Dining At Sea
If eating fine food is your pleasure, a cruise vacation and dining at sea is for you!
If you get up early enough, go to bed late enough and catch the elevators on your ship just right - you can eat up to 13 times a day on board. And that does not count 24 hour complementary room service.
Fine cuisine and five star dining has always been a part of the cruise experience. On board, you'll be treated to more options than ever before. As soon as one serving is ending, somewhere on the ship another is beginning.
Today the on board dining experience rivals almost any land based restaurant. Celebrity Cruise Lines cuisine, for example, is acclaimed by food experts, travel authorities and the most discriminating connoisseurs of all, their passengers.
Whether the succulent, broiled lobster tails and coquilles Saint Jacques served on the finest china or fresh pastas and omelets "made to order" from the buffet, an array of exotic dishes and familiar favorites are yours to enjoy.
Menu offerings on Celebrity are created by master chef, Michel Roux, a Michelin three star restaurant owner, and are as outstanding as the setting in which they are served - grand, multi-level dining rooms, with a piano played softly in the background.
Imagine Smoked Salmon Claudine, Pheasant Mousseline with Blueberry Vinaigrette, Consommé with Vegetable Brunoise, Broiled Lobster Tail, Veal Medallions, Coffee Profiteroles with Jamaican Sabayon and Swan Puff with Chocolate Sauce. The price? Included with your cruise as is all dining on board your floating resort.
And there is virtually no limit on what or how much you can order!
If what I just described is too formal for you, how about breakfast in bed, sunrise coffee and pastries on deck. Of course there is always a full breakfast in your ship's dining room or a relaxed buffet in one of the alternative dining areas.
French toast. Spanish omelets made to order. And Danish, of course. You'll find them all at breakfast, along with such traditional fare as ham and eggs, fresh fruit and yogurt, a choice of toast and rolls, pancakes and home fries
Lunch? Casual, poolside lunch or full menu in the dining room and on some cruise ships the between meal most popular attraction, 24-hour pizzerias and ever present ice cream bars or buffets.
While the 24 hour room service on some ships is restricted to snacks, cold sandwiches and sometimes hamburgers, other cruise lines offer you a full dining room menu in your cabin during regular dining hours.
Princess Cruises offers true 24-hour dining in their Horizon Court restaurants featuring their own galley which allows it to stay open ALL day and ALL night, offering a full menu of both hot and cold meals. Your dinner is served tableside by waiters from 7:30p.m. through 4:00a.m. and all other meals are available buffet style from free-standing islands designed to eliminate lines.
I do not want to panic the health conscious crowd, so you will be secure in knowing that most ships can accommodate salt-free, low-carbohydrate, kosher or other diet preferences.
The variety of healthy and guilt-free choices will astound your eyes and your taste buds. Almost all Cruise lines offer a "heart smart" section on their menus, including vegetarian entrees at lunch and dinner and fresh fruit and other natural snacks are always available.
And then there is always the expansive fitness areas for you to use and remain ship-shape.
On mainstream cruise lines, you'll have to choose your dining time when making your cruise plan. There are usually two dinner seatings, one between 6:00p.m.- 6:30pm and one between 8:00p.m. and 8:30p.m. depending on your ship itinerary. The 6:00p.m seating will allow you to work up an appetite for the mid-night buffet.
But some ships have a 1:30a.m. buffet so you can be comfortable going to the late seating. Your table is reserved for you for the entire cruise and your waiter and busboy will become like family, dedicated to making your cruise a dream vacation.
Table size is usually, for 4, 6, 8 or 10 with the occasional table for two. If you are traveling in a group or with friends you'll want to ensure that your seated together at the same dinner seating.
My suggestion is to always ask for a large table. What a great way to meet new friends from around the world. Unless, of course, your stateroom has a balcony and your significant other wants a private dinner for two!
Personal Choice Cruising
Princess ships offer the line's innovative Personal Choice Cruising program. An individualized, unstructured style of cruising that provides a "what you want, when you want" atmosphere of onboard choice and flexibility. This is designed to give passengers the opportunity to customize their cruise experience to fit their personal interests, needs, and desires.
Princess' Personal Choice Dining program offers two main dining options. Passengers can choose between traditional fixed seating, where they will have an assigned dinner time, table, companions, and wait staff, or restaurant-style Anytime Dining, which allows them to dine when, where, and with whom they wish.
Norwegian Cruise Line Flexible Choice
NCL's cruising concept is the Freestyle Dining component, allowing guests to eat whenever, wherever, and with whomever they wish.
Ten different themed restaurants offer an array of international and regional cuisine, including French bistro fare, trattoria-style Italian dishes, Asian fusion, sushi, teppanyaki, and Spanish tapas.
Vegetarian, low fat, low calorie, and children's menu items are available at all restaurants, and NCL's popular "chocoholic buffet" is offered on all voyages. Guests can also order from a 24-hour room service menu.
All of NCL's full-service and specialty restaurant menus incorporate a variety of regional specialties to allow guests to savor culinary creations that are unique to the exotic destinations visited during their cruise.
Best of all, the one thing you'll never see on a cruise ship menu is a price! Bon Appetit!
By Sid Kaplan
Did You Know?.CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) 62 cruise line members represent more than 90 percent of global cruise capacity, with 482,000 berths on CLIA Member ships. With more than 22 million people cruising worldwide each year, the cruise industry will invest $25 billion to launch 55 new ships between 2015 and 2020. In 2015, the industry will introduce six new oceangoing cruise ships and 16 new river cruise ships.
Top 2014 Cruise Trends (CLIA)
Rebound in luxury cruising (luxury category ships, onboard upgrades) based on an improving economy and increased consumer confidence
Multigenerational and celebration travel increase for all passenger source markets with larger sized family as well as social/ affinity groups traveling together
Continued development and availability of technology to facilitate and lower the cost of onboard communications as well as to provide more efficient passenger servicing
Expectation of first-time passenger growth driven by the 95 million Millennial generation based on population size and positive experiences cruising with their parents
Cruise lines offering more all-inclusive options and packaging in accommodations, services and amenities for increased ease in booking and ship enjoyment
Cruises increasingly attracting consumers seeking active vacations with extreme excursions, longer stays in ports for sightseeing and high-energy onboard facilities
Seeing the world in comfort and ease, especially exotic locations, will continue to drive new itinerary creation and cruise ship deployment
Hot destinations for 2014 according to CLIA cruise line members include: Trans Pacific, World Cruises, U.S. Rivers, South America, Antarctic, Middle East, Canada/New England, Africa and Exotic Rivers