Weekly Wednesday – Hungry?

After doing all of the research in the last Weekly Wednesday – Drink Up! I decided I wanted to learn more about what the different cruise lines have to offer when it comes to food on their ships. I will feature some menus, but the main purpose of this article is to outline the various dining venues that are included in your cruise fare and what upcharge options are available. The listing will include the more common eateries across the fleet, rather than focus on a ship-by-ship deconstruction. By the end of this article, your mouth will be watering, if I’ve done this right. Hungry?

Pro tip:

Thinking of eating in the Main Dining Room? Don’t be bashful when ordering! Try several appetizers, main dishes and desserts to ensure that you enjoy it all! The wait staff won’t judge you for it, and you’ll be eating lots of great dishes.

Feel free to jump to one of the lines listed below, or read the whole article
American Cruise Lines | Carnival Cruise Line | Celebrity Cruises | Disney Cruise Line | Holland America Line | MSC Cruises | Norwegian Cruise Lines | Princess Cruises | Royal Caribbean International

American Cruise Lines

As with their drinks package, American Cruise Lines is unique with their dining options. Their ships usually only feature one dining space onboard. Their intention is to simplify the cruising experience so you can experience more of what the itinerary has to offer, from the views of the riverbanks to the ports of call.

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Carnival Cruise Line

Formal night in the Main Dining Room on the Carnival Conquest – October 2018

When it comes to sailing on one of the many Carnival Cruise Line ships, it’s easy to forget which ship you are on. Most of the ships share many similarities when it comes to the layout and their food offerings. Included in your cruise fare are:

  • Main Dining Room (most ships have 2)
  • Lido Marketplace – buffet selection with large variety
  • Guy’s Burger Joint – Guy Fieri’s signature burgers
  • BlueIguana Cantina – Mexican food with offerings during breakfast and lunch
  • Pizza Pirate/Pizzeria del Capitano – 24-hour pizza parlor
  • The Carnival Deli – quick sandwiches served hot or cold

Available for a modest add-on price, you have the option to dine in one of these locations during your voyage:

  • Fahrenheit 555 – Steakhouse onboard with a dress-code
  • Chef’s Table – exclusive offerings prepared by the chef on-board
  • Bonsai Sushi/Teppanyaki – Japanese flare for food choices
  • Cucina del Capitano – Italian family-style restaurant (lunch is complimentary)
  • Jiji Asian Kitchen – Asian inspired dishes
  • Carnival Kitchen – you can learn how to cook some of the awe-inspiring dishes from the head chef and then enjoy the meal when complete.
  • Seafood Shack – fresh lobster, crab and other seafood offerings
  • Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que – different cuts of meats available plated with beans, mac & cheese or fries (lunch is complimentary)

Learn more about Carnival’s dining options here.

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Celebrity Cruises

Dining options are abundant on most Celebrity ships. The restaurants are set up a little different than a lot of the other carriers, so pay close attention. Starting with the complimentary options:

  • Main Restaurant – the main dining room for dinner fares
  • Luminae Restaurant – dining room exclusively reserved for guests staying in The Retreat
  • Blu Restaurant – dining room exclusively reserved for AquaClass guests
  • Cosmopolitan Restaurant – American-style restaurant with global influences
  • Cyprus Restaurant – Mediterranean-inspired seafood dishes
  • Normandie Restaurant – Contemporary French restaurant
  • Tuscan Restaurant – Italian-inspired dishes served
  • Mast Grill – poolside burgers and more
  • Eden Café – breakfast buffet
  • Oceanview Café – breakfast and lunch buffet
  • Darwin’s Restaurant – open seating featuring fresh, locally sourced food

Celebrity Cruises also offers a wide selection of specialty restaurants including:

  • Fine Cut Steakhouse – traditional American steak house options
  • Eden Restaurant – culinary masterpieces that change with the tide
  • Le Grand Bistro – Parisian-inspired menu in a bistro setting.
  • Rooftop Garden Grill Restaurant – BBQ food featured on this menu
  • Raw on 5 Restaurant – features seafood from lobster to sashimi and everything in between
    • Magic Carpet Restaurant – carries the menu from Raw on 5, al fresco (dining in the open air)
  • Le Petit Chef – touted as one of the most unique dining events in the world, featuring projections of your food options onto your table. Check out this video of it!
  • Murano Restaurant – a nouveau take on classic French cuisine
  • Tuscan Grille – contemporary offerings of Italian dishes
  • Lawn Club Grill – combining an outdoor grill experience with ocean views

Learn more about Celebrity Cruises dining options here.

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Disney Cruise Line

Animator’s Palate – Photo: disneyparks.disney.go.com

Disney has many dining venues to offer on their ships. To keep sailors returning to their different vessels, they offer some dining options exclusively on one or two of their ships. For the interest of this article, we will feature the dining facilities that are offered across the fleet. Included in your cruise fare are:

  • Animator’s Palate – part of the unique rotational dining experience, this restaurant features a unique dinner show starring Disney characters
  • Rotational Restaurants:
    • Tiana’s Place – found on the Disney Wonder this restaurant features southern-inspired dishes
    • Rapunzel’s Royal Table – located on Disney Magic offering American favorites set to a fairytale theme
    • Royal Court – Disney Fantasy features this dining room with French-inspired dishes reminiscent of the Disney Princess films
    • Royal Palace – the Disney Dream has this French-inspired restaurant similar to the Disney Fantasy
    • Lumiere’s – found on the Disney Magic, this restaurant takes inspiration from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast featuring American cuisine for breakfast and lunch and French fare for dinner.
  • Cabanas – a beach boardwalk inspired twist on the classic buffet which turns into table-service dining at night.
  • Pinocchio’s Pizzeria – traditional pizza offerings found on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder

If you’re looking to take your sailing experience up a notch on a Disney ship, the following restaurants are available for an extra charge:

  • Palo – featuring classic Northern Italian dishes. This restaurant is reserved exclusively for adults.
  • Preludes – snack bar adjacent to the Walt Disney Theatre serving cookies, candy, cocktails and popcorn prior to the show
  • Remy – Disney’s take on the steakhouse, you can find this fine French establishment on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy

Find out more information about Disney Cruise Line’s dining choices here.

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Holland America Line

To cater to their sophisticated clientele, Holland America Line has refined their offerings, categorizing their dining establishments into two classes, fine and casual. As you read through the list below, in addition to the dining facilities being identified as complimentary versus up-charge, we’ll also list the level of experience. Beginning with what’s included:

  • The Dining Room – (fine) the main dining experience offering break, lunch and multicourse dinner
  • Lido Market – (casual) large range of options for dining during all mealtimes
  • Dive-in – (casual) poolside dining facility featuring Nathan’s Famous hot dogs with French fries
  • New York Pizza – (casual) pizzeria with Italian salads and thin-crust personal pizzas

Looking at the venues that cost extra:

  • Pinnacle Grill – (fine) this is HALs take on the ultimate steakhouse at sea
  • Canaletto – (fine) family-style Italian cuisine
  • Tamarind – (fine) Asian-inspired menu
    • Nami Sushi – (fine) located inside Tamarind and features sushi options
  • Rudi’s Sel De Mer – (fine) a modern twist on classic French dishes and seafood
  • Gelato – (casual) enjoy the flavors of Italian gelato
  • Grand Dutch Café – (casual) offering Dutch coffees

Find out more about HAL’s dining options here.

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MSC Cruises

Buffet and dining on MSC Seaside – Photo: porthole.com

Offering a variety of dining options, MSC Cruises has a great selection of complimentary and paid dining experiences. Starting with what’s included:

  • Mediterranean Dining – offering the healthiest options onboard including French, Italian and Spanish cuisine
  • International Dining – this restaurant offers exceptional international dishes ever day of your cruise
  • Buffet – there are a variety of options available at the main buffet onboard
    • Meat Carvery – selection of premium meats that can be carved to your liking
    • Take Away Station – featuring burgers and other dishes to satisfy your hunger
    • Pasta Station – custom-build your pasta dish exactly how you like it
    • Kids Area – satisfy your picky eaters in your party
    • Wellness Corner – healthy food options for the conscious cruiser
    • Ethnic Corner – different cuisine types from all over the world
    • Dessert Corner – satisfy your sweet tooth with delectable options

A curated collection of specialty restaurants is available on MSC cruise ships. You can make reservations before you sail and save up to 60%:

  • Butcher’s Cut – an American-style steak house
  • Kaito Teppanyaki/Sushi Bar – offering your favorite Japanese flavors at sea
  • L’Atelier Bistrot – French cuisine with bite-sized options up to full-scale meals
  • Hola! Tapas Bar by Ramon Freixa – collection of social dishes celebrating the Mediterranean cuisine

Read up on all of the details from MSC Cruises here.

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Norwegian Cruise Lines

As part of their “Free at Sea” promotions, Norwegian includes free specialty dining as one of the 5 options you can choose when you sail. The free specialty dining option is applicable towards a specific number of dining package meals (at Cagney’s and Le Bistro) based on the length of your sailing. Let’s take a look at all of the dining options available on the majority of the Norwegian ships, beginning with the complimentary restaurants:

  • Main Dining Rooms – up to three of them on their newer ships
  • Garden Café – buffet available on the upper decks of the ships
  • O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill – Irish pub that’s open 24-hours a day
  • Asian Fusion – various dining venues featuring noodles, wok fried dishes, soups and more

Looking at the up-charge dining options, there’s a lot to experience:

  • Cagney’s Steakhouse – an American-style steakhouse
  • Le Bistro – French cuisine in a contemporary setting with chic décor and savory dishes
  • Americana – all-American eats from lobster rolls to crispy chicken
  • Q Texas Smokehouse – authentic Texas BBQ with smoked meats and traditional sides
  • Moderno – an authentic Brazilian steakhouse with slow-roasted meats carved at your table by a Pasadore
  • Food Republic – fusion of foods and cultures from around the world
  • Onda – contemporary Italy-inspired dishes
  • La Cucina – classic Italian food, served up family-style
  • Teppanyaki – a traditional Japanese dinner show along with the adjacent sushi and yakitori bar
  • Los Lobos – premium Mexican restaurant with a modern twist
  • Ocean Blue – seafood dishes served as culinary masterpieces
  • Pincho Tapas Bar – a great place to socialize while you enjoy an array of small plates together
  • Variety of sweet spots:
    • Coco’s – all things chocolate
    • Dolce Gelato – sweet Italian ice cream
    • The Bake Shop – pastries, cookies, brownies and more

Find the ultimate guide to dining with Norwegian Cruise Lines here.

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Princess Cruises

Horizon Court on a Princess ship – Photo: princess.com

Taking pride in their epicurean offerings, Princess Cruises has received several awards for their culinary options. They offer a decent amount of complimentary dining options and a la carte paid options. Starting with what’s included in your cruise fare:

  • Main Dining Rooms – Most of the ships feature two dining rooms which host breakfast and dinner daily.
  • Club Class Dining – available exclusively for Club Class and Suite passengers
  • Pizzeria – traditional pizza by-the-slice venue
  • Burger & Hot Dog Grill – quick American-style food options
  • Horizon Court – buffet with familiar favorites and regional selections
  • English Pub Lunch – famous English small bites and meals
  • International Café – open 24-hours a day, you can pick up pastries, sandwiches and other lite bites, or for a small fee, purchase specialty coffees and teas

Now let’s look at the dining options that aren’t included in your cruise fare:

  • Sabatini’s – fine Italian food
  • Chef’s Table – a tour of the galley, Champagne and hors d’oeuvres, and an extravagant multi-course dinner created and hosted by the executive chef
  • Crab Shack – enjoy specialty seafood options
  • Vines Wine Bar – select your favorite wine to drink while you enjoy small plates for free
  • Crown Grill – American steakhouse cuisine offerings

Learn more about Princess Cruises dining options here.

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Royal Caribbean International

Catering to families that travel together, Royal Caribbean has a very large variety of dining establishments on their monstrous ships. Looking at the complimentary options:

  • Mini Bites – located near the main pool and sports areas, it’s easy to grab your favorite item
  • Dog House – hot dogs loaded up the way you like them
  • Café Promenade – open 24-hours a day, the menu rotates with the time of day, offering pastries in the morning, deli sandwiches for lunch, antipasti for dinner, and small bites for late night
  • Sorrento’s Pizza – variety of different pizzas available
  • Park Café – fresh-made paninis and sandwiches
  • El Loco Fresh – Mexican food available during lunch and dinner
  • Windjammer – the buffet full of food from all over the world
  • Main Dining Room – the place where the good food is found. Check out this sample menu on RCI’s website

If you’re still craving something unique and don’t mind spending some money, check out these up-charge venues:

  • Chef’s Table – a five-course meal curated by the head chef on the ship
  • Samba Grill – Brazilian steakhouse found onboard
  • Izumi – fresh-rolled sushi
  • Teppanyaki – the full Japanese dining experience
  • Johnny Rockets – a name you’re familiar with, at sea
  • Wonderland – the dishes taste as good as they look, with wild food pairings and colorful finishes
  • Sabor – Modern Mexican cantina with authentic tastes
  • Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen – authentic Italian food for the whole family
  • Portside BBQ – slow-roasted meats smoked to perfection
  • 150 Central Park/Chops Grille – the all-American steakhouse
  • Fish & Ships – featuring the classic favorites from across the pond

If everything sounds good with Royal Caribbean and you can’t choose just one or two up-charge establishments, they offer two different dining packages: 3 Restaurant Package (starting at $75 per person for the cruise) or the Unlimited Dining Package (starting at $24 per day per guest valued at a $50 food credit at a la carte restaurants).

Learn more about Royal Caribbean International’s dining options here.

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After looking at all of these options, one thing is certain, I’m hungry! These massive cities at sea have amazing culinary delights onboard. Not sure how anyone can choose which line to sail with after looking over this massive list. Do you have a favorite cruise line just because of their culinary offerings? I’d love to hear about your favorite restaurants at sea.

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