Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cruise Control: Day 2

Food, glorious food!
Pastries in the Atrium

Coffee Bar

Traditional British Meal


Welcome to the buffet

Waiting in line for pizza!

I can just see the orphans in the Dickens novel dancing among the scarred wooden tables, rejoicing in the fact that they finally had food.

Kind of like cruise folks dance into the buffet line three (or more) times a day, reveling in the vast array of entrees, desserts, salads (notice desserts came before salads here), rolls of all kinds, fruit, soups, veggies...the list goes on. I had heard travelers talk about the food on cruise ships, but until you see it yourself, it's a bit hard to process.

It's unlimited, for one thing. And the choices often stretch for dozens of feet in either direction. 

The price of your ticket includes food. Where else can you take a vacation for seven days for under $500, including enough food to, well, sink a ship? Maybe tent camping in the mountains, but I learned to enjoy sleeping in a soft bed and not having critters sneak into my bedding at night a long time ago. Your cabin, excellent service (see Cruise Control, Day 1 for that story), PLUS all the food you can stomach for that ridiculous price? Not too many other opportunities out there. I know, because I have tried to find them.

There are several options for dining, too. When you book a cruise, you choose an evening dining time, either early (around 5:30 or 6 PM) or late (around 8:30), and at the appointed time you head to the dining room assigned to you. Keep in mind, most of these ships carry between 1000 and 4000 people, so they provide multiple dining rooms. When you show up there, you are shown to your table, complete with white tablecloths, beautiful place settings, crystal glasses, and real flowers in the vases. (I don't know how they do that one on longer cruises...where do they keep flowers to keep them fresh that long?) 

The server snaps open the napkin for each lady and places it in her lap, welcoming everyone and taking drink orders. Another chance to be dazzled by the service. As a woman who cooks at home, I'll take this kind of treatment any day, believe me. (I've asked several of these waiters if they would come home with me, but no takers yet.)

If you decide you want two entrees, just ask. No extra charge. One of each on the menu that night? That's fine by them. Don't like the one you thought would be tasty? They'll whisk it away and bring something else in a flash. Dessert choices always includes a sugar-free option, and on this trip I saw more gluten-free and vegetarian options, too. Your wish is their command.

But if all of that is a bit too formal for you, head on over to one of the many buffet lines in other areas of the ship, and chow down. They're open probably 18 hours a day. The coffee bar in the atrium is open 24/7....I just discovered that on this trip.(Additional charges do apply for specialty coffees, but we're all used to that anyway, aren't we?) Everywhere you turn, there it is: food, glorious food!

Your travel companion can roll you back to your cabin later.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Virginia Woolf,
A Room of One's Own


  1. Yeah I know what you mean. I love food on cruises.


    1. And I only gained about 2 pounds! Hallelujah!