When you’re enjoying a cruise, you’ll find that onboard dining is not just about delicious food, it’s about sharing company, fine conversation and tasting delicious wines from all around the world. However, with dress codes and fixed seating many people, quite understandably, have misconceptions of what’s expected from diners onboard. Here are five of the most common myths about mealtimes on cruise ships, examined against the reality you can expect.

Myth No.1: Booking a two-week cruise is a weight-gain guarantee

Some people think that just walking up the gangway will mean putting on five pounds. It’s true that there is a large variety of onboard food available all day and night, but cruise lines nowadays are ever more aware of the health concerns of their passengers. In addition to access to gym and sport facilities, you’ll have meal options like low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Leading names like Oceania Cruises source organic and locally produced ingredients to create wholesome meals where you’re not worrying about additives. What’s more, staff on every cruise line are there to help, and will be able to talk you through what meals best suit the health-conscious among us.

Myth No.2: Cruise lines are not able to accommodate special dietary needs

This is definitely a worry that you can cast aside. Every ship offers meals with vegetarian and vegan options on the menu, and in many cases chefs are able to accommodate requests such as gluten-free, diabetic options and low salt. Strictly Kosher and Halal foods may require products be sent to the ship beforehand, but in every case, it’s important to double check before you sail. Special requests such as baking birthday cakes, can easily be arranged as well.

In fact, many experts believe that cruises are leading the way for special dietary requirements ahead of any other kind of holiday. While every cruise line is doing superb work on this front, Seabourn has won a lot of praise for its thoughtful menu setup, where specialised dishes are listed in a separate subsection, which makes them easy to find.

Myth No.3: The food gets ‘samey’ after a while

Variety is one area where cruise ships excel – particularly ships from larger cruise lines like Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean®. Meals are prepared onboard by chefs who originate from the area you’re travelling to, and consist of a mix of international and regional specialities. So, for example, if you’re cruising in the Far East, meals will be a mixture of international and Asian specialities including the tastes of Thailand, China and Malaysia.

Myth No.4: I will have to sit at the same table every night

The range of places to eat and drink on your cruise has more variety now than ever. Most cruise packages will include meals in cafes, bars and selected onboard restaurants, at which there is usually open seating without any need for reservation. Speciality restaurants are a great opportunity for a change of scenery and a chance to dress up, celebrate a special occasion or try something new. Expect a modest cover charge for these restaurants and, if reservations are available, try to reserve a spot beforehand.

In fact, even the bar areas of your favourite cruise lines are finding ways to introduce light bites that are different to the norm. Princess Cruises is a standout here, since the Salty Dog Gastropub – found on many of its cruise ships – has a menu featuring lobster macaroni and cheese, smoky sticky ribs, pale ale pork cheeks the the Ernesto rib-eye burger, named for its culinary creator, Ernesto Uchimura.

Myth No.5: It’s compulsory to dress smartly

Cruising has a tradition of formal wear that dates back to the 19th century, but today cruise lines have largely relaxed their rules. Smart-casual wear is fine for most nights, and if you prefer to skip the formal wear altogether, opt for the buffet, bar or another more relaxed venue. Shirts with long sleeves, sensible shoes and long trousers are considered fine for dining onboard your cruise ship nowadays, so don’t agonise during the packing process, as it’s not altogether different from the restaurant attire you’d choose at home. That said, dinner over a Caribbean sunset is always going to be the more enticing proposition.

Cruising gives you plenty of chances to stretch your culinary boundaries. Take a look at our latest deals to start planning your next cruise.

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