Cruise Ship Dining Will Surprise You
Sometimes when people think about a cruise ship, they get an image of an unappetizing buffet table. I bet they cook salmon from frozen but only with the highest quality ingredients. There are certainly buffet tables on cruise ships. But buffet dining is not your only option when cruising. There are multiple other ways to get great food on board a cruise ship. We have experienced cruise ship dining at its best. And you may find that it surprises you!
I will admit up front that our cruising food experiences may not be the same for all. We have cruised many times. Our favourite trips have been with Oceania Cruises. One of the reasons we pick this luxury line is for the food. It is one of the things they are known for. The famous chef Jacques Pepin is the Culinary Director. There is even one specialty restaurant named for him. We have met the Executive Chefs onboard every ship we have sailed. Every one of them is a master who rules the kitchens with a passion and dedication to always serve the best food. They want everyone to experience cruise ship dining at its best!
Multiple Venues To Eat
If you are looking for more casual options to eat, you can start at the buffet. Often you get hot, fresh food and delicacies not offered elsewhere on the ship. For picky eaters, there is a wide selection of food. If the weather is nice, the terrace is a great spot to enjoy. The cafe on the pool deck is another option if you want to grab something quick. We love to get steaming hot food right off the bbq grill.
All cruise ships have a large main dining room. This is a more formal dining option with a broad menu. Typically you will get selections from the specialty restaurants. Menus rotate over a longer period, so the menu is quite varied. If you are looking to meet new friends, you can join a larger sharing table.
Specialty restaurants offer a smaller targeted menu. Most cruise ships have multiple speciality restaurants. Seating requires reservations and you may be limited to the number of visits you can enjoy. On some ships and for some specialty restaurants, there may be an additional charge.
If you want a quiet or romantic dinner for two, you can order room service. When we wanted to start our day slow, we have enjoyed breakfasts on the balcony with mimosas. On very busy excursion days, we have sometimes just wanted a quick meal with no fuss. Room service fit the bill perfectly.
No matter where you choose to eat, you can get cruise ship dining at its best.
Pastry Chefs Delight The Guests
Since I am an adult, I can start both dinner and this post with dessert! We always go onboard with a commitment to staying away from the desserts. At the Captain’s welcome party, someone always makes a joke about guests gaining a pound per week on a cruise. We want to avoid that. But skipping desserts is just too hard! The desserts onboard always show cruise ship dining at its best!
If you like variety in your desserts, you will find in on a cruise ship in all of the dining venues. Every meal has several different dessert options. There are even gluten and sugar free options offered. And if you pass on a real dessert, there are fruit options.
If you like your desserts to be both pretty and tasty, you will not be disappointed. Every plate is a work of art.
We are affirmed chocoholics but we are picky. Oceania Cruises has some of the best dark chocolate we have ever tasted. And chocolate desserts are available at almost every meal. David arrives on the ship with his list of favourite chocolate desserts. And every cruise at least one more treat is added.
For those with a sweet tooth, Afternoon Tea is served every day. Afternoon Tea is one of our favourite indulgences when we are at home or while travelling. We are always happy to be able to enjoy Afternoon Tea when we cruise. Waiters with white gloves serve pots of hot water and offer a wide selection of tea options. They move the tea tray around the room offering tiers of sweet desserts. If you need a late day snack, there are a couple of savoury options too.
Fresh Seafood As Often As You Want It
The great thing about cruising is that you always have access to great fishing ports. Cruise ship dining at its best means fresh seafood every day !
We are huge seafood fans and will choose seafood almost every time. The pool deck restaurant offers a fixed menu. But part of that menu every day is surf and turf. We almost feel virtuous when we order a double order of sirloin steak and lobster tails with no bun or french fries.
One year we cruised over the Thanksgiving holiday. I always want turkey for Thanksgiving. But even that night we were delighted to be able to have turkey and lobster tails!
Our favourite nights are after the chef has been able to get fresh seafood in port. That night we can be guaranteed of a seafood feast. One time the executive chef even cooked on the bbq on deck!
Italian Food Perfection At Sea
Italian food is one of my favourite treats. We have travelled to Italy a lot and have become quite snobby about wanting Italian food cooked exactly like we find it in Italy. We have found cruise ship dining at its best when we ate Italian!
Most cruise ships have an Italian specialty restaurant. Almost everyone likes Italian food. In the speciality restaurants you can get your food piping hot from the stove and get daily specials. The pasta is made fresh and the parmesan cheese is carved from an aged wheel of cheese.
Risotto is one of my favourite Italian dishes. I am pretty picky about risotto. If a restaurant serves risotto as a side dish, I generally will not order it. If they say it will take 20+ minutes, then I will order it. Risotto is only great when served á la minute! One day I told the Italian chef that the best risotto I ever had was pumpkin risotto over an amarone wine reduction. The next time we ate in the Italian restaurant, this was the special of the day. How delicious it was!
Special Food Events At Sea
Cruise ship dining at its best is not all about eating. For days at sea, Oceania Cruises always offers cooking demonstrations. They are always great entertainment. You get great cooking tips and recipes for some of your favourite dishes.
On some cruises, a series of cooking classes are offered. You get hands-on lessons to learn how to prepare some of the specialty dishes. On Oceania Cruises there is even the chance to take a cruise with Jacque Pepin on board.
There are cruise ship excursions that are focused on local foods and wines. Tours may let you experience the local markets before trying delicacies from that area.
We were excited to try an Italian wine tasting event onboard a cruise ship. We got to taste a broad range of Italian wines with perfect pairings!
A Beverage Or Two To Wash It Down
Our favourite spot to sit and relax onboard a cruise ship is the barista bar. We can get fresh pulled espresso and cappuccino made just the way we like it.
If you want to drink alcoholic drinks on a cruise ship, you will generally need to pay for this above your cruise price. Cruise ship dining at its best is always better with a toast or two!
There are generally packages available or you can pay as you go. We are not big drinkers so we never take a drink package. We often get champagne when we get on board and will bring on a bottle or two as allowed by the cruise ship.
An ice cold beer with lunch or when lounging by the pool is great. My treat is always an Aperol Spritz. It makes me feel like I am on holiday. David looks for a drink that has the most chocolate in it. If the bartender does not have a favourite chocolate drink, David brings out his recipes.
Cruise Ship Dining At Its Best
When we cruise, great food is one of the big draws. Cruise ship dining at its best ensures we enjoy our time on the ship as much as the excursions on shore. It is a good thing that we always stay busy on the ship or for port days. It is not easy to maintain your weight when the food is so good.
Have you encountered cruise ship dining at its best? What is your favourite food onboard your favourite cruise line?