10. Eat what you want. - This one sounds almost like a given, but on a cruise ship, it bears repeating simply because you have more options available to you than in everyday life. Just because you are offered 4 or 5 courses at dinner does not mean you have to eat all the courses. My husband hates salad, so always skips that course and maybe orders two appetizers, or saves room for extra dessert. (Or not, it isn't like you will starve if you miss a course) Alternatively, if they have something on the menu one night that you especially like, perhaps get two because often menus don't repeat. I learn this the hard way seemingly every cruise after creme brulee night is over and I keep wishing it would come back. We aren't big breakfast people, so we tend to limit ourselves on that meal, even though it is "free". We get enough to sustain us, then hold out for food we enjoy better at lunch. This tip is usually most difficult to follow early in a cruise or as a new cruiser as you tend to get excited at all the options and the idea of eating "your money's worth" looms in the back of your head. Just remember, that food is worth WAY more to you if you are eating what you enjoy.
9. Wash and sanitize your hands constantly. - Again, a no-brainer. But, if it is such a no-brainer, then why do I see people walking up to the buffets from the Lido deck without sanitizing, picking a wedgie, then proceeding to use the tongs to load fries on their plate? Oh, and then they grab the fry that fell out of the pan and throw it back in. Guys, you can't make this stuff up. So, you can't really do anything about those people. (Although I like to sanitize my hands also upon leaving the buffet before I eat) But, you can make sure that you are not one of them. Because almost nothing can destroy your dining experience like norovirus. Talk about not getting your money's worth, you won't want to eat anything! Keep in mind that the more premium lines often have servers handling the tongs etc, so if you are a germophobe, it might be worth the money to book one of them. Even at that, Purell is your friend.
6. Be willing to stand in line when it is worth it. - We've all seen them. The long lines for the burrito bar, pasta bar, mongolian bbq and omelet stations can wrap this way and that until we are convinced that the people standing in line MUST be crazy because there is plenty of good food elsewhere. And yes, the food elsewhere is fine, but these made to order stations DO often provide the best quality food on the buffet (and sometimes on the ship). Now, I don't advocate wasting precious cruise time waiting in these lines everyday, but I have been known to get a plate and a table near the station in order to stake out the line, see when it goes down a bit and jump in. Is it worth it? Well, one of my most memorable meals on my last cruise was a burrito from the burrito bar, so there you go. I do suggest trying these out early in the cruise as people tend to catch on as time goes by,
4. Branch out from the buffet. - I've heard it before: you like the buffet just fine, don't want to dress up and prefer to eat when you feel like it. But, I feel like sticking solely to the buffet on a cruise is a huge mistake and really robs you of part of your cruise experience. The main dining room not only usually has a higher quality of food, but it is an experience unlike dining on land. At least try it out. Oh, and to your objections: the dress code has gotten so lax lately that you will not be out of place except on formal night if you show up in jeans and a shirt and most lines have "anytime" dining where you can make a reservation or show up whenever you feel like it.
2. Keep good company. - Few things can destroy a dining experience quite like being forced to eat with bad/annoying people. I'll admit that I have never been stuck with bad dining partners when there was open seating, but I have heard such terrible stories, it must be addressed. If you are a very outgoing person and can get along with anyone, you should be just fine. If, on the other hand, the thought of sharing your cruise dining experience with strangers makes you break out in hives, there are steps you can take.
First, if you hate the idea of eating with others altogether, book Norwegian or book all specialty restaurants. You should be guaranteed to eat only with your party in most cases. If you are like us, and just like to keep the party small and meet folks who are similar in demographic to yourselves, go on the message boards ahead of time and advertise. We usually meet another couple, similar in age to ourselves and travelling alone so that we are only a party of 4. We get our own table, and end up making great friends by the end of the first evening. It is also nice because you have someone to tell about your day. Your travel partner already knows all about it, so you can't tell them. Other travelers also like to talk about travel as well, so you might never have as interested and captive an audience for your stories. And vice versa; I love to hear about what else there is to do in ports that we haven't tried yet. This can really help make your cruise great.
Podcast Review of Dining on Celebrity Cruise Line with Chef Von Staden
Podcast Overview of Cruise Ship Dining Tips