Special Dietary needs
Don’t be shy about asking for something in the dining room, they should be able to accommodate all dietary needs and if necessary provide food that isn’t on the days menu. They can often give you items from the previous day’s menu or children’s menu too.
If you have special dietary needs (eg food intolerances), it is best to make a note of this on your cruise booking (either call the travel agent, or fill out your passenger details on the Princess website) – this helps the ship prepare enough special needs food items (gluten free/non-dairy etc.) and know how many guests on board require special food items.
Talk to the head waiter of the dining room about your needs on the first evening and he can arrange to have meals made specially for you. Each day has a set menu, however they can bring the next day’s menu to you each evening so you can select items that can be prepared to your dietary needs (eg making gluten free versions), or arrange alternative options. This information will be stored by cabin number, so the next evening just inform your wait staff that you have pre-ordered and what your cabin number is. In some cases, such as being both gluten and dairy free – you may be offered a surprise dessert each evening where you don’t get to choose what it is or know what you’ll get, but it will be made for your needs.
If dining at the buffet, if you inform staff there of your dietary needs, they will be able to tell you which foods are safe for you to eat. Be aware though that in the buffet the risk of cross contamination is higher than in the dining room. Your choices may be limited here as they don’t prepare anything specially for guests with intolerances. (The dining rooms are better for this reason).
Gluten free pizza can be ordered from the onboard pizza place (outside near the pool), however there is a longer wait (about 30mins) for this to be cooked – you will also receive a whole 12” pizza, rather than a single slice, so find a pizza buddy to share with! The hamburger place next to this has chips which should be gluten free.
The ship does have gluten free bread and desserts, but does not have things like crackers (in fact there are no crackers/chips and other savoury nibbles served). So if you’d like to enjoy some cheese and crackers, nuts or other such items, you may like to BYO crackers onboard (in sealed packets only) and then you can take cheeses and other things from the buffet to eat with them.
Drinks that are included (free)
The Buffet (Horizon Court) has free teas, iced tea, coffee, water and (plain) milk. At breakfast fruit juices are also free. At lunch they have free lemonaid (the old fashioned kind made from squeezed lemons).
Main Dining Rooms – These have free tea, coffee, water and (plain) milk.
Room Service – You can order standard tea and coffee from room service for free.
Elsewhere on the ship – Bars will have free water – usually there will be jugs of iced water and glasses for you to help yourself. You may be able to order a free iced tea (I’ve personally not done this but I have heard you can). During the “Movies under the stars” servers sometimes walk around serving free cold milk. To get a cup of tea other than going to the Horizon court, you can order a cup of boiled water and bring your own teabag/milk.
Water onboard is heavily chlorinated but is otherwise just as clean (or cleaner since it has frequent testing) than your water at home. If you don’t like the chlorine taste you can leave an uncapped bottle of water open in the fridge overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate off.
It is not permitted to fill your own drink bottles or insulated cups directly from the machines at the buffet drinks station (for hygiene reasons, to prevent people touching the equipment with any portion of their drink bottle/cup that has touched their mouth), however you can fill one of their provided cups and pour that into your bottle/cup – This allows you to carry drinks around the ship. You can also fill drink bottles from your bathroom tap and leave them in your cabin fridge.
Drinks that are NOT free (these cost extra)
International Cafe – All drinks here are charged extra I believe (although there may be the free water jug). They serve speciality coffee/chai/Hot chocolate, fruit juices etc.
Elsewhere on the ship – All alcoholic drinks and softdrinks. All bottled water. All minibar items.
– Note: When ordering wine at dinner, it’s cheaper to order a bottle, even if you only want one glass per night – the waiter will store the bottle of wine for you so you can have another glass the following nights. You can bring your own wine onboard but it will have a $15 corkage charge added when consumed in the dining rooms (this may still work out cheaper than buying wine on the ship if you normally drink inexpensive wine)
Food that is included (free)
All food at the buffet (Horizon court), meals in the main dining rooms (Breakfast, lunch and dinner), food from the international cafe (open 24 hours, has sandwiches, salads, pies, cakes etc), Food from the outdoor food places (soft-serve icecream / chips / burgers / pizza / popcorn) – Although some special icecream toppings (Sundaes) do cost extra
Room service is free, other than pizza which has a $3 charge.
Food that is NOT free (these cost extra)
Sabatini ($25) and Crown Grill ($29) specialty restaurants have a set charge for a 3 course meal. Food served at the Vines wine bar is free with a purchase of wine. Some room service items may have additional charges (like $3 delivery charge for pizza). There is an “Ultimate dining” experience which costs extra (Around $40 for breakfast and $100 for dinner), which includes alcohol and food for 2 people.
There are 3 drinks packages you can order (for an extra fee) – that give you discounted/unlimited drinks. However it is advised to check what is offered to see if it would be good value for you.
Coffee package/card – Approx $40-$50
Current pricing is unknown as you must purchase these while onboard the ship – so pricing is an estimate only. This entitles you to 15 specialty coffees/teas, and unlimited brewed coffees/teas/hot chocolates. You may share the specialty coffees (eg give one to a friend) but not the free brewed drinks. This can be used at the International Cafe and some bars, but cannot be used in the dining rooms or for room service. Any remaining drinks not redeemed are not refundable.
The following soda and alcohol packages are priced at a per day charge, for the entire cruise. You should consider if this is good value for you or not, as you will be charged for the final day (where we disembark at around 9am), and any port days when you are likely to be off the ship for most of the day. So buying drinks individually may end up to be a cheaper option overall. Both passengers in the cabin are *NOT* required to both buy the package, however you are not allowed to share the drinks. So you cannot have one person buy the package and supply drinks to another.
“Unlimited Soda and more” – Approx $80 (for our 8 day cruise)
Includes all “fountain” soda/softdrink (drinks from the hose machine, not bottled/canned) as well as fruit juices, mocktails and hot chocolate. While there is a mocktail menu, you can also request “virgin cocktails” of other cocktails as well. The individual price for mocktails is about $5.50 and softdrinks about $3. So if you would drink more than 2 mocktails or 3 softdrinks a day (each day) then this package may be good value for you.
Tip with the mocktails. They are very sweet, so if you’d like to avoid so much sugar, order them half strength!
“Premium beverage package” – Approx $666 (for our 8 day cruise)
This package works out to cost you about $83 per day, so unless you’d drink more than that every single day, it’s not good value – remembering that your final morning on the ship is also included as a day. This package does however include other kinds of drinks not just alcoholic. It includes fountain soda, bottled water, cocktails, spirits, wine by the glass, beers, coffee and tea (individual drinks of a value up to $16 each). A 25% discount on all bottles of wine when purchased in bars, dining room or specialty restaurants. (Although since you’re not allowed to share, I’m not sure if you are able to buy a bottle of wine to share with your table). As a guide, you would need to drink at least 7 glasses of wine or about 8 cocktails, or 21 special coffees each and every day just to break even.