Top 10 Best Cruise Specialty Restaurants

One of the most important factors cruisers take into consideration before they book is the cuisine served on board. Cruise lines have long been known for their attention to detail not only in the kitchen, but also the ambiance of each dining venue. Porthole Cruise readers voted for their favorite specialty restaurants at sea and the results show a clear preference for Italian cuisine. Four of the top ten venues serve up authentic Italian cuisine while steakhouses, French brassieres and even a burger spot make up the rest.

Check out which specialty cruise restaurants Porthole Cruise readers liked the most in the list below!

  1. Pinnacle Grill
  2. Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria
  3. Rudi’s Sel de Mer
  4. Guy’s Burger Joint
  5. Palo
  6. Crown Grill
  7. Cucina Del Capitano
  8. Ocean Blue
  9. Manfredi’s
  10. Sterling Steakhouse

Pinnacle Grill, Holland America Line

A meal at Pinnacle Grill on board Holland America Line ships is a must for any cruiser. The restaurant places an emphasis on the freshest ingredients, sourced sustainably and paired with an excellent selection of fine wines. The menu is luxurious and refined with such favorites as filet mignon, Alaska salmon and succulent lobster tails. Just make sure you leave some room for Gourmet Cheesecake Lollipops courtesy of Culinary Council Member Chef David Burke. 

Pinnacle Grill

Pinnacle Grill | Photo: Holland America Line

Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, Princess Cruises

Authentic Italian cuisine is one of the most sought-after dining experiences not just at sea, but all over the world. Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria on board Princess Cruises ships has been a staple of rustic Italian cuisine for more than two decades. Inspired by recipes from Chef Angelo Auriana, the restaurant complements each dish with an all-Italian wine list full of your favorites and some specialty options as well. Favorites dishes include homemade pappardelle with shrimp and broccoli, roman seafood papillote and osso bucco alla piemontese.

Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria

Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria | Photo: Princess Cruises

Rudi’s Sel de Mer, Holland America Line

From the mind of Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, Rudi’s Sel de Mer is an intimate French brasserie serving classic seafood dishes with contemporary style. Chef Sodamin has spent his life perfecting his cuisine for the cruise industry across several brands and Sel de Mer lives up to his reputation. Favorite dishes include whole Dover sole meunière with shaved pink Himalayan sea salt, bouillabaisse marseillaise, classic baked escargots, and salt-crust baked branzino. 

Holland America Line Nieuw Statendam Cruise Ship Review

Rudi’s Sel de Mer | Photo: Holland America Line

Guy’s Burger Joint, Carnival Cruise Line

When you’re really hungry, there’s something special about a cheeseburger. At Guy’s Burger Joint on board Carnival Cruise Line, eating well comes with a casual atmosphere and plenty of donkey sauce! The brainchild of celebrity chef Guy Fieri and frequently named one of the best burgers at sea, this joint offers guests a number of specialty burger options like “The Ringer,” a burger with brown sugar BBQ sauce and an onion ring. The “Pig Patty” features a burger made entirely from bacon! 

Guys Burger Joint Carnival Cruise Line

Guy’s Burger Joint | Photo: Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line

Palo, Disney Cruise Line

Just because a cruise line caters to families doesn’t mean parents can’t sneak away for a lovely dinner with top-notch cuisine. At Palo on board Disney Cruise Line, the menu features classic Northern Italian cuisine with a modern flair. Even the name harkens back to Italy; palo is the long pole used by a gondolier in Venice. In true Italian fashion, enjoy an antipasto course of  potato gnocchi piennolo in tomato sauce with kale, fritto di calamari e gamba marinara or a bowl of seafood stew with basil and garlic. Favorite main courses include butternut agnolotti, seared sea scallops on celery root puree and dover sole with nut brown butter garnished with chopped capers.


Palo | Photo: Matt Stroshane/Disney Cruise Line

Crown Grill, Princess Cruises

You’ll find a great steak on board most cruise ships, but Crown Grill on board Princess Cruises goes above and beyond. A wood décor and a theater-style kitchen gives the restaurant an intimate feel and makes for a perfect date night. Start off with Mediterranean-style spiny lobster cake with tarragon foam before diving into a traditional thick-cut New York Strip with a lobster tail on the side. For those who can’t decide what to order for dessert, The Crown Dependence offers a sampling platter of the chef’s pastries.

Crown Grill

Crown Grill | Photo: Princess Cruises

Cucina Del Capitano, Carnival Cruise Line

Cruisers know the red-checkered tablecloths of Cucina Del Capitano, Carnival Cruise Line’s premier Italian trattoria. Large plates of pastas, meatballs and seafood-inspired entrees are served-family style just like they would be in Italy. Black and white photographs of the crew’s family adorn the walls and give off a comforting vibe like eating in someone’s dining room at home. A robust wine list and mouth-watering dessert options make Cucina Del Capitano a Carnival favorite!

Antipasti at Cucina del Capitano

Antipasti at Cucina del Capitano | Photo: Carnival Cruise Line

Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian, Norwegian Cruise Line 

Chef and TV personality Geoffrey Zakarian was instrumental in bringing this high-end seafood eatery on board Norwegian Cruise Line ships. A Michelin-starred chef and winner of The Next Iron Chef on the Food Network, Zakarian’s focus on high-end ingredients and outstanding presentation bring Ocean Blue to the next level. Popular starters include Mussels Tom Ka Gai with chicken confit, romesco sauce, red chili and baguette and grilled prawn panzanella with heirloom tomatoes and a taggiasca olive oil vinaigrette. The restaurant’s signature entree is the Dover Sole, roasted and served with sauce meuniere, though the surf and turf is wildly popular as well.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Ocean Blue’s Dover Sole | Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line

Manfredi’s, Viking Ocean Cruises

You’ll find high-end dining on board all luxury cruise ships, but Manfredi’s on board Viking Ocean Cruises is known for incorporating flavors and dishes from every corner of Italy. An elegant table setting greets guests, who then peruse a robust menu featuring homemade pastas and a fine wine selection. Small plates excellently presented are bursting with the flavors of Italy, and guests rave about the dessert options like Tiramisu.

Manfredis Italian Restaurant | Photo: Viking Ocean Cruises

Sterling Steakhouse, Princess Cruises

Serving premium, grass-fed beef, Sterling Steakhouse is a popular choice for Princess cruisers. The cruise line bills the restaurant as a classic steakhouse experience with staple cuts like the New York Strip, Porterhouse, Rib-eye and Filet Mignon. The restaurant on board Princess Cruises ships also caters to surf and turf lovers with options like chilean sea bass and grilled tiger prawns. Just make sure you leave room for raspberry crème brulée!

Sterling Steakhouse

Sterling Steakhouse | Photo: Princess Cruises