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11 things you should never do at a cruise ship buffet

10 Feb 2024

A cruise ship buffet may be a casual dining venue, but that doesn't mean proper etiquette should be ignored.

Windjammer buffet

You're on vacation, you're serving yourself at the buffet, it's easy to not think twice about what you shouldn't do at the Windjammer.

Pretty much all cruise ships have at least one all-you-can-eat buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

On Royal Caribbean ships, this buffet is a complimentary venue called the Windjammer. It is a popular choice for its convenience and variety, with long hours open and a constant spread of all different kinds of food. Icon of the Seas actually has two buffets with Surfside Eatery.

If you’re craving a simple salad, but someone else in your travel party wants a heartier meal—like beef stew or hamburgers—there’s something to satisfy everyone’s desire.

However, before you dive right into the smorgasbord of food, there are certain do’s and don’ts you need to understand.

From not washing your hands to bypassing the made-to-order stations, here are 11 things you should never do at a cruise ship buffet. 

Forget to reserve a seat 


Unlike the Main Dining Room, the Windjammer does not have assigned seating. 

If you’re not alert, you might have trouble finding and saving your seat. I’ve even seen cruisers forced to eat while standing at countertops.

At busy times, like peak mealtimes, breakfast, and embarkation day, it can get crowded!

Mariner of the Seas Windjammer

My strategy to save a seat is to look for a table when I first enter and leave an item like a water bottle, book, or jacket so others know I’ve reserved the spot.

Along these same lines, keep in mind that crew members are likely to clear your cups and plates away if you leave them unattended. To avoid their helpful hands, don’t leave the table until you’ve finished your serving.

Skip the handwashing station

Before you enter, make sure that you stop at the handwashing station. 

If you’re not able to wash your hands, at least remember to use hand sanitizer found in dispensers located throughout the ship.  

Since the Windjammer is a self-serve buffet, so many passengers will be grabbing the utensils. It’s easy for germs to spread, so remember to avoid touching your face and hair at the buffet.

Handwashing stations

Additionally, if you're not feeling well, you should avoid the buffet. Instead, consider ordering something from room service or having someone else in your travel party bring some food back to your stateroom. Not only will rest help you feel better quicker, but it's kindest to think about the safety of other guests, too. 

If you eat multiple servings—finishing one plate and going back for more—be sure to sanitize your hands in between, as well.

You don’t want to lick your fingers and then return to the serving utensils with dirty hands.

Dive in before assessing all of your options 

From salad bars to a variety of different hot dishes and desserts, cruise ship buffets have seemingly endless options for you to choose from. 

Before making any decisions, you should walk through the entire buffet to see what's available.

While one of the first dishes you see might look appealing, you could also find something you'd rather try elsewhere. 

If you fill up your plate too early, you'll likely end up wasting food. Moreover, options tend to change daily, especially for dinner. 

Don’t get stuck to one option, but rather open up your tastebuds, and save room to try many types of dishes! 

Waste food

Evaluating your options before selecting what sounds the most delicious is smart to ensure that you don't waste food. 

Even if you feel like you will eat everything that you put on your plate, it's smart to start with one plate of food and return to the buffet for seconds if you're still hungry. 

Plus, you never know if your cravings will change. Maybe the pasta you grabbed will satisfy your need for carbohydrates and you'd rather get a side salad or vegetables. 

Rather than assuming you'll want three pancakes, eggs, hashbrowns, and fruit for breakfast, start with what you know you'll eat and return for seconds. 

Avoiding waste is the most polite thing to do, for the cruise line, crew members, and for other guests.

Reuse the same plate

Windjammer food on a plate

Reusing your plate is a big no-no at all buffets, as it can lead to cross-contamination and the spread of germs. 

If you are finished with your plate or food, or just unsatisfied with what you got, leave your dirty dishes at the table while you go grab something else to eat. There will be crew members walking around to clear tables, so you don't have to worry about removing the dishes yourself. 

Even if you're returning for just a single dessert or small side, always grab a new plate. 

You can reuse the same silverware, but only if you leave it at your table. Don’t bring it up to the self-serve stations and risk contamination.

Grab food with your bare hands

Serving utensils are available for a reason. Even if you just washed your hands and are sure that they're clean, it is still considered impolite to grab food from the cruise ship buffet with your hands. 

If the roles were reversed, you would not want to eat food that someone else had touched. 

Even if you want finger foods like chicken tenders and fries, there will be tongs available for you to place however much you want on your plate. 

The only exception would be pre-packed items, such as a carton of milk or small yogurt. 

Cut anyone in line

Everyone's in the buffet for the same reason: you all want to eat. It’s important to exercise patience while on a cruise ship, as there are thousands of other people onboard trying to enjoy their vacation, too. 

Even if there aren't any defined lines, you should not cut people off who appear to be waiting for a specific station. Don't be afraid to ask if someone's in line! 

If you interrupt the flow of traffic, you are being disrespectful to those who have been waiting longer.

Imagine if everyone thought that they had first dibs; chaos would ensue.

Skip the made-to-order stations

The buffet is a great option for quick meals, like before a shore excursion in the morning or an event in the afternoon.

But even if you’re looking for a quick bite, don’t be afraid to place an order at the made-to-order station. If you don't see something pre-made that sounds good, you can always construct your own fresh dish. 

While the cuisine itself usually varies (i.e., you might find a pasta bar one night and stir fry the next), you can rest assured knowing that not everything in the buffet has been sitting under heat lamps for hours. 

Pasta station

The made-to-order station is a good compromise for those who aren't in the mood to sit through a three-course meal after spending a long day ashore but don't want standard buffet food. 

Eating dinner in the buffet is also great for those who don't want to adhere to traditional cruise ship dining times. Rather than having to stick to a specific time (like dinner assigned at 5:45 P.M. or 8:00 P.M.), you can simply show up at any point during operating hours. 

Rush to the buffet on embarkation day


One of the first places people visit on the ship is the buffet. If you happen to have an arrival time that's in the middle of the boarding process, you'll want to avoid the buffet for a little bit. 

Read more: 12 reasons to eat at the buffet instead of the dining room on your cruise

People often board in the middle of the day, and then rush to the Windjammer for lunch. While it’s a good idea, it means that the buffet fills up quickly and sometimes defeats the purpose of showing up for a quicker meal.

Some cruise ships have other options, so you can eat without venturing into the buffet on the first day. On Oasis Class ships, for instance, you can visit Park Cafe in Central Park on embarkation day.

There, you’re able to get a custom salad and sandwich without dealing with the crowds that are present at the buffet. 

Not speak up if you have food allergies 

Windjammer food

Food allergies can be life-threatening, and cruise lines know the importance of having allergen-free menus. If you don't see anything at first, don't be afraid to ask a crew member at the buffet. Some cruise lines recommend sending an email to their dining team ahead of time. 

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

Even if you've discussed your dietary needs with the dining staff, also be sure that you keep your emergency medication, such as an EpiPen, on you at all times in case you're accidentally exposed. 

Wear a swimsuit or go barefoot

The Windjammer is more casual than the Main Dining Room. 

If you don't feel like dressing up on formal night, you can go to the buffet for dinner in a T-shirt and shorts without feeling underdressed. 

However, even though the Windjammer is a more casual venue onboard, it still has a dress code that you must abide by.

For example, don’t waltz in from the lido deck in a wet swimsuit. 

If hunger strikes while you’re swimming in the pool or lounging in the hot tub, you need to dry off and throw a cover-up on.

Shoes are required, too.

Read more: What to wear on a cruise that works for all dress codes

12 reasons to eat at the buffet instead of the dining room on your cruise

26 Apr 2023

Food is an important part of any Royal Caribbean cruise, and most passengers enjoy meals in both the buffet and dining room during their sailing.

Royal Caribbean's Windjammer buffet and Main Dining Room are extremely popular places to grab a bite to eat on a cruise, but like other dining venues onboard, each comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The buffet is casual and hosts a wide range of food options, whereas the Main Dining Room offers a more traditional sit-down restaurant experience.

While onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, it’s likely you’ll find yourself deciding between the buffet and dining room for most meals. To help make this decision easier, here are 12 reasons to eat at the buffet instead of the dining room on your cruise.

Quicker service

One of the complaints most frequently heard about the Main Dining Room is that the service is too slow, leading to a longer meal than anticipated. Although a “long” meal can vary greatly from person to person, you can expect dinner in the Main Dining Room to last around 75-90 minutes.

You can have dinner in the buffet, on the contrary, in under fifteen minutes. If you aren’t in the mood for a long meal and would rather get in and out as quickly as possible, the buffet is, undoubtedly, the better option.

Related: Guide to Royal Caribbean’s Windjammer Cafe buffet

Even breakfast and lunch in the Main Dining Room will last longer than eating those meals in the Windjammer. Generally speaking, if you’re impatient or in a rush, avoid the dining room and opt for a quick-service meal option.

More options

The most variety of food on a Royal Caribbean cruise can be found at the buffet. One of the biggest surprises for first time cruisers is the amount of variety available at any given meal. 

From pasta to burgers, tacos, and curries, there’s always something for everyone to enjoy at the Windjammer. While breakfast usually offers the same type of food each day, you will always find something new to enjoy for lunch and dinner.

The Main Dining Room menu changes each day for lunch and dinner as well, but the options are still much more limited compared to the buffet. For dinner, you can expect to see six appetizers, seven main courses, and six desserts on the dining room menu.

Related: Take a look at the new Main Dining Room menus

The Windjammer, on the other hand, allows you to mix and match from dozens of options, creating limitless meal possibilities.

Same food as the Main Dining Room


Oftentimes, the Windjammer buffet has many of the same food offerings as the Main Dining Room.

In fact, this has become more and more common ever since the new Main Dining Room menus launched, each having a nightly theme. Several of the courses offered during Mexican night in the dining room, for example, may also be found at the Windjammer.

Therefore, you’re not entirely missing out on the food in the Main Dining Room by eating in the buffet. Plus, on top of the overlap with dining room courses, you’ll have a vast selection of other dishes available.

No dress code

One of the main reasons cruisers dine in the buffet instead of the dining room, especially on formal nights, is the lack of a dress code.

Royal Caribbean’s Main Dining Room dress code is relatively lax, but you shouldn’t show up to dinner in the same outfit you’d wear to the gym. Most passengers choose to dress semi-nicely for dinner in the dining room, wearing collared shirts, slacks, and sundresses.

On formal night, it’s common to see guests wearing suits, gowns, and high heels, although dressing so elegantly is not entirely necessary. In fact, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be turned away from the dining room for wearing jeans and a t-shirt on formal night.

Related: What to wear on a cruise formal night

Nonetheless, many passengers choose to dine at the Windjammer instead of the Main Dining Room for the more relaxed dress code. It’s perfectly acceptable to dine at the Windjammer in a swimsuit cover-up, athletic shorts, and ripped tank top.

For many guests, dealing with the hassle of getting ready for a sit-down dinner feels like a chore on vacation.

Eat as much as you want

When it comes to dining on a Royal Caribbean cruise, passengers indulge in more food than they would at home. Whether three desserts at dinner or a second plate of cinnamon rolls at breakfast, there’s nothing wrong with eating more on a cruise compared to your normal diet.

No matter which venue you dine at for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can eat as much (or as little) as you want. Dining in the buffet, however, makes eating as much as you want easier than in the Main Dining Room.

When ordering at a sit-down restaurant, it’s hard to know the portion size for each dish. As a result, you may end up with too little or too much food than you’d like. This results in you either wasting food or wanting to order another dish, but not wanting to wait for another plate to arrive at your table.

Related: Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise

When eating in the buffet, you know exactly how much you’re putting on your plate at one time. If you’re not feeling hungry, hit up the salad station for a lighter meal. Or, if you’re still hungry after your first plate, head back to the buffet station for a second helping.

There’s more control over how much you eat in the buffet compared to the Main Dining Room on a cruise.

There’s still a bar


Planning to enjoy wine, cocktails, or beer with dinner? The Windjammer, like the Main Dining Room, serves alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks.

Royal Caribbean’s buffet has a standalone bar where you can order drinks, and if you have a drink package, your package will work here as well. There’s no need to sit down for a lengthy meal in order to enjoy a drink with dinner.

Put in your drink order, grab your food at the buffet, and sit down with your drink and meal within just a few minutes.

Amazing views

The buffets on Royal Caribbean cruise ships are located on the upper decks and have floor-to-ceiling windows looking out towards the ocean. Grabbing a table by the windows and dining with beautiful views of the ocean or cruise port is a wonderful way to enjoy a meal.

Some ships even have an outdoor seating area of the Windjammer, where you can enjoy your meal as you watch your ship sail from port to port. When traveling through scenic areas, this alone is enough of a reason to skip the Main Dining Room and head to the buffet instead!

While some tables in the dining room have outdoor views by a window, the vast majority of tables are located further inside the room. Therefore, most passengers in the dining room have no way to enjoy an ocean view during their meal.

Too tired from port

Honeymoon beach

Despite the fact that cruises should be relaxing, some port days can be exhausting! Whether you spent the day lounging under the warm Caribbean sun or riding an ATV through the jungle, you can easily feel tired after a day in port.

And when you feel tired, the idea of getting showered, dressed, and ready for dinner seems unappealing. The good news, of course, is that you’re under no obligation to eat in the Main Dining Room!

After a busy port day, dine at the buffet instead for a quick, casual meal. There’s no need to further exhaust yourself by getting ready for a formal sit-down dinner.

Great for picky eaters

Royal Caribbean’s Main Dining Room offers several options for picky eaters, especially if you look at the Kids Menu, which serves items like spaghetti and chicken fingers.

Beyond the Kids Menu, many appetizers and main courses may not appeal to the pickiest of eaters. Escargot, lamb curry, and chicken marsala are certainly excellent dishes, but they could be a nightmare for those in search of more basic options.

Fortunately, the Windjammer is a haven for picky eaters. No matter the meal, you’re sure to find dishes perfect for picky eaters, such as pizza, hamburgers, and mac and cheese. Passengers won’t have to worry about leaving their comfort zone for a meal, as they can easily find familiar dishes at the buffet.

Of course, there is a huge selection of more adventurous cuisine at the Windjammer as well for non-picky eaters. From spicy Indian cuisine to tropical fruits, dining at the buffet allows you to taste a plethora of new dishes throughout your cruise.

Arrive whenever you want

The Main Dining Room adheres to a stricter schedule compared to the buffet on a Royal Caribbean cruise. If you selected traditional dining when booking your cruise, your dinner is at a set time each evening.

Even if you selected My Time Dining, which allows you to show up to the dining room at any time during dinner hours, you may still face rigidity in regards to the time you dine. With My Time Dining, you can make reservations for a set time in advance each evening, or you can show up and wait in a line until a table is ready.

Related: Royal Caribbean My Time Dining versus Traditional Dining

For passengers who need more flexibility in dining times, dinner in the Main Dining Room can be too structured. Even if you show up to My Time Dining without a reservation, there’s a chance you’ll be waiting in line longer than you’d like.

If you dine at the buffet, though, you can arrive and eat at whatever time is most convenient, provided the Windjammer is open. There’s no need to make reservations or wait in a lengthy line. Simply show up, grab a plate, and enjoy your meal!

Frees up your evening

A long dinner can mess with your plans for the evening. If you want to see a show at 7PM, hit up the Solarium for sunset, or ride the waterslides with no lines, you may not want to be tied down to a set dinner schedule.

By eating at the buffet, you can quickly eat and continue the evening’s activities. There’s no need to sit down for one or two hours each evening when you could enjoy more exciting attractions around the ship!

You’re cruising with kids

If you’re cruising with young kids, eating in the Windjammer as opposed to the Main Dining Room can make your meals pass by much more smoothly. There’s no need to worry about your kids crying and screaming during an otherwise quiet meal or keeping them occupied when waiting for each course to arrive.

The buffet is a much more casual environment, meaning you can quickly feed your kids with (hopefully) a smaller chance of temper tantrums along the way.

Related: 50 best cruising with kids tips & secrets

Some parents prefer bringing their kids to the Windjammer for dinner before dropping them off at Adventure Ocean for supervised programming. Once the kids are dropped off, the parents can head to the Main Dining Room for a more tranquil meal.

There will be a buffet on Royal Caribbean ships when cruises resume

01 Jul 2020

Many cruise fans have been wondering what Royal Caribbean's plan will be for keeping guests healthy while onboard their ships, including what the fate of the Windjammer buffet will be.

It seems we have a definitive answer from the head of Royal Caribbean's food and beverage: there will be a buffet.

Royal Caribbean Global Vice President Culinary, Dining & Beverage, Linken D'Souza, spoke on the fate of the buffet in a webinar question and answer with travel agents on Wednesday and confirmed the buffet will remain.

Mr. D'Souza was asked about if there will be a buffet on Royal Caribbean's ships, and while Royal Caribbean has not divulged its plans for which policies and changes will be made onboard its cruise ships, he was able to dispel rumors and concerns surrounding what will happen to the buffet.

"Windjammer is one of my favorite spots, and we will continue to have a buffet at Royal Caribbean. We have worked through a variety of different scenarios, from employee service to individual portions to individual tongs for self-service, to finger koozies that you can pick up hot dishes with that can be washed and sanitized. So we continue to work through a lot of the details."

"But rest assured, the buffet will exist. There may be some small modifications that allow us to ensure that we have a really great, healthy return to service. But your favorites and what you're used to at the Windjammer will still be there."

"So I'll I'll put that to rest. We will absolutely have a Windjammer with all of your favorites in a very similar fashion to what you've had previously and maybe some different service steps to ensure healthy service."

Buffet indecision

The origins of the idea that the Windjammer might go away started in May, when Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley mentioned the cruise line was working on their plan to keep guests healthy and the buffet experience came up.

"I think in the beginning, there will not be a buffet in the beginning, that's how I see it. It depends again upon the timing. We will utilize the space, we will utilize the Windjammer, but in all probability it won't be a classical buffet. It will be something more akin to a restaurant."

While Mr. Bayley did not say the Windjammer buffet was gone, it opened up the idea that significant change could occur. A week later, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain had a different take on the buffet's fate.

"It doesn't mean that you don't have a buffet. I think it's very likely that you're not going to see that on land or sea."

The changing nature of recommendations by health professionals, as well as the organic discussions Royal Caribbean has had internally likely caused the answer to change depending on the week.

With Mr. D'Souza's affirmation today, it appears guests will have a buffet experience to look forward to once cruising resumes.

Not just Royal Caribbean with buffets

If the idea of a buffet remaining on a cruise ship when cruises resume sounds odd, other cruise lines are keeping theirs as well.

When Norwegian Cruise Line announced their new policies for guests, they indicated buffets and beverage stations will be full service with staff available to serve guests.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line announced while self-service buffet stations have been suspended, all food and beverage will be served by crew members wearing face masks, hats, aprons, and gloves.

Guide to Royal Caribbean's Windjammer Cafe buffet

04 Jun 2018

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.

Windjammer hours

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!

Windjammer Café: A favorite staple of any Royal Caribbean Cruise

22 Jul 2010

If you've been on a Royal Caribbean cruise in the fairly recent past, more than likely you've eaten at the Windjammer Café, the ever popular and somewhat ubiquitous buffet that fans of Royal Caribbean look forward to on each of their cruises.  The Windjammer is a buffet restaurant that is included in the price of your cruise.  It offers a wide variety of food from fresh fruit and salad to sandwiches, burgers, dessert and much more.  

The exact menu of the Windjammer varies from ship to ship as well as what's in season and fresh.  Don't be confused, the Windjammer isn't your typical stale buffet with old food. Rather, it's a great place for meals or snacks at many times of the day. 

Many guests get their first taste of the Windjammer on embarkation day when they first board the ship.  The Windjammer is typically open for lunch for those boarding the ship and a great opportunity to get your vacation started off right.  Throughout the cruise, you will find opportunities to sample different food depending on the meal.  

Some Windjammers, like those on Navigator of the Seas or Mariner of the Seas, feature a Jade section to the Windjammer, which serve Asian foods such as soup, rice and even sushi.

Windjammer Cafe Hours

  • Continental Breakfast: 6:30 a.m.-7:30 a.m.
  • Full-Buffet Breakfast: 7:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
  • Lunch: Noon-2:00 p.m.
  • Afternoon Tea and Snacks: 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Dinner: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. 
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