Updated May 2017
Luxury cruising is all about enjoying the finer things in life and that certainly includes fine dining. Delicious gourmet food can be enjoyed throughout a luxury cruise, whether in a buffet style restaurant, at a poolside grill, via room service or in a classic dining venue. Many ships now also feature Michelin star style dining and speciality restaurants at sea for something extra special. With sumptuous entree's, expert wine pairings, top chef collaborations and stylish surroundings, speciality restaurants at sea exceed even the highest of expectations. Choose from one of the many luxury cruises from the UK or go the extra mile with a luxury fly cruise and savour the flavours of gourmet dining at sea.
Find out which luxury cruise lines feature speciality dining venues, what cuisine you can expect and how you can reserve your table with our luxury speciality dining guide below.
Speciality dining on a luxury cruise explained
Which luxury cruise lines have speciality dining restaurants?When it comes to fine dining at sea, the competition is hot and you don’t have to search too long before the plethora of attractive menus and restaurants becomes crystal clear. Here are a few to get you started.
All Inclusive luxury cruise line Regent Seven Seas boast classic steakhouse fare in Prime 7 with USDA Prime and 28 day Dry Aged beef. The glamorous American style décor suits the mood perfectly. Meanwhile over at Signatures restaurant, elegantly French haute cuisine is mastered to perfection and presented in a chic and réputé venue.
Crystal Cruises have mastered the art of Japanese fusion fare through an exclusive partnership with master chef Nobuyuki (Nobu) Matsuhisa. Nobu-trained chefs create innovative and inventive dishes at Silk Road and The Sushi Bar. If Italian cuisine is more to your taste, speciality restaurant Prego brings the flavours of Italy onboard and straight to your dinner table.
Modelled on a classic French bistro, Oceania Cruises Jacques epitomises Parisian style and French ambiance. Located onboard Oceania luxury ships Marina and Riviera, Jacques features the ingenious creations of world renowned French chef Jacques Pepin. Expect show rotisserie, steak frites and lots more.
Azamara Cruises ooze Italian charm with speciality restaurant Aqualina. Serving mouth-watering dishes such as lobster ravioli, forest mushroom risotto and Venetian seafood platters. Prime C serves juicy steaks in a variety of cuts accompanied by starters of crab cakes and remoulade, lobster bisque, bacon and blue cheese wedge salad and more.
Hungry for more?
Embark on a culinary journey with Celebrity Cruises when you dine in concept speciality dining venue Qsinesm. Order your meal on an iPad and be wowed when your food arrives looking nothing less than spectacular. Leave your preconceptions at the door and be ready to try new things. Get ready for sushi lollipops, popcorn fish n chips, Chitini’s and more.
Expertly delivered table side service can be enjoyed at Seabourn’s The Grill by Thomas Keller. Chef Thomas Keller is a world renowned American chef and restaurateur who shares Seabourn’s passion for culinary excellence. The Grill, due to roll out fleet wide, will serve steakhouse favourites including Lobster Thermidor and cream spinach a la carte.
Is speciality dining included in my cruise?The cost of speciality dining depends on the cruise line with some restaurants included in the price of your cruise (potentially with limits on visits) and some available at a surcharge. Cruises that are all inclusive like Regent Seven Seas give guests the opportunity to dine in their speciality venues for free, though some are dinner only and reservations are required. Other luxury cruise lines like Azamara Cruises and Celebrity Cruises have a surcharge for specialty dining; the experience is worth the little extra and you do have the option to purchase speciality dining packages. Crystal Cruises allow one free visit to a specialty venue with a surcharge for subsequent visits.
Luxury river cruise line Scenic feature speciality dining venue Portabellos. Dining here is included in the price of your river cruise but visits are limited to one per cruise to ensure that everyone gets to enjoy the delicious cuisine.
How do I make a reservation for a speciality restaurant?
It is advised that you make reservations to dine in speciality restaurants to avoid disappointment. Every cruise line will have a different policy for making reservations so it’s best to ask about this when booking your cruise holiday.
Reservations can usually be made in advance online via your cruise planner or online account. If you are unable to make your dining reservations before you cruise you can do so onboard at the guest services desk or via concierge. It is advised that you do this at the beginning of your cruise to get the time and date that you prefer.
Ask about a cancellation policy when making a reservation to avoid unexpected charges in the event of a change in your circumstances.
What can I expect at the Chef’s Table?
The Chef’s Table is the ultimate experience when it comes to speciality dining at sea and can differ from one cruise line to the next.
Azamara offer an exclusive dining experience with options of Italian, French or Californian wine degustation menus at their Chef’s Table. Expert wine selections perfectly match five exquisite courses and are introduced by Azamara’s knowledgeable sommelier.
Diamond Deck guests sailing with Scenic can enjoy an exclusive dining experience alongside Scenic’s Executive Chef at Table La Rive. The intimate evening is limited to 10 guests and includes a six course degustation menu with wine pairings.
The spectacular dining is not limited to your ship as some luxury cruise lines offer shore excursions with a Chef’s Table of local delicacies. Experience an unforgettable dinner ashore in Ketchikan Alaska with Regent Seven Seas. Or join a Celebrity Cruises chef on a culinary adventure to local food markets before being treated to a private dinner onboard.
Chef’s Table dining will usually carry a surcharge unless included in a speciality dining package or free shore excursion.
Is there a dress code for speciality restaurants on a luxury cruise?
Dressing up is part of the fun on a luxury cruise and many people enjoy making an extra effort for a special evening meal. Each cruise line and restaurant will have their own dress code and it is worth checking this before you cruise.
Basic requirements outline that almost all luxury cruise lines will not allow bathing suits or bare feet in any speciality restaurants at any time, whilst some other rules are more specific. Crystal Cruises do not allow jeans, shorts, casual trousers, sports shirts, caps or baseball hats in their speciality restaurants post 6pm.
Celebrity Cruises have a relaxed approach with smart casual being the dress code for speciality restaurants each night. Formal nights onboard are now known as ‘Evening Chic’. Azamara Cruises do not allow tank tops, caps, shorts or jeans in their speciality restaurants but also state that formal evening wear is not expected or required.
For more information on dress codes, packing, laundry and so on, see our blog on what to wear on a cruise.
Can children dine in speciality restaurants?
Age requirements will come down to that of the cruise line but children are generally welcome in speciality dining venues providing that they are accompanied by an adult. Some Cunard dining venues are exclusive to accommodation type and do not specify age. Azamara welcome families however the ship’s ambiance and facilities are better suited to over 18’s.
Celebrity Cruises speciality restaurant guests must be at least 12 years of age. Although for Silk Harvest, Qsinesm, Bistro on Five, The Lawn Club Grille and Tuscan Grille - guests can be any age.
Boutique river cruise line Uniworld welcome families and provide an extensive family programme including a Young Travellers Table with insights into local dishes and beverages.
Luxury Speciality RestaurantsNow that you surely have a taste for some irresistible gourmet cuisine, here is a top run down of luxury restaurants at sea that you simply must experience.
Qsinesm, Tuscan Grille - Celebrity Cruises
Red Ginger, Jacques – Oceania Cruises
Aqualina, Prime C – Azamara Cruises
Prime 7, Signatures – Regent Seven Seas
Prego, Silk Road - Crystal Cruises
Verandah - Cunard
Le Champagne, Seishin - Silversea
The Grill by Thomas Keller - Seabourn
Portabello’s , Table la Rive – Scenic
Portabello’s , Table la Rive – Scenic
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