Cruise Ship Dining Alert: Dishes to Skip on Your Next Voyage

Ah, the allure of a cruise ship buffet – an endless sea of culinary delights stretching as far as the eye can see. But beware, hungry traveler! Not all that glitters is gastronomic gold. While cruise lines pride themselves on offering a smorgasbord of delectable options, there are certain dishes that even the most adventurous foodie should steer clear of. From soggy salads to questionable seafood, we’re about to embark on a journey through the treacherous waters of cruise ship dining. So grab your fork (and maybe a life jacket) as we dive into the dishes you should never order on a cruise ship. Trust us, your taste buds – and your stomach – will thank you later.

1. Buffet Scrambled Eggs

Picture this: You’ve just woken up, ready to start your day at sea with a hearty breakfast. As you approach the buffet, you spot a mountain of yellow fluff masquerading as scrambled eggs. Stop right there! These buffet-style scrambled eggs are often the culinary equivalent of a shipwreck. Made from powdered or liquid egg mixes, they’re a far cry from the fluffy, farm-fresh eggs you might be craving.

The problem isn’t just the ingredients – it’s also the preparation method. These eggs are typically cooked in large batches and left to sit under heat lamps, slowly transforming into a rubbery, unappetizing mess. As time passes, they can become dry, watery, or worst of all, a strange combination of both. It’s like trying to eat a sponge that’s been left out in the rain – not exactly the breakfast of champions.

But fear not, egg enthusiasts! There’s a simple solution to satisfy your breakfast cravings. Instead of settling for the buffet’s sad excuse for scrambled eggs, make a beeline for the omelet station. Here, you can watch as a skilled chef cracks fresh eggs and whips up a made-to-order masterpiece just for you. Not only will you get a fresher, tastier meal, but you’ll also have the opportunity to customize your breakfast with an array of delicious fillings. Now that’s how you start your day on the high seas!

2. Sushi from the Buffet

Let’s be honest – the words “buffet” and “sushi” should never be in the same sentence, especially when you’re miles away from the nearest port. While the idea of unlimited raw fish might seem tempting, buffet sushi on a cruise ship is a roll of the dice you don’t want to take. The main issue here is freshness – or rather, the lack thereof.

Sushi is at its best when it’s prepared right before consumption. On a cruise ship buffet, however, those colorful rolls could have been sitting out for hours. As time passes, the quality deteriorates rapidly. The rice can become hard and dry, the nori (seaweed wrap) loses its crispness, and the fish… well, let’s just say it’s not getting any fresher. It’s like watching a beautiful sunset in reverse – what started as a vibrant, appetizing dish slowly fades into a sad, unappetizing shadow of its former self.

But the concerns go beyond mere taste. Raw fish requires careful handling and strict temperature control to remain safe for consumption. In a busy buffet setting, maintaining these standards can be challenging. The risk of foodborne illness is simply not worth the fleeting pleasure of a mediocre California roll. Instead of gambling with your gut, seek out the ship’s dedicated sushi restaurant if you’re craving some Japanese cuisine. Here, skilled chefs prepare fresh sushi to order, ensuring both quality and safety. Your taste buds – and your stomach – will thank you for making the wiser choice.

3. Self-Serve Soft Ice Cream

Ah, the siren call of the self-serve ice cream machine – a staple on many cruise ships that promises endless swirls of creamy delight. But before you grab that cone and start pumping, consider this: that ice cream dispenser might be dishing out more than just dessert. These machines are potential hotbeds for germs, with hundreds of hands touching the same lever throughout the day.

Think about it – how many people have used that machine before you? How many of them washed their hands properly? It’s like playing a game of bacterial roulette, where the prize is a potential stomach bug that could leave you quarantined in your cabin instead of enjoying the Caribbean sun. And let’s not forget about the quality of the ice cream itself. These machines often serve a lower-grade product that’s pumped full of air to achieve that soft-serve consistency. It’s more ‘ice’ than ‘cream’, if you catch our drift.

But don’t despair, dessert lovers! There are safer and tastier alternatives aboard your floating paradise. Many cruise ships boast specialty ice cream or gelato shops where trained staff serve up scoops of the good stuff. Not only is this more hygienic, but the quality is often leagues above the self-serve variety. You might pay a little extra, but trust us – your taste buds will consider it money well spent. And if you’re really craving that soft-serve experience, use a napkin to operate the machine or ask a crew member to serve you. After all, nothing ruins a vacation faster than an unwanted bout of the cruise ship blues!

4. Oysters and Other Raw Shellfish

Oysters might be considered a delicacy on land, but when you’re out at sea, they’re more like a game of Russian roulette for your digestive system. While cruise ships strive to maintain the highest standards of food safety, raw shellfish are notoriously tricky to keep fresh, especially when you’re days away from the nearest port. These slippery little devils are particularly prone to spoilage and can harbor all sorts of nasty bacteria if not handled with the utmost care.

The problem isn’t just about freshness – it’s also about temperature control. Raw oysters and other shellfish need to be kept at very specific temperatures to remain safe for consumption. On a moving ship with fluctuating ambient temperatures, maintaining this delicate balance can be challenging. And let’s face it, nothing puts a damper on your vacation quite like a bout of seafood-induced food poisoning. Imagine spending your Caribbean cruise hugging the toilet instead of a palm tree – not exactly the paradise you signed up for, is it?

But don’t worry, seafood lovers – all is not lost! There are plenty of delicious and safe seafood options available on cruise ships. Opt for cooked shellfish dishes instead, where the heat has killed off any potentially harmful bacteria. Grilled shrimp, steamed crab legs, or a hearty seafood chowder can satisfy your craving without the risk. And if you absolutely must have your oyster fix, save it for when you’re back on dry land. Your stomach will thank you, and you’ll be free to enjoy all the other amazing experiences your cruise has to offer – without frequent trips to the ship’s medical center!

5. Day-Old Pizza

Pizza – the ultimate comfort food, right? Well, not when it’s been sitting under a heat lamp for hours on end. Many cruise ships offer 24/7 pizza stations, which sounds great in theory. But in practice, it often means you’re getting a slice that’s seen better days. That congealed cheese and cardboard-like crust are telltale signs that your pizza has been waiting for you a bit too long.

The problem with day-old pizza goes beyond just taste and texture. As pizza sits out, it enters the danger zone – a temperature range where bacteria can multiply rapidly. While the heat lamps are meant to keep the pizza warm, they can also create a perfect breeding ground for foodborne pathogens. It’s like a microbial party, and your stomach is definitely not on the guest list. Plus, let’s be honest – there’s nothing quite as sad as a slice of pizza that’s past its prime. The cheese loses its gooey allure, the toppings become a soggy mess, and the once-crispy crust turns into a sad, floppy disappointment.

But don’t let this put you off your pizza fix entirely! Many cruise ships have pizzerias that make fresh pies throughout the day. If you’re craving a slice, head to one of these spots and ask for a freshly made pizza. You might have to wait a few minutes, but the result will be infinitely better than the sad, stale slices languishing under the heat lamp. Remember, a little patience goes a long way when it comes to good food. And hey, you’re on vacation – what’s the rush? Enjoy the process, savor the anticipation, and then dig into a piping hot, perfectly crispy slice of heaven. Now that’s amore!

6. Buffet Items in Creamy Sauces

Ah, the allure of a creamy sauce – it can make almost anything taste better. But when it comes to cruise ship buffets, these rich, velvety concoctions can be more foe than friend. Dishes like eggs Benedict, butter chicken, or that tempting macaroni and cheese might look inviting, but they can quickly turn into a culinary disaster when left sitting out for extended periods.

The problem lies in the delicate nature of these sauces. As they sit in the buffet trays, they begin to separate and break down. What started as a smooth, creamy delight can transform into an unappetizing mess of oil and clumps. It’s like watching a beautiful painting slowly melt before your eyes – fascinating, perhaps, but not something you want to eat. Moreover, these dishes are often breeding grounds for bacteria, especially if they’re not kept at the proper temperature. The combination of dairy, heat, and time can create a perfect storm for foodborne illnesses.

7. Pre-Made Room Service Breakfast

There’s something undeniably luxurious about having breakfast delivered to your cabin. The idea of waking up to a spread of morning delights without having to leave your bed sounds like the epitome of vacation indulgence. However, that pre-made room service breakfast might not be the treat you’re expecting. Many cruise lines prepare these meals hours in advance, leaving them to sit in holding areas before they make their way to your door.

The result? Cold eggs, soggy toast, and coffee that’s lost its steam – literally. Those perfectly crisp bacon strips you were dreaming of? They’re now limp and greasy. And let’s not even talk about the state of that fruit salad that’s been macerating in its own juices for who knows how long. It’s like receiving a postcard from breakfast – a sad reminder of what could have been, arriving long after the moment has passed.

But don’t let this dampen your breakfast spirits! There are better ways to start your day at sea. Consider heading to the main dining room for a freshly prepared breakfast. Many cruise lines offer a-la-carte options that are cooked to order. If you’re really set on dining in your pajamas, look for room service menus that allow you to specify delivery times. This way, you can ensure your breakfast is prepared closer to when you’ll actually be eating it. Remember, a great breakfast sets the tone for your entire day – don’t settle for less when you’re supposed to be living your best vacation life!

Emma Bates
Emma Bates
Emma is a passionate and innovative food writer and recipe developer with a talent for reinventing classic dishes and a keen eye for emerging food trends. She excels in simplifying complex recipes, making gourmet cooking accessible to home chefs.

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