–By Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor
updated by Gina Kramer, Associate Editor
Eating well at a great restaurant is one of life’s finest indulgences, whether it’s leave-you-speechless haute cuisine or greasy, salty guilty pleasures. The good news for cruisers is you don’t have to leave dining choices behind on dry land when you set sail. Cruise ships are continually upping the ante with specialty restaurants that feature international dishes, celebrity chefs, intimate venues, innovative menus and all-round delicious food.
Partnerships with such storied chefs as Jacques Pepin, Jamie Oliver and Nobu have certainly raised the food bar at sea, but even in-house culinary teams are turning out novel cruise ship fare. Look for onboard venues embracing the gastropub movement, advanced cooking technologies and even molecular gastronomy.
Many, but not all, of these dining venues come at a price, but the extra fees are often worth it. If you’re an avid foodie, a couple looking for a romantic splurge or to celebrate a special occasion, or anyone wishing to cap a vacation day with an especially memorable dinner, you will relish this list of our favorite onboard alternative restaurants.
|Guy’s Burger Joint||American||Carnival|
|Pinnacle Grille||Pacific Northwest/American||Holland America|
|Red Ginger||Asian fusion||Oceania|
|The Epicurean||Molecular gastronomy||P&O Cruises|
|Jamie’s Italian||Italian||Royal Caribbean|
|Manfredi’s||Italian||Viking Ocean Cruises|
At the Helm: Executive Chef Robert van Rijsbergen
Why We Love It: Rotating menus mean passengers can have two different dining experiences in the same space.
The Dish: Aqualina offers two menus, its original Mediterranean bill of fare and an Italian menu that was introduced in 2014. The newer menu — which includes gnocchi, prosciutto with melon and limoncello souffle — is swapped with Mediterranean offerings (such as osso buco, lobster thermidor and filet mignon) every few days.
Cost: A surcharge of $25 per person applies; there’s no charge for suite passengers. Reservations are recommended but not required.
2. Carnival Cruise Lines
Restaurant: Guy’s Burger Joint
At the Helm: Restaurateur and Food Network personality Guy Fieri
Why We Love It: Carnival proves you don’t need fancy clothes or lap napkins to enjoy a high-quality meal.
The Dish: Found on a number of ships after Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades, Guy’s Burger Joint serves fresh-off-the-grill burgers and hand-cut fries in a fun, laid-back poolside setting. Diners can order prepared menu items or head to the toppings bar to customize their burgers.
Cost: It’s free. To grab some grub, you’ll need to wait in line.