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Cruise Food: 5 At-Sea Restaurants That Rival Top Eateries on Land

Cruise Food: 5 At-Sea Restaurants That Rival Top Eateries on Land


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Cruise ships’ vast, multistoried main restaurants, lavish buffets, and casual grills by the pool are key dining staples, but almost every line also offers alternatives for those who want a more upscale meal. These venues usually feature an intimate atmosphere, elegant ambience, and sophisticated menus, not to mention cuisine that rivals the top restaurants on land. Here's my pick of five not to miss:

Crystal Cruises’ Silk Road
One of the best reasons to cruise on Crystal’s Serenity and Symphony, bar none, is the opportunity to dine at Nobu Matsuhisa’s Silk Road Restaurant and Sushi Bar, which offers a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cooking. Matsuhisa trains the staff (and sometimes imports chefs from other restaurants in his culinary empire), designs the menus, and makes quality checks onboard. Sometimes he’ll actually cruise and host food- and sake-related activities.

Signature dishes: Black cod with miso, Wagyu beef rib eye, sashimi salad, lobster spring roll, and, for dessert, a trio of crème brûlées.

Worth noting: There’s no extra fee to dine at Silk Road (even some select wines and sakes are included in the price), but tables are highly coveted, and reservations are a must. Seats at the sushi bar are first-come, first-served (no reservations), and you can order off the Silk Road menu as well.

Celebrity Cruises’ Qsine
Qsine (pronounced cue-zeen), one of the newer restaurant concepts in cruising, is an odd blend of comfort food with a global and gourmet twist. Served tapas- or family-style, what makes Qsine unforgettable (and a blast besides) is its whimsical ambience: The menu, displayed on iPads, consists of small plates such as the Meatball Trilogy (Kobe with cheddar, veal with mushrooms, and turkey with cranberry); Crunchy Munchies, a mix of fried root vegetables (potato chips, sweet potato strings, crispy parsnips); and Chinese Martinis, or "Chinis," martini glasses filled with orange chicken, Kung Pao shrimp, and other takeout classics. Ordering for the table can take a while as the menu is massive, and the debates about what to choose are often spirited and playful.

Signature dishes: Sushi lollipops, tacos with Black Angus sirloin, grilled Kobe beef sliders, popcorn fish-and-chips, poached tiger shrimp, and beignets for dessert.

Worth noting: Qsine’s cover charge of $40 per person is one of cruising's highest (and it’s still tough to get a reservation). The restaurant is on Celebrity’s Infinity, Millennium, Summit, Eclipse, and Silhouette; it will also be on the line’s newest, Reflection, which debuts this fall.

Disney Cruise Line’s Remy
Ditch the children for the evening at the kids’ club, and dine at adults-only, French-inspired Remy. Elegant and hushed, the restaurant features Frette linens, Riedel stemware, and Christofle silverware — but what you’ll really remember is the food. Two chefs created the menus: Arnaud Lallement from l'Assiette Champenoise, a two-star Michelin restaurant just outside Reims, and Scott Hunnel from award-winning Victoria & Albert's at Walt Disney World Resort. You can opt for the basic menu, which specializes in both meats and seafood, or let the chef prepare a wine-paired dinner.

Signature dishes: Wagyu beef in barbecue sauce, Dover sole amandine, Kurobuta pork tenderloin, cod with chili, scallops Saint Jacques and, for dessert, chocolate fondant.

Worth noting: You can book your reservations before your cruise. On the day you’ll dine there, a sommelier will contact you to help pre-select wines for the meal. The cover charge is $75 per person for the regular menu, and $99 per person for the wine-paired option (neither charge includes the cost of wine or other drinks). The dress code is as formal as the restaurant. Only Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy have Remy onboard.

Holland America’s Tamarind
The pan-Asian Tamarind, which fuses Asian traditions from China to Indonesia, offers two menus. The first is the relatively straightforward sushi and sashimi selection, made fresh. Its main menu groups foods in the categories of water, wood, fire, and earth, reflecting five Chinese elements (the fifth, metal, is used in cooking).

Signature dishes: Glazed sea bass, an Asia-influenced bouillabaisse, five-spice seitan and tempeh, snapper baked in rice paper, Cantonese duck, and, for dessert, a mango soufflé.
Worth noting: The service charge for Tamarind, which is only available on Holland America’s Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam, is $15. This is one of the rare alternative restaurants that is open for lunch (no charge then for a slightly more simplified menu).

Oceania Cruises' Jacques
Jacques, a restaurant steeped in the classic French tradition as interpreted by legendary chef Jacques Pépin, both challenges and comforts your taste buds. The most successful dishes are the French staples; the galley, which Pépin helped design, has its own rotisserie (so steak frites and roast chicken are superb) and its own bakery, where ingredients are sourced solely from France. Other standouts include Escargots Bourguignon en Croute, foie gras, and mussels Marinières. There’s a decadent cheese trolley.

Signature dishes: Pumpkin soup (served in an actual gourd), Lyonnaise sausage and potato salad, sautéed Dover sole, duck confit, and, for dessert, the aforementioned cheese trolley (or Jacques’ apple tart).

Worth noting: Jacques’ restaurant is only onboard Oceania’s Marina and Riviera, its two newest ships, but the cruise line has incorporated many of the eponymous chef’s classics into main dining room menus throughout the four-ship fleet. There’s no service fee to dine here. Plus, Pépin occasionally travels on the ships, and hosts cooking classes onboard and shore excursions to food- and wine-related purveyors while in port.

By Carolyn Spencer Brown, CondeNastTraveler.com

Condé Nast Traveler, founded in 1987, is one of the most trusted names in travel. The magazine was established on a simple yet revolutionary principle: “Truth in Travel.” With the goal of experiencing the world exactly as their readers do, its correspondents travel anonymously and pay their own way — unlike many related publications, which often accept free fares and accommodations. This guiding principle allows for honest, fair reporting on all aspects of the industry — which is why there is no more respected or trusted source than Condé Nast Traveler.

Read more from The Daily Traveler and CondeNastTraveler:

  • The New Food at LaGuardia Airport That We Actually Want to Eat
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  • Rooftop Hotel Bars with Incredible Views

What&aposs better than rambling through France’s Alsace and Germany’s Rheingau wine regions—some of the prettiest wine country in the world𠅋y car or bike? Sailing through it by boat, as my husband and I recently discovered: No designated drivers (or even gross motor skills beyond lifting a glass, really) are needed.

It would be hard to find a more luxurious boat than the AmaMora. The 78-room river ship is home to a seven-night, food-and-wine-themed cruise on the Rhine River as it winds north from Basel, Switzerland, to Amsterdam. The cruise is a partnership between Adventures by Disney and AmaWaterways, and there are two similar sailings planned for 2019.

River travel at this level is absurdly civilized: We unpacked once, slept in the same bed every night, and woke up each morning to a new destination. Aboard ship, six affable Disney �venture guides” operated as chaperones, storytellers, and fixers.

As the trip progressed, one day we found ourselves standing in the tiny Alsatian village of Riquewihr, sampling the local Pinot Blanc and Crémant (our 2018 sailing included a visit to the Dopff winery). The next, we canoed down a canal before descending into one of the oldest wine caves in Europe, under the 14th-century hospital in Strasbourg, where we sniffed a (now undrinkable, but still fascinating) 546-year-old wine.

Then, trading France for Germany, where steep vineyards slope dramatically down much of this length of the Rhine, we sipped a spritzy trocken (dry) Kabinett in a vineyard in Rﳞsheim, a mere 10 minutes’ walk from where we disembarked the boat.

When we weren’t stuffing our faces with Alsatian flammkuchen, cheese, or German spaetzle, we ate on board the ship. Each dinner reflected the region we were traveling through, as did the wines: Think plenty of Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Spätburgunder. And at the end of a river-running week of wine, an icy genever and tonic in Amsterdam, our final stop, was all the more refreshing. (Cruise from $5,089, all-inclusive adventuresbydisney.com) —Melanie Hansche


Dining Onboard Oceania Cruises

Oceania cruise ships feature more than a dozen amazing options for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can start the day with a fresh coffee concoction from a skilled barista, have a fantastic lunch with a view from multiple areas on deck and wrap up your day with an elegant meal sure to satisfy even the most experienced foodies in the crowd. Master Chef Jacques Pépin is more than just a household name. On your Oceania Cruises journey, he's the culinary guide who has shaped some of the most desirable menus in the history of cruising.

Oceania takes pride in having the 'finest cuisine at sea' and a talented team of chefs executes high end dishes with local ingredients. You'll find multiple open seating dining options for all meals with great food, thoughtful decor and amazing views. Room service is also available around the clock with a wide variety of options brought directly to your stateroom as you want it, when you want it.

Terrace Cafe

Try the made to order pizzas as you enjoy the comfortable atmosphere at Terrace Cafe. With floor to ceiling windows your world opens up and a familiar cafe-style menu offers tasty favorites. You can dine inside or al fresco on the terrace which this casual restaurant is named after.

Waves Grill

Gourmet burgers, tasty BBQ and fresh seafood anchor the menu at this fun outdoor venue. With so many options just a few steps from the pool, you'll find yourself coming back for additional meals. For dessert, the hand-dipped milkshakes are an unbelievable way to end any meal at Waves Grill.

Baristas

This cozy spot is a must-visit for coffee lovers onboard an Oceania cruise. Baristas delivers the best espressos, cappuccinos and lattes on the high seas. You’ll also find pastries, finger foods and many other snacks as you start or end your day at Baristas.


19 Places to Eat on Carnival Freedom

If you’re sailing on Carnival Freedom soon, come hungry because this ship is bursting with options for grabbing grub. Here are 19 choices for finding food aboard the ship.

1. The Freedom Restaurant

You may casually refer to this as the “lido buffet,” but it certainly has no shortage of food selections. From an omelet bar at breakfast to “The Sweet Spot” dessert bar, one could conceivably eat at the buffet for every meal of every day given its depth of variety and quality in flavor. However, we can’t say we recommend that when there are so many other amazing options for eating on the ship.

2. Posh and Chic Main Dining Rooms

The main dining rooms are the culinary staples of any cruise ship, and Carnival Freedom does not disappoint. The American Table menu is set to impress, and the food is all top-notch. Come hungry!

3. Sea Day Brunch

Served by waiters in one of the main dining rooms, the sea day brunch is a can’t-miss. You’re treated to a full menu of starters, eggs, entrees, and desserts along with coffee and juice (and even bloody marys). Forget fighting the buffet lines let the waiters serve you.

4. Sun King Steakhouse

For just $35 per person (and now $10 for kids), the steakhouse serves an intimate, four-course meal with exemplary cuts of steaks.

5. Guy’s Burger Joint

Guy’s Burgers is an undisputed Carnival cruiser favorite food stop, and it certainly lives up to its hype. “The best burgers at sea” and the seasoned fries are free and available from noon to 6 pm every day, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to grab a plate and try all the different toppings, like Guy’s signature “donkey sauce.”

6. Blue Iguana Cantina

To get your burrito fix while onboard, don’t miss Blue Iguana Cantina, where you get your choice of tortilla, type of meat, fillings, and toppings. Be sure to stop by one day for breakfast, too, as the breakfast burritos filled with eggs, hash browns, and chicken sausage (or “iguana,” as one crew member tried to tease me) are better than any I’ve tried on land!

7. Fish N’ Chips

Found only on select Conquest-class ships, Fish N’ Chips is located on Deck 10 just above the aft pool. However, this line doesn’t just have fried fillets and French fries. The menu also serves up items like ceviche, fried oysters, and bouillabaisse, among others. And best of all, this seafood stop is totally free.

8. Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast

Although very kid-oriented, the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast is a must-try. Yes, your eggs actually come out green! Or you can pick the French toast covered in Fruit Loops, which you can finish off with some Dr. Seuss “moose juice.”

9. Mongolian Wok

If you were wondering if Carnival Freedom had any Asian food on board, the answer is yes. Mongolian Wok will satisfy any stir-fry cravings during your cruise with its customized bowls of whatever noodle, veggie, sauce, or meat combos you can dream up.

10. Deli

The Carnival Deli dishes up both hot and cold deli sandwiches, including a pastrami on rye, corned beef on rye, a grilled Reuben, and an arugula, pepper, and mozz sandwich on ciabatta. The best part is the Deli is open 11 am to 11 pm, so you can hit it up for several meals throughout the day.

11. Pizza Pirate

Next to the quiet aft pool on lido deck, pizza pirate is open 24/7 and is completely complimentary. Free pizza at any hour of the day? Sign me up!

12. Taste Bar

Aptly named, The Taste Bar is located along the thoroughfare of the promenade deck and offers cruisers a taste of tapas-sized food items that you could find on other Carnival ships so you can see what other ships have to offer. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that it’s located right next to the “Future Cruise” desk…

13. Coffee Bar

While you’re grabbing your java at the Coffee Bar, keep your blinders on if you don’t want to be tempted by the window display of cakes and desserts. Or, go ahead and give into temptation. The desserts are a small extra fee, but they are well worth your money because the slices are huge!

14. Swirls Soft Serve and Froyo

Tucked into small nooks toward the back of the lido deck, the ice cream and froyo machines offer 24-hour self-serve soft serve ice cream and froyo for whenever you feel like a cold snack, be it 3 pm or 3 am.

15. Tea Time

On sea days, you can always attend the Tea Time hour, which is typically 3-4 pm in one of the main dining rooms. The cup of specialty herbal hot tea is only $1.95 (or free if you purchased the Cheers! package), but included in that price is an array of desserts and pastries that are served to you by the dining room wait staff.

16. Steakhouse Cooking Demonstration

Check your Fun Times schedule to see when the steakhouse chefs will be demonstrating how to cook some of the steakhouse favorites, and then stop by to get some free tasters and a list of recipes. Just be sure to get there a little early to get a seat up front so you can see all the action.

17. Select Bars

If you’re looking to snack while you drink, Carnival Freedom has no less than three bars where you can do so. If you’re trying out the elixirs at Alchemy Bar, the mixologist will be happy to give you a (free) plate of olives, cheese, and nuts to munch on if you ask. If you’re headed to RedFrog Pub for the board games and beer pong tournaments, be sure to try out the crispy plantain chips (also free). And last but not least, the SkyBox Sports Bar serves hot soft pretzels and peanuts in the shell.

18. Cherry On Top

Okay, so this may not be a place to eat a meal, but it’s the perfect place if you need to satisfy your sweet tooth. Just be sure to bring your Sign & Sail card, because the candy isn’t free. (Could you imagine if it were??)

19. Room Service

Lest we forget the tried-and-true option of room service, keep in mind that you can have food brought to your stateroom at any time of the day. The continental breakfast and a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, salads, desserts, and beverages are always complimentary. However, there’s an expanded fee-based menu that includes items like chicken wings, fried shrimp, and a banana split, but none of the extra items costs more than $6.


Dining Onboard Scenic Cruises

Scenic Cruises delivers a 'banquet of the senses' to guests on any ship in their impressive fleet which includes locally sourced ingredients. Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as fantastic snacks and beverages throughout your cruise vacation. From fresh pizza and burgers to the highest levels of fine dining, your culinary adventure on a Scenic Cruises ship is exactly what you make of it. Several excellent restaurants, signature dining events and the ability to dine anywhere allow you to craft a daily schedule to your liking and make sure you get the meals you truly crave.

River Cafe

The River Cafe is your destination for light meals, snacks and beverages that you can quickly pick up and take with you at any time. This excellent meeting spot is also where many guests start and end their days at sea. This mid-lounge venue serves up both early and late riser breakfast, light lunch and snacks. Comfortable seating and good food makes this a great spot to grab a quick bite. Try the gelato for a refreshing treat or browse the entire spread for some very exciting healthy options. These buffet-style options are there for you when you need them morning, noon and night at the River Cafe.

Riverview Terrace (Sun Deck)

Take a pause in your sightseeing to enjoy a delicious Teppanyaki Barbeque. Comfortable seating, spectacular views and inspired cuisine make this a definite "must do" on your cruise.

Crystal Dining Room

The large and comfortable main dining area, Crystal Dining Room, is the main host for meals on your Scenic cruise. Here you'll find open seating for parties as large as eight guests and a wide range of options from various cuisines. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style with some hot options available from the menu and action stations. Dinner, while open seating, promptly begins at 7pm. The meal is table service only and includes regional delights as well as more traditional fare. Most dietary needs can be met with advance notice to the cruise line. Ala Carte menus and in-room dining options are also available from the Crystal Dining location.

Portobellos Restaurant

At Portobellos you can taste the best dishes onboard from the best spot on deck. This forward-facing venue with stunning views takes Italian fine dining to a whole new level. Serving just 32 guests per evening, this exclusive, intimate and romantic restaurant is helmed by amazing chefs with a pedigree background in some of the finest kitchens on the planet. As you enjoy your meal, it will be hard not to enjoy the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows lining Portobellos. Advance reservations are helpful.

Table La Rive

A meal at Table La Rive is one you'll not soon forget as the executive chef takes you on a six-course journey starting with simple plates and ending with a decadent dessert. Each dish is paired with a fine wine chosen by an experienced sommelier and prepared with the care and experience you will be sure to notice and appreciate. Seating just 10 guests per evening on the Diamond Deck, you're time at Table Le Rive will make for truly special evening.


Specialty Restaurants

A Dining Experience to Suit Every Taste.

Whether you’re headed to Ben & Jerry’s for a sweet treat or Izumi for sushi feast, our specialty restaurants offer something for everyone in your group.

Buy-Out Available

Chops Grille

For more than a decade, the chefs at Chops Grille have specialized in serving up quality, hand-cut meat. Dinner at this hallmark Royal Caribbean specialty restaurant goes far beyond the typical steakhouse experience, though, with reimagined classics like succulent Maine lobster, gruyere cheese tater tots, white truffle-scented mushroom soup, and of course, expertly prepared prime beef.

Buy-Out Available

Jamie’s Italian

At Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver, sit down to Tuscan-inspired cuisine crafted by one of Britain’s most famous chefs. Seasonal ingredients meet authentic recipes in family-style dishes that range from homemade pastas and classic Italian entrees, to contemporary creations infused with rustic influences.

Buy-Out Available

Izumi

From expertly rolled sushi, fresh sashimi, and delicate nigiri, to izakaya-style appetizers and flavorful meats cooked perfectly on ishiyaki grilling stones — this hard-rocking spin on the fleet favorite Izumi is one specialty dining experience you don’t want to miss out on.

Chef’s Table

Welcome to Chef’s Table, the most exclusive and elevated dining experience on our fleet. Join an intimate group of fellow foodies on a private epicurean journey led by the ship’s Chef de Cuisine. You’ll sit down to a white tablecloth dinner spotlighting five exquisite courses that range from scallop carpaccio with yuzu vinaigrette, to grilled filet mignon served with truffle potato puree — each expertly paired with the perfect wine to highlight every flavor on the menu.

Hooked Seafood

If you want to snag a real taste of New England-style seafood, Hooked Seafood is the spot. Find your favorite coastal flavors, like crispy golden Maryland crab cakes, melt-in-your-mouth Maine Lobster rolls or just-shucked oysters and other raw bar favorites. Don’t miss the sweet treats that beg to be savored to feel the taste of summer.

Johnny Rockets Express

Johnny Rockets® has been serving up delicious American fare to diners around the world since 1986. Its menu features fresh, never frozen, made-to-order hamburgers, sides, shakes and desserts. No matter where you are onboard or in the world, you’re always surrounded by good food and simple pleasures at this retro hangout.

Playmakers SM

With a menu of game-day favorites and icy-cold draughts on tap, anything you order at Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade is a winner. And while you’re working on a signature Playmakers Burger or the five-scoop Touchdown Sundae, you can catch your home team live on dozens of screens or face off against your friends in the arcade.

Starbucks

Enjoy all your Starbucks® favorites — from Macchiatos to Frappuccinos®, plus an extensive menu of drinks and pastries whenever the mood strikes you. A la carte pricing.

Ben & Jerry’s

Treat yourself to a cone of Vermont’s Finest Ice Cream, or indulge in a smoothie, sundae, or shake for a special treat.


Carnival Main Dining Room Menu Explained

Menu in the main dining room of Carnival Breeze.

The menu in the main dining room is fairly straightforward, but it can be overwhelming given all the options available. Since we know a lot of people want to know at least the basics of what will be available — and more picky passengers fear there won’t be something they like on the menu — we thought it might be useful to take a look at both the American Table and American Feast offerings and break down the menus. Keep in mind, selections change periodically, so what you’ll find below is more an example of what you’ll find than a written-in-stone guide.

Appetizers

Shrimp cocktail is served nightly in the main dining room.

If you’re the type of person who loves kicking things off with an appetizer (or three), Carnival’s menus have you covered. Generally speaking, you’ll find about 10 different options on any given night, with the always-popular shrimp cocktail available every night.

Some of the other tasty treats they offer to start your meal include:

  • Fried Calamari
  • Chilled Vietnamese Roll
  • Strawberry Bisque
  • Smoked Chicken Quesadillas
  • Smoked Poblano and Corn Soup
  • A variety of Caesar Salads

Foods You Have Always Wanted To Try, But Haven’t

Escargot served with plenty of garlic and bread on Carnival Breeze.

While this is one of our favorite sections of the menu, it’s not for everyone.

Finicky eaters, beware! What you’ll find listed here are items that, as the name suggests, aren’t exactly everyday fare. Found just beneath the appetizers, you never know exactly what you’ll discover. But, for folks who are open to trying something new, this is a fun and tasty option.

Some items you will find on this menu are:

  • Blood Sausage
  • Escargot (snails)
  • Alligator Tail
  • BBQ Pulled Wild Boar
  • Philadephia Pepper Pot (with Honeycomb Tripe)
  • Braised Frog Legs

Nightly Entree Menu

When it comes to entrees, you’ll find plenty of options from both land and sea. The portion sizes are generous but, if you’d like to order two entrees, don’t be shy. As with every section of the menu, you can feel free to order as much as you like. If there’s one department in which the menus might be lacking it’s the vegetarian options, which could definitely stand to be beefed up (pun intended).

Some of the entrees you’ll find on the menu include:

  • Veal Parmesan
  • Pan-Seared Tilapia
  • Rosemary Lamb Shank
  • Southern Fried Chicken
  • Salmon Cakes
  • Baked Ziti
  • Crisp Portobello Mushrooms
  • A Featured Indian Vegetarian dish (lentils, basmati rice, papadam, and raita)

If you’re looking to find prime rib and lobster, those are featured on the American Feast menu. So yes, you’ll have to dress up a bit if you want your lobster!

From The Grill Menu

If none of the regularly-listed entrees appeal to you on any given night, give this section a look. It offers some great selections, and a bit of variety with the two main items — the beef and fish selections — usually changing daily. Like the other menu sections we’ve discussed so far, these are also complimentary. People sometimes confuse these for the upcharge items, which we’ll discuss a little bit later on.

Here are some menu items you’ll find on the From The Grill menu:

Dinner in the Carnival Vista’s main dining room.

  • Salmon Filet: Citrus and pepper rubbed salmon served with broccoli, carrots, and red potatoes
  • Flat Iron Steak: Cooked with herbs and peppers, served with broccoli and baked potato
  • Chicken Breast: Roasted with garlic and herbs, served with peas and carrots with red potatoes
  • Pork Chop: Cooked with caramelized onions and served with stewed apples and mashed potatoes

The beef dish comes with a selection of BBQ Sauce, Bearnaise, Peppercorn or Wild Mushroom sauce.

Side Dishes

Mac and cheese served as a side in the main dining room.

Every night, you’ll find six sides offered on the bottom of the main dining room menu. These are served in addition to whatever sides might already come with your meal. They’re individual sized, not family style. So, if you’re the kind of person who likes a whole lotta creamed spinach with your beef, make it a double order.

The selections can vary nightly but they typically include items such as these:

  • Baked Potato
  • Broccoli, Carrots, and Onions
  • Mac n’ Cheese with Bacon
  • French Fries
  • Ratatouille
  • Creamed Spinach

Port of Call Menu

Chicken wings can be found on the Port of Call menu.

The port menus are unique to every destination. This insert into the regular menu gives you a little bit of information about the port of call, then suggests a local drink, appetizer, and entree that reflects the cuisine of the destination. Some days, this section will feature a specific port, and others will be generic (depending on your itinerary and sea days).

Sample Port of Call Menus

Here’s an example of what you might find on the port of call menu.

Port: St. Maarten

The whole island is known for excellent cuisine, partly due to its French influences. Creole, French, and West Indian cooking are particularly renowned. Many other nationalities have influenced the fare on St Maarten because of its heavily diverse roots.

  • Featured Drink: Island Martini. A refreshing mix of Bacardi Limon, Pineapple and Orange Juices and a touch of Grenadine. $9.50
  • Featured Appetizer: Caribbean Bouillabaisse. Local Fish and Seafood in a Saffron Broth with Tomato, Fennel and Sauce Rouille.
  • Featured Entree: Coqauvin. Chicken Marinated and Cooked in Red Burgundy Wine with Mushrooms, Silver Onions and Bacon, Finished with some aged Brandy.

Steakhouse Selection

Steakhouse selection served in the main dining room for an upcharge of $20.

Remember earlier we talked about the for-fee section of the menu? Well, this is it. The Steakhouse Selection is available for a $20 upcharge and offers guests a chance to get a cut of beef that is served in the steakhouse while eating in the main dining room. This is a great option for people who want a great steak, but might be dining with someone who doesn’t want to pay the extra fee. The steakhouse selections are available across all of their cruise ships.

Featured items here generally include:

  • Broiled Maine Lobster Tail served with drawn butter
  • Surf & Turf, Maine Lobster Tail with Grilled Filet Mignon
  • Filet Mignon, 9 oz premium aged beef
  • New York Strip Loin Steak, 14-oz

Dessert menu

Carnival’s signature warm chocolate melting cake served nightly in the main dining room.

If you’re the type of person who can’t help but immediately look at the desserts before even considering your appetizers or entrees, don’t freak when you notice there aren’t desserts listed. They’ll come on a separate menu delivered by your server at the end of the meal. In the main dining room, the dessert menu consists of three selections, that rotate every night, and three additional items that are always featured. And yes, the famous Carnival Melting Chocolate Cake is available every night! One of the selections offered each night is usually a low-cal, no-sugar treat. There are also coffees and teas available to complement your dessert.

Sample dessert menu

Some examples of desserts you might find on the menu are:

  • Boston Cream Cake
  • Orange and Almond Baked Cake
  • Chocolate and Cheese Brownie
  • Carnival Melting Chocolate Cake
  • Fresh Tropical Fruit Plate
  • Cheese Plate
  • Selection of Ice Creams

A healthier option is the tropical fruit plate.

Not too long ago, Carnival brought Baked Alaska back to their ships. It’s normally served on the final night of the cruise. And if a banana split is more your speed, then ask to see a kid’s menu. Trust us, the waiter won’t judge you. He may tease you a bit, as might your family, but he won’t judge you.

For an added cost, you’ll find a selection of dessert drinks listed on the bottom of the menu, along with cappuccinos, lattes, espressos, and “Art of Tea” selection.


Wind Spirit

2 of 35 Best Cruise Ships for Dining

Photo by Cruise Critic member null

" The food was incredible, every meal every day. I took a galley tour and was impressed that everything is fresh, the only frozen item is ice cream. Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables with every meal. Loads of healthy choices and plenty of unhealthy ones, but plenty of choices. "


Indulge in Norwegian Exclusive SPECIALITY DINING

When you want a unique culinary experience, our speciality restaurants offer a variety of tastes for every palate. Now through The Norwegian Edge we are bringing an even higher standard of excellence to our dining with upgraded menus and new exciting venues. Whether you're indulging in succulent meats at Moderno Churrascaria, savouring French cuisine in Le Bistro, or enjoying fresh Mexican flavours at Los Lobos, you'll be sure to discover menus as fresh as the ingredients and cuisine that looks almost too good to eat.

Experience a Slice of Americana

Pull up a chair at this casual diner and order from a diverse selection including lobster rolls and crispy chicken. Experience a slice of Americana with every bite.

Dig Into Authentic Texas BBQ

Dig into some authentic Texas BBQ at Q Texas Smokehouse. All our smoked meats are infused with delicious flavours and come with all the traditional sides.

Authentic Brazilian Meats at Moderno

Our authentic Brazilian steakhouse is a must. Start with an impressive salad bar, but save room for skewers of slow-roasted meats carved tableside by our Pasadores.

Finest French Cuisine at Le Bistro

A contemporary take on classic French cuisine. Surround yourself in chic décor and rich fare plates. Perfect for a romantic night out for the deux of you.

Savour a Fusion of Cultures at Food Republic

Travel somewhere new with every delicious bite at Food Republic. A fusion of foods and cultures from around the globe, every sumptuous dish has been specially curated.

Indulge in the Classics at Onda

Enjoy the finest ingredients and dine on classics like Spaghetti Carbonara and Veal Scaloppini at La Cucina. Or try a new take on old-world fare at Onda, which is Italian for "wave."

Japanese Style at Teppanyaki

Sit at a lively shared table as a skillful chef perfectly prepares steak, chicken and seafood on a large steel grill at Teppanyaki. In the mood for sushi? Pull up a chair at any of our contemporary sushi bars for some traditional Japanese fare.

Discover Traditional Mexican Flavours with a Modern Twist

Bienvenido a Los Lobos, a premium Mexican restaurant celebrating traditional flavours with a modern twist. Chefs serve up new favourites like Carne Asada marinated in guajillo chiles and tequila or Tres Leches Cake with Coconut Cream.

Exquisite Scallops at Ocean Blue

Seafood is the star attraction at Ocean Blue, Bayamo, and The Raw Bar. Diners will be treated to dishes created from the freshest fish, the finest ingredients, and perfectly paired wine selections and cocktails.

Explore Spanish Cuisine at Pincho Tapas Bar

Enjoy a taste of Spain's cuisine at this lively tapas bar. Sip on delicious sangria as you savour an array of small plates, like Manchego Cheese and Iberico Ham, or Cod Croquettes and Garlic Shrimp.

Choice Cuts at Cagney’s Steakhouse

An American-style steakhouse where succulent choice cuts of Angus beef are incredibly flavourful and perfectly prepared. Make sure to order our famous Parmesan truffle fries.

Gourmet Sweet Treats at Coco's

Indulge your sweet tooth with decadent treats such as French macarons, chocolate bonbons and gourmet cupcakes at Coco's, Dolce Gelato, or The Bake Shop.


5. Oceania's Toscana

Ships: Regatta, Insignia, Nautica, Marina and Riviera

Why We Love It: Toscana offers Italy's Tuscan cuisine -- with a few Northern Italian influences -- at its most elegant and refined. We love the olive oil bar this is the only restaurant in cruising where choosing the olive oil to go with the (exceptional) bread basket takes more consideration than reviewing a wine list.

If you're in for a long, leisurely supper, you can sample more than seven courses (not including dessert!), each offering ample options. There's hot antipasti, cold antipasti, soup, pasta, risotto, salad and, oh yes, entrees. Our ideal dinner at Toscana would include the prosciutto-wrapped shrimp, a small portion of the linguini cioppino and the pan-seared sea bass. There's no additional charge to dine at Toscana, but reservations are strongly recommended.


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One of the cruise industry’s most high-profile celebrity chefs is Food Network mainstay Geoffrey Zakarian, who created the Ocean Blue seafood restaurant on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway. His signature dish is Dover sole, but the eatery also offers selections made with fresh prawns, scallops, mussels as well as duck and steaks. Cost: $49 for adults, $24.50 for children. Or grab oysters, shellfish and sushi right next door at The Raw Bar (a la carte pricing).

Zakarian currently has two restaurants in New York City — The Lambs Club and The National — as well as The Water Club at Borgata in Atlantic City. Starting later this year, he’ll become culinary director at The Plaza Hotel in New York City with responsibility for the iconic Palm Court, the Oak Room, Oak Bar and room service.

Nobu on Crystal Cruises

PHOTO: Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa is revered for his sushi and signature black cod dish. (Courtesy of Crystal Cruises)

World-renowned master chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa personally trained the chefs at the Silk Road restaurant and The Sushi Bar on both the Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. Nobu blends Peruvian and European influences with his classically styled Japanese foods for dinner only. Among the options: Nobu-Style Black Cod marinated in miso and broiled with ginger and peach grilled Wagyu beef rib-eye with wasabi pepper sauce. The Sushi Bar offers sushi and sashimi, including salmon tartar and yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño.

Crystal guests can dine for free once per cruise additional reservations, granted on a space-available basis, are $30 per person.

Jacques Pépin on Oceania Cruises

PHOTO: Jacques Pépin’s French bistro on two Oceania ships is an upscale but cozy spot. (Courtesy of Oceania Cruises)

Highly regarded French chef Jacques Pépin — familiar to U.S. audiences for his PBS cooking shows and books, and one-time personal chef for Charles de Gaulle — oversees a bistro bearing his name on the Riviera and Marina. The menu features updated spins on traditional favorites — onion soup with a gruyère crust, escargots in garlic butter, bouillabaisse, Provençale-style sautéed jumbo shrimp, steak frites, Dover sole and duck a l’orange — as well as succulent meats roasted in the eatery’s rotisserie. After all, what’s a French bistro without a roast chicken? Guests dine here at no additional charge.

Todd English on Cunard

PHOTO: Todd English, known for his Mediterranean cooking, operates a classy restaurant on the Queen Mary 2. (Courtesy of Cunard)

Todd English, a four-time James Beard award winner, catapulted to culinary heights with his first Massachusetts restaurant, Olives, and now operates numerous eateries including an eponymous dining venue on the Queen Mary 2. (The Todd English restaurant on Queen Victoria was replaced last year by The Veranda, a contemporary French eatery.)

Todd English on QM2 has a la carte pricing. A signature second course, “Todd’s Truffled Potato Love Letters,” features potato ravioli with truffle butter, parmesan and Madeira glaze ($7). For entrées, rack of lamb with a North African sausage samosa and parsnips is $18, while pan-roasted sea bass with a charred summer bean salad and octopus skewer is $16.

Jonnie Boer on Holland America Line

PHOTO: Holland America Line shares Dutch roots with chef Jonnie Boer, who earned three Michelin stars. (Courtesy of Holland America Line)

You haven’t heard of him? Foodies, especially those with an international sensibility, are keenly aware that this Dutch chef was awarded three Michelin stars for his restaurant De Librije in Zwolle, Netherlands. It makes perfect sense that Holland America Line would want to feature a chef who shares Dutch roots. Boer also is a member of the premium line’s Culinary Council that offers expertise on onboard cuisine.

The new alternative dining option called “Taste of De Librije” is offered once per cruise on the Rotterdam and Eurodam in the Pinnacle Grill. A sort of pop-up restaurant, the service staff wears the same uniforms of the land-based restaurant and the tables are set in the same way. The menu starts with North Sea scallops for all diners, who then can choose venison loin and beef tenderloin with bulgur wheat and smoked olive oil foam or perhaps the duo of lamb loin and crusted lamb neck with lentil sprouts, watercress, carrot coulis and lamb jus reduction. Reservations are recommended price is $69 including a wine pairing.

Guy Fieri on Carnival Cruise Lines

PHOTO: Love him or not, Guy Fieri serves up juicy burgers on Carnival ships. (Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines)

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that ubiquitous Food Network annoyance Guy Fieri has created a hugely popular poolside burger eatery for Carnival — “it’s off da hook,” to borrow the chef’s parlance. The burgers are big and juicy and paired with hand-cut fries and a variety of condiments and toppings. Guy’s Burger Joint is available on the Carnival Breeze, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Glory, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Freedom.

Coming Soon: Jamie Oliver on Royal Caribbean

PHOTO: Famed British chef Jamie Oliver will debut an Italian eatery on Quantum of the Seas in November. (Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

Royal Caribbean International’s new Quantum of the Seas will feature an eatery created by popular British chef Jamie Oliver, a/k/a “The Naked Chef,” cookbook author and proponent of healthier eating.

Jamie’s Italian will open in November on Quantum and in April on sister ship Anthem of the Seas. The menu will feature rustic Italian favorites — such as pumpkin-filled pastries and prawn linguine — as well as his famous antipasti selections served on a wooden plank. It will charge a service fee of $15 for lunch and $25 for dinner. Here’s a video sneak peek of what he’s planning.



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