With cruise ships packing more and more passengers on board each trip, it’s important for them to be able to offer their customers a number of different dining options during a typical trip.

The cafeteria style and 24 hour dining are present on just about every cruise ship line, but some companies are beginning to drop the formal dining option in lieu of specialty dining in one of the ship’s restaurants.

Some Familiar Cruise Dining Options

Formal Dining – Most cruise ships offer you a evening formal sit down meal along with your cruise package. This is a full, three or four course meal with all the trimmings. There are usually two services offered: an early dinner service at around 5 or 6 pm, and a later dinner, served around 8 pm or 9pm (times may vary).

This allows those diners with a more “european” sense of dining to eat at a more comfortable time. If you’re travelling with children, the earlier option is probably your best bet, as this will give you time to feed the kids and then let them run around a little bit before bedtime.

Wine or other liquor is not included in the meal, although these can be purchased separately from your Waiter.

Cafeteria Style Dining – A large dining area, similar to an American style cafeteria, allows you to pick and choose the food you want during the course of the day. There are no set dining times in these areas, and they are generally open from the morning time to early evening. Most foods are freshly prepared and offer such options as a salad bar, omelette bar and sandwiches made to order.

24 Hour Dining – The last thing that a cruise company wants is a hungry passenger, so many companies also offer the option of round the clock dining. Depending on the cruise line and ship, the cafeteria could be open up for 24 hours a day, or there may be a specialized cafe or stand that can cater to your needs for a midnight snack.

Speciality Restaurants – One of the more interesting trends in cruise dining is the addition of “specialty restaurants” on the cruise ship. These restaurants have options from sushi to Italian and just about everything in between. There is typically a cover charge involved to dine with this option, but more and more cruise goers are finding it worth the additional cost.

Familiar Faces – In addition to your other cruise dining options, you will probably find some familiar restaurants on board. Many cruise lines are leasing out their interior spaces to well known restaurants like Johnny Rockets. Like the specialty restaurants, these are not included in the price of your cruise.

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