15 Best Cruise Specialty Restaurants That Are A Feast For The Senses

If you love food (and we have to assume you do as you’re here), the restaurants on a cruise ship play a significant role in which vacation you book.

The allure of cruise dining extends beyond mere sustenance; it’s about the fusion of exquisite flavors, meticulously crafted atmospheres, and the overall dining experience.

In the world of cruising, specialty restaurants stand out as jewels in the culinary crown, offering an array of gastronomic adventures.

Our readers have spoken, revealing their top picks for specialty dining at sea. From the rustic charm of Italian trattorias to the refined elegance of French bistros, and even a gourmet twist on classic American burgers, the preferences are diverse.

Yet, a common thread weaves through these choices – a love for immersive, authentic experiences.

Let’s embark on a culinary voyage to discover these exceptional dining venues that are much more than just a meal, they’re a highlight of the cruising experience.

Best Specialty Restaurants

Pinnacle Grill – Holland America Line

In the world of maritime dining, Pinnacle Grill stands out on Holland America Line ships, offering you an exemplary steakhouse experience. If you’re looking to indulge in a world of succulent steaks and fresh seafood, this specialty restaurant beckons with its inviting atmosphere.

The cost of dining here is somewhat of a hidden gem in the sea of cruise dining options.

You’d typically pay $19 for lunch and $46 for dinner, per person which even includes the service charge—a pretty sweet deal considering it’s about 15% less than similar venues on other lines.

The ambiance strikes a delicate balance—it’s neither too stuffy nor excessively casual, striking the perfect note for your special evening.

Imagine the vibe of a classic steakhouse, where the aura is brimming with understated elegance that makes you comfortable the moment you step inside.

Menu Highlights

  • Steaks: Prime cuts that are the stars of the menu.
  • Seafood: Fresh and delectably prepared, offering a coastal flair.
  • Wine Pairings: An extensive list that complements your dish choices.

Your experience at Pinnacle Grill goes beyond just a meal; it’s about savoring refined flavors in a space that treasures your presence.

Whether it’s a celebratory dinner or a spontaneous treat to yourself, this restaurant offers you a cozy corner aboard Holland America you’ll be inclined to return to.

Rudi’s Sel De Mer – Holland America Line

Another Holland restaurant! They’re doing something right over there…

Rudi’s Sel De Mer is a French-Mediterranean seafood brasserie crafted by the line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin.

As you step into Rudi’s, you’re greeted by an atmosphere that blends classic French elegance with modern finesse.

Menu Highlights:

  • Starters: You might begin with a plate of finely cured salmon or Escargot, each dish conveying the authentic flavors of France.
  • Mains: For your main course, the salt-crusted branzino is a favorite, showcasing the technique of baking with a salt crust to enhance the fish’s natural flavors.

Rudi’s Sel De Mer offers a unique dining experience that combines the intimate atmosphere of a Parisian brasserie with a lively, social setting.

The menu is a celebration of traditional French cuisine, reimagined with creative twists that promise both comfort and culinary excitement. Due to its popularity, it’s wise to reserve your table in advance.

While dining here includes an additional charge, the exceptional quality and immersive experience make it a worthwhile indulgence for those special moments or simply to treat yourself to a memorable culinary journey through the essence of French cooking.

Guy’s Burger Joint – Carnival Cruise Line

Guy’s Burger Joint - Carnival Cruise Line
Source: @carirae

If you’re setting sail with Carnival, you’re in for a treat at Guy’s Burger Joint. This poolside eatery is a hot spot for burger enthusiasts.

Menu Highlights:

  • The Ringer: A mouthwatering creation featuring a juicy patty with brown sugar BBQ sauce and a crispy onion ring.
  • Hand-cut Fries: Perfectly seasoned and served alongside their gourmet burgers.

Guy’s Burger Joint melds the casual charm of a classic roadside burger stand with the vibrant energy of a cruise, offering a perfect spot to unwind and enjoy under the sun.

At its heart is celebrity chef Guy Fieri, who infuses each burger with his signature bold American flavors, ensuring that every bite is an experience in itself.

Far from ordinary fast food, Guy’s offers a specialty dining experience where quality meets the relaxed pleasure of a well-made burger.

Your Carnival cruise experience isn’t complete without savoring one of these iconic burgers, making Guy’s Burger Joint a must-visit destination for a memorable and deliciously laid-back meal.

Eden Restaurant – Celebrity Cruises

When you step aboard Celebrity’s Edge-class ships, you’ll discover the unique gastronomic experience that is Eden Restaurant.

It’s not just a place to dine; it’s a multi-level sensory event that blends nature, cuisine, and performance in a breathtaking setting.

Dining at this venue is like stepping into a serene garden oasis, with the vast ocean as its backdrop. The restaurant spans three stories, enveloped in glass, allowing guests to dine amidst panoramic views of the sea merging effortlessly with the lush greenery of the interior.

This unique setting creates an unparalleled dining ambiance, where the beauty of nature and the elegance of the restaurant intertwine, offering a tranquil yet majestic experience that enhances every meal.

Menu Highlights:

  • Appetizers: Delights like roasted Carabineros shrimp awaken your palate.
  • Entrees: For a heartier appetite, the sheep’s milk ricotta gnocchi drizzled with smoked pecorino cheese strikes a perfect balance between indulgent and comforting.
  • Desserts: Don’t skip the sweet finale, featuring artfully crafted desserts that are a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

What’s dining without a bit of theatrics? The open-kitchen design lets you watch chefs create culinary masterpieces, adding an interactive flair to your meal.

Remember, this specialty restaurant is exclusive to the Celebrity Edge, Apex, and Beyond.

Palo – Disney Cruise Line

If you’re setting sail with Disney Cruise Line, you’re in for a culinary treat at Palo. This adults-only restaurant is a sanctuary offering Northern Italian cuisine that’s as rich in flavors as it is in ambiance. The cherry on top? Each of Disney’s ships is home to this signature dining experience.

Menu Highlights:

  • Appetizers: Delights like roasted Carabineros shrimp awaken your palate.
  • Pasta Dishes: For those seeking a classic Italian touch, the wild mushroom risotto offers a creamy and savory experience.
  • Main Courses: Entrees such as the tender osso buco or the exquisitely cooked seared sea bass cater to a heartier appetite.
  • Signature Dish: The Dover sole, expertly prepared and filleted tableside, is a testament to Palo’s culinary finesse.
  • Desserts: Artfully crafted desserts like the decadent chocolate soufflé.

Named after the Italian word for “pole,” Palo references the poles used by Venetian gondoliers. As you step into the restaurant, you’ll notice an intimate and refined feel — think romantic with a side of sophistication.

Palo redefines onboard dining with its exceptional offerings. Brunch transforms into a sumptuous, all-you-can-eat affair, featuring an array of Italian specialties that promise to delight the senses.

As evening falls, the restaurant shifts to a prix fixe dinner menu, priced at $50 (excluding drinks and gratuities), showcasing a sequence of dishes that epitomize Disney’s commitment to culinary excellence.

From appetizers to desserts, each course is a testament to quality and creativity. Given its popularity and the high level of service, securing a reservation at Palo is essential, especially if you’re celebrating a special moment or seeking an extraordinary dining experience during your cruise.

Ocean Blue – Norwegian Cruise Line

Ocean Blue - Norwegian Cruise Line
Source: @cruisedorks

Ocean Blue on Norwegian Cruise Line is a must-visit for seafood aficionados, offering a sophisticated dining experience with a focus on fresh, high-quality seafood.

Its elegant ambiance and masterfully crafted dishes, ranging from classic to contemporary, make it a standout culinary destination on the high seas.

Menu Highlights:

  • Soup Starter: Begin with the clam chowder, celebrated for its creamy consistency and depth of flavor.
  • Classic Combos: The surf and turf unites the best of both worlds, presenting a seamless marriage of land and sea.
  • Traditional Fare: For a touch of British cuisine, the beer-battered fish and chips offer an irresistible crunch.
  • Seafood Excellence: Savor the perfectly grilled salmon, tailored to your preference.
  • Pasta Delight: Indulge in the seafood linguini, abundant with a fresh ocean catch.
  • Hearty Choice: The cioppino, a robust stew, showcases a diverse array of seafood in every spoonful.

As someone who might lean towards land proteins, Ocean Blue ensures you’re not left ashore. The filet mignon and roasted brick chicken stand as testimony to the kitchen’s versatile prowess.

Every dish is an anchor in the vast ocean of flavors Ocean Blue promises.

It’s not just a meal; it’s a deep dive into the culinary depths where each bite is an exploration, each flavor, a current steering towards satisfaction.

Your taste buds will embark on a journey full of zesty zephyrs and savory splashes at this nautical-themed haven.

Manfredi’s – Viking Ocean

When you step into Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant aboard a Viking Ocean cruise ship, you’re greeted by an ambiance that marries elegance with comfort.

Your senses are first treated to the warm, inviting glow of the restaurant’s interior—wooden accents and soft lighting evoke the feeling of an authentic Italian trattoria.

Now, imagine starting with an antipasto platter that artfully combines both familiar and unexpected flavors. Items like prosciutto, marinated vegetables, and aged cheeses lay the groundwork for a dining experience that’s sure to be memorable.

The Main Course:

  • Pasta: Handmade and cooked to perfection, with sauces that are rich, robust, and full of flavor.
  • Seafood: Fresh, delicately prepared dishes that might include succulent shrimp or beautifully grilled fish.
  • Meat Entrées: Expect a variety of hearty choices, from the traditional osso buco to their signature bistecca, a steak that’s cooked precisely to your liking.

With each course, you’re encouraged to pair your dish with a selection from the extensive wine list, aiming to complement the flavors and enhance your overall dining experience.

Remember, dining at Manfredi’s is included with your cruise fare, but it’s nonetheless a good idea to make reservations in advance. You wouldn’t want to miss out on this culinary gem that successfully brings a taste of Italy to the high seas!

Red Ginger – Oceania Cruises

When you step into Red Ginger aboard Oceania’s Sirena, you encounter a dining venue where the ambiance complements the menu, one that offers an array of tantalizing Asian flavors.

Your sensory journey begins with the restaurant’s contemporary decor, marked by vibrant crimson accents and delicate Asian artwork, setting the stage for the culinary experience that follows.

The menu beckons with innovative dishes derived from classic Eastern cuisine. You might start with a refreshing salad or a signature sushi roll, each prepared with careful attention to balance and presentation.

Menu Highlight:

  • Appetizers:
    • The “Lobster Pad Thai” is a luxurious twist on a traditional favorite, featuring succulent lobster.
    • “Tom Kha Gai” soup offers a delightful blend of coconut milk, lemongrass, and tender chicken.
  • Main Courses:
    • “Miso Glazed Sea Bass” is a standout dish, known for its delicate flavor and perfectly cooked texture.
    • “Thai Beef Salad” combines spicy and tangy notes with the richness of beef, offering a flavorful and refreshing option.
  • Sides:
    • “Ginger Fried Rice” is a fragrant and tasty accompaniment, enhancing any main course.
  • Desserts:
    • “Banana Cake with Coconut Ice Cream” provides a sweet and exotic end to the meal.
    • “Passion Fruit Sorbet” is a light and refreshing choice, perfect for cleansing the palate.

Enticing options for vegetarians and meat lovers alike ensure you find a dish suited to your tastes. From the spicy duck and watermelon salad to the Thai vegetable curry, there’s a depth of flavor infused into every bite.

Moreover, attentive service at Red Ginger ensures your dining needs are met with both precision and a smile.

Before you reserve your table, note that seating at Red Ginger is a sought-after experience by many fellow cruisers. Don’t make this common dining mistake and remember to book ahead!

Advance reservations are recommended to ensure that you don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in this standout dining experience.

When you walk out of Red Ginger, the rich tastes and gracious service will have marked a highlight in your cruise dining journey.

Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria – Princess Cruises

When you step into Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria aboard Princess Cruises, you’re greeted by an aura of classic Italian dining.

Imagine the warmth of Italian hospitality paired with a traditional menu that takes you straight to the heart of Tuscany.

As you peruse the menu, you’ll find timeless favorites that have been given a contemporary twist, ensuring each dish bursts with authentic flavors that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Menu Highlights:

  • Appetizers:
    • “Burrata alla Panna” pairs creamy burrata cheese with heirloom tomatoes and basil, embodying the fresh flavors of Italy.
    • “Fritto Misto” offers a delightful taste of the sea with lightly fried seafood and vegetables, served with a tangy citrus aioli.
  • Main Courses:
    • “Risotto al Frutti di Mare” showcases perfectly cooked risotto bursting with the flavors of fresh seafood.
    • “Osso Buco alla Milanese” is a rich and tender veal shank, slow-cooked to perfection, served over a bed of saffron-infused risotto.
  • Pasta:
    • “Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu” combines broad, flat pasta with a robust and flavorful wild boar sauce.
  • Desserts:
    • “Tiramisu Sabatini” is a classic Italian dessert, reimagined with a unique twist that enhances its rich coffee and mascarpone flavors.
    • “Cannoli Siciliani” offers a crispy shell filled with sweet, creamy ricotta and candied fruits, a perfect end to an Italian feast.
  • Sides:
    • “Gnocchi Romana” is a deliciously comforting side, featuring soft, oven-baked gnocchi in a rich cheese sauce.

Nestled midship on Deck 5 across from Guest Services, this is a true gem. Its atmosphere is warm and welcoming, akin to a family-owned Italian restaurant, with seating options that cater to both intimate and scenic dining experiences.

The restaurant offers a culinary journey through Italy, blending traditional dishes with a modern twist, featuring a range of antipasti, pastas, and sumptuous mains.

Dining at Sabatini’s is not just a meal; it’s an experience that elevates the essence of your cruise, perfect for a romantic evening or a memorable meal with friends and family.

For those dining early, the added allure of stunning sea views through the windows on the starboard side makes it a sought-after location for a truly special dining affair, fulfilling your desire for exquisite Italian cuisine.

Remy – Disney Cruise Line

On your Disney Cruise, a visit to Remy promises an unparalleled adults-only dining experience that marries sophistication with culinary artistry.

At the helm are Chef Arnaud Lallement of l’Assiette Champenoise and Chef Scott Hunnel of Victoria & Albert’s, whose combined expertise transforms each meal into a sublime work of art.

Stepping into Remy, you’re immediately enveloped in an atmosphere of elegance and luxury, reminiscent of a chic French bistro.

The menu is a testament to the fusion of classic and modern flavors, where each dish is meticulously crafted and presented with artistic precision, offering an array of exceptional seafood and decadent desserts.

Menu Highlights:

  • Starters:
    • “Langoustine Royale” offers a delicate and flavorful introduction, featuring tender langoustine in a light, savory broth.
    • “Seared Foie Gras” combines rich, buttery foie gras with sweet and tart accompaniments, balancing flavors exquisitely.
  • Main Courses:
    • “Wagyu Filet Mignon” is a standout dish, known for its exceptional marbling and depth of flavor, cooked to perfection.
    • “Lobster with Vanilla” presents a unique fusion, where the sweetness of vanilla enhances the succulent lobster, creating a memorable seafood experience.
  • Desserts:
    • “Chocolate Sphere” is a visually stunning and palate-pleasing dessert, combining various textures and flavors of chocolate.
    • “Peaches and Cream” offers a light, refreshing end to the meal, featuring ripe peaches and velvety cream in a harmonious blend.
  • Cheese Course:
    • An exquisite selection of artisan cheeses, each paired with unique accompaniments to enhance their flavors.
  • Specialty Items:
    • Remy also offers a “Pompidou’s Pâtés and Terrines”, an assortment of house-made pâtés and terrines, showcasing traditional French charcuterie.

The exclusivity of Remy makes it a coveted destination for those seeking a unique and intimate dining experience, ideal for celebrating special moments or indulging in gourmet excellence.

This luxurious culinary journey is an essential aspect of your Disney Cruise adventure, blending fine dining with the thrill of the seas.

Remember to book your reservation and dress elegantly for an unforgettable evening at Remy.

Cucina Del Capitano – Carnival Cruise Line

Source: @marckharrat

At Cucina Del Capitano on Carnival Cruise Line, you’re transported into the heartwarming ambience of a family-run Italian trattoria, where the concept is inspired by the inviting hospitality of an Italian captain’s home.

This restaurant embodies the essence of Italian dining – warm, communal, and utterly delightful.

The menu is a celebration of Italy’s rich culinary heritage, allowing you to customize your pasta with various noodles and sauces, and offering hearty traditional entrees like veal, chicken parmigiana, and sumptuous seafood.

Accompany your meal with a selection from their well-curated wine list for a perfect pairing.

The setting of Cucina Del Capitano, adorned with rustic decor and maritime elements, adds to its charm, creating a welcoming atmosphere for guests of all ages. Here, dining transcends beyond exquisite Italian staples; it becomes a communal celebration of authentic, time-honored recipes.

The fresh ingredients and flavors are reminiscent of a meal prepared in an Italian grandmother’s kitchen.

Cucina Del Capitano stands as a testament to Carnival’s dedication to offering not just high-quality cuisine but also an enriching, shared dining experience, making it a must-visit destination on your cruise.

Fahrenheit 555 – Carnival Cruise Line

Fahrenheit 555 - Carnival Cruise Line
Source: @skinnytaste

Fahrenheit 555 on Carnival Cruise Line epitomizes the quintessential steakhouse experience at sea, where luxury and culinary expertise converge.

This signature restaurant is a haven for steak lovers, offering an ambiance of sophisticated elegance, complete with dim lighting and meticulously set tables, ensuring every meal is an event in itself.

The menu at Fahrenheit 555 puts the spotlight on USDA Prime aged beef, featuring premium cuts like the robust 14-ounce New York strip and the tender 9-ounce filet mignon, each aged for 28 days to ensure unparalleled flavor and tenderness.

Your steak can be accompanied by an array of side dishes, creating a balanced and satisfying meal.

The pricing at Fahrenheit 555 is a testament to its high-end offerings and refined atmosphere, offering a gourmet steakhouse experience for less than fifty dollars per person.

Given its popularity as a specialty dining venue, advance reservations are recommended to secure your table. Dining at Fahrenheit 555 is not just a meal; it’s an extravagant culinary journey, offering an experience that rivals top steakhouses on land.

Perfect for special occasions or a sumptuous treat, this restaurant adds an extra layer of indulgence to your cruise experience, making it an unforgettable part of your journey at sea.

Crown Grill – Princess Cruises

The Crown Grill aboard Princess Cruises is a sanctuary for meat and seafood lovers, offering an exquisite dining experience reminiscent of a classic steakhouse.

Upon entering, you’re welcomed by the warm ambience of rich wood tones and the lively buzz of a theater-style kitchen, setting the scene for an intimate and celebratory dining experience.

The menu is a testament to culinary excellence, featuring a tempting array of premium meats and fresh seafood.

Menu Highlights:

  • Appetizers: The Mediterranean-style spiny lobster cake stands out, offering a perfect blend of ocean flavors with an elegant presentation.
  • Meats: The 14-ounce rib-eye is a highlight, known not just for its size but for its rich, satisfying flavor.
  • Seafood: A variety of classic and innovative seafood dishes cater to all preferences.

The Crown Grill experience is available for a cover charge of $29 per person, though prices may vary. Guests with the Princess Premier package have the added benefit of including two specialty dining experiences, potentially making the Crown Grill an ideal choice.

While there is a service charge added to the cover, the exceptional quality and atmosphere of the Crown Grill make it a valuable addition to the cruise experience.

This venue isn’t just about dining; it’s about indulging in a meal that elevates the senses and enhances the joy of cruising.

Umi Uma by Nobu Matsuhisa Restaurant and Sushi Bar – Crystal Cruises

Onboard the Crystal Serenity or Crystal Symphony, Umi Uma by Nobu Matsuhisa stands as a culinary jewel, offering guests an extraordinary dining experience.

This specialty venue is the brainchild of the renowned Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, and it skillfully blends Japanese cuisine with Peruvian influences, creating a unique and tantalizing culinary style.

The restaurant’s modern and elegant ambiance is the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable meal.

The menu at Umi Uma showcases Chef Nobu’s innovative approach to cuisine, with signature dishes like the Black Cod with Miso and the Yellowtail Jalapeño reflecting his creative culinary vision.

Additionally, the sushi bar offers a plethora of exquisite sushi and sashimi choices, each crafted with the utmost quality and precision.

Given its popularity and the limited seating available on each sailing, making a reservation at Umi Uma is essential.

This ensures that you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in this exclusive dining experience.

Dining at Umi Uma is not just a meal; it’s a journey into the heart of Chef Nobu’s culinary art, an experience that’s further enriched by the serene backdrop of the sea.

This is a must-visit destination for anyone aboard the Crystal Cruises, promising a meal that’s as memorable as the voyage itself.

Sterling Steakhouse – Princess Cruises

Sterling Steakhouse aboard your cruise offers an elevated steakhouse experience, combining the traditional charm of a classic steakhouse with a dash of onboard elegance.

As you enter, the warm, intimate atmosphere welcomes you, setting the tone for a relaxed and enjoyable dining experience.

Menu Highlights:

  • Steaks: The menu stars exquisite cuts like the New York Strip, Filet Mignon, and the impressive Porterhouse, each seasoned and grilled to perfection.
  • Sides: Complement your steak with sides like creamy garlic mashed potatoes or perfectly grilled asparagus, each designed to enhance the flavors of your steak.
  • Wine Pairings: The curated selection of fine wines is chosen to harmonize beautifully with your meal.
  • Appetizers: Begin with starters such as the classic shrimp cocktail or a fresh Caesar salad.
  • Desserts: Conclude with a decadent dessert, be it the rich chocolate lava cake or a classic New York cheesecake, for a sweet finale.

Remember to book your table early during your cruise to secure a spot at this popular venue.

Dining at Sterling Steakhouse is not just about the food; it’s an exquisite experience that combines fine cuisine with a cozy, elegant setting, ensuring an unforgettable evening.

Savor each bite and embrace the luxury of this exceptional dining adventure, which is sure to be a highlight of your cruising experience.

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