10 Things You Should Never Eat on a Cruise

Cruise Food

OKrasyuk/Kirk Fisher/istockphoto / Sanjay S./Yelp

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Cruise Food
OKrasyuk/Kirk Fisher/istockphoto / Sanjay S./Yelp

Germaphobe's Nightmare

Vacations are a time for indulging, especially cruises. You're surrounded by restaurants and buffets 24/7, but over-indulging too many times is one thing you don't want to do on a cruise. No one wants to spend their pool time or excursion feeling bloated.

Even if you're not worried about a little excess, there's plenty of other reasons to stay away from certain foods on a cruise, from safety concerns to just plain terrible quality. Here are the foods you should steer clear of on your next cruise. 

No face woman putting scrambled eggs in a self-service buffet with hot breakfast in the hotel. Continental breakfast concept. Selective focus, copy space.

1. Scrambled Eggs

Those scrambled eggs on the buffet line are probably made with powdered eggs, a commercial food service product that results in dry, crumbly, and just plain bad eggs. You're much better off with the omelet station where you'll see them crack eggs and cook them up fresh for you.

Girl child picks up ice cream in a cup from a vending machine on the beach
Aliaksandr Bukatsich/istockphoto

2. Soft Serve Ice Cream

Yes, it's a fun treat to be able to fill your own cone at the self-serve ice cream machine. You know who else thinks it's really cool? Children. Germ-covered, nose-picking, didn't-wash-their-hands-after-going-to-the-bathroom children. Just say no and don't touch that handle. (Chances are there's staff-scooped gelato or ice cream bars somewhere else anyway.)

Two colorful mixed drinks with fresh fruit and a straw on the upper deck of a luxury cruise ship at sea on a sunny day.
Kirk Fisher/istockphoto

3. Too Many Sugary Drinks

Besides sea sickness, the fastest way to a stomach ache on a cruise is too many sugar-filled tropical drinks — especially if they contain alcohol. 

Hand sanitiser dispenser for customer use to wash hands reduce risk of coronavirus virus with liquid sanitizer soap dispenser sign
richard johnson/istockphoto

4. Anything Without Sanitizing Your Hands First

There are certain people who shouldn't take cruises, and germaphobes are one of them. But even if you don't normally carry hand sanitizer around in your purse, you should absolutely utilize the sanitizer stations before eating or touching anything at the buffet. There's a reason there are so many of those stations around a cruise ship: norovirus outbreaks are common, and 2023 was a record-breaking year

Trust us, you do not want to spend half your vacation quarantined by the ship's doctor in your cabin and that tiny bathroom. 

Big size bell pepper and pepperoni pizza on wooden round tray

5. Pizza

Unless you see the pizza come straight out of the oven and onto the buffet line, chances are it's been sitting under the heat lamps for a while. Dry crust, congealed cheese, and chewy toppings await if you dare. 

Sushi Buffet Platter

6. Buffet Sushi

If there's one food you don't want to gamble on in regards to freshness, it's sushi. If someone is making sushi fresh from fish that's is on ice or held in a fridge, that's probably fine. But if it's just been sitting out on the buffet for who knows how long ... hard pass.

Teppanyaki Flameout

7. Anything You Have to Pay For

Think everything is included on a cruise? Not anymore. All ships have restaurants that you have to pay an extra fee for. They're usually steakhouses, teppanyaki, or even chains like Starbucks. A venti flat white is one thing you should never buy on a cruise you've already spent thousands of dollars on.

Choices, The Buffet, Pala, California
Sanjay S./Yelp

8. Things You Eat at Home

The best part about unlimited food is that you can try all kinds of things without worrying about wasting money if you don't like it. So take advantage of that and get out of your (or your kid's!) comfort zone of burgers and pasta. If you're unsure, just take a little bit at first so you don't waste much food. 

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Potato Chips With Ketchup

9. Shared Condiments

Just like the soft serve handle, everyone touches the bottles of ketchup, mustard, and other condiments, including kids. It's best to just leave them, or ask for individual packets. The less things you need to touch at the buffet, the better.

salad buffet

10. Anything with Tongs Dropped Into It

Buffets on cruises are dodgy enough when it comes to spreading germs without you taking food from the bin that the tongs fell in. Think about how many hands have touched those tongs today, then think about all that going straight into the food when the handle falls in. Same for if you see someone touch some bread or whole fruit with their hands and then put it back. Just skip it.