speak with the head waiter of the Windjammer about special requests.
In terms of drinks, the Windjammer regularly offers milk (chocolate and regular), lemonade, water, flavored waters, iced tea, coffee, tea and juices (in the morning).
In addition to the regular food, the Windjammer always has a large array of desserts to choose from. You will find ice cream, cakes, gelatin, fruit, cookies and pretty much everything needed to satisfy any sweet tooth.
The exact hours will vary from ship to ship, but the Windjammer is open for most, but not all hours of the day. Your Cruise Compass will list exact times, but plan on breakfast, lunch, mid-day snacks and dinner.
The Windjammer will offer the widest array of dining times, which is great for those that sleep in or are looking for off-hour meals. The Windjammer is also open for all meals, regardless of if your Royal Caribbean ship is in a port or at sea.
By far, the most crowded time for the Windjammer is breakfast, with a peak in the 9:00am hour. There are times when seating may be full, but the Windjammer crew members do a great job of helping clear tables quickly and encouraging guests to vacate their tables once they are done. If you are having trouble locating an open table, ask a crew member for assistance.
For those wondering, no, Royal Caribbean does not offer a midnight buffet option either at the Windjammer or anywhere else onboard.
Windjammer Dress Code
The dress code for dining in the Windjammer Cafe is always listed as casual, regardless of the main dining room dress code.
This means you can wear shorts, t-shirts are all okay. The only real dress restrictions in the Windjammer are no bare feet and bathing attire will not be permitted at any time.
Windjammer Cafe tips and strategies
- When you enter the Windjammer, you will be required to wash your hands and/or sanitize your hands. Yes, you have to do it and yes, it is worthwhile to avoid getting sick.
- You can take food from the Windjammer to go at any time. Feel free to bring the food back to your stateroom, pool deck or wherever your family is located.
- If you have trouble finding a table, ask the waiters roaming the restaurant for assistance.
- The Windjammer waiters are happy to bring you beverages, straws, booster seats and anything else you may need.
- If you have a dietary need, ask to speak to the head waiter. They are quite good at accommodating most needs, but keep in mind they may need advanced notice to prepare something in particular.
- If you want eggs of any kind at breakfast, skip the eggs in the buffet area because they tend to be powdered eggs. Instead, go to the custom-made egg station and have them made there.
- On Oasis Class ships, the Windjammer does not have a custom-made egg station, but you can find that at other locations onboard.
- Try to go to the Windjammer at least once for dinner when they open up for the evening. We usually find the crew members welcoming guests with clapping, singing and/or dancing. It is a fun display!
- If there is outdoor Windjammer seating, take advantage of it for the great ambiance. The Windjammer often boasts some of the best views onboard.
- If your Windjammer has a Jade section, this means that area of the Windjammer serves up Asian food regularly. On some evenings, this may include sushi.
Have you dined at the Windjammer Cafe? Tell us about your experience and share your favorite tips in the comments!