When it comes to cruise ship cuisine, the lines are really pushing the boat out, with restaurants on board to rival the best land-based ones. Julia McDonald rounds up her favourites.
Cuisine is key on all of Uniworld’s boutique river cruises, which is why they have some of the best cruise ship restaurants on the water. The line is committed to going the extra mile to provide guests with a remarkable dining experience, reflected in their hotel heritage. Not only did they win the Cruise International Award for Best Cuisine, they are also the only river cruise company recognised by US-based restaurant bible ZAGAT for the quality of their cuisine.
Many of the dishes on the menu come from owner Beatrice Tollman’s own recipe book, including her famous Shepherds Pie. The ship also picks up daily fresh ingredients from local farmers markets on the way.
We were lucky enough to sample a week of fine dining on board flagship SS Antoinette – and can vouch for the quality of the food at every meal. Sumptuous buffets at breakfast included everything from decadent Belgian waffles topped with warm maple syrup, to homemade breads and jams, hand-cut seasonal fresh fruit and a chef ready to create any type of egg dish you might desire.
Lunch offered a feast of salads, soups and Beatrice’s chicken pies. The nightly five-course dinner on board includes European fine wines and a selection of beer and soft drinks served by a friendly and attentive staff.
Whether you fancy a relaxed pool-side bite or an exquisite five-star dining experience, you can be assured of remarkable food on board Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice Class ships. Falling under the inspired eye of renowned chef Jacques Van Staden, Qsine and Murano rank among our favourite cruise ship restaurants. Qsine’s unique style – interactive menus presented on iPads and weird, upside-down design – is backed up by substance. Classic favourites are given experimental twists, and flavours and textures are turned on their heads. The result is a delicious, if unorthodox, menu to compliment a fun yet refined dining experience.
Murano offers classic French dishes in a modern and sophisticated setting. Watch as lobsters are prepared at your table, choose from an extensive selection of French and American wines, and conclude with the expert pairing of artisan cheeses and delicious port wine.
We are also looking forward to trying out the Lawn Club Grill on the top deck of Celebrity Reflection, which launches in November.
Oceania’s Riviera, launching in May, will join her sister ship Marina as the first two ships of Oceania’s fleet designed with culinary excellence and travel experience in mind. Six of Riviera’s ten gourmet restaurants come without any additional surcharge, creating an inclusive dining experience. Home to the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, the only hands-on cooking school at sea, Riviera is a foodie paradise, boasting one of the best cruise ship restaurants and gastronomic experiences at sea.
Topping her list of enticing dining establishments is Red Ginger, which has an exotic ambiance matched only by the food. The Asian-inspired dishes feature contemporary twists, with everything from Miso Glazed Seabass to Lobster Pad Thai.
Other options on board include Tuscan-inspired Toscana, Jacques Pepin’s French bistro, Jacques, and the intimate La Reserve, where you can enjoy a superb sevencourse wine-paired evening.
The most difficult decision you’ll face on board P&O’s Ventura will be where to enjoy your next meal. With a collection of 12 enticing restaurants featuring everything from authentic Iberian tapas to the inspired creations of Marco Pierre White, options are plentiful. The menu in the dining room is elegant and tastefully chosen. Ventura is also the only ship in the P&O fleet to offer the luxurious option of balcony dining, where you’ll be able to enjoy personal waiter service as you dine al fresco on your very own balcony.
For the ultimate fine dining experience, Marco Pierre White’s The White Room is the restaurant of choice. Offering a range of classic Italian dishes, you can be assured of an exceptional epicurean experience.
The fact that celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa oversees the cuisine on board Crystal’s ships gives you a good indication of what you can expect on board.
Renowned for his experimental take on Japanese cuisine, Nobu brings his culinary expertise to Crystal Serenity’s Silk Road, featuring unique and inspired dishes.
The Nobu-trained chefs of The Sushi Bar prepare delectably fresh sushi and sashimi to rival Japan’s finest, and the range is thoughtfully planned and artfully executed. Specialties include Miso Black Cod and Lobster with Truffle-Yuzu Sauce. Meals at all but one of their speciality restaurants are complimentary, making the Crystal ship restaurants some of the best in the world.
Nobu will be hosting a special foodie cruise on Serenity on 24 May, and will personally prepare dishes and run cooking demos.
Best of the Rest
Features a superb five-course tasting menu that marries unusual flavours. On the smaller ships, the Veranda Café becomes Restaurant 2 in the evenings.
Watch as chefs prepare a delectable range of fresh seafood and steaks in the opulent surroundings of this open, theatre-style kitchen.
Indulge in an evening of fine wine and superb seasonal regional cuisine in the only Relais & Châteaux restaurant at sea.
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