Admit it — one of the most attractive features of cruising is the near 24/7 availability of dining. Sure, we pretend not to like having all that food around, but — especially for families with young children — eating three meals a day in a restaurant is challenging over time, and having a range of options can help.
CruiseCompete, an online cruise marketplace that also examines consumer trends, looked into the family dining experience at sea and came up with four recommendations for fun, unique experiences for you and the kids.
This one might surprise you, but Cunard Line offers children’s tea parties on the Queen Mary 2 at the Chef’s Galley every afternoon, 4:45 to 5:30 p.m. Meanwhile, on the Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth, a children’s tea buffet is held in the Lido from 5 p.m. every day, as long as there are enough children on board under the age of 10. Parental supervision is required at these teas, but they’re probably not something you’d want to miss anyway.
You could write a whole book on the kid-friendly, themed dining on a Disney cruise. In a nutshell, all the main dining rooms feature a different theme based on popular Disney characters and movies, and children’s menus include such inventive fare as Mickey-shaped waffles, pizza, chicken, burgers and, of course, fun desserts.
Thanks to the rotational dining system, you can experience each of the three themed restaurants on board, moving to a new venue each night.
- The Royal Court Dining Room aboard the Disney Fantasy, and The Royal Palace aboard the Disney Dream, which highlight such Disney Princess favorites as Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
- Enchanted Garden Dining Room aboard the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream features a French Conservatory theme with glass flower lights and a fountain featuring a stone cherub Mickey.
- Tritons’s aboard the Disney Wonder is based on The Little Mermaid with Ariel statues and underwater décor.
- Carioca aboard the Disney Magic is named after Disney’s The Three Caballeros and offers a colorful Brazilian theme reminiscent of South American architecture.
- Lumiere’s aboard the Disney Magic is based on Beauty and the Beast.
Families who chafe under set dining times and locations will love Norwegian’s Freestyle Dining concept, which allows them eat wherever and whenever they want. Some specialty restaurants incur an added cost, but kids ages 3 and under always eat for free, and kids 4 to 12 can order from the complimentary kids’ menu at most specialty restaurants.
The My Family Time Dining feature is an option that ensures your kids will have dined within 40 minutes of being seated in the dining room. They can then join the Adventure Ocean children’s program to have fun in numerous activities, leaving parents to finish their meal at leisure.
My Family Time Dining is offered for the first seating time in the main dining room, for children ages 3 to 11, starting the second evening of the sailing.