About Jim Antista

Owner of The Cruiseman agency, Nixa, MO. We are now in our 24th year of business. We represent all the major cruise lines, world wide. We also represent Sandals All-Inclusive Resorts in the Caribbean.

Aboard The Vision of the Seas

Vision of the Seas

Your Editor and Mrs. Cruiseman sailed aboard the Vision of the Seas, Feb. 16-22 from New Orleans on a 7 night Western Caribbean voyage with stops at Grand Cayman Island, Cozumel and Costa Maya.

The Vision of the Seas is not a new ship. She first sailed in 1998. She measures 78,340 GRT, which is quite small compared to the Oasis class ships. She carries 2435 passengers (at 2 per cabin). For those that say they don’t like the huge ships and would prefer something “smaller” the Vision of the Seas might be a perfect fit.

Vision Cabin
We sailed in a standard Oceanview Cabin, which was very adequate and comfortable. Our cabin attendant was very efficient and kept the cabin very clean and organized for us.  The closets were plenty big enough and the bed was fairly comfortable.  This ship does not have many Balcony cabins so if you want a Balcony you need to book very early.

Costa maya

One of our stops was at Costa Maya, MX. It’s been many years since we visited Costa Maya and we were pleasantly surprised at the many improvements that have been made to this port of call.  There’s plenty of shopping here as well as a good beginning point for excursions to the Mayan Ruins located in the Yucatan Peninsula. 

Turtle 3

At Grand Cayman Island we visited the Turtle Centre.  The Turtle Centre is actually a part of Boatswain’s Beach. This 23 acre park features a reef lagoon in which guests can snorkel, a predator tank, a free flight aviary, a woodland nature trail and a zero entry fresh water rock pool, complete with waterfall provide guests with hours of entertainment. For the interesting history of the Turtle Centre and all their problems with hurricanes  CLICK HERE.  For as little as $18 per person you can spend a wonderful day at the Turtle Center. They have a delightful outdoors (screened in) restaurant as well. From the Cruise Ship tenders docking area you will need to take a public taxi (van) to get to the Turtle Center. The fare should be around $8 per person. 

We were quite disappointed with some aspects of the food service aboard the Vision of the Seas, especially the buffet offerings.  It seems to us that whoever plans the buffet selections does not know how to cook for Americans.  Here’s a picture of some hamburgers left under a heat lamp for a long time. You will notice that the cheese on the cheeseburgers is not melting. Apparently the burgers were not hot enough to melt cheese.  

On the other hand we found the menu and quality of lunch in the main dining room to be very nice. In the dining room you could order their “Royal Burger” which was definitely NOT  the same as the burgers on the buffet.  The lunch menu had some very interesting items, such as steak sandwiches, to pick from, and they had a very nice salad bar manned by several chefs.  Good touch.

Breakfast at the buffet was equally disappointing. I don’t know many Americans that eat refried beans for breakfast. Or white rice with peas. And I didn’t like having my omelettes burned. You’d be better off to take the time to order breakfast from a menu in the main dining room.  

The menu at dinner time in the main dining room was what you would expect. Prime Rib, Steaks, Lobster, Pasta dishes, etc. and were all prepared very well. I had Chicken Parmesan one night and it was delicious!  

If you have any questions about this ship, or any others please give us a call or send us an email.  We’re here to help you make your next cruise vacation the very best ever.

(800) 889-7683   mail@cruiseman.com

Carnival Reveals Details For Mardi Gras

mardigrasbit

When we launched our first ship, 1972’s TSS Mardi Gras, we made cruising a lot less stuffy, a bit less fancy, the kind of fun everybody could enjoy. Nobody expected this ship to change the cruise world, but… here we are! In 2020 we’ll be launching a brand-new ship with a familiar name. You guessed it: Mardi Gras. We aren’t just paying homage to our first ship — in cruising circles this name suggests innovation, signals the start of something big. And it shouts “fun!” at the top of its lungs. We’re building this new Mardi Gras to live up to that legacy, so start daydreaming now! For one thing, this ship introduces Zones — six themed areas packed with brand-new experiences for eating, drinking and spectacularly getting down to fun. More announcements are still to come, but we’re all ready to pull the wraps off what may be the most thrilling: BOLT™, the first-ever roller coaster at sea! Everybody can enjoy Mardi Gras, sailing in 2020. Come on down!

carnival-mardi-gras-atrium

carnival-mardi-gras-jazz-club

mardi-gras-piazza-lanai

carnival-mardi-gras-lido

carnival-mardi-gras-sports-square

 

Bolt

Reservations are now open for the Mardi Gras.  For details or to book your cruise call us at (800) 889-7683

Source:  Carnival.com

How To Cruise For Free

As an avid cruiser you already know the benefits of taking a cruise vacation. 

  • All your meals are included
  • You get to visit 3 or more wonderful destinations that you would probably never get to see if it wasn’t for cruising.
  • They clean up your room for you.
  • They clear the table after you eat!
  • They wash the dishes!!
  • You only have to pack and unpack once.

You know all of that because you are an experienced cruiser!
Well, now it’s time to take your experience to the next level and do a group cruise!

Why a group cruise?  Glad you asked!  Here are a few reasons;

  • Group Rates
  • 30-60% off the people on any given cruise are part of a group!
  • Free amenities:  onboard credits, Private cocktail parties, free tote bags, wine in your cabin, etc.
  • Lower initial deposit requirements.
  • Dining tables reserved for you and your group.
  • You are the BMOC!

Oh, did I mention that as the Group Leader you can cruise for FREE?

It’s true! If you group books a minimum number of cabins the group leader  goes for free*. With most cruise lines the minimum is 8 cabins.  Book 16 cabins and your cabin mate goes for free, too!  And … once you have earned your free cabin, you can earn additional cash for booking even more cabins. The more cabins booked, the more you earn!!

Here’s the best part: 

We do all the work for you.  All we expect you to do is spread the word to those that might be interested in going on your Group Cruise. We will even print up flyers for you to hand out.  We put our phone number on the flyers. Your people call us, we take care of all the reservations, billing, documentation, etc. That’s our job!  You just keep on handing out the flyers. (Social Media is good too).  We do all the work and you reap the rewards for being the Group Leader.  Sound easy?  It is!

Here’s some ideas for starting a group;

  • Church Groups
  • Networking Groups
  • Fraternal Organizations (police, firefighters, Shriners, first responders)
  • Alumni Associations
  • Social Organizations
  • Family Reunions
  • Beauty Shops
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Radio Stations
  • Educational Associations
  • Military Organizations
  • Class Reunions
  • Wedding Parties
  • Business Incentives
  • Friends & Family
  • Homeowners Associations
  • Lions Club
  • Moose Club
  • Elks Lodge

As you can see – the possibilities are endless. See how many ideas you can come up with.

If you are involved in any of these types of organizations, or if you know somebody that is, you already have your foot in the door.  Speak to the leaders and pitch the idea of going on a Group Cruise.  If they need meeting space for a conference, that can be arrange at little or no cost.

The only other task is to select the right ship and sailing date. We can help you with that.

Once we get the ship & sail date we will take it from there by blocking off the cabins with the cruise line and printing up flyers for you to hand out.

Give us a call @ (800) 889-7683 and we’ll get the ball rolling.

 

* Free cruise fine print. You are responsible for your taxes, fees, port expenses and gratuities. The amount of money you earn, including the value of your free cruise is calculated by the cruise line after the cruise is over and the books have been finalized. The cruise line sends a check for your free cruise amount and any other money you have earned about two weeks after the cruise is over.

 

 

Carnival Vista

Vista

The Cruiseman & Mrs. Cruiseman recently spent a week aboard the Carnival Vista, sailing from Galveston, TX with port calls at Montego Bay, Jamaica; Grand Cayman Island & Cozumel, MX.  We were impressed with some subtle improvements that Carnival has made with this line of ships.  One very pleasing improvement was the way the buffet and dining rooms were laid out. They managed to divide up the seating space into some very pleasant smaller sections resulting in much quieter seating arrangements.

dining roombuffettbuffet2

guysLike all the Carnival ships dining options at lunch time are abundant. You can pick from Guy’s Burger Joint, the Seafood Shack, the Mongolian Wok, Pasta Bella, Blue Iguana Cantina, Guy’s Pig & Anchor, the Lido Deck Marketplace (buffet) or the Main Dining Room.  There’s even a nice salad bar on Deck 15 in the adults-only Serenity area. Oh, don’t forget the 24 hour Pizza!

Evening dining has it’s options as well. You can make a reservation in the Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, JiJi’s Asian Kitchen or Cucina Del Capitano. (These restaurants have cover charges). We tried both JiJi’s and Cucina and were very pleased with both.

An interesting twist in the Liquid Lounge (main theater) is that the seating on the lower level is mostly movable chairs rather than the long benches that cruisers are used to. It seemed rather odd to me until I saw what they did during one of the production shows. They were able to move the chairs around to allow for extra staging right in the middle of the audience so more people got a close up view.  Very clever!

The Vista Lobby (Deck 3) has a major change from previous Carnival ships.  The glass elevators are gone as well as the 14 deck high atrium ceiling. In it’s place they have a low ceiling just 3 decks high, which results in a “small ship” feel, similar to the Princess ships. The Vista Lobby is a natural gathering place for various events and entertainment.

lobbychristmas tree    entertain

We even spotted a famous basketball player in Jamaica!
tall guy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course the Waterworks were busy keeping the kids and teenagers busy.

water
Mrs. Cruiseman wanted me to show you what she wants me to get for our home.
It’s an instant hand washer. It washes, rinses and sanitizes your hands in 12 seconds!
Just stick your hands in and it kicks into action.  Genius!

hand washer

We’d love to help you plan your next cruise vacation – on the Carnival Vista or maybe some other ship.  Give us a call @ (800) 889-7683

Be sure to visit us on Facebook & Twitter. We are also on Instagram now, as well.

In closing, please don’t be like these people.They waited until it was too late to enjoy traveling.

dont wait

 

 

 

Carnival Victory To Be Transformed And Renamed The Carnival Radiance in 2020

Carnival Victory2

Popular Branded Food, Beverage and Entertainment Innovations to be Added During 38-Day Renovation in Cadiz, Spain
MIAMI – Carnival Victory will undergo a bow-to-stern refurbishment in 2020 that will add a wide variety of popular branded food, beverage and entertainment innovations.  A surprise new dining option will make its debut on Carnival Radiance, as well.
The renovation will complete a $200 million enhancement program and the ship will be renamed Carnival Radiance following a 38-day dry dock which will take place in Cadiz, Spain, from March 18 to April 26, 2020.
Itineraries for the newly renamed Carnival Radiance will be announced and go on sale in mid-November.
This announcement follows previously announced plans to transform Carnival Triumph into Carnival Sunrise next year, part of the company’s eight-year, $2 billion fleetwide modernization program – the largest in cruising.
“Carnival Radiance will offer unprecedented opportunities for our guests to Choose Fun across our entire fleet and enjoy the widest variety of culinary, beverage and entertainment options at sea,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.  “This investment in Carnival Radiance and our many other refurbishment projects reflects our continued commitment to providing our guests with a fun, high quality vacation experiences across the Carnival fleet regardless of what ship they’re sailing on,” she added.
Carnival Radiance’s wide-ranging enhancements will include exciting new culinary, bar and entertainment enhancements detailed below:
Enticing F&B Innovations
  • Cucina del Capitano: offering delicious Italian favorites and new Carnival classics served family-style in an engaging atmosphere reminiscent of a cozy Italian home.
  • JavaBlue Café: this expanded version of the line’s popular coffee bars will offer lattes, cappuccinos and other caffeinated favorites, as well as “spiked” coffees made with liqueurs, and decadent confections.
  • Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse: a classic American steakhouse offering mouth-watering steaks, gourmet appetizers, entrees and dessertswith impeccable service and understated ambiance.
  • Bonsai Sushi: a full-service Asian restaurant offering a mouth-watering array of sushi, sashimi, rolls and other delicacies from the Far East.
  • The Chef’s Table: a new multi-course dining experience hosted in a special glass-enclosed venue in the forward dining room.
  • Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse: a open-air eatery featuring “real deal” BBQ favorites created by Food Network start and longtime partner Guy Fieri.
  • Lido Marketplace:  a casual poolside eatery boasting favorites like Seafood Shack offering lobster rolls and other New England-inspired fare; Pizzeria del Capitano serving hand-tossed artisanal-style pies free of charge 24/7, and an expanded Swirls venue with complimentary ice cream and frozen yogurt.
Spectacular Open Deck Attractions
  • SportSquare: a suspended ropes course offering heart-racing views to the sea 150 feet below, basketball court, jogging track, ping pong, foosball, pool tables, and a nine-hole miniature golf course highlight this open-area recreation complex.
  • WaterWorks: featuring a 203-foot-long AquaTunnel slide and Carnival’s signature 212-foot-long Twister slide along with a 75-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket and kiddie area.
  • Serenity Adult Only Retreat: an adults-only oasis offering plush chaise lounges, whirlpools and oversized umbrellas, enhanced by dramatic sea views.
Wait, There’s More!
  • Cloud 9 Spa:  designed as the ultimate refuge for rest and relaxation, the health and wellness center offers an elaborate thermal suite, private treatment rooms, and the latest cardio and weight-training equipment.
  • The Warehouse:  promising fun for all ages with a variety of the latest video and arcade games.
  • Expanded Retail Spaces:  a mall-style shopping experience featuring reimagined retail outlets with an expanded assortment of jewelry, watches, fragrances, along with the line’s own branded spaces including The Carnival Store.

For reservations on the all-new Carnival Radiance, call The Cruiseman  (800) 889-7683

Crystal Serenity Completes Extensive Redesign

The award-winning ship returns to the seas with new dining options, new Seabreeze Penthouses and Suites, new entertainment, technological enhancements and re-designed public spaces

Crystal Tables

MIAMI, November 9, 2018 – Emerging from an almost four-week dry dock in Bremerhaven, Germany, Crystal Serenity is ready to welcome luxury travelers aboard after its most extensive refurbishment ever. Mirroring the changes implemented aboard Crystal Symphony in fall of 2017, Crystal Serenity now boasts new dining options and open-seating dining; new spacious, butler-serviced Seabreeze Penthouse and Seabreeze Penthouse Suite accommodations; redesigned lounge and entertainment venues including the Stardust Club and Palm Court; a new production show called Crystal on Broadway, The Show; and new interactive technological amenities. Crystal Serenity sets sail from Lisbon tomorrow (November 10) on her first voyage since the completion of her redesign.

“The scope of this redesign is truly remarkable. Our ocean ships remain at the heart of our brand and our commitment to their continued excellence and success is unwavering,” said Crystal President and CEO Tom Wolber. “The changes aboard Crystal Serenity are a beautiful reaffirmation of Crystal’s timeless style and luxury,
which continues to evolve with the preferences of luxury travelers but will always be rooted in the cornerstones of genuine, personalized service, abundant space, superb quality and numerous choices.”

Every aspect of the ship’s redesign is intended to anticipate guests’ needs and exceed their expectations, while adding luxurious touches and conveniences that will enhance their experience even further.

“The new open-seating dining gives our guests the freedom to dine when, where and with whom they want, while the new restaurant options uniquely showcase and celebrate the flavors of the world we travel in,” Wolber continued. “The new Seabreeze accommodations are in direct response to guest demand for more suites that, of course, include our personalized butler service. And the redesigned lounges will make spaces that are already favorites among our guests even more versatile and inviting.”
The dry dock, which began in Lisbon on October 14 as Crystal Serenity made her way to the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, marks the latest milestone for the expanding Crystal portfolio. Details of the new spaces and experiences guests will find on board include:

New Dining Options
As open-seating dining debuts aboard Crystal Serenity, guests can dine where, when and with whom they choose, allowing them to indulge as they wish and affording more flexibility for evening entertainment. New venues are also debuting, offering a refreshed selection of globally inspired cuisine with reimagined décor, including:

Waterside – Taking the place of the Crystal Dining Room and reflecting the chic elegance of the main dining venues aboard Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Symphony, this centrally located restaurant continues to serve daily changing menus of international classic and modern cuisine, paired with unlimited fine wines, spirits and beers. The restaurant now features more intimate seating with tables for two and four, as well as contemporary finishes, integrated lighting, a new ceiling feature and “tile” treatment that creates a cozier atmosphere. Breakfast and lunch service times continue as they were previously, while guests have the freedom to dine in Waterside for dinner any time they choose. The dinner menu continues to be offered for room service dining during dinner hours.

The Marketplace and Churrascaria – The new daytime and evening identities of the former Lido Café, respectively. Both venues feature an open-kitchen concept with dishes made to order. The Marketplace serves an expansive menu of buffet-style breakfast and lunch options and transforms into Churrascaria during the dinner hours. This Brazilian-style bar-be-que welcomes guests with a traditional Caipirinha cocktail, then offers a selection of tapas and ceviche, salads and soups, vegetables and freshly grilled meat and seafood brochettes, served the traditional way with a “Crystal” twist. Crystal gauchos take meats directly from the grill to carve them tableside from sword-like skewers. Churrascaria offers open seating and does not require reservations.

Crystal Unbrellas

Silk Kitchen & Bar – In the Trident area of the ship that was formerly Tastes, this Asian-inspired venue serves traditional Chinese comfort food in an elegant al fresco atmosphere. Family-style favorites are on the menu for dinner, while lunch options include favorites from the noodle bar, wok dishes, traditional dumplings, Chinois soup and a small selection of favorite menu items from Tastes. Silk also serves Crystal’s late risers breakfast service. Silk offers open seating for breakfast and lunch and requires reservations for dinner.

Umi Uma – The rebranded Silk Road & The Sushi Bar continues to serve the Japanese-Peruvian specialties of Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa by his personally trained chefs and remains the only Nobu restaurants at sea. Dinner reservations are required for Crystal’s specialty restaurants, including Prego.

Stardust Supper Club – A brand new dining experience reminiscent of the era of the Rat Pack debuts on black-tie-optional evenings in the Stardust Club, featuring a four-course menu, live musical performances from Crystal’s Ensemble and string quartet. Cuisine reflects specialties served in Waterside, with wine pairings and desserts as well as a vegetarian menu.

Prego – The specialty restaurant continues to serve regional specialties of Italy in the cozy, authentic atmosphere guests have come to love.

Crystal Piano

Public Spaces
Palm Court, a favorite spot on board for gatherings of all sorts, has been reimagined with an intimate atmosphere. The stage has been relocated to an “in-the-round” concept, with a new modernized bar. More tables for two and intimate seating areas, new finishes, lighting, carpeting and furniture reflect the understated modern luxury of the Palm Court on Crystal Symphony. New touches include a combination of cocktail tables and chairs, dramatic wingback chairs with footstools, sofas and coffee tables. As Palm Court has long been a destination on board for traditional afternoon teatime and refreshments, the previous stage area has become a dedicated culinary space to feature fresh pastries and snacks as guests enjoy the sweeping views from the venue’s floor-to-ceiling windows.

Crystal Club

The Stardust Club – a popular nighttime spot for drinks and dancing – features a new dance floor, new bar finishes and a refreshed décor, resulting in a lighter and more spacious feel, with new lighting and technological upgrades as well. New seating configurations allows the room to be easily transformed into a multi-functional space to host the Stardust Supper Club and large gatherings from bridge tournaments to live evening entertainment.

In the Galaxy Lounge, the Crystal entertainment team is installing a new Broadway-style production show called Crystal on Broadway, The Show featuring songs from the hit musicals Rent, Something Rotten! and West Side Story. The show, which debuts on the December 7th “Pacific Coast Panorama” cruise, is a result of the partnership with Kevin McCollum, the multi Tony Award winning producer of Rent, Something Rotten! and the most recent Broadway revival of West Side Story.

Pulse and the Resorts World Casino at Sea have also been updated with new modern and warm-toned colored carpet and furnishings.

Crystal Bed

New Seabreeze Penthouses

On Deck 10, 36 new Seabreeze Penthouses and two Seabreeze Penthouse Suites now occupy the space of former Deluxe Staterooms with Verandah. The new accommodations, offer the same personal butler service, specialty services, walk-in closets, spa-like bathrooms and spacious square footage as the other Penthouses on board (367 sq. ft. and 491 sq. ft, respectively, including the verandah). Customized, contemporary design and décor are featured throughout, with gemstone-colored velvets, natural materials and brushed brass touches with marble details. The Seabreeze Penthouses also feature unique entries, which are shared between two suites and recessed from the hallway. This enables a seamless design for connecting two suites for larger families upon request. In-room specialty dining and unlimited reservations at specialty restaurants are among the enhanced services enjoyed by Penthouse guests.
The transformation effectively reduces the ship’s capacity from 1,070 guests to 980 guests, while the number of crew on board remains the same. A hallmark of Crystal’s onboard experience has long been a focus on copious amounts of space throughout its ships and one of the highest per-guest space and service ratios in the industry.

Technological Enhancements

In all rooms – public and guest suites – new, state-of-the-art HD flat-panel TVs have been added, featuring technology that allows guests to access a variety of information on their TVs including onboard folios, Crystal Life Spa & Salon menus, the Connoisseur Wine menu and daily restaurant menus. The new on-demand system also offers a vast library of blockbuster films and entertainment, as well as live views from the ship, broadcasts of ship lectures, presentations and destination info. Upgraded, pervasive Wi-Fi coverage throughout the ship is delivered via dedicated antennae in every suite and all public areas and open decks.

Crystal Wi-Fi

A new guest portal – Crystal Connect – is also now live, found on the landing page of onboard Internet service. Guests can access it from their smartphones, tablets or computers and instantly find shipboard and itinerary info, daily menus, shore excursions and port maps, daily issues of Reflections and an array of complimentary global newspapers and entertainment library. Crystal Serenity’s spacious enrichment facilities also were redesigned. The Computer University@Sea has received new carpeting, seating and computer equipment, along with 70-inch TVs. The multifunctional enrichment room, The Studio, has been divided to offer a classroom for language, art and other instruction and a separate dance studio for private lessons.

Crystal’s worldwide itineraries aboard the newly redesigned Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony are now available for booking for 2019, 2020 and 2021, offering travelers more than three years to plan their luxury vacations. Crystal also incentivizes guests who book early with thousands of dollars with its Book Now Savings program.

For reservations on a Crystal Cruise, call The Cruiseman; (800) 889-7683

Five Myths About Cruise Ship Food

eat

by Fran Golden, Special for USA Today June 26th, 2015

When you go on a cruise, food is an important part of the experience. Cruise lines have made great strides in bringing up the level of cuisine.

Food choices abound. For instance, on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, you can choose from 20 dining options; on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas there are 18 eateries. Even the pickiest foodies will be impressed by the appearance on cruise ships of dishes and restaurants by Michelin-star and celebrity chefs – the most recent Thomas Keller, arguably America’s top chef, who has signed on with luxury line Seabourn.

Here we dispel five myths about cruise ship food.

1. You’re stuck with what’s on the menu

lobster

If you have a craving for a particular dish, tell your waiter or the dining room maître d’. On many ships, particularly the luxury lines, you can make a special off-menu order – with 24-hour advance notice. For instance, a popular special request on Crystal Cruises is a whole roasted kosher chicken. On Seabourn, you might ask the chef to prepare a special order of foie gras. On Cunard, a popular request of top-tier Queens Grill passengers is Lobster Thermidor. Even on mainstream lines, with international crew in the kitchen, you can request adobo, the delicious Filipino stew, a real Indian curry or Indonesian fried rice. Note: Passengers with specific dietary needs such as food allergies should let the cruise line know well in advance of your sailing.

2. The buffet is not as good as the dining room

warm

Wrong. Obviously you won’t have the pomp and circumstance when you serve yourself at this casual venue, but don’t dismiss dinner at the buffet. We’re not talking a bland cafeteria lineup. Often the dishes at the buffet are the same at dinner as in the main dining room. Sometimes they are even better. Some buffets particularly shine: On Oceania Cruises ships, the Terrace Café has a grill where passengers can order all-you-can-eat lobster rib eye steaks, shrimp and lamb chops, and there’s also a chef preparing sushi and sashimi. On Viking Cruises’ Viking Star, a cold sushi and sashimi bar puts the buffet over the top. An advantage of buffet dining is it is come-as-you-are, no need to dress up.

3. it’s impossible to eat good nutritious food

prime

Cruises are probably not the best place to diet. That said, it’s perfectly okay to order, say, a salad and entrée for dinner and skip the appetizer, soup and dessert. Creativity shines on the latest cruise ship menus, with an emergence of more Asian and other lighter international cuisine – it’s no longer only about the prime rib and Baked Alaska, though you can get that too. You’ll find flavorful regional cuisine options (based on where you are cruising), local seafood and a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Most menus designate low-calorie or healthy choice options, and include a vegetarian appetizer and entrée (SeaDream Yacht Club even has a complete raw food menu). In all cruise ship dining rooms you can get basics such as grilled chicken. At the buffet, those watching their waistlines will find an extensive salad bar. At the burger grill you’ll find a veggie burger option.

4. Everyone goes to the midnight buffet

What midnight buffet? Most ships don’t even have one any more. Cruise lines have moved away from the late-night gorge fest/photo opp in favor of a 24-hour café or other dining spot where you can eat whenever you want. There’s also typically 24-hour room service, though some menus are better than others – on Viking you can order Norwegian salmon served with dill sauce whenever you like. Be aware that Norwegian and Carnival have been testing fees for room service (but have also expanded food options). Royal Caribbean charges $3.95 for orders placed between midnight to 5 a.m.

5. Food is included

OBX-Guys-Burger-Joint-5

First of all, you will not go hungry. There are plenty of free food options, in fact some of the best bites on the ship may be free – an example, we can’t stop eating those decadent Guy Fieri burgers on Carnival ships.

 

However, if you want a special meal in an intimate venue with fine service you’re probably have to pay. Specialty restaurants such as the excellent Italian venue Sabatini’s on Princess ships and French-influenced adults-only Remy on Disney Cruise Line are well worth the extra bucks (if you plan on hitting several of the venues see if there’s an advance-purchase, discounted dining package). If you’re so inclined, you can have surf and turf (lobster and filet mignon) every night in the dining room on Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships, but you’ll have to pay extra for it.