Choice Dining – The specialty restaurants on today’s cruise ships are a delicious delight… for most of us.

Monday Mantra

What’s for dinner?… What’s for dinner?… What’s for dinner?

Choice Dining

The specialty restaurants on today’s cruise ships are a delicious delight… for most of us.

You never forget your first… alternative dining venue aboard a cruise ship. For me, it was Norwegian Majesty’s intimate Le Bistro during a 1999 sailing from Boston to Bermuda. My husband and I were taken aback by the restaurant’s $5-per-person surcharge but, after peeking through the windows and admiring the elegant and intimate atmosphere, decided to try it anyway. After one glorious Le Bistro meal and a heavenly dessert of chocolate fondue, we threw caution — or at least another five bucks each — to the wind and rebooked Le Bistro a couple of days later.

Cruise ship dining has come a long way from the days of an assigned table in the main dining room and a buffet and poolside grill at lunchtime. On today’s megaships, it’s not uncommon to find a dozen or more options — everything from steakhouses to Italian, sushi to Mexican, Asian fusion to burger joints, some complimentary, and some carrying surcharges that range from $10 to $75 per person. Even small ships like those of Silversea Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Crystal Cruises offer a few dining alternatives such as Crystal’s exquisite Silk Road, Silversea’s oh-so-elegant La Terrazza, and Regent’s decadent Signatures.

Isn’t this great? Who could possibly object to having a myriad of dining choices during their vacation cruise? Turns out I found someone.

As an experienced cruiser, friends and coworkers often approach me for information and suggestions when they’re planning a vacation. So not too long ago, when a coworker solicited my advice for a family cruise, I enthusiastically sung the praises of a new cruise ship, most of the song’s chorus dedicated to the vast dining options offered.

“Pass,” said my coworker abruptly, before I even finished. “I can’t get my family to agree on which car to take to go to the in-laws on Thanksgiving. No way I’m going on a cruise that will end up with a battle over whether we have Chinese food or Mexican. I want ONE dining room, ONE time for dinner, ONE waiter who understands that my daughter doesn’t want a basket of bread anywhere near her, ever, and ONE peaceful vacation.”

I was sort of stumped. Sure, traditional dining still exists on some ships but it’s usually hidden among the vast array of choices that most cruise ship guests love.

In the end, my coworker and his family rented a house in the Hamptons for a week and ended up going out to dinner at a different restaurant each night.

Go figure.


Judi Cuervo


Do you have a favorite specialty restaurant? Or do you prefer traditional dining? Tell us in the comments below!

Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line

Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.