Cruise ship food has come a long way since the first cruise ships traversed the open water. Though bustling buffets in main dining rooms are a longstanding staple (and always a good choice!), so many other options await for hungry cruisers. From chef-driven menus to dinners that incorporate showmanship and entertainment, the culinary experiences below take cruise ship dining to new heights.
Royal Caribbean’s Mouthwatering Cruise Ship Food
Shake up the traditional cruise ship dining experience and head to Wonderland, available on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships. Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, this restaurant features whimsical, playful décor. Even the menus offer a distinctive experience; you’re given a brush and have to “paint” on them to make the words slowly appear, giving you options that correspond to one of the six elements. If you’ve never sampled molecular gastronomy before, this restaurant makes it fun and approachable.
Not in the mood for something quirky? Stick to the classics at Jamie’s Italian, serving Tuscan-inspired cuisine using seasonal ingredients. Or try Chops Grille, a standout steakhouse and fan favorite.
Carnival Cruise Line’s Culinary Offerings
If you love barbecue, you simply have to get a seat at Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse, a popular spot from famed chef Guy Fieri, available on Carnival Horizon, Panorama, and Mardi Gras. Chow down on perfectly prepared brisket, baby back ribs, or chicken, then wash it down with a Parched Pig craft brew from the attached brewhouse. Note that there is a fee for dinner here, but you can enjoy lunch at no extra charge.
To sink your teeth into a juicy burger, head to Guy’s Burger Joint, another mouthwatering example of cruise ship food from Fieri. When you’ve got a craving for more international flavors, snag a seat at Blue Iguana Cantina for a savory breakfast burrito or a taco on a fresh, homemade tortilla. There’s no additional cost to dine here.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Phenomenal Food
Why settle for a run-of-the-mill dinner when you can get dinner and a show? Swing by Norwegian’s Teppanyaki to watch chefs prepare your food on a large steel grill right in front of you. You’ll be impressed by their skill and talent, evidenced in swift, precise movements.
Lovers of seafood shouldn’t miss Ocean Blue, the cruise line’s most upscale seafood option. From lobster rolls and calamari to clam chowder and salmon, everything served in this posh spot is as fresh and delicious as can be.
Princess Cruises’ Outstanding Dishes
Crown Grill—found on all Princess ships except Sun and Sea Princess—is a true standout among cruise ship dining options, thanks in part to an open kitchen and a sophisticated ambiance ideal not just for romantic celebrations, but for family gatherings as well. Steaks and seafood take top billing here—you’ll find juicy cuts, plump grilled shrimp, and fresh lobster. For a more laid-back evening, grab a few fellow cruisers and head to The Salty Dog Gastropub, whose “Ernesto” ribeye burger was created exclusively for Princess by chef Ernesto Uchimura.
Holland America’s Sensational Flavors
The best food on a cruise tends to be conceptualized by skilled chefs, and the culinary offerings on Holland America are a prime example of this. At Pinnacle Grill, billing itself as “the ultimate steakhouse at sea,” James Beard Award-winning chef and Culinary Council® member David Burke is behind the restaurant’s meticulously prepared dishes, including 28-day wet-aged USDA Prime steaks.
Helmed by Holland’s master chef Rudi Sodamin, Rudi’s Sel de Mer is an intimate option focusing on classic French dishes, such as oysters on the half shell, steak frites, and duck cassoulet. You can find it on Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam. The impressive menu is also available on select evenings at Pinnacle Grill.
Celebrity’s Top-Notch Cruise Ship Food Options
Cruise ship dining isn’t just about the food; sometimes it’s just as much about the presentation. At Celebrity’s Le Petit Chef, diners are treated to a one-of-a-kind dining concept that fuses 3D animation with delicious flavors. You’ll see an animated version of a dish projected onto your plate just moments before the real thing is placed in front of you, ready to be devoured.
Dining alfresco will never go out of style, especially given the wonderful ocean views afforded by cruise ships. At Celebrity’s Lawn Club Grill, you can dine on grilled specialties amid fresh cut grass while sea breezes gently whip at your hair.
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