10 Foods to Avoid Eating on a Cruise

foods not to eat on a cruise

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If you’re going on a cruise and looking forward to the plentiful food and dining, rest assured. Cruise ship food is generally very good and there are many choices to be had. However, there are some foods to avoid eating on a cruise.

From mediocre tasting cruise buffet options, to foods that might lead to discomfort or even potential illness, these are some cruise do’s and don’ts to be aware of.

To help with this list, I asked the Life Well Cruised Facebook community for input. While food is subjective, eating & drinking some of these items might be a cruise mistake!

Please note that dining experiences can differ across various cruise ships and cruise lines. You’ll also want to take this with a grain of salt (pun intended) as we all have different likes and dislikes.

In this post, I share the 10 food and drinks to avoid on a cruise, along some suggestions of what you can opt for instead.

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Food and Drinks Not to Eat on a Cruise

cruise foods to avoid eating

1. Scrambled Eggs in the Buffet

The top food to avoid on a cruise are the buffet scrambled eggs. Cruise passengers often describe this breakfast staple as being watery, runny, and having an artificial taste that leaves much to be desired.

According to some reports, this might be because the large batches of scrambled eggs in the cruise buffet are made from powdered eggs. Either way, when eggs are made in large batches, they may not taste as fresh and flavorful as you might like.

What to eat instead: Head to the buffet omelet station where you can have your eggs made fresh to order. Whether you love scrambled eggs, fried eggs, or an omelet, this is a better bet.

For those who prefer a more traditional breakfast setting, the main dining room is also a great alternative.

2. Cruise Buffet Bacon

Overcooked (or undercooked), thin, and clumped together bacon is a complaint from many cruisers when it comes to the cruise ship breakfast buffet. If you’re a bacon lover, you might be underwhelmed with this popular American breakfast food.

Let’s face it, there is a lot of bacon prepared for thousands of people who head to the buffet each morning!

What to eat instead: If the buffet bacon doesn’t meet your expectations, try the carving station and opt for freshly carved ham. Alternatively, head to the main dining room or a casual restaurant where you can order an individual plate.

3. Buffet Sushi

I’ve never had an issue with buffet sushi, however this is a food that needs to be kept cold and is best eaten when freshly made. To enjoy sushi without worries, be an early bird at the buffet when it opens for lunch.

The primary concern is that is sushi is left out for an extended period, this can compromise its quality.

4. Desalinized Water (Cruise Ship Drinking Water)

Is cruise ship drinking water safe? Absolutely yes! Water is treated, filtered and tested.

According to Cruise Critic, cruise ship drinking water is typically derived from desalinated seawater. There is a complex desalinization and filtration process used to turn sea water into distilled water. Then, it is mineralized and chlorinated to ensure safe, quality drinking water.

However, there are some people that report having swollen legs and ankles after drinking cruise ship desalinized water.

To be fair, leg swelling can be due to many things, including an increase in salt intake from richer foods eaten during a cruise vacation. That said, you have concerns there are options.

What to drink instead: Consider switching to bottled water during your cruise. Most cruise lines have water packages or water bottles (or cans) may be included in cruise drink packages.

5. Hamburgers in the Buffet

If you love a good, tasty burger, you’re best avoiding the hamburgers and buns available in the buffet on a cruise. Unfortunately, these fast food items are often described as greasy and tasteless, with dried out buns.

For those seeking a more satisfying lunch experience, alternatives are readily available on most cruise ships.

What to eat instead: Opt for a freshly made burger from the ship’s grill or visit a sit down casual restaurant or the main dining room for a better meal.

6. Self Serve Soft Ice Cream

I admit I love a good soft serve ice cream cone on the lido deck! Ice cream is a popular treat for cruise passengers of every age, including kids…

If your cruise ship has a self serve ice cream station, there may be a case for avoiding this frozen dessert. This can bring about hygiene concerns, particularly when the machine appears messy.

If you see a mess of ice cream around the machine and on the pool deck, walk away.

What to eat instead: These days, many cruise ships have a crew member assisting passengers with their ice cream, which alleviates the potential issue (and ick factor). Alternatively, you can check out the hard scooped ice cream or gelato shop.

Related: 12 Things to Never Do on a Cruise Ship Lido Deck

7. Buffet Condiments

Condiments left at buffet tables can present a potential hygiene challenge, primarily due to shared condiment containers. Communal condiments allow many cruise passengers to handle these containers, increasing the risk of the spread of illness.

That said, there are some simple fixes.

What to eat instead: When possible, ask a crew member if individual servings of ketchup or mustard are available. Beyond this, washing hands, using a napkin to touch handles and using hand sanitizer before you eat should alleviate potential issues.

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8. Very Spicy or Bean-based Dishes

When it comes to cruise dining, eating very spicy or bean-based dishes might not be the most practical choice. If you want to ensure digestive comfort, and avoid long trips to the bathroom, be cautious with food choices, particularly before port days.

Related: 10 Cruise Buffet Mistakes Cruisers Should Avoid

9. Free or Included Buffet Coffee

This cruise tip is for coffee enthusiasts only. If that’s not you, you can skip this one.

For many cruisers, the complimentary coffee offered in the buffet can leave a lot to be desired. It’s generally not strong and can taste watered down. For this reason, you may want to skip the free or included cruise ship coffee and opt for specialty or brewed coffee.

What to drink instead: Invest in a beverage package that includes specialty coffee. In addition to more robust freshly brewed coffee, you’ll enjoy diverse coffee offerings, from lattes and cappuccinos to iced coffee concoctions.

10. Drink of the Day

While the allure of the cruise ship “Drink of the Day” may be tempting, there are some drawbacks. These drinks might save a couple of dollars, however they are often overly sweet and high in calories.

Consider skipping these promoted drinks and opt for a beverage of your choosing.

What to drink instead: Whether you have a drink package or not, there are a lot of interesting cocktails and crafted beverages to choose from. Check the drink menu for unique concoctions that may only available in that bar.

Related: 13 Big Drink Package Mistakes Not to Make on a Cruise

Video: 10 Foods Not to Eat on a Cruise

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Final Thoughts on Foods to Avoid Eating on a Cruise

Food and dining preferences are subjective. However, these are some cruise foods and drinks you may want to avoid during your cruise vacation.

It’s unlikely any will make you sick, and exercising the usual caution and hygeine practices around food will help. These food and drink do’s and don’ts come from seasoned cruisers, who shared their experiences and tips.

Are there foods you avoid on a cruise ship or in the buffet? Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!


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1 Comment

  1. Ghislaine Desjardins
    February 23, 2024 / 2:27 am

    Although I agree with the drink of the day, I wonder what horrible ships you’ve been on.

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