If you ask seasoned cruisers, many will tell you that the available dining options when onboard are a major selling point when they come to book their stint on the sea.
After all, as the saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is through his belly – and ladies do love to lunch!
When you’re at sea, with as much food as you can eat thrown in, you can afford to be adventurous with your plate choices and if you don’t like something, just send it back and try something else instead!
If you are in the mood for some daring dining, there are plenty of things on cruise line menus that you may not have tried before.
Some are nice, some are naughty and some are just plain peculiar but there’s no excuse not to try them all!
1 – Bison Burgers
It’s not really something that we see in the UK but American liners, such as Disney, offer bison burgers as standard.
Did you know a bison burger is healthier than a beef burger?
So not only are you tucking into the rear end of a buffalo for the first time but it’ll be kinder to your waistline – something many of us could really do with when most of the food on a cruise is included in the price!
2 – Escargot
Don’t eat the shell though, just the inside bit!
If you’re sailing with Azamara, book yourself into the Aqualina restaurant to try a plateful of these French culinary favourites, in a different way.
There’s no classic garlic butter with these snails – just aubergine caviar for some earthy tones or dine in the Qsine restaurant onboard Celebrity and you can enjoy a lobster and escargot fritter, bringing together two shells of the sea and the soil – interesting!
Kinda gross, but interesting.
Do you think they’d allow you to take away any of the snail slime in a doggy bag?
It’s good for your skin, apparently!
3 – A Pizza the Action
Everybody loves pizza, right?
Well the good news is that most cruise lines serve up a decent slice.
On Carnival Cruises, Pizzeria del Capitano boasts a brick oven and is open 24/7, so you can get a pizza the action whenever you get the craving.
4 – Carpaccio
If you like the sound of steak so raw it’s pretty much mooing, topped with a raw egg, carpaccio might just be your thing!
You can find it at the Prime C restaurant onboard the Azamara ships.
You don’t get a choice of how it’s cooked though because it doesn’t even see a grill!
However, it melts in the mouth and despite all the rawness is highly rated among hard-core food fans.
5 – Calamari
Salt and pepper squid, anybody?
Don’t worry – you won’t be inked
Perhaps some octopus sashimi, onboard Crystal Cruises, may be more your thing?
With Nobu Matsuhisa at the handle of the ceramic knife in the Silk Road kitchen, you can guarantee it’ll be the best quality and perfectly prepared.
There’s nothing like a lovely bowl of tentacles to get the evening off to a great start – and you’re a sucker if you think otherwise!
6 – Sushi Lollipops
And speaking of suckers…
These aren’t as weird as they sound but if you like the idea of sushi rolls being served to you on a stick, then the Qsine restaurant onboard some of the Celebrity fleet is the place to go.
Licking them may not be as effective as using chopsticks or a fork, though.
7 – Ham and Cheese Croissant-wich
These tasty morsels are a legend in their own time on Royal Caribbean, with repeat cruisers knowing to head to the 24/7 Café Promenade for their fix.
A savoury croissant filled with ham and cheese and topped with lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayo, the croissant-wich looks innocent enough but just one can be enough to form a cruise-long addiction.
8 – Chocolate Buffet
It’s not weird but it is wonderful and wicked, all at the same time.
Imagine – a whole buffet cart, dedicated to chocolate and you don’t even need a golden ticket to try it.
Need we say more?
You can find this magical trolley on the Jewel and Sun class NCL ships – just get there early before the chocolaty sculptures are devoured and grab a snapshot before you tuck in.
Be careful though!
Go too crazy and you’ll be looking like Bruce Bogtrotter and saying goodbye to your closet of fitted pantsuits!
9 – Milk and Cookies
Not just any old milk and cookies – the ice cold milk and fresh-baked soft cookies that will be served to you poolside on Princess Cruises.
This little treat will save your liver from yet another cocktail and make you feel like a cosseted child again.
10 – Fresh Donuts
We don’t care what anyone says, donuts are a holiday essential, whether you’re at the seaside or cruising the Caribbean.
On the pier-style Boardwalk on RCI Oasis class ships you’ll find a sweet little donut shop where the sugary treats are gratis and you can forget getting bored with plain old jam, ring or custard donuts – the rotating flavours here include Passion Fruit Glazed, Key Lime and Nutty Nougat.
Try to resist taking a box full at a time.
11 – A Guy Burger
Fine dining’s all well and good but sometimes what you really fancy is a big, meaty, juicy burger.
Let US celebrity chef Guy Fieri satisfy your cravings in a BIG way at Guy’s Burger Joint on Carnival. With extras including donkey sauce, brown sugar BBQ sauce, super melty cheese and a Rojo ring, it’s a burger experience that you won’t find at your local drive-through.
Video: Guy’s Burger on Royal Caribbean Cruise
12 – Sashimi
You’re sailing on the ocean – the least you should do is try some of the stuff that swims in it!
With sashimi, you don’t even have to worry about waiting for it to be cooked either!
Raw fish, such as salmon, yellowfin tuna and amberjack can be found on many of the sushi restaurant menus and is a great thing to try if you can get your head around the idea of eating a piece of fish that hasn’t even seen a searing pan.
NCL offers a decent sashimi selection on its sushi and sashimi menu but the king of sashimi can be found on Crystal Cruises at Silk Road.
13 – Eel
No, not jellied like you’d find in an East End market.
Freshwater eel is one of the weirder things found on the Bonsai Sushi menu, onboard the Carnival liners.
It comes in a roll, alongside some BBQ eggplant (aubergine, to us Brits), tamago (Japanese egg omelette) and panko breadcrumbs.
The Celebrity Silk Harvest restaurant serves a similar freshwater eel (Unagi) roll. Chopsticks are optional but be safe in the knowledge that the eel won’t slither away if you do need to ask for a fork.
14 – Crème Brulee
Ok, on the surface, this sounds pretty normal, so what makes it a must-try?
The fact that it’s served in an eggshell, hidden in a basket made of grass, that’s what!
Book into the ‘fun food’ Qsine restaurant on one of the several Celebrity ships that host it (including the Eclipse, Silhouette and Reflection) and you can enjoy this weird and wonderful spin on a classic French dessert.
You could do with some shortbread soldiers to dunk in it though… chef!!
15 – Modern Indian
We Brits love a good curry and being a great British cruise line, P&O know this.
They’ve brought Michelin-starred master of the madras Atul Kochhar onboard as one of their five Food Heroes and you can expect more than your usual massala, rice and naan at his Sindhu restaurants.
Mains on the menu (found on Azura and Britannia) include Goan Style pan roasted Lobster and Trio of Duck…………………. as well as a Lamb Rogan Josh for traditionalists.
16 – Caviar
Mmmmmm… raw fish eggs, yum!
Caviar is said to be a rich man’s delicacy and can be tried on Celebrity cruises at the Murano restaurant (found onboard the Eclipse, Solstice and Equinox).
You even get a choice of caviar – Golden Osetra or Sevruga – aren’t you the lucky cruiser?
Even luckier are those booked onto a Seabourn Caribbean cruise that can enjoy champagne and caviar served in the surf, from a surfboard. Yep, really!
17 – Foie Gras
The Prime 7 restaurant onboard the Regent Seven Seas cruises serves foie gras with rhubarb chutney – what better way to bring out the flavour of plump goose liver than with a fruit that dinner ladies used to force you to eat?
Don’t worry though, this rhubarb will be ripe and mouth-wateringly tasty.
Can you bring yourself to try this controversial delicacy?
18 – A Breakfast Burrito
Forget bacon and eggs or a bowl of soggy cornflakes.
Spice up your breakfast onboard with a breakfast burrito!
Carnival do a really good one at Seaday Brunch, as well as Fat Stack Pancakes, the Funniest French Toast and Loaded Mac n Cheese.
That little lot should keep you going until lunch – Lunch the next day!
19 – Liquid Lobster
Disappear down the rabbit hole in Wonderland on RCI’s Quantum of the Seas and this is just one of the magical treats waiting to be tasted.
As well as ‘Drink Me’ fish courses, you’ll also find truffled egg still in its shell, spearmint cotton candy, olive ice cream and espresso air.
Don’t be late!
Video: Royal Caribbean’s New Wonderland Dining
20 – Best Shake at Sea
When is a milkshake not just a milkshake?
When it’s from the Carnival Shake Spot!
Choose between the ‘Black and White’, the ‘Strawberry Creamsicle’, the ‘Island Delight’ and more shakes, floats and spiked shakes than you can shake an extra wide straw at.
21 – Something Michelin-Starred
Ok so you won’t find Michelin-starred restaurants at sea but you will find Michelin-starred chefs, whether they’re in residence or have developed the menu.
Disney has French wonder chef Arnaud Lallement, P&O has Marco Pierre White and Atul Kochhar, RCI has Michael Schwartz and Cunard has Jean-Marie Zimmermann – all of which have struck fear into many a Michelin-starred kitchen.
Chances to dine on menus created and executed by the finest chefs in the world are rare – and expensive – so make the most of the opportunity to dine like a real foodie on your cruise, usually for a small supplement or for free!
So go on…be brave!
How many times will you have the opportunity to eat and experience so many different tastes (unless you’re a frequent cruiser with an appetite for something other than the typical British meat and two veg diet, anyway!)?
The onboard chefs are among the best in the world, including household names like Marco Pierre White on P&O, Jamie Oliver and Michael Schwartz on Royal Caribbean and Nobu Matsuhisa on Crystal, so if anyone can get you to enjoy escargot, eel and fish eggs, they can!
Or you could just stick with the pizza and donuts.
Your cruise, your choice!