A new wave of cruise dining is hitting the high seas and it extends far beyond the traditional all-you-can-eat buffet.
With tastebuds getting more refined and travelers expecting more when it comes to their dining experiences, cruise ships continue to capitalize and deliver on some of the most outstanding and innovative cuisines by bringing chef collaborations, wine tastings and culinary programs to the seas and beyond.
On Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, cruisers looking for Tuscan cuisine can pop into famed British chef Jamie Oliver’s Italian eatery. Open for lunch and dinner, guests can opt for one of the chef’s homemade pastas made fresh daily, or grilled options like lamb or pork. At 105 Central Park, it’s Royal Caribbean’s own global chefs who are front and center as they showcase the latest in contemporary seasonal cuisines. After a gourmet meal, make your way to Vintages, a wine bar aboard the Royal fleet, which features one-of-a-kind wines from top winemakers that are exclusive to Royal Caribbean. From California to South African wines, sample a tasting or a bottle of the ship’s finest vintages. On the newly refurbished Navigator of the Seas, slurp up oysters at Hooked Seafood, and if you need to catch a game and a beer, Playmaker’s Sports Bar and Arcade has you covered.
Buzz-worthy MSC Seaside, boasts acclaimed James Beard Award-winning chef Roy Yamaguchi and his restaurant, Asian Market Kitchen. Diners can choose a live-action teppanyaki grill or keep it light and fresh with sushi, sashimi and selections from the raw bar. Chef Roy’s Hawaiian/European-influenced cuisine is also reflected in dishes like lobster fried rice and a curry wine sauce rack of lamb. On the MSC Meraviglia, which is slated to hit the port of Miami very soon, cruisers will have the opportunity to dine at Michelin-starred Spanish chef Ramon Freixa’s new restaurant, Hola! Tapas. A Mediterranean style social restaurant with an emphasis on shared plates like jamón ibérico, tortilla espanola and more. Expect to see it on the majestic MSC Bellissima as well. Come hungry.
When you ‘Choose Fun’ on Carnival Cruise, you’re also choosing some fun-tactic dining options. The not-to-be-missed spots include Guy’s Pig and Anchor BBQ Smokehouse, where you can get some of that roadside BBQ action like Blue Ribbon chicken with a side of his famous mac n’ cheese available on five of the line’s ships. The most anticipated restaurant coming to a ship near you, is Emeril Lagasse first sea venture, Emeril’s Bistro 1836, on the Carnival Mardi Gras. The New Orleans cuisine restaurant, will have Creole favorites like oyster and cochon de lait po-boys, roasted duck & Andouille sausage gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp and grits and bananas foster. Carnival will also be the first cruise line to can and keg their own beer (already available on Horizon and Vista), fleetwide. Enjoy a ParchedPig West Coast IPA, an intense beer loaded with bitterness with a bright flavor profile and distinctive aroma of citrus and pine.
One of the biggest names to hit the high seas for Celebrity Cruises, is renowned French chef Daniel Boulud. Boulud will become the brand’s Global Culinary Ambassador with a slew of culinary programs sure to seduce the palette. A three-course menu developed by Boulud will be offered at all the Luminae restaurants fleetwide. Sure to be a sold out experience, the "Chef’s Table by Daniel Boulud" will allow guests to enjoy champagne and canapés on arrival, a five-course dinner with wine pairings. The dinner also comes with one of the chef's cookbooks. Training with the best just became a reality thanks to Celebrity’s Culinary Mentorship Program, where up-and-coming chefs will be hands-on in Celebrity Kitchens as well as one of Boulud’s many restaurants.
How does a butter poached Alaskan King Crab, brown butter Berkshire pork chop, and roasted crab legs sound? To a foodie, it sounds like a feast to remember, and now, thanks to Australian super chef, Curtis Stone, you can eat like a king (and queen) when you dine at the newly revamped, SHARE, aboard Princess Cruises. Chef Stone is all about creating artistic dishes in a warm, and celebratory setting, where his dishes transcend flavor and cultural influences. Now imagine doing that in six exquisite courses. He, along with his personal sommelier, hand picked all the wines. You’ll have your choice of Barolo to Piedmonte and Ribera del Duero from Spain and beyond. Let’s not forget the "Crafted by Curtis" menu selections also available in the main dining room. After a Curtis Stone meal, you’ll want to unwind with a prestigious glass of wine selected by Princess sommelier Doug Frost. Select from 142 wines to be exact.
On Azamara Cruises, you get to be a part of your own culinary journey, thanks to the Azamara Chef Experience available in Dubai. Imagine pursuing the city’s Fish Market for the fresh catch of the day, that’ll later be used for your evening dinner! Once that’s been selected, cross the street to the Fruit and Vegetable market where you can pick vegetables like zucchini, egglant, fresh strawberries and more before making your way to the Spice Souk for traditional Arabic Herbs. If you thought you were fully immersed in Dubai’s food scene, think again. Partner up with an Azamara expert for a visit to Dubai’s Camelicious Farm, home to over 4,000 milk-producing camels where you’ll become an expert on the dairy process Last on the foodie excursion, a stop at the city’s Coffee Museum where you’ll sample brews from around the world. Then it’s back on the ship to eat your finds in what is sure to be an unforgettable meal.
In what’s sure to be a grand welcome, Virgin Voyages, will be welcoming their first sea venture, The Scarlet Lady, to the port of Miami in 2020 and the dining options are already creating a buzz. With a cocktail program like no other, Razzle Dazzle (named for the camouflaging pattern painted on warships from WWI and WWII), will be the ship’s resident drag brunch, where sailors are treated to a show from the ship’s resident drag performer and friends. Expect a vibrant scene offering up vegetarian fare as well as fun cocktails and fresh juices. There’s no in between. If you’re looking for ultra-luxe dining, you’ll find it at Wake, aboard the Scarlet Lady. A mid-20th century steak and seafood haunt with chop house atmosphere but vintage feel. Expect lots and lots of champagne.
Oceania Cruises is know for ‘the finest cuisine in the world,’ so expect to dine on some of the finest food at sea. Led by esteemed chef, Jacques Pepin, Oceania cruises offers everything from a distinguished culinary center where state of the art cooking classes are held for a close knit group of 24, and guests will get to try their hand at everything from French cuisine to plant-based menus. If you’re looking for a more immersive experience, guests team up with a master chef to tour and shop the local markets in Europe and French Polynesia, and use their buys to cook up a simmering meal on board. There are some foodies who really want to rub elbows with Pepin himself, and they’ll have an opportunity to do so once a year, where they are treated to individualized menus, lectures and demos by Pepin. Mark your calendars—it’s happening aboard the Marina this September.