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What is Specialty Dining? I thought the food was included on a cruise.

First, and foremost, yes your food is included in your cruise fee. You can go through your entire cruise without purchasing any additional food. Cruise lines have main dining rooms and buffet areas that are open during the majority of the cruise for your dining pleasure. A few years ago, cruise lines decided that they wanted to offer unique and more intimate experiences for customers who wanted them. This is when Specialty Dining was born. Specialty Dining gives customers the opportunity for a more upscale and private dining experience. Some people love Specialty Dining so much that they do it every night while others might just go to a Specialty Dining restaurant one night to perhaps celebrate a special occasion.

Do all cruise lines have Specialty Dining?
No. Many of the luxury cruises have less passengers and higher end restaurants on board that serve all the customers included in the cruise fare. However, many of the contemporary and premium cruise lines have at least a few specialty dining restaurants.

How do you pay for Specialty Dining and how much does it cost?
There are a few ways to pay for Specialty Dining. There are promotions here and there that will give you a free meal in a Specialty Dining restaurant. Many of the cruise lines have packages where you can by 1, 2 or 3 nights in a Specialty Dining restaurant. These packages can be bought on board or prior to traveling. One thing to remember is that if you are going to use On Board Credit, you must purchase these packages on board. Lastly, you can charge to fee to your room and it will be paid for when you reconcile your account at the end of the cruise.  As for costs, the fee will vary but they are typically a flat rate for the full meal. Also remember, your gratuities are included in the gratuities that you pay at the end of the cruise.

How do a get a seat in a Specialty Dining restaurant?
While technically you can walk up to a Specialty Dining restaurant and get a table, I would not recommend this. These restaurants are intentionally small and intimate which means that there are not a lot of seats. As a result, you could be told there is no space of the evening. I would instead recommend making a reservation. Reservations can be made with the concierge and with some cruise lines you can even make reservations ahead of your departure.

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