How to enjoy the main dining room when you are on a cruise

main dining room
Photo Courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company

Traditionally, the main dining room is the central eating area on a cruise ship. Dining there is seen as a little like a combination of the experience of dining in a first-class restaurant and that of dining in a banqueting hall. However, many cruise lines are moving away from traditional main dining rooms to provide speciality fine dining restaurants.

So, is it still possible to enjoy the experience of the main dining room on a cruise ship? There are certainly some main dining rooms in operation, and there is many a great dining experience to be had in them. It has to be said that experiences differ depending on what type of cruise you choose. For instance, the experience you have on Ohio & Tennessee river Cruises is likely to be different than that of an ocean cruise, and experiences even differ between cruise lines. However, there are some tips that may help to improve your enjoyment of the main dining room if you have the opportunity to eat there.

Make sure they know about dietary restrictions

If you have any restrictions to your diet, due to health issues or personal choice, it’s a good idea to make sure the cruise line knows about them as soon as possible. You should also remind the onboard team once you set sail. You may think that this would be sufficient but it’s a good idea to pop in more friendly reminders a couple of times in order to prevent any unfortunate mistakes from being made.

Change your table by asking early

There may be a good reason why you would rather not dine with a large group of people; you could be just married or celebrating an anniversary. If you would rather be seated at a table for two, make your request as soon as you get onboard. This makes life a lot easier for the crew. Of course, you may meet the family from hell and then find that you are going to be seated next to them at dinner. You can still make requests for changes close to dining time and they should be honoured, if possible.

Tip serving staff before you eat

This is something that will not work on every cruise as some cruise lines no longer assign regular serving staff to a particular table. However, if you do have the same member of staff attending to you each day, it can help to get on their good side by tipping early. If you tip when you first meet them they are more likely to be inclined to be extra helpful. If you are thinking of tipping in this way, make sure you understand the tipping policies of the cruise line as you may find that gratuities are included in the cost of the cruise and you probably do not want to pay twice.

Depending on the cruise that you choose, you may find that you do not experience the main dining room. If you do have the experience, these tips could help you to get full enjoyment of it.


Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post.

6 thoughts

  1. Interesting article, we are preparing for a Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas later this week. We’ve noticed over the past few years that some cruise lines are trying to improve the main dining room experience. When we cruised with Norwegian, they have “Flexible” dining so instead of the traditional two dinner seatings, we could pick our time. We also were not seated with a large group, but received a table for the two of us. Royal Caribbean has seemed to adopt this; they still have traditional seating, but now offer “My Time” dinning as well. We opted for the “My Time” for our upcoming cruise and were able to pick our times for meals and can change while we are on the boat. And we will receive a table just for the two of us. So need to ask for a table change!
    Thanks for the tip about tipping the servers before the meal!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting post, Tanja! 🙂 I’ve never been on a “real” cruise. But in Finland, we go on our own type of cruises all the time. There are ships (some call them ferries but they really are cruise ships) that go to Sweden and Estonia. The ones to Sweden go overnight so you sleep in a cabin and there are all sorts of restaurants and tax free shops there. In the summer you can sit out on the deck. There are pubs too. Back in the 90’s when I was a teenager, they used to be “party boats” for drinking excessive amounts of alcohol! But it’s cleaned up a bit now: more families and tourist groups, yay 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.