Ports of call, off-ship excursions and food -- the trifecta of the perfect cruise. Step aboard and pull up a chair, we're showing you the best food on the high seas.
The Queen Mary 2
Southampton, England, and New York, NY, where the QM2 begins and ends its journeys, are two of the most symbolic and significant ports in the world. Guests onboard this historic ship are treated to the QM2's several dining rooms that cater to the ship's 3 different accommodation levels.
Regardless of your suite, all the dining rooms feature white-gloved waiters serving formal, multicourse dinners. Amidst the 14,000 meals served each day here is the highly coveted opportunity to join the Commodore for dinner -- an experience often reserved for VIP guests and frequent travelers.
The SeaDream Yacht Club
The SeaDream is part of a small niche market known as the yachting class. There are 110 guests onboard the SeaDream at any given time and a crew of 95 -- a nearly 1-to-1 ratio of guests to crewmembers. That kind of math equals unparalleled service that is clearly seen in the preparation of each meal.
"Cuisine a la Minute" describes the fresh preparation of each dish, and unlike larger cruise lines, each plate is made to order. Take your meal topside with SeaDream's wonderful dining al fresco experience; the setting sun and first sprinkling of stars provide the perfect atmosphere for your dinner.
The Norwegian Pearl
The vacation vibe is tangible onboard the Pearl. It has flexible schedules, activities, dress codes, dining, accommodations and entertainment. It's a philosophy they call "freestyling," where guests are encouraged to create their own cruise experience. Consequently, dining onboard is quite casual compared to other ships. There are 13 different restaurants and dining rooms on the Pearl, so you can experience French cuisine at Le Bistro, a delicious steak at Cagney's or Spanish tapas at Mambo's. Guests are always welcome to dine at the buffet, which is included with every voyage.
The Crystal Symphony
Onboard the Symphony, the chefs toil to make sure you taste authentic dishes with fresh local ingredients. Each day the ship cooks up 2,000 pounds of vegetables, 850 pounds of chicken and 500 pounds of beef. The culinary culmination is the Cuisines of the Sun Festival, where guests can peruse the opulent buffet for dishes from Spain, Greece, Turkey, Portugal and Morocco.
Restaurants onboard include Asian, Italian and American cuisines among others. For something less formal, visit the casual Lido Cafe. The Symphony even houses Silk Road, a restaurant featuring the famed talent of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. His fusion of Japanese and South American cuisine is found in 19 restaurants in 8 different countries.
The Silverseas' Silver Shadow
Onboard the Silver Shadow, you'll find a culinary experience unique to the Silverseas' fleet of ships. The Galley Brunch is a grand affair that invites all guests to feast on crab legs, sushi and other delicacies.
Not only does Silverseas serve some of the best cuisine found on the open seas, it also invites guests to step beyond the dining room and into the kitchen. Here the ship's chef will take you through the preparation of one of his signature dishes and spill the secrets to creating tasty fare for hundreds while sailing from port to port. For foodies, this is the ultimate onboard activity -- bring a notebook to take these covert cuisines home with you.
The Clipper Odyssey
This ship specializes in intimate adventurous getaways with only 116 passengers allowed per cruise. One of the joys of cruising on a smaller ship like this is that, unlike other mega cruise ships, the captain and crew can bring in specialty dinners. When the waters are flush with fish like halibut, the captain and crew will pull in huge catches -- upwards of 70 pounds to freshly prepare for dinner. The chef is as flexible as he is talented, changing the menu to create fresh and innovative dishes.
Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas
Mariner's main dining room spans 3 stories and features flavors inspired by the Mexican ports of call and food prepared by the best chefs in the business. The Portofino Italian restaurant, Chops Grill and Seaview Cafe are just a few of the culinary options when you don't attend dinner in the dining room. Attire can range from casual to formal, depending on the location -- but you only need your PJs to indulge in the ship's 24-hour room service.
Regent Seven Seas Navigator
There are 2 main restaurants onboard in addition to 24-hour room service, poolside cafes and a lunch buffet. The luxury liner buys many of its ingredients from the countries you're visiting, offering a menu that perfectly complements your tour of the Mediterranean.
Portofino is the ship's most intimate restaurant, seating only 80 people at a time by reservation only. The menu features Italian specialties made with fresh local ingredients; there's also an informative wine-tasting so that you can pair your dinner with the perfect glass of red, white or sparkling.