Dining on a River Cruise

River cruising is delicious. It’s one of the highlights: cuisine served onboard always reflects the destination you’re visiting. If you’ve never been on a river cruise before, you may have questions regarding dining logistics because yes, it’s a river cruise and they like to do things a bit differently from ocean cruises.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Breakfast and dinner are included everyday. Most lunches are included as well, but depending on your itinerary, you may see yourself exploring ashore come lunch time. Check your itinerary to see when lunch won’t be served on the ship.

continental breakfast river cruise

Just part of the spread of the continental breakfast aboard AmaWaterways AmaLyra sailing the Danube River. Photo courtesy of Aaron Saunders, FromTheDeckChair.com.

Breakfast is served buffet style and you can get omelettes made to order. If you’re an early riser and the buffet isn’t set up yet, you can a continental breakfast and coffee beforehand. Aboard an Avalon ship, you can order room service for breakfast. It’s included in the cruise fare. If you woke up later and missed the buffet, continental breakfast is still available.

Lunch is usually a buffet, too of salad and sandwiches. However, you can also order off the menu for hot entrees. AmaWaterways, Viking and Uniworld offer wine and beer with lunch and they’re included in the river cruise fare.

Dinner dishes are good portion servings and well-presented. Free flowing wine and beer are served complimentary as part of the river cruise experience at dinner.

Dinner on the Danube River aboard AmaWaterways AmaLyra

Dinner aboard AmaWaterways AmaLyra. Photo courtesy of Aaron Saunders, FromTheDeckChair.com.

As with ocean cruises, you are free to come and go as you wish. If you prefer to enjoy your meals at a restaurant ashore, that’s fine, too. Make sure you get back to the ship on time. Otherwise, you’ll have to find your way back to the next port of call on your own.


Dinner is open seating. A table for two on a river cruise ship, you won’t get. You’ll be dining with other people every night which is a good way to get to know your fellow travelers and exchange travel stories and tips. If you happen to make new friends with other passengers, you can always dine together, too.

Dietary Restrictions

If you have any restrictions on your diet, be sure to advise you River Cruise Specialist at least one month before your trip. Whether it’s allergies, or a diabetic diet or low cholesterol, reasonable requests can be accommodated. It would also be a good idea to let the Maitre d’ know, as well. If it’s more common like vegetarian, low-salt, or gluten-free, chefs onboard will usually be able to prepare something for you easily.

For more information on river cruising, follow us on Twitter @RiverCruiseExp and Facebook.

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