That’s more restaurants than you’d find on the island of Denarau!
To make sure you get to dine in your restaurant of choice, make sure you book in as soon as you board the ship – or even better, pre book from home. Some will charge a small extra cost, but you may love it so much you’ll be booking in again before your cruise is over. On Seabourn, for example, you can join the chef as he shops in local markets, haggling for the best price on the freshest food and handing over wads of folding. It’s an eye-opening experience to watch the commerce side of cruise ship day in a port and you’ll hear multiple languages as vendors discuss the deal and the chef speaks whatever language he needs to in each port. Then that evening you’ll know where you want to be to try today’s purchases.
Celebrity chefs have branched from TV screens into the deep blue and several have opened restaurants on ships. Some cruise lines use the chefs to consult on menus, others train the ship chefs to create dishes they have designed specially to be enjoyed at sea. The Thomas Keller Grill onboard Seabourn is the latter. The Grill is an extension of the three Michelin star chef’s highly acclaimed restaurants French Laundry, Bouchon and Per Se, and not only does he train the chefs, he also requires photographs of the plates from sea. You’d be wise to make your reservation from home before you even embark. On Celebrity ships look out for Qsine which offers quirky twists on small plate dining. Your menu is on an iPad featuring things like sushi on lollipop sticks and popcorn fish n chips.
On Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas® and Oasis of the Seas®, get to 150 Central Park for “farm to ship” seasonal and sustainable six course menus by Miami chef Michael Schwartz. These ships are often home ported in Fort Lauderdale and the fresh ingredients are sourced from small South Florida farms.
On Silversea’s Silver Spirit, Silver Cloud, Silver Spirit, Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper book into Le Champagne. This is boutique lodge Relais & Chateau’s only ocean offering and you’ll enjoy an intimate dining experience among the wine racks feasting on locally sourced ingredients.
If you’re a sushi fan and have always wanted to visit chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s exclusive restaurants around the world, you might like to choose Crystal Serenity or Crystal Symphony ships and book into Silk Road or the Sushi Bar, Umi Uma. Not only will you be wowed by the presentation of the sushi, but the dessert bento box is a mouth watering blend of East-meets-West sweet treats.
On the small, boutique Windstar Cruises try Candles; a steakhouse on the deck lit by candles under the stars.
Or if you’re cruising with Holland America Line, Tamarind is an outstanding Asian Fusion restaurant showcasing the best of Southeast Asia, China and Japan. But it’s not all fine dining and white table cloths, some ships have snack offerings which will do more than just tide you over. Try the Boardwalk Dog House on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas® serving, you guessed it, grilled hot dogs. Seven types in fact, from German bratwurst to the Coney Island dog.
On MSC Cruises you’ll find the best gelato at sea served up pool side and providing unlimited temptation every afternoon.
And there are even some exciting things happening to traditional buffet dining these days.
P&O Cruises are saying bye bye buffet and hello food revolution as they strip out the traditional onboard buffet dining deck and replace it with what they call The Pantry. It really is like nothing you’ve seen on cruise ships before when it comes to the all-inclusive buffet dining options. The Pantry is more like a food court with chefs at different stations specialising in fare like fish n chips and salad bars to Mexican and Mediterranean, plus an entire Vegetarian kitchen, a Noodle bar and of course, a dessert station.
There is also a main dining room on every ship where you might have your designated table, with or without the same guests each night. But fortunately the days of having to opt in to your dining hour are few and far between with dine on your time options far more common.
But it’s the specialty restaurants and intimate dining that is one of the most popular things about the onboard experience. So all in all, foodies are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a ship by its cuisine offerings, but to confuse you even further, a fun thing to do on smaller ships is to dine with the locals.
Small cruise ships can get into smaller ports and offer very different itineraries (not to mention fewer onboard activities) than their mega ship sisters. Often they stay overnight in port, which means you can enjoy the dining scene on shore. Pop into a little taverna and eat with the locals, or sit and people watch over a cheeky glass of wine and drink in the mystery and magnificence of your amazing holiday, breathing out: “this is the life”.
Onboard restaurant images shown are of Blu and Qsine restaurants which are found onboard select Celebrity Cruises® ships.