I was lucky to experience many different dining experiences while on board the Pacific Dawn and I hope you do too because there are lots of options and experiences to be had each catering to different individuals and groups.

Of course, if you're setting sail on a different cruise, you will have different options but most ship's cater to all kinds of dietary requirements and food tastes. You can find vegetarian or vegan options in most of the restaurants, as well as gluten-free and lighter meal options.

I am a painfully fussy eater so I always have a little bit of anxiety about food when I'm on holidays or eating out, and from that perspective, I can promise you that you too will find something your tummy loves.

The Plantation

The Plantation is included with your fare and essentially is a huge buffet offering a wide range of foods and suiting all dietary requirements.

The first section of the buffet is cold meals, usually salads and fresh fruit, bread, desserts (which are amazing),  and cheese and ham platters which are served for lunch and dinner. For breakfast, this section holds cereals, pastries and more fresh fruit.

In the heated section, there are a number of ever-changing meals. My personal favourites for lunch and dinner were things like rice dishes, fish, potatoes and steamed vegetables. At the very end (and sometimes you have to be determined to wait) there’s roast of the day which is usually excellent.

For breakfast, this hot section serves toast with a collection of spreads, pastries, eggs, pancakes and a life supply of bacon among other things.

The hardest part about eating here is finding a table. While you can take your meal anywhere onboard, navigating on a rocking ship with a tray of food can be difficult. If it’s a nice day the Oasis deck situated behind the eatery has tables and offers stunning sea views but if it's windy or cold out there and you plan on sitting inside I suggest picking a less busy time to come back (crowds at bars and meal times come in ebbs and flows) or getting someone to find and reserve a table while the other(s) get food.

While the food in here is fine and you can usually find something you like, compared to the restaurants, the buffet is fairly average. After eating in the next restaurant I only ever had breakfast and lunch here which was fine.

The Waterfront

Also included in your fare, The Waterfront offers three courses from a daily menu and table service. Anyone can eat in the Waterfront but you have to book in first either by going to the venue, or booking in over the phone – if there’s no one manning the restaurant's service desk you’ll need to book over their phone by calling the provided number.

There aren't as many options as in the buffet but along with a daily menu, there is a cultural menu that each day offers cuisine from a different country, such as Hawaii, Greece and even Australia every night. The food, I thought, was much better quality than in the Plantation, which is why after the first night eating here we went back for dinner every night.

You can eat any of your meals in the Waterfront but I felt the Plantation was fine for breakfast and lunch and decided to just save dinner for the Waterfront and unlike eating at a buffet the three courses are portion sized so you won't eat too much and are left feeling satisfied afterwards. This is also a great place to try new foods or new combinations of food you otherwise wouldn’t have. If you plan on eating here, I suggest any of their seafood.

La Luna

La Luna is an Asian fusion restaurant which costs cruise-goers $29 per head. For point of reference, my name, Deanne, actually means ‘moon goddess’ so since a small child anything moon-related has excited me. Another thing in life that excites me is Asian food and that’s why eating here and further knowing it cost money was a huge disappointment.

The cruise trip was for my uncle’s 60th birthday, so he booked out the small pop-up restaurant for his party and I don’t think anyone was overly impressed with the food. I say pop-up restaurant too because it’s only open at night and is plonked inside the noisy Plantation which was also pretty poor when it came to creating the atmosphere advertised to guests.

I only ate here this one night but I’m fairly sure the menu changes daily. Instead of three courses, you get something like 17 meals to share. The good thing about this is some things you’ll love and wish there was more of while other things you’ll wish weren’t sitting on the table staring at you. I found that the quality of the food here though wasn’t that great and definitely not worth paying for.

The Salt Grill

I didn’t eat here, but part of my travelling party did and they loved it. The meals are planned and prepared by Australian celebrity chef, Luke Mangan and while dining you receive silver service. On sea days you can get lunch and dinner here as well as high tea, all of which requiring reservations and cost between $20pp (high tea) to $50pp (dinner).

The Grill

The Grill is a burger bar / fried food station which serves hot chips, pizzas, burgers and the like. I shared chips from here with my sisters twice, both times they were too salty to eat and after sleeping in and missing breakfast I tried an egg and bacon roll, which was great and only cost $3.

This food option is open all day and most of the nights so if you miss set meal times or you're looking for a late night snack you can find something to eat. It's important to note that The Grill is widely popular on board which can make a long wait for food, especially for pizzas where some people had to wait up to an hour during peak times.

New Zealand Natural Ice Cream

If you’ve had New Zealand Natural ice cream you’ll know it’s amazing and that’s no different at their onboard ice cream bar situated near the pools. Also similar to the Grill, nominal charges apply. 

Cafes

There are coffee machines onboard but it’s fairly average coffee, so for a real dose of caffeine or some tasty pastries and cakes you can drop by the cafes found in the Atrium on the lower deck or up top on the Lido deck.

There are different coffees to choose from, even specialities like Irish coffee and Monte Christos and all the coffees are barista made. Nominal charges here too apply.

Room Service & Snacks

Room service is available, you can consult the menu in your rooms if you’re interested and behind all the bars there are light snacks like packets of chips if you're feeling peckish.

You can find my guide to packing here and my comprehensive FAQ on cruise basics here.

Published by Deanne Elizabeth