If there is one thing the world of cruising is famous for it is the cuisine. Food on board is always a huge focus point when planning new cruise ship designs and dining at sea should be an event every single day. A meal is not just a meal on board a ship, cruise lines do everything they possibly can to make sure that whenever you pick up your knife and fork you are in for a treat and an individual experience you won’t forget. Some are good at this and some are excellent but one thing is for sure, the range of choice is always superb.
A wonderful feature when travelling aboard a cruise is that the majority of cruise lines will use fresh local produced from the regions they are sailings and certain operators provide excursions to head ashore with the master chefs to choose a selection of produce. This is particularly popular when cruising such regions as the Caribbean and South America.
The amount of food and drink produce used on board a cruise is truly remarkable, for a fun fact, did you know that on a typical 7 day sailing aboard Celebrity Infinity the ship will carry up to 1,950 passengers, which will consume approximately 9,235 dozen eggs, 6,870kg of potatoes and 3,400 bottles of wine?!
Cruise operators work tirelessly with master chefs to ensure they develop the most interesting and varied cuisine possible befitting of the luxurious surrounding in which you are sailing. To put it in its bluntest form, cruise lines love food, it’s as simple as that and making sure you love every single taste of the dishes on board becomes more than a pleasure but a mission. More importantly it is not just about the food itself, it’s what good food brings with it. A fantastic evening is matched perfectly with an ambience to match, great conversation, signature silver service and of course the most exquisite selection of wines to suit every pallet pleasing taste and mood.
Of course one thing that works extremely in the favour of passengers is that dining has become a huge area of competition between cruise lines in the modern day era. It is imperative that cruise operators stay on top of their game in achieving the highest of standards and variety of choice when welcoming guests on board and for that reason you know you are always in for a treat. Dining is a key point of differentiation when deciding which cruise line to travel with and as such brands will do all they can to create a unique selling point.
Dining on board has only in recent years seen a huge rise in variety and diversity. For many years a meal would always take place at the dedicated main restaurant on board where spectacular silver service would be enjoyed. These main restaurants would welcome all guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as often providing theme afternoons such as a chocolate heaven experience. The main restaurants always revolved around Traditional Dining, which would mean passengers deciding on a sitting selection of their choice at the time of booking. The sitting selections would usually be first sitting at 6.30pm and second sitting at 8.30pm with the opportunity to also request a table size preference.
The Traditional Dining experience is still very much in favour today but has been joined by the inclusion of a wide range of speciality dining. Cruise lines have now become popular for introducing a great selection of speciality venues to provide a greater range of choice for guests on board. These venues include restaurant such as Italian, French, Steak Houses, Pan-Pacific, American Diner, Teppanyaki and much more. It has become a thrilling competition between cruise lines that can provide the most choice and of course the greatest cuisine. Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean are two of the leading operators for providing the widest ranges of speciality venue selections. Norwegian Cruise Line originally began creating new venues with the inclusion of the Cagney’s Steakhouse but in recent ship developments, especially on board the brand new NCL Breakaway, there is up to 14 different dining options on board.
Alongside the creation of speciality venues, other dining changes in the modern day include the very popular open seating policy in the main restaurants. It was Princess Cruises that originally introduced the concept of Anytime Dining rather than guests having to choose a specific sitting selection. The sitting times remained available and by selecting a sitting it means the same table would be available for you each evening, ready and waiting but the new option allowed guests to arrive at the restaurant anytime they wished in the evening and they would be seated to the first available table. It was a concept that soon caught on with other cruise lines with operators such as P&O Cruises following Princess in introducing the option to many of the ships in their fleet. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line are just a few examples of other cruise lines that have gone down the same route in offering this choice, each using their own turn of phrase to create a point of difference. Celebrity Cruises use the title Celebrity Select Dining whilst Holland America prefer As You Wish Dining.
In recent times, another hugely popular dining attraction on board has been the rise of celebrity chef’s introducing their own on board ventures and forming partnerships with cruise lines. P&O Cruises in particular have created several outstanding restaurants and developed partnerships with the ever popular Marco Pierre White and Atul Kochar. Oceania Cruises regularly use their partnership with the internationally recognised master chef Jacques Pepin to showcase their culinary variety.
So what can you expect when you arrive on board? Well you will find a great range of dining venues from formal to casual to choose from. The main restaurants are always spectacular, no matter the ship or cruise line you are travelling with. These dining rooms are the heart and soul of a ship and therefore the attention to detail is magnificent. Alternative dining venues often include a 24 hour buffet service restaurant serving dishes from all over the world and always there for whenever you feel peckish. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are served here and do not miss the midnight buffet that takes place on board a variety of ships for a brilliant treat.
Children will love the food choice when cruising. The options for younger passengers on board are amazing with so much to choose from. Whether you are dining as a family altogether or the children choose to dine with friends at the dedicated children’s corner areas on board many ships in their own special restaurants, the selection is always fantastic with younger guests looked after just as good as adults.
For more information on traditional dining and anytime dining, visit our FAQ dining page.
We can keep telling you how good the cuisine on board can be forever but perhaps the best way to inform you of the fabulous food choice available is to show you. Take a look at the example menu’s available from P&O Cruises main restaurant and The White Room on board Ventura, the Marco Pierre White created venue.
The White Room Sample Menu
Crab Linguini with Chilli
Linguini pasta, crab meat, parsley, chopped chilli and olive oil
Mozzarella di Bufala Napolitano (V)
With roasted red peppers and cherry tomatoes
Calamari Fritti with Tartare Sauce and Fried Parsley
Cream of Celeriac Soup with a Ragu of Porcini Mushrooms (V)
San Danielle Prosciutto Ham with Figs
Escalope of Foie Gras, fried Egg on Toasted Brioche
Supreme of Halibut with Citrus Fruits, Olive oil, Coriander and Baby Fennel
Spaghetti of Lobster Americano
Breast of Corn-fed Chicken, Truffle, Dauphinoise Potato and Roasted Courgettes
Wild Mushroom Cream
Risotto agli Asparagi (V)
Grilled Medallions of Beef Fillet alla Romana – With snails in garlic butter and roasting juices
Roast Rack of Lamb with a Herb crust – Served with garlic roast potatoes
Mascarpone Crème Brûlée
Hot Raspberry Souffl é
Chocolate Truffl e Cake
Marco’s version of this classic Italian dessert
Selezione di formaggi
Plated selection of British and Italian cheeses with home-made biscuits and breads
Coffee and Chocolates
“Perfection is lots of little things done well. These eight words did more than simply
stick in my mind: they became my philosophy “ Marco Pierre White
P&O Cruises Main Restaurant Example Menu
Marbled Game, Pear and Pine Nut Terrine with Port, Redcurrant Jelly, Shallots and Orange Zest Sauce, Quince Jelly Tartlet and Oatcakes
Oak-Smoked Scottish Salmon with Capers, Onion and Buttered Wholemeal Bread
Steamed Buttered Asparagus with Fried Duck Egg Yolk and Parmesan Crisp (v)
Wild Mushroom and White Wine (v)
Petite Marmite with Lean Beef, Chicken, Vegetables and a French Stick Crisp Bread
Maine Lobster Newburg in a light Tomato-Glazed Seafood Sauce with Piped Creamed Potatoes
Rack of New Zealand Lamb with Balsamic Onions, Sliced Potatoes and Rosemary Jus*
Maple-Glazed Breast of Gressingham Duck with Cranberry Wine, Sweet Potato Mash and Savoy Cabbage*
Prime Roast Rib of Irish Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, Roast Potatoes, Cabbage and Pan Gravy*
Pan-Fried Fillet of Sea Bass with Shallot, Tomato and Basil Dressing, Potatoes Poached in Olive Oil, Carrots and Green Beans
Goat’s Cheese Crottin and Morel Mushroom Twice-Baked Soufflé with Rosemary Breads and Hazelnut Sauce (v)
From the Grill
Maple-Glazed Breast of Chicken with Chips and Sugar Snap Peas
All main courses are accompanied by your choice of Butter-Glazed Baked Potatoes, Buttered Leaf Spinach and Cauliflower Gratin
Pear Tarte Tatin with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Fresh Strawberries with Whipped Cream, Toasted Flaked Almonds and a Warm Chocolate Biscuit
Orange and Ricotta Mousse flavoured with Bacardi
Fresh Poached Plums in Mulled Wine Syrup
Ice Creams – Vanilla, Peach and Mango, Maple and Walnut
Sorbet – Pink Grapefruit
A fine selection of Regional British and Continental Cheese with Biscuits and Dried Fruits featuring a Port-marinated Stilton Round