Can I See The Ocean When I Dine?

OK, I know that may sound like a frivolous question, but one of the reasons I choose cruising for my vacations is that I enjoy the simple beauty of our vast oceans. I also appreciate the full service dining offered in the ship’s dining room. Together, there is no better combination. During the day I’ve often seen dolphins and whales from the dining room windows and at night there is nothing more beautiful than seeing the reflection of the moon on the ship’s wake. These are just little things that make a cruise all the more special.

During my early years of cruising, this was hardly ever possible. Almost all of those old ships I sailed had the dining room located on the lower levels of the ship often with no windows or even port holes. In an exception to this rule, Commodore’s Boheme had her dining room located on a higher deck with large windows. However, on my next three cruises the old Stattendam, the Fairsea, and the Rotterdam, we again, dined in an interior room with no ocean views.

Imagine my delight when we boarded the Celebrity Mercury in 2003. When I walked in the dining room, the first thing I noticed was the floor to ceiling picture window at the back of the dining room. I was spoiled. Even from our table located on the second floor near the overlook, we could look out the picture window and enjoy the beauty of the ocean as we dined. Our next cruise was on the Celebrity Infinity. Though a larger ship than the Mercury, it too had a similar dining room with a large picture window off the back. The side windows on the Mercury and the Infinity are over sized portholes, about 6-8 feet in diameter, but that picture window really makes for some spectacular views. On our Alaskan cruise on the Mercury last summer, the sun was up when we enjoyed dinner, so we could see much of the beauty of the inside passage while we dined.

On these two classes of ships, the exterior views must have been important to the designers since they placed the dining room on the aft of the ship and did not have the second level wrap around the back of the ship. Other ship designers have utilized other methods to ensure that passengers have great views of the ocean. Some ships that have a wrap around second level utilize panoramic windows on all three exterior sides of the ship to ensure that passengers have a view of the ocean. On smaller ships, it is much easier to provide all passengers with a view of the sea. Just the fact that there is less interior space puts most passengers within eye sight of a window.

Another way that cruise lines are providing expansive ocean views to passengers while they down is balcony dining. Princess pioneered this feature, but many other lines now offer this option. If the weather is nice and they have booked a balcony stateroom, they can enjoy their evening meal while taking in all the views that their balcony has to offer.

However, a lack of views of the sea represents a serious design flaw on many of the mega ships that the cruise companies are trending toward. I just took the virtual tour of the new Celebrity Solstice. The kitchen is located on the aft of the ship and the dining room is more centered. Hence the windows are located only on two sides of the room. Because of the large interior space, passengers seated in the center of the room will not be able to enjoy any view from this dining room while they dine. It looks like a few of the specialty restaurants will have ocean views, however, they will be at an extra charge. I want my view included in my cruise price.

We also noticed the same situation when we took a virtual tour of the Voyager of the Sea, which has its dining room located in a similar location. We were trying to decide between the Celebrity Summit Transatlantic cruise and the Voyager of the Seas Transatlantic cruise for November/December of 2008. We have been on one of the Summit’s sister ships, so we didn’t need to take a virtual tour, but we really wanted to get a feel for what the layout and feel of the Voyager class was like. I was really overwhelmed by the scale of many of the room, especially the scale of the three story dining room. While it does have picture windows on the two sides, if passengers are seated anywhere in the vast interior of that space, they will not be able to enjoy ocean views while dining.

Thanks to the internet and its abundance of information, prospective cruiser can now make informed decisions about their cruise itinerary or ship. If having ocean views while dining is important to you, be sure that you check out your cruise line’s website virtual tours. That way, you won’t be disappointed when your board your ship only to find that your ship doesn’t provide expansive dinning room ocean views.