Cruise ship buffets -- you either love the smorgasbord of all-you-can-eat fare and the uber-casual setting, or you hate the crowds, queues and food that's sat out a bit too long. Whether you're a fan or not, you have to admit that some cruise lines have put more effort into their pool deck dining venues than others. Our favorite buffets stand out from the rest with countless cuisine options, pleasant dining areas, helpful staff and a navigable layout, often with separate self-service stations. Feast your eyes on the five best cruise ship buffets you'll find at sea.
Cruise ship buffets -- you either love the spreads of all-you-can-eat fare and the uber-casual setting, or you hate the crowds, queues and food that's sat out a bit too long. Whether you're a fan or not, you have to admit that some cruise lines have put more effort into their pool deck dining venues than others. Our favourite buffets stand out from the rest with countless cuisine options, pleasant dining areas, helpful staff and a navigable layout, often with separate self-service stations. Feast your eyes on the four best cruise ship buffets you'll find at sea.
Cruise Line: Princess Cruises
Why We Love It: Princess Cruises' Horizon Court offers a diverse selection of cuisines, meals and snacks, including the Horizon Bistro Pastry shop, which serves freshly baked waffles, pastries and sweets daily. Breakfast choices are standard with the buffet's "Grab & Go" station, and live stations during lunch and dinner offer a rotisserie, a Japanese hibachi grill and build-your-own tacos. There is also a special buffet area designated for kids, and nifty hand-washing stations located throughout the venue.
Kings Court Buffet
Cruise Line: Cunard
Why We Love It: Kings Court on Queen Mary 2 received a stunning makeover during the ship's recent refit, making way for a contemporary space akin to a chic city restaurant. The transformed Kings Court feels less crowded, too, thanks to the removal of a central bank of elevators, which means traffic flows more freely. There's an almost constant flow of food on offer, from hot English and American breakfasts in the morning to delicious melt-in-your-mouth lamb shoulder and baby back ribs in the evening. At lunch and in the evening there's a choice of tasty pasta dishes, tiger prawns, smoked salmon, different types of fish and roasted dishes such as beef and pork. The made-to-order pizzas and hot dogs in the Chef's Galley are a big hit; there's salads such as smoked chicken, Waldorf and orzo; steamed vegetables and usually two types of potato dishes along with a selection of cold-cut meats, while the cheese counter rivals that of a top restaurant's cheese trolley. For a sweet reminder of home look out for the Bakewell tart at the dessert station and, of course, self-service whippy ice cream machines are available, too, allowing passengers to graze pretty much all day long. Our tip: Pack trousers with an elastic waistband.
Cruise Line: P&O Cruises
Why We Love It: On P&O Cruises' newest ship -- Britannia -- the Horizon Buffet introduces some new-to-the-line features such as a live cooking station for pancakes and omelettes for breakfast; and wok-fried noodles -- served with food of your choice -- for lunch, and a dedicated salad counter. There is a daily theme, which might be Indian or Mediterranean or Best of British, and meals and snacks are available all day. The Horizon leads outside onto the main Lido area, where there is extra seating and also the Lido Grill, which cooks up burgers, hot dogs, vegetable kebabs and fish 'n' chips.
Cruise Line: Azamara
Why We Love It: Located on the pool deck, Azamara's Windows Cafe is the main casual eatery onboard Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest. Apart from an impressive selection at the salad bar, the meat-carving stations and a dessert display, Windows Cafe is most notable for its themed dinners, which vary from night to night. Azamara dresses up the space with tablecloths, wines and live entertainment and serves a variety of international cuisines, such as Italian, Greek, Indian and Asian. While Windows Cafe is a self-service buffet, dining staff members are always around to help serve passengers and to fill drink orders of any kind.