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Cruise Cuisine

In the past, dining was the same from ship to ship and line to line. Nowadays each ship and line has its own approach to serving food and cruise cuisine. The more traditional approach to dining has one main dining room with two different seating times (6:30pm and 8:30pm) and tables of six, eight, or ten. Many cruise lines have changed the way they do dining. They make it your choice where to dine, when to dine, and with whom.

Lines like Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Carnival Cruise Line have various dining options and times to accommodate their passengers. Royal Caribbean, Holland America Line, and many of the luxury lines, like Seabourn Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises, and Crystal Cruises, provide guests with a traditional dining experience.

When booking your cruise, you will be asked whether you prefer first or second seating. This selection is honored based on availability. When you receive your cruise tickets, you see your dining time. This applies to the main dining room only.

If you choose to dine in an alternative restaurant, it is imperative that you make reservations as soon as you board the ship. These can be made with the maitre d' at the restaurant of your choice. Alternative restaurants are in very high demand and, if you don't make reservations when boarding, you may not be able to dine where you like.

Below is a breakdown of dining options and cruise cuisine information on the world's leading cruise lines.

Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines has been experimenting with alternative dining options on many of its ships. It has also introduced a new concept called Total Choice Dining that brings more service staff, new menu items, and more dining alternatives to their ships. Some new concepts Carnival has added to its ships include a patisserie (on Fantasy, Ecstasy, Elation, Paradise, Destiny, Triumph, Victory, Spirit, Pride, Conquest, and Glory) and the Nouveau Supper Club, an upscale boutique restaurant (on Spirit, Pride, Legend, Conquest, and Glory).

Breakfast can be delivered to your stateroom or eaten buffet-style on the Lido Deck. You can also eat in the main dining room at either 7:45am or 9:00am.

Lunch is served by buffet on the Lido Deck and at two sittings in the main dining room (12pm and 1:30pm). You can also grab a pizza at a 24-hour pizzeria or a sandwich at a New York-style deli (on Destiny, Triumph, Victory, Spirit, Pride, Conquest, and Glory).

Each ship has two main dining venues with four, staggered dining times: 5:45pm, 6:15pm, 8pm, and 8:30pm. The dining rooms are generally large and open with tasteful décor. Menus are enticing and Carnival has recently added a lighter-choice section and expanded their wine list.

Seaview Bistro is an alternative, casual restaurant serving salads, pastas, chicken, shrimp, steaks, and desserts between 6pm-9:30pm. Service is buffet-style, but tables are adorned with tablecloths, silverware, and fresh flowers with waiters available for drinks and food requests.

Specializing in prime-aged beef and stone crab, the Nouveau Supper Club is available for passengers travelling on Spirit, Legend, and Miracle. There is a similar restaurant on the Pride called David's Supper Club. This restaurant is adorned with a full-size replica of the famous Michelangelo sculpture, David. There is a $25 surcharge and seating is reservation-only.

Sushi lovers can find a pre-dinner sushi bar on the Jubilee, Celebration, Fantasy, Ecstasy, Imagination, Inspiration, Elation, Paradise , Conquest, and Glory. There is also an Asian-themed restaurant on Destiny, Triumph, Victory, Spirit, Pride, Conquest, and Glory.

Those looking for a late-night snack can find it at the 24-hour pizzeria available on all ships serving oven-fresh pizzas, Caesar salads, and garlic rolls. There is also 24-hour room service available.

Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises maintains its award-winning cuisine by choosing the best-quality products and changing its menu seasonally. Selection, quality, and presentation is superb and each menu has at least one lean-and-light dish. In addition, Celebrity offers a vegetarian menu for its passengers who don't eat meat. Celebrity adheres to traditional dining practices with two seatings for dinner and set table sizes of four, six, and eight. Evenings and afternoons in the main dining room have piano music. The service is exemplary and the décor is tastefully romantic.

In the morning, you can choose to have Celebrity serve you breakfast in your stateroom or in the main dining room. Another option is to eat from a buffet in the Windsurf Café (Zenith), Coral Seas Café (Horizon), Islands Café (Century, Galaxy, and Mercury) or Ocean Café (Millennium, Infinity, Summit, and Constellation). The buffet carries hot and cold selections and offers a less-formal atmosphere.

Lunch is served in the main dining room and a lunch buffet is available in the Windsurf/Coral Seas/ Islands/Ocean Café. There is also an outside grill serving cooked-to-order hamburgers and hotdogs by the poolside.

When evening falls and candlelight glows, you will dine on the gourmet cuisine of world-renowned master chef, Michel Roux. Our dramatic, two-story main restaurant presents soaring ocean views, soft music, and exquisite settings of china, white linen, and crystal. The attentive, yet unobtrusive, service from our European-trained staff completes the picture.

The Olympic is a must-see, alternative restaurant on the Millennium. Decorated with an elegant theme that reflects the golden days of steamship travel, the decor includes relics from the old steamship Olympic and White Star Line china. There is a demonstration galley where passengers can watch the chef prepare their exquisite meals and an adjacent wine cellar that doubles as a private dining room for small groups. There is a $25 service charge applied to your account when dining at The Olympic.

S.S. United States restaurant can be found on the Infinity and the Normandie can be found on the Summit. Each ship replicates the décor of its namesake, carries memorabilia from the famous ships, and serves exquisite gourmet cuisine. There is a $25 service charge for this unique dining experience.

Buffet-style dinner is always available in the informal Windsurf/Coral Seas/Islands/Ocean Café.

All Celebrity ships provide a 24-hour, room service menu.

Celebrity presents a midnight buffet for night owls to enjoy themed, ethnic-style delicacies. In addition, a nightly, pre-dinner feature called Gourmet Bites allows guests to sample cuisine in various public rooms.

Holland America Line
Holland America's practice of blending Old World traditions with modern lifestyles fares beautifully in their dining facilities. The line follows traditional cruise dining with two seatings and fixed table sizes.

Dining room decor is opulent, making it easy to return night after night. Part of this opulence is providing Rosenthal china for dining, along with silver tableware, crystal wine glasses, starched linens, and fresh flowers on the tables.

There is a fountain made of antique, Argentine marble on the Maasdam. Six large, specially-crafted, wrought-iron chandeliers are on the Volendam. A ceiling resembling a starry, night sky is found on the Rotterdam. While the Amsterdam boasts a 1,500-square-foot, back-lit, stained glass, ceiling feature depicting green, orange, blue, and yellow flowers.

Breakfast is served in the main dining room as well as in the Lido, a large, informal, buffet restaurant.

Prinsendam serves a breakfast buffet in the Garden Room and Café on the bridge deck. All ships can deliver breakfast directly to your stateroom in the morning.

Hungry cruisers can find stirfry, pasta, deli selections, and more in the Lido. This restaurant outdoes the competition in quality, choice, and presentation. Hamburgers, hotdogs, and tacos are available by the poolside at the Terrace Grill (also named Lido Terrace on the Noordam). A formal lunch is served in the main dining room with open seating. On days at sea, passengers on the Rotterdam and Amsterdam can enjoy lunch at the Venetian villa-inspired Odyssey.

Princedam offers passengers the Garden Room and Café with both indoor and outdoor seating that serves a buffet lunch in the aft of the ship.

Holland America follows traditional seating (6:30pm and 8:30pm) and fixed tables of six, eight, and ten. They serve dinner on Rosenthal china and use silver tableware, crystal glasses, and starched linens. Menu selections vary by port and are five-star quality.

Pinnacle Grill cooks up cuisine from the Pacific Northwest and is available on the Ryndam, Statendam, and Maasdam. There is a $20 per person charge for eating in the restaurant and reservations can be made while on the ship or prior to sailing.

Odyssey is a reservation-only, no cover-charge, Italian restaurant on the Zuiderdam and Oosterdam. This restaurant is decorated like a Venetian villa with black and gold columns, glass candelabras, and beautifully-framed mirrors on the ceiling.

Holland America offers 24-hour room service on all of their ships.

Hot hors d'oeuvres are served around the ship during the pre-dinner hour. Hand-dipped chocolates are available after dinner in the Explorer's Lounge.

Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Lines's Freestyle Cruising has revolutionized the cruising industry, most notably in the area of dining. Freestyle Cruising allows passengers to dine when they want, where they want, and with whom. It also gives passengers a choice of up to ten restaurants serving everything from sushi to hamburgers and more. There is nothing traditional about the way Norwegian does dining. Dinner is served between 5:30pm-12am and table sizes range from two to ten guests. In addition to the plethora of restaurants, alternative food stations and buffets are open for extended hours. Reservations must be made at alternative dining venues to ensure you have a seat. Make these reservations as soon as you board in order to dine where you like. In some alternative restaurants a la carte pricing may apply, so be sure to check the menu before ordering. There is at least one buffet, grill, and ice cream bar on each vessel. Due to the large amount of dining alternatives, only the most notable venues are listed below.

Both breakfast and lunch are available in the main dining room, but there are many other options to choose from if you prefer a less-formal atmosphere.

The Outdoor Restaurant and Garden Café serve buffet style paella, sushi, and pasta for breakfast and lunch. They are an informal dining alternative on the Sun and Sky and on the Norway (outdoor restaurant only). Café Royal, similar to the Garden Café, is found on the Majesty.

The Market serves hamburgers, wok dishes, and fish and chips in food court style. There is also an indoor/outdoor buffet with made-to-order ethnic specialties, omelets, and various other foods. The Market is on the Star and Dawn and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Open all day, the Piazza San Marco Grill serves burgers, hotdogs, pizza, and snacks on the Majesty.

There are two main dining rooms on each of NCL's ships (three on the Star and Dawn). These have two seatings and various-sized tables. They are laid out with lavish, terraced seating, floor-to-ceiling windows, and winding stairways.

Le Bistro can be found on the Norway, Sun, Sky, Star, and Dawn. It has floor-to-ceiling windows and serves Mediterranean-style cuisine with some tableside cooking. There are some variations on style and cuisine from ship to ship. There is a $10 cover charge for this restaurant ($12.50 on the Star and no charge on the Norway).

Ciao Chow is a hugely popular and funky restaurant on the Sun and Sky that serves up Italian/Chinese cuisine. There is a $10 cover charge at Ciao Chow.

Soho is a high-end, Asian-fusion restaurant on the Star and Dawn. There is also a Japanese restaurant called Ginza on both vessels serving a la carte selections, sushi, and tempura.

La Trattoria is part of The Market and serves authentic Italian cuisine with table service in the evening on the Star and Dawn.

There is a Spanish tapas restaurant and bar on the Star called Las Rambles. On the Dawn, Las Rambles doubles as a steakhouse.

Room service is available 24-hours.

Lavish midnight buffets and a renowned chocoholic buffet are available nightly.

Princess Cruise
Princess Cruises has an exciting new approach to dining called Personal Choice. Their ships are now equipped with 24-hour dining facilities, numerous restaurants, and table sizes, as well as traditional fixed seating for those who enjoy structure. Whichever dining option you choose, you'll enjoy amazing, five-star food and the same dress code throughout the ships. In addition, Princess has a smoke free policy throughout the ships.

Whether you opt for a lazy morning in bed or waking up before the sun for a full breakfast, you are sure to find what you need on a Princess ship. Continental breakfast may be delivered to your stateroom at whatever time you specify. You can also enjoy a buffet served on deck or an a la carte experience in the dining room. Either way, you'll enjoy the best fruits, cereal, eggs, sausage, toast, coffee, and juices available.

Between enjoying activities, sunning yourself by the pool, and visiting various landmarks in port, you can enjoy a five-course lunch in your ship's dining room with pastas, entrees, and a variety of sweet desserts. There is also the poolside Trident Grill and the inside Poseidon's Pizza on Grand, Golden, and Star Princess, as well as a classic, poolside Pizzeria on the Regal Princess. Of course, room service is available if you choose to have lunch on your personal verandah. For other options, see 24-Hour choices below.

On every Princess ship, there is one main dining room with two to three seatings. Table sizes start at two and go as high as necessary. This restaurant serves famous cuisine from around the world. Their dishes are always of the highest quality and features food from the various locales that the ship visits.

Sabatini's Trattoria, a popular Italian restaurant on the Grand, Golden, Island Coral, and Star ships, is one of the most exclusive dining experiences afloat. There is a $20 surcharge for the restaurant, but the food and décor make it more than worth the extra cost. It is recommended that reservations are made as soon as you board the ship to ensure you get a seat in this restaurant.

The Sun, Dawn, Sea, and Ocean Princess feature the exclusive Sterling Steakhouse. With mouth-watering steaks and amazing side dishes, the $8.00 cover charge pays for itself.

Horizon Court or Café del Sol (as it is named on the Regal Princess) is a 24-hour buffet offering a variety of cuisine with an amazing ocean view.

Bayou Café, a New Orleans-inspired restaurant, is available on Coral and Island Princess and serves Cajun specialties alongside live jazz.

Pizza Pizazz is a full-service pizzeria available on all ships (except the Pacific Princess) where you can enjoy amazing pizza fresh from the oven.

Sun, Sea, Dawn, and Ocean Princess offer 24-hour food service including a bistro ŕ la carte menu. Grand and Golden Princess have the 24-hour Horizon Court serving a variety of buffet-style meals. Royal Princess's Lido Café, Crown Princess's Café Cabana, and Regal Princess's Café del Sol are also 24-hour.

Royal Caribbean International
While Royal Caribbean is known largely for its super-liner ships with everything and anything one could imagine, they have strayed little from traditional dining. There are two fixed seatings for dinner with fixed tables and menus. For those looking for a variety of dining options, their newer ships have a larger choice of cuisine and restaurants and even a few interesting alternative dining venues that are very worth a visit. An added bonus with Royal Caribbean is the Ship Shape items on every menu for those watching their waistline. They also offer a vegetarian menu available for those who don't eat meat.

Breakfast is served in the main dining room between 7:30am-9:30am. Those looking for a more casual atmosphere and an amazing view can find breakfast in the Windjammer Café. Or, for those who want a private meal for two, room service can bring a host of breakfast options right to your stateroom door.

After a long morning lounging by the pool or playing games around the ship, you can stop for lunch in the infamous Johnny Rockets. This 1950s-style burger joint will fill your belly with burgers, fries, and milkshakes and is found on Voyager, Explorer, Adventure, and Navigator of the Seas. Lunch is also served in the main dining room between 12pm and 2pm and in the Windjammer Café all afternoon.

Dinner is served in the main dining room at 6:15pm and 8:30pm. The dining room decor on all ships is amazing. There is a Japanese Mikado theme on the Majesty, separate Carmen, La Boheme, and Magic Flute designs in the Voyager's three dining rooms, a waterfall theme on the Brilliance and Radiance of the Seas (complete with a real waterfall), Romeo and Juliet on the Legend, King and I on the Splendour, and the Great Gatsby on Grandeur of the Seas.

Chops Grille:
Enjoy succulent filet mignon, delicious salmon, and various other steakhouse favourites at Chops Grille available on the Radiance and Brilliance of the Seas. Reservations are required and a cover charge of $20 applies that covers both the meal and gratuities.

Serving delicious Italian cuisine alongside spectacular views, Portofino is an alternative-dining venue on Voyager, Explorer, Adventure, Navigator, Radiance, and Brilliance of the Seas. This romantic atmosphere has a cover charge of $20.

Seaview Café:
Radiance and Brilliance of the Seas offer the Seaview Café that's open late and serves burgers, hot dogs, and nachos.

Windjammer Café:
Found on every ship in the fleet, this café is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If offers a causal atmosphere, full-table service during dinner hours, and spectacular views.

SeaSide Diner is a 1950s, 24-hour eatery with indoor and outdoor seating as well as jukebox music available on Voyager, Explorer, Adventure, and Navigator of the Seas.

Sprinkles ice-cream parlor serves round-the-clock ice-cream and yogurt treats on Voyager, Explorer, Adventure, and Navigator of the Seas.

For those with a late-night craving for something sweet, Royal Caribbean offers passengers a midnight buffet that includes a chocolate extravaganza!

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