Photo by Cynthia DialFor many, I've been told a cruise's dining experience is primo. So, I figured that since eating is such a big part of the cruise experience, you might appreciate a bit of insight into the options on today's top cruise lines. Bon appetit!
Crystal has two specialty dining restaurants—Prego (Italian) and Master Chef Nobu Matsushisa's Silk Road and The Sushi Bar(Asian) —and allows for one pre-cruise dining reservation in each for a total of two pre-cruise reservations, per stateroom, on each voyage. Once on board, you may see the maître d’ to make additional reservations based on availability. There is no extra charge to guests for specialty dining.
Charming and romantic, Prego brings the flavors of Italy to Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. A seasonally changing Valentino at Prego menu features signature dishes such as Scaloppine Di Vitello Servite Con Capelli D’angelo and Linguine Con Aragosta E Zucchini, along with wines that are served at Piero Selvaggio’s revered Los Angeles and Las Vegas restaurants, Valentino. Valentino is considered by many to be among the finest Italian restaurants in the country.
The eclectic–and delectable–cuisine of world-renowned master chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa is prepared by Nobu-trained chefs at Silk Road and The Sushi Bar. Regarded for his innovative approach to sushi, Nobu blends classically styled Japanese foods with distinct Peruvian and European influences. While The Sushi Bar offers an assortment of Nobu’s inventive sushi and sashimi, including Salmon Tartar with Sevruga Caviar, Tiradito Nobu-style and Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño, Silk Road presents his celebrated dishes such as Lobster with Truffle-Yuzu Sauce, Grilled Wagyu Beef Rib-Eye with Wasabi Pepper Sauce, and his signature dessert, a Bento Box filled with Chocolate Soufflé Cake with Shiso Syrup and Sesame Ice Cream. The famed chef enjoys a long history with Crystal and unveiled his own line of fine china during Crystal Serenity’s inaugural season.
Cunard ships have an assortment of specialty dining options. Queen Mary 2 has La Piazza, The Carvery, Lotus, and Chef’s Galley; Queen Victoria has Bamboo, Coriander, and Prime; and Queen Elizabeth has Jasmine, Atzec and Asado. A cover charge of $10 per person will be payable in the evenings to dine in these unique restaurants.
Queen Mary2 and Queen Victoria also offer the Todd English restaurant. Reservations are required but cannot be made until on board; there is a charge of $20 per person for lunch and $30 per person for dinner.
Details about Cunard’s specialty restaurants:
• Todd English is a stunning restaurant featuring innovative Mediterranean cuisine, eponymously named for the world-famous celebrity chef. La Piazza serves pasta, pizza and a mouth-watering selection of Italian specialties.
• The Carvery serves the finest carved beef, lamb, pork and poultry.
• Lotus serves a tempting taste of the Far East.
• Chef’s Galley is an interactive dining event where guests observe one of the ship’s chefs prepare each course of their meal. Reservations are required on a first-come, first-serve basis and can only be made once on board.
• Bamboo serves superb Asian cuisine.
• Coriander offers a taste of India.
• Prime features contemporary American favorites and prime steaks.
• Jasmine serves exquisite Asian cuisine.
• Aztec serves interpretations of Mexican classics.
• Asado is a South American grill offering sublime meat dishes.
Palo is an adult exclusive restaurant located on all of Disney’s ships. The restaurant serves Northern Italian cuisine for dinner and brunch and high tea on select cruises. Reservations at Palo can be made online or after boarding the ship; seating is limited and dining is limited to guests 18 and older. High tea is $10 per guest; Palo is $20 per guest for both dinner and brunch.
The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy also have Remy, an intimate adult-exclusive restaurant offering the most upscale dining experience available onboard. The restaurant serves the finest in French-inspired cuisine for dinner. Reservations are required and can be made online or after boarding the ship. Seating is limited and advance reservations are recommended. Dining is limited to guests 18 and older. Remy is $75 per guest for dinner.
Holland America Line
Holland America Line features two specialty restaurants—The Pinnacle Grill (fresh seafood and Pacific Northwest specialties) and the Tamarind Restaurant (Pan-Asian fare).
The Tamarind Restaurant is exclusive to Holland America Line’s Signature-class ships, ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam. Dinner reservations are $15 per adult, $7.50 for children ages 13-17, complimentary for children ages 12 and under, and may be pre-booked online or with Ship Services. Lunch reservations may only be made on board, but incur no extra charge.
The Pinnacle Grill is available by reservation only for both lunch and dinner and is ideal for a romantic dinner or a special group celebration. Adults are $25 per person for dinner or $10 for lunch. Children under 12 dine free of charge and a discount of 50% applies for children between 13 years and 17 years of age.
HAL exclusively offers “An Evening at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Grill” aboard its fleet of 15 ships. On every voyage of seven days or longer, the Pinnacle Grill is transformed for at least one night into a Le Cirque-like atmosphere which is available to all guests.
Canaletto comes to life for dinner when a section of the Lido restaurant is transformed each night into the family style Italian restaurant. Canaletto’s menu features daily, traditional Italian favorites with entrees rotating nightly. It’s a casual dining venue that seats 66 at no extra charge. (Reservations are encouraged but walk-ins are accepted.) Available on ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Eurodam, ms Oosterdam, ms Amsterdam, ms Veendam, ms Rotterdam, ms Ryndam, ms Statendam and ms Maasdam.
Norwegian Cruise Line
With Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruising comes Freestyle Dining. You’ll have access to specialty dining restaurants with cover charges between $10 and $30 per guest; reservations are recommended. Choose from a traditional Steakhouse, French gourmet Le Bistro, Asian Fusion, Brazilian Churrascaria, Teppanyaki for grilled steak, seafood, chicken and veggies, plus sushi (priced a la carte), Chinese (also a la carte), and more.
The Marina, Regatta, Nautica and Insignia each have specialty restaurants Toscana (Italian) and Polo Grill. Marina also has Jacques (French, named for Jacques Pépin) and Red Ginger (Japanese and Vietnamese). Reservations can be made in advance online or on board and number of reservations may be dependent on sailing category. There is no additional charge for any of the specialty dining rooms.
On Princess Cruises, specialty dining venues vary by ship. Sabatini’s has authentic Italian fare, featuring pasta and seafood specialties in a setting reminiscent of a Tuscan villa. Reservations are suggested. Cover charge is $20 per person. Crown Grill is premium aged beef and fresh seafood. Reservations are suggested. Cover charge is $25 per person. Bayou Café Steakhouse is the first New Orleans-inspired specialty restaurant at sea, serving traditional Cajun and Creole influenced food with live jazz. Reservations are suggested. Cover charge is $25 per person. Sterling Steakhouse is a more refined approach to cooked-to-order aged beef.
Regent Seven Seas
Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager have steakhouse Prime 7 and the Mariner and Voyager also have Signatures, a French restaurant featuring Le Cordon Bleu®-inspired cuisine. Reservations can be made in advance or on board. All dining is included in Regent’s all-inclusive cruises.
Royal Caribbean International
There are two specialty restaurants most of the RCI ships — Chops Grill and Portofino Restaurant. Advanced reservations are recommended; however, reservations can be made at the restaurant based on availability. There is a $20 per person service charge to dine at the Portofino Restaurant and a $25 per person service charge for Chops Grille.
On Silversea, specialty dining is available on all ships, except Silver Explorer, the line’s expedition vessel. The Relais & Chateaux restaurant is Le Champagne (French), plus the Silver Spirit has Seishin (Asian). Reservations can be made on board and there is a charge of $30 for Le Champagne and the same for Seishin.