Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cruise Tip: Eating and Drinking Ashore

CELEBRITY CONSTELLATION, ORANJESTAD, ARUBA — Every time I am on a cruise and go ashore in any particular port I see people from whatever ship I am on going into local restaurants and ordering meals. I don’t get this at all and, for the most part, would recommend against it for anyone on a cruise.

In short, if you’re on a cruise then you’ve already paid for your food, and you are essentially paying twice for any meals that you eat while off the ship. And I have never, frankly, been on a cruise where the food was not great (I have also never been on one where I did not hear some other people complaining about the food, of course, but this generally represents a personality type and such people might as well save their money too and not bother buying meals ashore that they are going to also be displeased with).

Drinking ashore is, of course, generally another matter altogether, in that alcoholic beverages — and even soda — is not generally included in most cruise fares. Drink prices are not generally going to be much different ashore than on board a cruise ship, so it makes perfect sense to have a few drinks in port if you are so inclined.

Of course, I am willing to accept that there should be exceptions to these suggestions. When my wife and I were on a cruise in the Mediterranean a couple of years ago, for example, the shipboard menus did not include any sort of regional cuisine, which had very much been hoping for. Because of our craving for Greek food, we ended up having a couple of very nice meals ashore, notably in Mykenos and Santorini (where I had delicious fried sardines and an excellent cuttlefish stew, respectively).

Likewise, if you’re away from the ship for an extended period of time while in port then it may not behoove you to save money at the cost of going hungry. There may be some good alternatives available to you, however, as follows:

• Try ordering room service before going ashore and asking when you call for it if they are able to wrap it up for you (assuming you are in a port where bringing food ashore is not prohibited).

• Many excursions offer food in their price and, if you are going to be away for the ship for awhile on one, then you might want to select one of those that do.

• Nuts, crackers, and other snack-type items might be available in the shipboard buffet and easily wrapped up in napkins or placed in a bag and taken ashore with you.

So, there are options and exceptions to weigh when you are considering eating ashore. All factors being the same, however, make the most of your money by eating on board your cruise ship — but feel free to drink at the establishments at whatever ports-of-call you happen to be at!

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