Here are all the details about eating and drinking aboard the Empress of the Seas. I’ve detailed our experiences with My Time Dining and included hours of operation in the various venues. With very few exceptions we thought the food was great and I only gained about three pounds on this cruise!
The Windjammer buffet is located forward on Deck 10. This is where we ate most of our breakfasts, lunches and snacks. There are separate sections for salads, desserts, and sandwich/grill items. I always found a delicious fish dish on the main course line. At one end of the salad bar was my heart’s delight–the cheese bar! Three cheeses and Italian cold cuts were available for both lunch and dinner. Each evening the Windjammer as well as the main dining room have themed meals as follows:
6:00 am-7:00 am Continental Breakfast
7:00 am-10:45 am Breakfast Buffet
11:30 am-2:45 pm Lunch Buffet
3:30 pm-5:00 pm Afternoon Snack
6:00 pm-9:00 pm Dinner Buffet
10:30 pm-12:30 am Late Night Snack
12:30 am-1:30 am Late Night Sandwich Bar
You really could eat all your meals in the Windjammer and be perfectly well fed–although we enjoy the service and socializing in the the main dining room.
Starlight Dining Room
The two fixed seatings are at 5:30 pm and 8:00 pm. We signed up for My Time Dining which runs from 5:15 pm to 9:00 pm. On embarkation day, we went to the main dining room to make our My Time Dining reservations. The only times that were available were 5:15 and anytime after 8:00 pm, even though we told them that we would sit at a large table. We made our reservation for 8:00 and ate there that night at a table for two, but this was the only night that we kept our reservation. On all of the other nights, we just showed up at a time that was convenient for us, and were always seated immediately at a shared table.
Fixed seating diners are assigned tables in the lower dining room on Deck 4, while My Time diners are seated in the mezzanine on Deck 5. We always had the same wait team and they were fantastic.
On our two sea days, there was a nice brunch buffet in the Starlight from 9:30 am-12:30 pm. They served free mimosas at the brunch.
We enjoyed all our meals in both the Windjammer and the main dining room. Everything that we ordered was very good, with two notable exception. The Minestrone soup tasted like they had used canned pork and beans as a base. The corvina (fish) that we ordered one night had a very strong fish flavor because it contained a lot of dark flesh. I ordered fish every night, and with the exception of the corvina, it was all properly cooked and tasty. Even the grilled fish in the Windjammer was good–how do they keep it so moist? I ended up eating fish three times a day–smoked salmon for breakfast, and different fish dishes for lunch and dinner. I never even had to order the default salmon which is always on the menu.
A caveat–we were happy with the free dining options and did not eat in the specialty restaurants.
“The New American Steakhouse”
Open 6:00 pm-9:30 pm
$35 per person cover charge, includes gratuities
“Exclusive multi course, wine pairing dinner”
Open 6:00 pm- onwards
$85 per person cover charge, includes gratuities–allow 2-3 hours for dinner
24 hour station on the pool deck. I thought the coffee was pretty good but many complained it was too strong. You can get specialty coffees in the Cafe Royal located inside the Boleros Lounge.
There is a soft-serve ice cream cone station on the pool deck. It is NOT self-service and was available from about noon to about 9:00 pm
There is a $7.95 service charge. We never used it. We need to climb the six flights of steps up to the Windjammer to burn some calories.
Bars and Drink Packages
We had great service in all of the bars. They automatically add an 18% service charge. We carried two bottles of wine on board, got wine glasses in the Schooner Bar, and enjoyed our wine in our stateroom. I did a little survey of people who had the drink packages (for blog purposes!) Everyone I asked said that they were happy with the quality of the wines they got with the package. The Deluxe drink package is $61 per person per day PLUS an 18% gratuity.
Drinks of the Day
Day 1–Tampa Melon–club rum, Midori melon liqueur, pineapple juice, Sprite
Day 2–Citrus Cooler–vodka, Triple Sec, orange juice, Sprite
Day 3–Royal Lemonade–vodka, lemonade, Sprite
Day 4–Port Side Punch–rum, Malibu, Peach Schnapps
Day 5–Mai Tai–rum, Disaronno, pineapple, orange, Grenadine
My next blog post will feature the outstanding crew and entertainment on the Empress of the Seas!