1st time cruising: Buffets?! Really?! Do I have to?

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#1
Austin, TX
48 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Ok, so I have posted in the noob forum, as is proper and right. We will be cruising for the 1st time out of Galveston. I was told that out of RCI and CCL, CCL had better food?

Foodies, I have found you! Yay! I don't like artificial crap or HFCC in my food, but that doesn't mean I don't eat "junk food." I eat "bad for you" things, just not "non-food." For example: Doritos are a non-food. Fake sugar (splenda, aspartame) is non-food. Homemade/handcut fries, yes, but fast food? No. Any ice cream that comes from a "machine" and not a scoop is probably out. processed cheese should be illegal because real cheese is so awesome. Yeah, I'm *that* kind of food person, although I try not to shove it in people's faces when I'm with them. I explain it to you now because I have questions.

So buffets seem to be the option for eating outside of dinner time. Can you get served breakfast (and lunch on sea days) that they cook for you or are you limited to buffet? OR, can anyone who likes to chow on the same kinds food as I do enlighten me as to whether I will be able to tolerate the buffet? I mean, I suppose I will have to, but I'm not thrilled about the prospect of eating a bunch of frozen stuff or bland starchy stuff, ya know? (Look, I know how snobby I sound, but please have pity on me! I promise I'm actually nice in real life!)
#2
Tallahassee, FL
4,278 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
I've only sailed on CCL, so that's what I'm basing my answer on.

You can definitely get real food on the buffet. They have carving stations and other great food!

For breakfast, you have the option of either going to the buffet or eating in the dining room. They have about the same food, but the dining room is made to order.

On sea days the dining room is open for lunch, but when the ship is in port, you only option for food is the buffet.

I can tell you I have never had fake cheese on a ship ever.
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#3
Pennsylvania
1,608 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
I think Celebrity had pretty good food overall, but I've heard Princess is the best. I didn't think Carnival's food was "bad" however, when it's good, it's very good, and when it's bad, it's mediocre. My sole experience on RCCL was that the highs were very good, and the lows horrid.

It's a cruise, so certainly there are some allowances...the majority of the food onboard is probably frozen. That being said, most ships I've been on have a good variety of fresh fruit, fresh made breads (unsure on preservatives used here) and fresh vegetables with extensive salad bars. Most cruises have carving stations.

I imagine most if not all of the sauces are pre-made or frozen, I haven't had a hollandaise on board any ship that tasted like what I can make at home.

I have heard people say they get get more made to order food by explaining sensitivities or allergies to the maitre'd. Now, I can guaranty you'll get further explaining you have a problem with say, MSG or a high sodium diet, than you would just saying you prefer to have your food as preservative free as possible.

I feel your pain..fast food makes me physically ill because I now rarely rarely eat it.

I hope that helps.
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#4
Pennsylvania
1,608 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Oh, and every cruise line I've been on has "nice" cheese. Is it imported and made from raw milk? Doubtful. But they'll have bries and stiltons and aged cheddar.

BUT...they absolutely do have processed american singles and low fat swiss. Which in my opinion, does have it's place in a busy household on occassion, but I absolutely prefer the "real" stuff if I"m on vacation and don't need to slice and bring it to room temp myself.
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#5
Austin, TX
48 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Yay!

I feel better now! Also, I love how y'all all specifically mention the cheese: my kind of people.

I hate to use the "allergy" trick, because while I *do* have sensitivities to certain things, I don't think my throat would close up or anything. Although I suppose getting a rash would kind of suck on vacation. What do you do, just ask if what you are about to eat has MSG in it?

And yeah, while I dislike buffets, I kind of like carving stations and salads (maybe because I like cocktail parties and those are present there. hee hee!) Thanks for your answers! (And others, feel free to answer here, too!)
#6
Pennsylvania
1,608 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
On the first day of the cruise, just stop by guest services or the maitre'd of the MDR.

I would tell them you have sensitivities to certain additives and overly processed food. I would specifically say it makes you feel sick, or ill. There have been times I've asked if an ingredient in it, told no, receive a dish, and it has an ingredient in it that makes me ill (cooked tomatoes, for this purpose) and have been told, Oh, well if you told me you were allergic, I would have tried harder.

Occasionally there's a language barrier, but I'm sure they can find out what's freshly pre-pared versus what comes in a tube.

I would get info on buffet food as well..on port days the MDR is rarely open for Breakfast and Lunch, so that's your only option other than room service.
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#7
Fredericksburg, va. USA
83,778 Posts
Joined May 2001
I think almost every cruiseline serves breakfast and most lunches in the dining room...much nicer than the buffet, IMO.
Yes..they all have "real" food...no worries!
#8
Northern NJ
1,840 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
OK, here's my "non-biased" opinion based on talking to others. I work for a major supplier of food to all of the major cruise lines (we supply ingredients that they use in their preparation). Here's the scoop (RCCL from my experience, others from talking to the folks in my company who actually sell to the cruise lines):

Main Courses: RCCL prepares everything from scratch as do most others. There are a few (unfortunately I don't know the names) who take shortcuts and use prepared sauces and the like. All cruiselines have a master recipe for every item that is supposed to be followed by the onboard chefs, but, as we all know, sometimes a chef will take some liberties.

Breads and baked desserts: again, RCCL prepares everything from scratch onboard. I have been told that some lines (including CCL) does some on board, but a majority of their desserts are frozen and just finished on board.

This does not say anything about the quality of the products, just the preparation. as I have not personally experienced any line but RCCL (at least until sunday ) I can't tell you how the two lines compare head-to-head.

Either way, you can definitely get breakfast and lunch (at least on sea days) "cooked to order" in the dining rooms. Make sure that the Maitre 'D knows of any food sensitivities and remind the wait staff of them when you order. You will NOT have your usual dinner wait staff for breakfast and lunch.

Steve
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