Are you a foodie looking for an unforgettable culinary experience on your next vacation? Well, you’re in luck! I’ve been diving deep into cruise land looking for the top 5 ships for a culinary experience of a lifetime! These cruise restaurants offer world-class cuisine, stunning ocean views, and impeccable service. From Italian classics to innovative fusion dishes, each of these will ensure you get only the best in food on your next tropical vacation!
So, what makes cruise ship restaurants unique anyway?
While researching for this blog, I was absolutely blown away by the wide variety of worldly cuisines onboard most of the popular cruise ships. From Italian to Japanese, Mexican to French, and of course some classic American steaks and burgers! Cruise ship restaurants also offer the opportunity to dine in a variety of settings: mostly casual (because of course we want to be comfy on vacation!) But also some incredibly fine dining experiences also. Lastly, due to the nature of a cruise vacation, many of the restaurants have a rotating menu that changes daily, so you could literally dine at the same restaurant for your week long vacay and still not eat the same starter! How amazing is that?!
The importance of fine dining on a cruise vacation
Fine dining is an essential part of any cruise vacation. It offers a chance to relax and enjoy delicious food in a beautiful setting, without having to worry about cooking or cleaning up. Fine dining also provides an opportunity to try new foods and flavors that you may not have the chance to experience otherwise.
Cruise ship restaurants are known for their exceptional service and attention to detail. The waitstaff is highly trained and attentive, ensuring that you have a memorable dining experience. Additionally, many cruise ship restaurants offer a dress code, adding to the elegant and sophisticated atmosphere.
So, here it is. My top 5 cruise ships for an incredible dining adventure:
- Crystal Cruises was the pioneer in partnering with celebrity chefs to bring top-quality cuisine to their luxurious ships. The Serenity, which has been recently redesigned, maintains this reputation with its impeccable dining options. The main restaurant, Crystal Dining Room, serves up intricate dishes every night without repeating menus. Prego offers delicious Italian cuisine with dishes from Valentino Los Angeles' and Vegas' Piero Selvaggio, including the “best Caesar salad at sea”. Silk Road and the Sushi Bar are favorites among Nobu enthusiasts, with chefs trained by Nobu himself serving up the freshest tuna tataki and miso black cod. The Vintage Room takes things up a notch with extravagant winemakers' dinners featuring rare bottles like the 1959 Château Lafite-Rothschild. Even the simplest items at casual venues are exceptional, with croissants that transport you to France, Kobe burgers that are juicy and flavorful, and house-barbequed duck quesadillas that are smokin' hot. On Wine & Food Festival cruises, Alan Wong, known for his Honolulu restaurant, also adds his signature touch to the delicious offerings. Crystal cruises seem to place the most emphasis on creating a vacation that is fit for only the foodiest of foodies! To quote their website: “Dining with Crystal is a journey through the most exceptional culinary dishes from around the world, from authentic Italian cuisine in Osteria D-Ovidio, to classic Parisian bistro dining or tapas-style tastes”.
2. In 2009, Silversea Cruises introduced the luxurious Silver Spirit ship, which boasts six amazing restaurants that are guaranteed to satisfy any foodie's cravings. It's an all-suite line with all-inclusive fares, so you won't have to worry about additional charges when dining at any of the venues. One of the unique dining destinations is Seishin, a small yet stunning restaurant that offers fancy Asian cuisine. Their nine-course tasting menu looks incredible and includes delectable dishes that I don’t even know how to pronounce!! Like Petrossian caviar sorbet, tempura oysters, and teppan-grilled Wagyu beef. If you're looking for a funky supper club, then Stars is the place to be. The Deco-inspired venue serves up eclectic small plates that will leave you wanting more. The open-air Grill provides a unique dining experience where you can cook your own Berkshire pork chops and Colorado prime rib eye over hot lava rocks under a starry sky. Le Champagne is another fantastic restaurant that was designed with the prestigious Relais & Châteaux culinary partner. Sounds like guests go nuts over their elaborate six-course meals, so you better book your table early! To quote their website: “With the importance of food in our culture, it’s no wonder that dining is a high priority at Silversea. We believe gastronomic excellence is a given, thanks to recipes that reflect our heritage and revamp tradition. No matter where you dine, destination influence is readily apparent in the great diversity and freshness of your selections”.
3. The Seabourn Odyssey is bringing sexy back with its extravagant dining options onboard. “The Restaurant” has fancy white drapes that dramatically fall from a high ceiling, along with black leather chairs, red banquettes, and purple pillows. And forget about the usual boring buffet on a cruise ship - The Colonnade is like a trendy Miami restaurant with breathtaking views of the ocean. But don't be fooled by the Odyssey's good looks - it's also got a famous chef, Thomas Keller, as its culinary consultant. In an ongoing quest to provide a world-class experience, Seabourn has created a partnership with world-renowned American chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller. The culinary genius behind a trio of Michelin-starred restaurants – The French Laundry, Per Se, and Bouchon – Chef Keller brings his award-winning French and American cuisine to the ultra-luxury cruise line adding new flavors and flair to complement Seabourn's already celebrated cuisine. You are in for a treat onboard!
4. Oceania Cruises’ Marina, although not quite luxurious enough to be at the top of the list, still has some pretty impressive features worth noting. The Bon Appétit Culinary Center offers hands-on cooking lessons during your stay onboard. There are 24 cooking stations available, allowing passengers to learn how to make everything from fresh fettuccine to chocolate hazelnut ganache tart. Oh, but if you’re thinking: *ahem* I don’t go on holidays to cook! Don’t you worry: Oceania's restaurants offer delicious meals too. No matter where you decide to eat on the Marina, you'll be in for a treat with their top-notch cuisine that's famous among seafarers. Whether you're munching on a juicy poolside burger or indulging in Humphry Slocombe's bourbon-infused cornflake Secret Breakfast ice cream (say what?!), or sipping a perfectly crafted cappuccino with freshly baked biscotti, the Marina culinary team ensures that you get the best of the best. And if you're in the mood for some French cuisine, Jacques is the place to be. This bistro plays French chansons and showcases art from the master chef's personal collection. The rotisserie veal rack with olive tapenade and duck leg cassoulet sound particularly impressive.
5. So get this: the world’s first all-suite, all-balcony ship teamed up with the legendary culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu of Paris. They literally train the chefs specifically for this cruise liner, The Seven Seas Mariner so the 700 lucky passengers are always in for a foodie treat! Signatures is fancy and French, with flowery chairs and tall candles. Their classic dishes, like Camembert and walnut quiche and lamb with morels, look magnifique. And if you're lucky, the chefs might even teach you how to cook at Le Cordon Bleu Workshops. But things take a serious turn at Prime 7, where you'll want to come hungry so you can devour some prime steaks. The place apparently smells like buttery leather and juicy meat, and the 36-ounce porterhouse is the star of the show…. Will you share?! 😜 Also heard on the grapevine, that you definitely want to start with a foie gras slider and don't skimp on the truffle fries, because you can always balance it out with some healthy options later! To quote their website: “Regent Seven Seas Cruises® takes pride in creating dining experiences that are simply superb. From succulent lobster to the perfect burger and shake, you’ll find an array of refined flavors and refreshments from which to choose.”
What to expect from a fine dining experience on a cruise ship
A fine dining experience on a cruise ship is an unforgettable experience. You can expect exceptional service, a diverse menu, and beautiful ocean views. The waitstaff will be highly trained and attentive, ensuring that you have a memorable dining experience. Additionally, many cruise ship restaurants offer a dress code, adding to the elegant and sophisticated atmosphere. You can expect to dress in formal or semi-formal attire, depending on the restaurant's dress code.
Ok, while we’re on the dress code topic…
What should I wear to a fancy cruise dinner, Kim?
This week I’m launching just the outfit for you to pack for your fancy dining cruise experience!! It’s a little bit bougie, but still island girly. A little bit sparkly, but still super breathable. It’s a little bit muted in bright color, but still with the tropical patterns that we all love!! I can’t wait to share it with you this week, ladies!
Here's what our island girl friend Jody had to say about her sparkly Palm Tree outfit for a night on her recent cruise:
"I wore it to dinner on the cruise with a pair of flowy black pants. It is a bit tighter fit with no stretch. I have that middle aged tummy so was worried about no stretch but was fine and definitely fitted. Was worried about it being scratchy (due to the sequins) but it was not at all! This was nota formal night. But I would have been fine on an upscale/formal night as well. On a formal night with higher heels would have been fine. My girlfriend ended up borrowing my palm tree cover and she loved it! She was cold and I was warm lol We are in the YC area of MSC cruise, which tends to be a bit more upscale in clothes than other lines" ~ Jody, D.P
I know that so many of our island girl community take regular cruises and it certainly sounds as though it’s the perfect opportunity to indulge in a culinary adventure while you’re at it! Researching for this blog made me HUNGRY! I was drooling over not only the amazing food choices but also the thought of dining with stunning ocean views, and with impeccable service. Because all of us busy little island girls deserve to be waited on sometimes. So, sit back, relax, and let the talented chefs, waitstaff and sommeliers onboard these luxurious cruise ships take you on a journey of the senses.
Bon appétit, island girls!
PS. Have you dined in any of these restaurants before? Or perhaps have some favorites that you want to add to the list? Pop all your recommendations in the comments below 🤗👇