Cruise Cuisine Gets an Upgrade

When you think of where you’ll be eating on your next cruise, the good old all-you-can eat buffet is usually top of mind.

But cruise lines are starting to take passengers’ culinary experience to new levels with fancier food options to please even the toughest foodie. And don’t worry, the buffets aren’t going anywhere – and they’re even getting in on the upgrade action.

Vacation Quest couldn’t wait to find out what’s new and mouthwatering at sea!

“Not only are there more food options on cruises now, the new buffets offer more choices,” Global Travel Manager Lori Smith said. “The ships are really starting to cater to special diets like vegan, gluten free, sugar free, and vegetarian as well.”

This year, Carnival Cruise Lines took the gold medal for “most improved food”, awarded by Bon Voyage magazine. A $500 million improvement fund allowed the cruise line to up the eating ante with new additions to its restaurant choices. Highly favored among these is Guy’s Burger Joint (yes, THAT Guy – Guy Fieri) with its freshly ground meat and just-baked buns. Critics and passengers alike claim instant addiction!

Other major cruise lines are following suit.

Norwegian Cruise Line‘s largest ships now have the Ultimate Dining Package, in which one set price allows passengers to eat in a different specialty restaurant every night. Norwegian’s partnerships with celebrity chefs like Geoffrey Zakarian, Ocean Blue seafood restaurant, and Cake Boss star Buddy Valastro, Carlo’s Bake Shop, make this an especially mouthwatering option.

Princess is pleasing palates with Alfredo’s Pizzeria which does pizza and only pizza, offering just five or six hand-tossed personal-sized pies on the menu, created by the cruise line’s master chef Alfredo Marzi. Fresh, healthy ingredients make it a must-try.

Celebrity Cruise Line’s Qsine is more than just food. It’s a quirky experience from beginning to end. Qsine’s huge iPad menu featured food from dozens of cultures (meat and potatoes, sushi on a stick. Mediterranean mezze, Persian kebobs and more) in a mod atmosphere (puzzle box dessert lists!)

Royal Caribbean’s Cupcake Cupboard is a favorite, with funky flavors like bubblegum, coconut, cola and turtle and sizes for all situations. The oversized cupcakes can feed a small family, while the minis are perfect if you don’t want to share. The Cupboard’s cupcake-making classes are a hit with kids and adults.

Whew! Feeling a little bloaty after such indulgences? Beat the bloat with a few well-placed alternatives, which are usually doable anywhere, and look for new healthy options now available on many cruises.

  • Choose grilled chicken instead of beef
  • Skip part (or all) of the bun, sauces and dressings.
  • Don’t go to a meal starving! Mix in healthy snacks of fruit and veggies between meals and drink lots of water to fill up.
  • Eat from the spa menu, which offers healthier options. Try Royal Caribbean’s “Vitality” selections in its main dining rooms and Carnival’s “Spa Carnival Cuisine.” Or look for spa restaurants like the Aqua Spa Café in Celebrity’s Solarium.

Got a guilty favorite? Tell us about your most sinful dining indulgence while cruising!

A native of New Jersey, Victoria isn't entirely sure how she ended up in Kansas City, but has enjoyed writing, editing, creating, communicating and marketing for high-profile accounts throughout the city ever since. In her spare time, Victoria is an actor (and active) with local community and city theatre.