These cruises exceed in providing high-quality dining experiences
Celebrity Cruises offer a delicious menu that includes beef carpaccio layered with Dijon aioli.
Long gone are the days when the ritual of guessing the ingredients of buffet meals was grudgingly accepted as part of the cruising experience. Culinary prowess is now considered an asset by many cruise lines, and rightly so. Top-notch restaurants, innovative menus, and star chefs are inspiring food lovers to book a berth onboard ships that have become bona fide dining destinations.
Click here to see the Top 10 Cruise Lines for Food Lovers Slideshow!
For such cruise lines, setting the new culinary standard involves a dedication to quality and experience — not flashiness. Acclaimed Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa, for example, has restaurants on both of Crystal’s ships, the Serenity and Symphony. And The Restaurant, the main dining room aboard every Silversea ship, pays homage to seasonality by changing the menu depending on where you’re sailing (roasted Chilean sea bass is served en route to Chilean fjords). Not to be left behind, Oceania Cruises recently launched a collection of Culinary Discovery Tours, which might include a cooking demo in Provence.
Variety is another upside to cruise lines turning to food to keep competitive. On any given ship, you’ll likely be able to choose among several restaurants, which may serve Italian, Japanese, French bistro, or traditional steakhouse fare. And because consumers are more and more conscious of where their food is coming from these days, the ingredients are often fresh (Yachts of Seabourn and Windstar are just two examples of lines that offer shore excursions with chefs to local farmers' markets), and sustainably harvested.
Here, the top 10 cruise lines dedicated to culinary excellence at sea.
The Must-Eat Dishes On Every Major Cruise Line
The restaurants onboard serve up some unbelievable stuff.
Cruise ships tend to be over the top in most aspects, from the wacky onboard entertainment to the extravagant accommodations, and cruise cuisine is no exception. These are the dishes you need to try while you're on the high seas.
The chef at Qsine definitely thinks out of the box, and this eclectic sushi &mdash spicy tuna, shrimp, salmon, snow crab &mdash is a seriously fun way to start your meal.
Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes
Make sure to grab dinner at Animator's Palate while you're aboard any Disney ship. The ambiance is colorful and fun &mdash the napkins and butter knives look like paintbrushes &mdash and passengers agree that this pasta dish is to die for.
Froot Loop French Toast
Families can get totally immersed in the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss, thanks to the fleet's Seuss at Sea program. Grab breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends and chow down on colorful Froot Loop-encrusted French toast.
Butter-Poached Lobster Tail
What better time to splurge on lobster than when you're on vacation? At SHARE by Curtis Stone (aboard the Ruby Princess, Emerald Princess and Sun Princess ), guests can order elegant lobster tail with roasted potatoes, crispy pancetta, and white onion sauce.
29-oz. Tomahawk Rib Chop
Norwegian's signature steakhouse serves this epic steak right on the bone. Get it crusted with Dijon or Gorgonzola, then topped with au poivre or garlic butter sauce.
Adults-only French restaurant, Remy, is the place to go for high-end fare aboard the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream. This Instagram-worthy dessert features a French praline topped with milk chocolate mousse and dark chocolate glaze.
Ahi Tuna Tataki
Small plates are the specialty at Food Republic, and this gorgeous seared tuna with heirloom tomatoes and basil ponzu makes a stunning starter to share.
Food Network favorite Guy Fieri has his own menu of killer burgers aboard 14 Carnival ships. Guys Burger Joint serves up 1,000 burgers per ship per day, topped with melty cheesy, spicy onion rings and "Donkey Sauce."
Charlotte La Bouff's Bucatini Pasta
Inspired by the Disney flick The Princess and the Frog , Tiana's Place is a Southern-style restaurant aboard the Disney Wonder. Find classics like shrimp and grits, as well as the popular bucatini with pancetta, oyster mushrooms, eggplant, spinach, peas, and basil.
Duck Leg Confit
Celebrity chef, Curtis Stone, created plenty of decadent dishes for the menu at SHARE, including salt-cured duck leg with crispy skin, bacon-flavored beans, and Parmesan.
Even those who aren't super adventurous when it comes to sushi can enjoy amazing rolls at Food Republic. There's no skimping on this classic combination of crab mix, avocado, cucumber, and toasted sesame seeds.
Green Eggs and Ham
Kids will totally freak for this themed Dr. Seuss breakfast spread available on all Carnival ships, but someone needs to be brave enough to order the Seuss special: Green Eggs and Ham.
Camarones Al Ajillo
Have a bite at Bayamo by Jose Garces to try Latin dishes like this pan-roasted shrimp, served with charred tomato, lime emulsion, and fingerling potatoes.
Tiana's Buttermilk Beignets
Of course this beloved New Orleans treat made it onto the menu at Tiana's Place, the Princess and the Frog-themed restaurant on Disney Wonder.
Lump Crab Martini
Blu's fresh crab salad in a martini glass &mdash with avocado and cucumber &mdash is almost too pretty to eat.
The pastries at Qsine are about as pretty as the ship's ocean views. Chocolate addicts need to try the tombstone, made from layers of rice crispies, Nutella, and rich ganache.
Pickled Beet Salad
AquaClass guests get an exclusive dining experience at Blu, where even the vegetables are beautiful. Pickled beets are plated with smoked chicken breast, frisée, and a bright curry emulsion.
Palo's Chocolate Soufflé
The elegant Northern Italian restaurant, Palo, is a staple on every Disney ship, and this dessert might be the most popular dish onboard. The made-to-order soufflés are served hot with vanilla bean and chocolate sauces, plus a scoop of ice cream.
18-oz. Bone-In Ribeye
Food Republic is the spot for meat-eaters on these ships. This juicy cut comes with scallions and truffle soy sauce for dipping &mdash plus incredible ocean views from your table.
Tomatoes and Burrata
The creamy burrata served with whole roasted grape tomatoes, oregano oil, and fennel leaves at SHARE is like a next-level caprese salad.
Angus Beef Carpaccio
Get adventurous with appetizers like Blu's beef carpaccio, drizzled with black truffle aioli, and topped with herb salad and garlic chips.
For dessert at SHARE, dig into fancy lemon tarts with sliced raspberries and Italian Meringue.
Seven Seas Explorer, Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Passenger-to-Crew Ratio: 750 to 542
About the Ship: When luxury cruise line Regent Seven Seas Cruises launched the palatial Seven Seas Explorer in July 2016, it told the world that she was the "most luxurious ship ever built." As the flagship for the line, Explorer exemplifies the hallmarks of exquisite cuisine and the super all-inclusivity that Regent is known for. If you're looking for extraordinary accommodations at sea, look no further than this ship. All cabins are suites, and if you love balconies, Seven Seas Explorer features some of the largest in the industry, ranging from 55 to 995 square feet. (Some apartment-dwellers in Manhattan don't have that kind of space!) Likewise, the public spaces are stunning. The ship features an enormous amount of granite and marble (half of it is Carrara) plus almost 500 chandeliers made of Czech crystal and glass. Art lovers will enjoy the 2,500 pieces of art displayed throughout the vessel, including some specially commissioned paintings by Spanish artist Eduardo Arranz-Bravo and works by masters such as Picasso.
For foodies, all you need to know is that each restaurant excels. The two main restaurants are Compass Rose and La Veranda/Sette Mari. La Veranda is the buffet option for breakfast and lunch, and then the space transforms to Sette Mari in the evening, offering a hybrid experience that includes a buffet as well as an a la carte menu. There are also three complimentary specialty restaurants: the Pan-Asian-style Pacific Rim Chartreuse, which has a French flair and the line's signature steakhouse, Prime 7.
About the Cruise Line: When it comes to pampering, you can't do better than the completely all-inclusive nature of a cruise aboard Regent Seven Seas. The fare includes business-class intercontinental flights for all U.S. passengers, as well as premium alcohol, wine, spirits, beer, soda, water and sports drinks plus all dining (with at least one meal at every specialty restaurant onboard), unlimited Wi-Fi, unlimited shore excursions (though there is also a list of upgraded tours with a la carte pricing) and gratuities. Throw in use of the ship's thermal suite -- even if you don't have a spa treatment booked -- and the list of inclusions is impressive, making for a stress-free, chit-free vacation.
Who Sails This Ship: The passenger mix skews to English speakers: mainly Americans and Canadians, with some travelers from Australia and the U.K. mixed in. Nearly all are 60 or older and incredibly well traveled -- especially when it comes to cruising. Many are Regent repeaters. You won't see many children or families, with the exception of summer and holiday sailings when the little ones are traveling with their parents and/or grandparents.
Other Ships in the Fleet: Regent has three additional ships in its fleet. Two of them -- Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager -- host 700 travelers per cruise, while Seven Seas Navigator is the smallest ship in the fleet, with a capacity of 490 . The luxury cruise line likes to say that it offers "6-star service" on all its vessels.
Top 10 Cruise Lines for Specialty Dining
From restaurants created by celebrity chefs to menus featuring market fresh produce that reflect each destination, cruise ship dining competes with some of the finest restaurants on land. To help passengers navigate this bounty, GAYOT.com has created an exclusive list of Top 10 Cruise Lines for Specialty Dining. Upscale steakhouse, Coney Island boardwalk stand, haute French bistro or cozy Italian trattoria — whatever you're in the mood for, you'll find it at sea. Enjoy GAYOT.com's Top 10 Cruise Lines for Specialty Dining.
With master chef Jacques Pépin serving as Executive Culinary Director, Oceania's claim to the "finest cuisine at sea" may not be as audacious as it seems. In the Grand Dining Rooms, menus change daily and range from European-inspired continental fare to heart-healthy dishes. Additional restaurants vary from ship to ship and include Red Ginger, serving contemporary Asian cuisine Toscana, showcasing the flavors of Tuscany and Jacques, where Pépin refines the art of classic French cooking.
Princess Cruises invites you to eat like royalty with a selection of dining experiences. Dining venues vary by ship, but specialty restaurants may include Sabatini's, an authentic Italian eatery featuring pasta and seafood specialties in a setting reminiscent of a Tuscan villa Bayou Café and Grill, a New Orleans-style establishment serving up refined Cajun and Creole cuisine and Sterling Steakhouse, where premium steak and seafood are the order of the day.
While restaurant choices vary from ship to ship, every dining experience is unique on a Celebrity cruise. More than a dozen venues throughout the fleet include a wealth of specialty dining. From Murano, serving modern French continental, to the Tuscan Grille, offering nouveau Tuscan steakhouse fare, iPad menus encourage an interactive experience. Guests can explore global fare at Qsine, and at the Lawn Club Grill, they can grill with their chef and then enjoy a meal overlooking an onboard lawn.
Royal Caribbean International
While Royal Caribbean offers numerous complimentary options, including everything from New York-style pizza to hot dogs on a "boardwalk," we recommend taking advantage of the variety of intimate fine dining experiences. At Chops Grille, passengers can dine on premium cuts of steak and seafood in a contemporary, upscale setting, while Portofino offers Italian favorites prepared using classic techniques. Then there is the Chef's Table, where just fourteen guests come together to savor a five-course meal (complete with wine pairings) prepared by the chef de cuisine.
Specializing in sophisticated cruises to destinations around the world, Silversea offers fine dining options that are similarly global-minded. At Le Champagne, the only Relais & Châteaux wine restaurant at sea, guests on all Silversea ships can indulge in a six-course tasting menu that pairs fine wines with dishes crafted from artisan products and locally sourced ingredients. Exclusive to the Silver Spirit, Seishin features Asian fusion cuisine served either à la carte, in bento boxes or as part of a nine-course degustation meal.
River cruise dining shows what the little guys can do
Food is a lure that continues to attract travelers to ocean cruising. The promise of decadent buffets a panoply of specialty restaurants gourmet menus curated by celebrity chefs cooking demos and lessons and 24/7 cabin service is a hard act to follow.
Admittedly, big boats have an edge. Because of size and economies of scale, they offer more of everything — more entertainment, casinos, lounges, pools and different stateroom configurations — as well as more varied foods and dining venues. Riverboats are smaller and more intimate, their size limited by the width and depth of the rivers and locks they cross, the height of bridges, and the size of ports where they anchor.
"As you would expect, riverboat galleys are considerably smaller," said Gregory E. Pearson, a Virtuoso travel adviser with Travelex International Inc. in Hoffman Estates.
Yet river cruising is the fastest-growing segment of the cruise industry. According to Cruise Lines International Association, annual passenger totals on riverboats have grown 10 percent over the last five years, with new ships being commissioned at an unprecedented rate. To dispel the myth that bigger is always better, river cruise lines are enhancing culinary experiences for guests, both on ship and on shore.
For food lovers, riverboats offer distinct advantages too: Buffet tables may be shorter, but so are the lines. Guests can step off a riverboat close to the center of a town or village to sample local foods and drinks and mingle with locals at restaurants and pubs (either independently or as part of a small-group excursions).
Most river cruise lines offer three meals a day: a buffet table and menu of plated dishes at breakfast and lunch, and multicourse dinners with international and local specialties. Menus change daily and generally aren't repeated. Like oceangoing ships, meals and their presentation are kicked up a notch at welcome and farewell dinners and other special meals. "The quality of food on river cruises is continually getting better and better," Pearson said.
Although attractive and comfortable, dining rooms are less glitzy than those on large cruise ships. During fixed hours, seating is open (as opposed to reserved). Tables are filled first-come, first-serve, and unless passengers are traveling with their family or a posse of friends, they'll break bread — and likely become fast friends — with new people. Depending on the line and boat, the number of places at each table varies but most tables seat eight to 10 guests. Some passengers "dress up" for dinner, but many wear casual daytime attire.
Most river cruises offer complimentary wines and domestic beers, by the glass, with lunch and dinner in addition to free tea, coffee, soft drinks and bottled water, a more generous beverage policy than on many large ships. Premium liquors, cocktails and wines by the bottle are available at extra charge.
"Service levels onboard river cruise ships are the same if not better than some of your luxury oceangoing vessels," said travel adviser Marni Becker of Protravel International in New York, part of the Travel Leaders Group.
Food sourcing is predominantly done centrally, but like the big guys, river cruise lines are ramping up efforts to incorporate local, seasonal ingredients and regional recipes that reflect the culture and traditions of the ports visited.
For example, in addition to omelets, fruit, cereals, breads and pastries at breakfast buffets, Viking itineraries in Europe include muesli and local cured meats and cheeses — as well as pickled herring and smoked salmon (that reflect the line's Scandinavian heritage). Another example: On Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, guests get to taste prosciutto di Parma pizza or osso buco Milanese in Italy, Wiener schnitzel in Austria or fresh oysters in France. An industry first: Chefs on Viking Longships grow herbs on the sun decks and invite passengers to help harvest them for dinner.
Howard Blount, of Plant City, Fla., remembers a buffet on a Viking Longship as it cruised through Austria. "The chef and crew pulled out all the stops with costumes, live music and table-top cheese, cold cuts and pretzel displays — every Austrian food and beverage imaginable," he said.
Many lines also hold wine and cheese tastings onboard.
Because eating 21 meals (over a typical weeklong cruise) in the same dining room can grow tiresome, cruise lines are experimenting with alternatives. On AmaWaterways, a chef's table at the stern of the boat seats up to 32 people in an area with an open kitchen and floor-to-ceiling windows guests experience a tasting menu (available to each passenger at least once during the cruise) that includes paired wines and special desserts. Two intimate wine rooms off the main dining room seat up to 10 for dinner.
On Viking, guests can dine al fresco on the Aquavit Terrace or at the Aquavit Lounge, a casual setting with a pub-style menu. On Uniworld, guests can dine in the glass-enclosed Sky Lounge or have dinner on deck under the stars. On its Jewel-class ships, Tauck River Cruises offers lighter fare at The Bistro toward the stern.
Having fewer passengers allows for more personalized service and also means riverboats generally are able to address food allergies and other special diets. "I can't eat seeds or nuts, so at every meal the maitre d' went through the menu choices, telling me what I could or couldn't eat," said Carol Cassara, of the San Francisco Bay area, who sailed on the Viking Idun. "I never had this level of attention to my dietary restrictions. He remembered and found me every day."
On AmaWaterways, menus are marked with symbols (e.g., dairy-free, vegetarian, etc.) so guests are aware of ingredients. Most river cruise lines, however, aren't able to provide Kosher meals.
Some itineraries are specifically geared to food and wine enthusiasts. For example, wine-themed cruises on AmaWaterways (hosted by wine experts) feature complimentary lectures, tastings, paired dinners and vineyard tours in winemaking regions along various European rivers.
Regular itineraries that travel through food and wine-centric regions (often in France) would win over any food lover. "A river cruise from Lyon to Avignon hooked me off the bat," said Pearson of Travelex.
Viking cruises through the Bordeaux region allow guests to visit the area's oldest covered market and an oyster farm and to hunt for truffles in the forests of Bergerac. On Uniworld, passengers savor regional favorites, such as duck confit, caviar d'Aquitaine and oysters, and meet with winemakers to learn about regional wines. By special arrangement, on its "A Taste of France" itinerary on the Rhone, Tauck takes guests to Abbaye de Collonges, the restaurant of Michelin-starred chef Paul Bocuse. The line also arranges offshore dinners at spectacular venues like castles and places.
On the Viking Mimir, Blount feasted on bratwurst, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes at an authentic German restaurant in the medieval town of Rothenburg. When Rebecca Forstadt-Olkowski, of Los Angeles, took an AmaWaterways Christmas Market cruise on the Danube, she enjoyed holiday favorites like hot mulled wine, gingerbread and chestnuts. On a Uniworld cruise, Viv Chapleo and Jill Hoelting, of Bend, Ore., were treated to Khmer cuisine at a restaurant housed in an historic French building in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Passengers on AmaWaterways Tulip Cruises sample chocolate, waffles and beer in Antwerp, Belgium, as part of an optional excursion.
Home-hosted meals (where small groups dine at a local family's home) offer truly immersive food experiences. Although shore excursions generally are included in the price of river cruises (as opposed to being add-ons on most ocean cruise lines), it may be tempting (and it's possible) to go AWOL at certain foodie destinations like Lyon or Bruges, and enjoy lunch or dinner at special restaurants.
Clearly, key to the popularity of modern riverboats are the efforts being made to cater to culinary enthusiasts who consider food, dining and beverage experiences integral to travel. With the entry of two new Crystal River Cruises uber-luxury ships to the market in 2017, the competition in the galley is likely to grow even hotter.
Dining Onboard Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean ships have a wide variety of excellent dining options. From the delicious casual options, enjoyed poolside or at your favorite onboard locations, to the most elegant restaurant dining, your trip will include meals you will never forget. In a world with rising culinary expectations, Royal Caribbean continues to deliver.
Guests can choose to opt for either My Time Dining or Traditional Dining. With My Time Dining, guests can eat at their leisure in any of the inclusive dining venues. Traditional dining enables guests to dine at the same time each night, either early or late seating, in the same dining room along with the same dining companions and wait staff throughout the cruise.
Onboard dining options also include stateroom delivery (both scheduled and on-demand) to allow you to enjoy your vacation and eat at your leisure. Starbucks coffee is also available on most ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet as well as other breakfast and beverage options to start your day and keep to your favorite routines. Various Dining options for children 12-under are available around the clock during your cruise vacation.
Royal Caribbean ships also offer a wide variety of beverage packages with options to suit your party regardless of your drinking intentions. For those cruise travelers who like to enjoy an adult beverage, there are options from a few drinks per day to open bar solutions for groups large and small. Non-drinkers can purchase access to premium bottled water and assorted other beverages to your taste. Enjoy your favorite drinks and drink responsibly on your Royal Caribbean Cruise.
Donuts, coffee and specialty drinks make Boardwalk Donuts a spot you just can't miss. Start your day with your favorite donut or end your day with your favorite donut. Either way, you're going to have a great day when you visit Boardwalk Donuts.
Café @ Two70
Exclusive to Anthem class ships the [email protected] offers a variety of quick bites including hot pressed sandwiches, salads, homemade soups and more. Plus, you can get everything to go and have a picnic wherever you choose.
This amazing 1940's style cupcake shop isn't just fun to look at, they crank out some of the best onboard treats you'll ever lay eyes on. Ready to create your own? Get involved in their amazing cupcake design classes.
Build your own hot dog adding your favorite toppings and condiments. Not in the mood for a traditional hot dog? Try sausages, bratwurst and many other options with convenient hours of operation.
Gather the family, your friends or even wander in solo and you're bound to have more than a great meal at Johnny Rockets. With hamburgers, fries and a wide variety of hot dogs on the menu and an energetic staff on hand, you'll have a great time, every time.
For fans of New York-style pizza, there is no better onboard eatery. This low-key dining option offers pizza from the simple to complex and when it comes to toppings, they've got it all. From the oven to your favorite location on your Royal Caribbean cruise, these pizzas are always a fan favorite.
Enjoy your favorite Starbucks treats at Café Promenade with drinks, snacks and sandwiches available all day and into the night..
The Windjammer Marketplace offers something for everyone. This amazing buffet restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers a variety of options. A full buffet breakfast including made to order eggs and omelets is the perfect way to start the day. Lunch and dinner offer a variety of options including soups and salads, burgers, pasta stations, carving stations, international dishes and so much more.
Main Dining Room
The main dining room is not to be missed &mdash not that you could miss it if you tried. This multi-level, world-class dining hall offers the largest variety of cuisines and options at sea. Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner with a variety that always keeps you guessing while consistently offering up your favorites.
If it's Far East flavors that you're chasing after, your journey stops at Silk. This eclectic menu with a delicious mix of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Indian cuisines with a focus on flavors and presentation. This sophisticated restaurant will have you talking about your meal for years to come.
American Icon Grill
Let's face it, most of us have a love affair with comfort foods. American Icon Grill will cater to that love affair and leave you asking for more. Menu favorites include gumbo, southern buttermilk fried chicken, short ribs and the amazing American Thanksgiving dinner.
Modern and contemporary to the core, Chic is a destination not to be missed while aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. With a mix of savory and sweet and fan favorites like Rack of Lamb, you'll find yourself dreaming of this delicious menu only to return multiple times. Try the spiced carrot cake dessert - another favorite of seasoned cruise travelers.
The Grande serves up timeless classics that never fall short of expectations. Consistently one of the highest-rated restaurants on a Royal Caribbean ship, the mix of glamour and sophistication is undeniable. With menu options from risotto to duck to cheesecake, the hardest decision of your cruise vacation will be picking your favorites while dining at The Grande.
150 Central Park*
150 Central Park is another creation from James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz. Reserve your spot for elegant American fare presented with the thought and care you would expect from a chef of this caliber. 150 Central Park offers a multi-course menu with options for everyone in your travel group.
The tagline 'California Cool meets the warmth of the Mediterranean really does say it all. Coast Kitchen offers up fresh seafood favorites paired with craft cocktails for an unforgettable combination of food and drink in stunning surroundings with stunning views. It really doesn't get more relaxing than this. With a focus on the details that you'll notice not just in taste and ingredients but also in the plating techniques, you can't miss Coastal Kitchen.
Royal Caribbean's signature steakhouse has premium cuts of steak, fresh seafood and contemporary sides. The evening starts with a selection of appetizers followed by soups and salads. The main courses offered include a selection of prime steaks, veal chops and organic chicken. Seafood lovers can choose from Grilled Branzino, Spicy Jumbo Shrimp, Snapper Veracruz and Crusted Tuna. For a truly special meal indulge in one of the dry-aged steaks including a 20 ounce Porterhouse Steak or a Roasted Maine Lobster. As with any fine steakhouse a variety of sides are available such as creamed spinach, grilled asparagus, mashed potatoes and more. Those who miss out on the desert at Chops Grille tend to regret it later so make sure you save some room. This upscale restaurant will require a reservation.
Izumi is the ultimate sushi destination on a ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Try your Japanese favorites with convenient dining times in a comfortable environment. Sashimi and hot rock plates are just a few of the wide variety of options they offer.
It's nearly impossible to know about food and not know the name Jamie Oliver. One of Britain's most famous chefs serves up his spin on Italian cooking with a focus on fresh ingredients and healthy dining without any loss of flavor. Your meal begins with a variety of starters such as fresh bread, grilled vegetables, fresh cheeses and prosciutto, bruschetta, crispy squid and more. The pasta course follows with a selection of homemade pastas and risottos. The main course selection includes items such as Jamie's Italian Burger, Aubergine Parmigiana, Baked Salmon, Chicken Al Mattone, Rib Eye Steak and other Jamie Oliver favorites. This Quantum of the Sea favorite is your chance to get a taste of what this culinary rockstar has to offer.
Michael's Genuine Pub*
Food and drink, pub-style. The staff at Michael's Genuine Pub doesn't feel the need to complicate your bar favorites, they just want to perfect them. This is not only the first gastropub at sea, it's what many consider to be the best. The menu, created by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz features something for even the most particular in your group.
Prime Table is an exclusive culinary experience located within Chops Grille. Indulge in the upgraded dining experience accommodating just 16 guests each evening. The extraordinary five course menu begins with a champagne toast. Each course is expertly paired with exceptional free flowing wines specially selected by the sommelier. Decadent desserts follow to round out this truly memorable gourmet dining experience.
If you're craving Spanish flavors during your vacation, Sabor is here to help. Reserve your table ahead of time as this popular restaurant should be a priority on your to-eat list while onboard. With an ever-changing menu, Sabor constantly surprises guests with bursts of flavor, fresh ingredients and memory-making meals.
Not booking a table at Wonderland during your cruise vacation is almost unthinkable. This isn't your traditional feast as much as it is a tantalizing assault on your senses. These chefs like to twist their 'culinary kaleidoscopes' to shock and awe your eyes, nose and palate in the most impressive of ways. For a magical and mysterious (and most importantly, memorable) meal, don't miss your chance to dine at Wonderland.
Royal Caribbean offers 24-hour room service to your stateroom. Imagine enjoying a special meal on your balcony as the sun is setting or having breakfast during the sunrise. While a wide variety of options are available free of charge, there are some items such as alcohol and specialty meals that require an additional fee. There is also a fee for late night room service.
All menus and dining times are subject to change without notice. Some venues are only available on select ships.
Top 10 Cruise Lines for Food Lovers - Recipes
The Top 10 Cruise Lines for Specialty Dining
Cruise Lines Offer More Specialty Dining Options for the Ultimate Epicurean Experience at Sea
DETROIT (Feb 23, 2012) &ndash If you are taking a cruise in 2012 and beyond, look forward to more choices and greater variety when it comes to dining, say the experts at CruiseCompete. The cruise lines have responded to consumer demand for an ever-expanding selection of specialty restaurants.
These restaurants offer more than the typical cruise line fare. They are headed by some of the world&rsquos top chefs &ndash many of whom have trained at famed culinary institutions like Cordon Bleu and Relais & Chateaux &ndash and they provide a true epicurean experience.
The exclusive nature of these venues means that they usually require a reservation and generally incur an additional fee to dine, so be sure to confirm details when booking.
Following is information on 10 of the best lines for specialty restaurants. For more information on the various cruise lines and their specialty dining options, please click here.
Crystal has two specialty dining restaurants&mdashPrego (Italian) and Master Chef Nobu Matsushisa's Silk Road and The Sushi Bar(Asian) &mdashand allows for one pre-cruise dining reservation in each for a total of two pre-cruise reservations, per stateroom, on each voyage. Once on board, you may see the maître d&rsquo to make additional reservations based on availability. There is no extra charge to guests for specialty dining.
Charming and romantic, Prego brings the flavors of Italy to Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. A seasonally changing Valentino at Prego menu features signature dishes such as Scaloppine Di Vitello Servite Con Capelli D&rsquoangelo and Linguine Con Aragosta E Zucchini, along with wines that are served at Piero Selvaggio&rsquos revered Los Angeles and Las Vegas restaurants, Valentino. Valentino is considered by many to be among the finest Italian restaurants in the country.
The eclectic&ndashand delectable&ndashcuisine of world-renowned master chef Nobuyuki &ldquoNobu&rdquo Matsuhisa is prepared by Nobu-trained chefs at Silk Road and The Sushi Bar. Regarded for his innovative approach to sushi, Nobu blends classically styled Japanese foods with distinct Peruvian and European influences. While The Sushi Bar offers an assortment of Nobu&rsquos inventive sushi and sashimi, including Salmon Tartar with Sevruga Caviar, Tiradito Nobu-style and Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño, Silk Road presents his celebrated dishes such as Lobster with Truffle-Yuzu Sauce, Grilled Wagyu Beef Rib-Eye with Wasabi Pepper Sauce, and his signature dessert, a Bento Box filled with Chocolate Soufflé Cake with Shiso Syrup and Sesame Ice Cream. The famed chef enjoys a long history with Crystal and unveiled his own line of fine china during Crystal Serenity&rsquos inaugural season.
Cunard ships have an assortment of specialty dining options. Queen Mary 2 has La Piazza, The Carvery, Lotus, and Chef&rsquos Galley Queen Victoria has Bamboo, Coriander, and Prime and Queen Elizabeth has Jasmine, Atzec and Asado. A cover charge of $10 per person will be payable in the evenings to dine in these unique restaurants.
Queen Mary2 and Queen Victoria also offer the Todd English restaurant. Reservations are required but cannot be made until on board there is a charge of $20 per person for lunch and $30 per person for dinner.
Details about Cunard&rsquos specialty restaurants:
&bull Todd English is a stunning restaurant featuring innovative Mediterranean cuisine, eponymously named for the world-famous celebrity chef. La Piazza serves pasta, pizza and a mouth-watering selection of Italian specialties.
&bull The Carvery serves the finest carved beef, lamb, pork and poultry.
&bull Lotus serves a tempting taste of the Far East.
&bull Chef&rsquos Galley is an interactive dining event where guests observe one of the ship&rsquos chefs prepare each course of their meal. Reservations are required on a first-come, first-serve basis and can only be made once on board.
&bull Bamboo serves superb Asian cuisine.
&bull Coriander offers a taste of India.
&bull Prime features contemporary American favorites and prime steaks.
&bull Jasmine serves exquisite Asian cuisine.
&bull Aztec serves interpretations of Mexican classics.
&bull Asado is a South American grill offering sublime meat dishes.
Palo is an adult exclusive restaurant located on all of Disney&rsquos ships. The restaurant serves Northern Italian cuisine for dinner and brunch and high tea on select cruises. Reservations at Palo can be made online or after boarding the ship seating is limited and dining is limited to guests 18 and older. High tea is $10 per guest Palo is $20 per guest for both dinner and brunch.
The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy also have Remy, an intimate adult-exclusive restaurant offering the most upscale dining experience available onboard. The restaurant serves the finest in French-inspired cuisine for dinner. Reservations are required and can be made online or after boarding the ship. Seating is limited and advance reservations are recommended. Dining is limited to guests 18 and older. Remy is $75 per guest for dinner.
Holland America Line features two specialty restaurants&mdashThe Pinnacle Grill (fresh seafood and Pacific Northwest specialties) and the Tamarind Restaurant (Pan-Asian fare).
The Tamarind Restaurant is exclusive to Holland America Line&rsquos Signature-class ships, ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam. Dinner reservations are $15 per adult, $7.50 for children ages 13-17, complimentary for children ages 12 and under, and may be pre-booked online or with Ship Services. Lunch reservations may only be made on board, but incur no extra charge.
The Pinnacle Grill is available by reservation only for both lunch and dinner and is ideal for a romantic dinner or a special group celebration. Adults are $25 per person for dinner or $10 for lunch. Children under 12 dine free of charge and a discount of 50% applies for children between 13 years and 17 years of age.
HAL exclusively offers &ldquoAn Evening at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Grill&rdquo aboard its fleet of 15 ships. On every voyage of seven days or longer, the Pinnacle Grill is transformed for at least one night into a Le Cirque-like atmosphere which is available to all guests.
Canaletto comes to life for dinner when a section of the Lido restaurant is transformed each night into the family style Italian restaurant. Canaletto&rsquos menu features daily, traditional Italian favorites with entrees rotating nightly. It&rsquos a casual dining venue that seats 66 at no extra charge. (Reservations are encouraged but walk-ins are accepted.) Available on ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Eurodam, ms Oosterdam, ms Amsterdam, ms Veendam, ms Rotterdam, ms Ryndam, ms Statendam and ms Maasdam.
With Norwegian&rsquos Freestyle Cruising comes Freestyle Dining. You&rsquoll have access to specialty dining restaurants with cover charges between $10 and $30 per guest reservations are recommended. Choose from a traditional Steakhouse, French gourmet Le Bistro, Asian Fusion, Brazilian Churrascaria, Teppanyaki for grilled steak, seafood, chicken and veggies, plus sushi (priced a la carte), Chinese (also a la carte), and more.
The Marina, Regatta, Nautica and Insignia each have specialty restaurants Toscana (Italian) and Polo Grill. Marina also has Jacques (French, named for Jacques Pépin) and Red Ginger (Japanese and Vietnamese). Reservations can be made in advance online or on board and number of reservations may be dependent on sailing category. There is no additional charge for any of the specialty dining rooms.
On Princess Cruises, specialty dining venues vary by ship. Sabatini&rsquos has authentic Italian fare, featuring pasta and seafood specialties in a setting reminiscent of a Tuscan villa. Reservations are suggested. Cover charge is $20 per person. Crown Grill is premium aged beef and fresh seafood. Reservations are suggested. Cover charge is $25 per person. Bayou Café Steakhouse is the first New Orleans-inspired specialty restaurant at sea, serving traditional Cajun and Creole influenced food with live jazz. Reservations are suggested. Cover charge is $25 per person. Sterling Steakhouse is a more refined approach to cooked-to-order aged beef.
Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager have steakhouse Prime 7 and the Mariner and Voyager also have Signatures, a French restaurant featuring Le Cordon Bleu®-inspired cuisine. Reservations can be made in advance or on board. All dining is included in Regent&rsquos all-inclusive cruises.
There are two specialty restaurants most of the RCI ships &mdash Chops Grill and Portofino Restaurant. Advanced reservations are recommended however, reservations can be made at the restaurant based on availability. There is a $20 per person service charge to dine at the Portofino Restaurant and a $25 per person service charge for Chops Grille.
On Silversea, specialty dining is available on all ships, except Silver Explorer, the line&rsquos expedition vessel. The Relais & Chateaux restaurant is Le Champagne (French), plus the Silver Spirit has Seishin (Asian). Reservations can be made on board and there is a charge of $30 for Le Champagne and the same for Seishin.
To find out more about specialty dining options aboard the cruise lines&rsquo ships, please view more detailed information here, or contact your CruiseCompete agent at CruiseCompete.com.
About CruiseCompete, Where Travel Agents Compete to Offer Consumers the Best Cruise Deals:
Since 2003, over 700 travel agencies and 2,700 cruise experts have provided 9 million quotes in response to more than 2 million consumer cruise quote requests.
CruiseCompete continues to garner the highest praise from the media for its revolutionary premise that free-market competition provides the best pricing options for consumers.
The New York Times says, "&hellipindependent travel agents compete to offer you the best deal," and follows similar praise from Kiplinger&rsquos, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. The Street says, "Score Luxury Cruises at Bargain Prices."
For more information, please visit CruiseCompete.com or Cruise Compete Groups. CruiseCompete is an Iowa limited liability company and is not a travel agency or owned by a travel agency.
Heidi M. Allison
Allison and Taylor, Inc.
10 Best Cruise Lines for Gluten Free Food
A Gluten-free diet excludes the protein gluten, that includes the exclusion of wheat, rye, and barley. The diet has been known to aid people who are diagnosed with celiac disease managing its symptoms. This form of diet has become widely popular among people who aren’t diagnosed with a gluten-related medical condition. It has been claimed that going through this nutritional regime improves health, aids in weight loss, and increases energy, although more research is still needed.
People who adhere to gluten-free diets and would like to go on a cruise have to go through the extra burden of meal planning, restaurant research, and preparing packed food and items from their kitchens. There is good news for those people as all cruise lines, without exception, now offer gluten-free meals.
All a prospective cruiser has to do is to make the request in advance and give the cruise line notification prior to their sail date. Notifying a cruise line of an incoming gluten-free cruiser (or cruisers, as is more usually the case) gives them ample time to order larger quantities of gluten-free ingredients. This allows the cruise line plenty of time to lay in the amounts necessary and ensure that all requests are met.
For those who are interested in taking a gluten-free cruise, we have listed below 10 of the best cruise lines for gluten-free food.
1. Royal Caribbean
The Royal Caribbean menu is incredibly conducive for those who are trying to avoid gluten. Amazingly, every night they provide at least one (on most occasions several) gluten-free appetizer, a main dish, and dessert. They offer gluten-free sandwiches, pastries, and pizzas from separate cooking areas to avoid cross-contamination.
Be sure to contact your travel advisor or Certified Vacation Planner and request that the gluten-free remark be noted in your reservation details. If your reservation is made online through royalcaribbean.com, add your request to the “update personal information.” section.
To cover all your bases, you may also send an email request to [email protected] be sure to include in your e-mail the guests’ names, booking number, ship name, and sail date, then your email will receive an automated response.
2. Carnival Cruise Line
Since Carnival has a large fleet of ships and is noted for being a famous commercial cruise line, they are adequately stocked all the time for gluten-free cruisers. Without exception, all of Carnival’s cruise ships serve gluten-free bread, different kinds of pasta, pizzas, and desserts. They also have a well-known restaurant called Guy’s Burger Joints, where you can get bunless burgers and french fries as gluten-free options. Gluten-free beer is also available onboard Carnival’s cruise ships, and if you request ahead of time, the chefs can bake you a gluten-free cake.
3. Cunard Line
A cruise line committed to providing deluxe accommodations on the seas, the Cunard team oversees dietary specifications in a professional manner. All of the ships in the line employ specialist head waiters and chefs to manage special dietary requests, and they’ll coordinate with you about the options available.
Gluten-free breads are available throughout meal times, and sauces are whipped up separately to meet dietary requirements. On top of this, gluten-free kinds of pasta, biscuits, cookies, and cereals are provided throughout the cruise.
To ensure you receive gluten-free service aboard your Cunard cruise, you are required to inform your operator at the time of booking and confirm the request at the purser’s desk when you board the ship.
4. Holland America Cruises
They made dining for cruisers with Celiac’s disease or gluten sensitivities more convenient by marking food items without gluten with the symbol of wheat next to their descriptions. Customers can also request for gluten-free buns in their Dive-In burgers. For your special dietary needs that require assistance, you may contact Holland America Cruises Ship Services at least three weeks prior to your departure at 1–800–541–1576.
5. Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian offers a handful of gluten-free options onboard as part of their regular menu, including pre-packaged cookies & toast. But with advanced notice, they can prepare gluten-free pastries, pasta, and even pancakes. Gluten-free dessert options include ice cream, souffle, and creme brulee. Always coordinate with your head waiter, and Norwegian Cruise Line will pull out all the stops whenever possible.
6. Princess Cruises
They offer a variety of gluten-free products such as bread, cereal, spaghetti, and macaroni. They have created a special gluten-free mix that they use to make cookies, cakes, muffins, pancakes, and pizza crust. Princess Cruise will accommodate guests with any special dietary needs.
Like any other cruise lines, it is crucial to notify them in advance, at least 35 to 65 days in writing, depending on the particular cruise you’ll be booking. Another perk of booking a balcony cabin or above, by giving them a head’s up, you can order a deluxe balcony breakfast or dinner (for a fee,) and they will include items such as gluten-free muffins, french toast, pancakes or kinds of pasta.
7. Disney Cruises
Disney theme parks have earned a successful reputation when it comes to accommodating special dietary needs, and Disney cruises did not fall far from the tree. Simply make a note of your gluten intolerance or any other nutritional restrictions when booking your trip.
Onboard Disney Cruises, they sell their famous gluten-free popcorn, grab one and take it to the cabin for a snack. During breakfast, you will not be limited with their pastry spread such as muffins, toast & pancakes. To keep up with their awesomeness, they also prepare gluten-free donuts. You can wrap up your dinner with gluten-free desserts.
8. Seabourn Cruise Line
Famous for providing luxurious cruises, Seabourn Cruise Lines guarantees your gluten-free needs are met by arranging a variety of gluten-free pastries, and even breadsticks. All menu items are provided with a clear gluten-free label. Chefs are fully equipped to make any menu item as long as requests are made in advance. You can specify your gluten-free needs on Seabourn’s pre-cruise online portal prior to cruising.
9. Azamara Cruises
Though Azamara is a small cruise line, they can provide the necessary accommodations for gluten-free cruisers. Specify your gluten-free orders the night before, they can make pancakes, waffles, and other items. You can enjoy gluten-free dinners, particularly in their 2 specialty restaurants, Aqualina and Prime C. They offer a choice of whole-grain dinner rolls, hamburger & hot dog buns, various gluten-free pasta, risotto, rice noodles, some soups, gluten-free soy sauce, pancakes, waffles, plain bagels, muffins & cookies.
If you are planning to book a suite, expect the butler to drop by with coffee and tea along with with the most delicious gluten-free scones, jelly, and whipped cream
10. Regent Seven Seas Cruise Line
A luxury cruise line, Regent Seven Seas goes above and beyond in making a gluten-free alternative for almost any item on the menu. In addition to all the gluten-free staples such as bread and various kinds of pasta, Regent goes the extra mile in ensuring that you don’t miss out on delicious dishes. For instance, at Regent’s Chocoholics high-tea service, they offer an entire gluten-free menu, consisting of finger sandwiches and gluten-free desserts such as meringue and fruit tart.
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8—Royal Caribbean International
Carnival Cruise Line coming in top certainly speaks to the brand’s ubiquity and resonance with a broad clientele. It came out ahead of standard competitor Royal Caribbean International in seventh place and Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises surprisingly not making the list at all.
As a relative newcomer moving the dial in second, Viking Ocean Cruises continually proves to be a force to be reckoned with—especially having bested luxury companies Seabourn Cruise Line and Crystal Cruises.
Best River Cruise Line
3—American Queen Steamboat Company
5—Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours
Comparable to Carnival on the oceans, Viking River Cruises remains the most ubiquitous brand on the rivers leading it to first place. Not forgotten, though, are the likes of AmaWaterways and Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours internationally and American Queen Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines domestically. The latter two show that cruises closer to home are increasingly popular.
Best Boutique Cruise Line
Small cruise lines also make a splash, and Windstar Cruises takes the crown with its unique fleet of sailing ships and motor yachts navigating the globe. Given it only has one ship, Paul Gauguin Cruises following immediately behind is impressive.
Best Cruise Ship for Dining
Viking Ocean Cruises again reflects excellence, this time in the culinary category, by having every one of its first three ships on the board including in first place. Only Crystal comes close with its Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony both making the list.
As other upscale and luxury ships, Pride, Encore and Marina are anticipated contenders, but standard Carnival Vista and premium Royal Princess deserve attention for their inclusion.
Best Cruise Ship for Entertainment
Carnival Vista and Regal Princess are more expected in the highest slots for entertainment, and Carnival impresses for showing Breeze as well. Royal Caribbean also did well by getting three of its ships in the top ten as did Holland America Line with two of its own. MSC getting noticed for Divina is a good sign for the company’s North American future.
It is, however, surprising to see Disney, well known for its production shows, only mentioned for a singular ship.
Best Cruise Ship for Families
Disney Cruise Line returns to the forefront with three of its four ships winning among families, but a larger quartet of Carnival ships actually swept the lead with its two newest ships in first and second.
Princess’ latest domestic pair also came ahead of Disney with only Royal Caribbean infilling with one more. Remarkably, it wasn’t even the line’s freshest Harmony of the Seas but its preceding sister-ship.
Best Cruise Line for Millennials
7—Royal Caribbean International
As a millennial myself, I agree with Carnival as an all-around good time at sea worthy of first place. It’s also nice to see Norwegian finally get some love here. Likely to make the list next year will be the newly introduced U by Uniworld, specifically servicing the younger demographic.
Best Cruise Line for Solo Travelers
9—Royal Caribbean International
10—Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection does make it this year for solo travelers along with AmaWaterways. The two traditional river brands bookend a diverse collection of ocean and expedition operators.
With accommodations specifically designed for individuals, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International deservedly win spots, but Cunard Line is curiously absent.
Best Adventure Cruise Line
Rounding out the winners are a mix of well-known and lesser recognized companies providing adventure travel to cruisers. Adventure Canada beating out universally acknowledged Lindblad-National Geographic is certainly the most impressive underdog win of the bunch.