A Guide to Food and Drink on Cruise Ships

October 4, 2018

So, you’ve decided on a cruise for your next holiday, but what can you expect from your onboard experience when it comes to dining? There are lots of options, but here are my tips on how to get the most from your experience and satisfy your inner foodie.

Is food included?

The great thing about cruising is that whichever company you go with, all your meals while onboard are included in the upfront price of your holiday – this includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, some speciality restaurants or franchise coffee shops may charge an additional fee, so make sure you do your research.

Dietary requirements

If you have specific dietary requirements, food intolerances or allergies, it’s always worth flagging these to your cruise line ahead of your voyage, as they’ll usually be very accommodating to your needs. It’s worth researching the best cruises for vegetarians and vegans, as some ships will allow you to bring vegan wine onboard, although a corkage fee may be charged in the restaurants.

What about drinks?

Drinks are usually extra but it’s possible to purchase drinks packages in advance; these can be a cost-effective option. Some cruise lines do offer fully inclusive options, which means all meals and selected alcohol and soft drinks are included in the initial cost. If you’re on a budget, consider choosing a cruise line that offers this.

What type of drinks can I get?

Generally speaking, you’ll be able to get any drinks you’d expect to get on dry land, with most ships offering a good selection of wines, beers and spirits in their bars. If you’re after elegant evenings, choose ships with upmarket cocktail bars, some of which have floor-to-ceiling windows, so you can enjoy the views whilst sipping a Martini or glass of bubbly.

Buffet dining

Most cruise ships have a buffet restaurant, offering relaxed and informal dining and a feast of fabulous food. You can help yourself to a mouth-watering selection of foods and refill your plate as often as you like. Beware those infamous cruise kilos though, and consider counteracting a little indulgence with a trip to the onboard gym!


Ships will usually lay out breakfast options in their buffet dining area where you can expect to graze on fresh fruit, go for a full English or enjoy toast, pastries and pancakes, accompanied by a choice of teas, juices and coffees.

Speciality restaurants

Depending on the size of your ship, you’ll usually have a choice of speciality restaurants to dine in. Obviously this will vary, but you can expect international favourites such as grilled steak and chicken through to Italian, Japanese sushi and Mediterranean morsels. Some ships also offer afternoon tea, allowing you to enjoy finger sandwiches and a selection of sweet treats as well as a pot of tea.

Always check the dress code before you head to your chosen eatery, as some require formal attire.

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