What to eat when you cruise

OK so we have all heard the jokes about cruising.  Plan to put on at least a pound a day.  Can you imagine how overweight you would be if you did the latest and longest world cruise.  Viking Cruises is pushing hard to beat the world record for the number of days in a world cruise and I think they might just do that at 245 days.  Wow – imagine putting on 245 pounds.  We would all be rolling off the ship at the end and would not be admitted back to Canada because our passports would bear no similarity to our new pudgy post cruise figures!

Yes – cruising – It’s all about the food – that never-ending buffet that we religiously visit each day.  As the ships get bigger so do the buffet areas and it just takes that much longer to get yourself organized.   

So here’s the plan.

Out of the elevator and join the line up for the obligatory hand washing ceremony.  It seems that with the outbreaks of noro virus on the cruise ships have encouraged many cruise lines to install sinks with taps and soap so you can properly wash your hands before getting anywhere NEAR the food.

Now with clean hands carefully approach the buffet being mindful of the traffic flow as those exiting with full plates make their way to a table with determination and fierce concentration.  Then a quick squiz of the area.

SQUIZ ….. “a look or glance, esp an inquisitive one. Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers. Word origin of ‘squiz‘ C20: perhaps a blend of squint and quiz.”

Check out the salads – no need to do the desserts as I won’t be partaking – then on to the warming pans.  Usually the dish is written on a sign on the front of the pan but that doesn’t mean anything.  You have to look so that means easing the top off and taking a look at what “braised beef and vegetables” really is.  Sometimes you might be surprised – or disappointed.

Look, food is pretty important and can make or break your cruise – but one man’s meat is another man’s poison and you will find wildly differing views on cruise food.  Some reviews are so passionately angry they are almost funny.  Like this one ….

The XXXXXXX cafe offered cheap food. Lots of pasta & mac & cheese. Hot dog tempura??? Seriously? I asked a server what time the cafe closes, & she said 930pm. Along with a quip of “we have to sleep sometime”. At 930pm sharp, the lights go off & you are left with nothing.  Food tables are roped off. No kidding.

Oh dear – he or she sounds really hangry.  Maybe this review was written in the dead of night in an inside cabin somewhere on the high seas.

Others describe meals on the cruise ship as being akin to “school dinners”.    Honestly, growing up in England I loved school dinners so I can’t really see that as an insult.  However when you consider the thousands of meals that are prepared daily on the cruise ships of the world, spare a thought for the poor chefs down in the galley – it can’t be easy!

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. Hi Leslie,
    If going for a buffet only, always get there at opening time or a 1/2 hour after, as the food does deteriorate fairly quickly in those warming pans and/or it’s been picked apart by the dolts who’ve been there before you.
    Also, by being first or tenth in line, you have a reasonable assurance that the food hasn’t been sneezed or coughed upon – well not too many times!!!



    1. Larry – I can tell you have a great deal of experience 🙂 Good tips for sure. Although in fairness to the buffet staff I have noticed that the pans are regularly refilled – I guess all that sea air makes us greedy for more and the food goes pretty quickly!


  2. We visit the buffet on embarkation but rarely go back. There are better choices on board & I like to check out the restaurants & enjoy the service.


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