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8 Foods You Should Avoid on a Cruise — and What to Eat Instead

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Here’s What to Avoid on Cruises:

The good old stereotype would say that cruising is synonymous with overindulgence: relaxing, gambling, and particularly eating and drinking. For plenty of cruisers, when it comes to getting their fill of tasty eats, they head right into the buffet.

Whether you love them or hate them, buffets serve as the mother lode on most ships, where hungry cruisers can easily get their hands on everything. We’re talking light bites, dense delights, and all the tasty dishes in between.

The cherry on top? They have the option to shamelessly go back for more self-served seconds, thirds, and sometimes even more. However, it’s still worth asking ourselves: Is there anything we should avoid getting? To make the best-informed buffet choices, we made a list of things you should avoid and what you could eat instead:

sushi cruise food
Photo by Sabrina Suppers from Shutterstock


Even if cruise lines take safe food handling very seriously, at the end of the day, nothing is really foolproof. So if you’re feeling lucky, go to the casino, but don’t gamble with the freshness of that spicy tuna roll. If there’s sushi on the buffet and you can’t really tell for how long it’s been there, you might want to consider giving it a pass for something you can see being made right in front of you.

Soft serve ice cream cones

If you’re anything like us, you probably use your dominant hand to work the lever on the soft-serve machine. The thing is, that lever sees plenty of other hands, both clean and otherwise, right before switching the cone to the same hand that recently touched the lever in question.

You might want to avoid the ick factor by simply using a napkin to pull down the level or switching to a bowl instead of a cone.

Scrambled eggs

That vat of scrambled eggs you usually see on the buffet at breakfast every morning is probably powdered. Well, it’s worth mentioning that powdered eggs can sometimes be wet or squishy. Instead, you might want to opt for a trip to the made-to-order egg and omelet station.

However, make sure you eat both the egg whites and the egg yolks. Despite what we’ve always been told, egg yolks don’t really raise your cholesterol. They contain something known as “good” fats, which might help you stabilize blood sugar very early in the day.

This way, you will be less likely to snack on sweets from the buffet later on. And there’s really no way to know how long that tub of raw egg whites has been sitting out, especially if it was right next to the grill.

Old pizza

If the pizza has that congealed cheese aspect, then it’s probably been sitting out for a while, especially if it’s a non-peak dining time. However, you shouldn’t feel bad about asking for a new piece of pie or heading to the onboard pizza shop. Every ship has one!

Communal condiments

Giant bottles of shared ketchup, mustard, and any other condiment can easily breed germs because everyone touches them. You can ask the buffet staff to add your condiments for you or even give you an individual single-serve condiment package.

If both are a no-go, you could also use a napkin to dispense what you need and maybe apply some hand sanitizer before handling your food.

Compromised food

If you notice the person in front of you is touching the food and putting it back, then it’s easy to tell that someone else has contained a vegetable-only dish by using the wrong utensils. Also, if you notice the tongs have fallen completely into the food, including the handle and everything, you need to alert a crew member.

Also, make sure you avoid taking any of the potentially contained dishes until they’ve been completely replaced with fresh ones.

cruises plates
Photo by evgenii mitroshin from Shutterstock

More than one plate at a time.

We know you must be excited about all the free food and the buffet, but there’s really no need to hoard plate after plate as if you’re eating for the last time. You could always go back for more with a fresh and clean plate.

It’s much better to dish out one plate at a time. If you don’t find yourself full or end up not liking some of the items you choose, you won’t waste that food. It will also give you a free hand to grab a drink!

Dessert during the day

If you’re worried about avoiding a couple of extra pounds, you can try limiting your dessert intake to dinnertime only. Just wait until the evening to eat dessert, so you will crave less sugar. The more sugar you eat, the more you will want.

But if you wait until the last meal of the day to indulge in sweets, then you will have the proper bedtime to eliminate cravings right before the following day. All in all, if you ever get sick on a cruise, you might try this life-saver!

What you can eat instead: fruits

Even if you might assume that cruise lines would face certain difficulties keeping those fruits and vegetables fresh, modern cruise ships have these amazing high-capacity refrigeration systems that keep those products at the right temperature to maintain their freshness.

Fresh fruit is a very common sight for cruise ships, especially those exploring tropical locations like the Caribbean. You could notice plenty of sliced fruit, vegetable platters, and even pre-made salads at every single buffet station and restaurant menu.

Tasty pizza and pasta

Who can honestly say that they don’t like pizza and pasta? Cruise lines have admitted that pizza and basic pasta dishes are seen by many as the number one comfort food, so they want to make sure they are widely available to passengers while they enjoy their vacation.

Pizza is truly a crowd-pleaser because everyone loves it. You could even notice pre-sliced pizza at buffet stations and even specialty pizzerias where you can easily customize toppings. Pasta is also another fairly common dish at buffets and restaurants serving European and American dishes.

Hot dogs, hamburgers, and other BBQ goodies

While you can find tons of upscale specialty restaurants specializing in gourmet dishes, the vast majority of cruise ships also have more casual options. This is even more common around lunchtime. These super simple yet tasty options are always available close to the poolside grills and other open-air areas of the ship.

For instance, if you want a hot dog, hamburger, grilled, or even fried chicken or other vegetarian alternatives, then you should be able to find them while also lounging on the ship’s top deck. The vast majority also come with a side of fries or even a simple loaf of bread. Then again, these super simple food ideas are fairly popular as they appeal to all types of people.

Sweet and decadent desserts (at dinner!)

Sure, there is undoubtedly a plethora of healthy food options, and we would definitely advise you to dig into that, but there’s really no shortage of decadent desserts and sweets, either. After all, a cruise is really meant to be a vacation, so organizers will want to make sure that their passengers can indulge as much as they can in the goodies they prepare.

The vast majority of restaurants will have an eye-catching dessert menu with anything you can think of, from cheesecakes to crème brulee, decadent brownies, and many other things.

If you enjoyed reading this piece, we also recommend reading: 4 Gorgeous U.S. Places to Visit While Waiting for Your Passport

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