Cruisers the world over agree: Ice cream is delicious. Maybe you prefer strawberry over chocolate, or sprinkles over fudge, but one thing is for certain: whether it's fro-yo, gelato, a classic scoop or a milkshake, ice cream in all its forms makes for an ideal holiday dessert or cooling snack.
Every cruise ship has some form of icy treat onboard, but some offer more incredible ice cream than others. Discover our top picks for the best ice cream and gelato on a cruise, so even at sea, you're never far away from a lick of mint-chip or pistachio.
We all scream for: Gelato sandwiches and ice spaghetti at Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria
Where: Fleetwide (excluding Xpedition Class)
Why: The atmosphere of Celebrity's spot for coffee and sweets is reminiscent of a cozy European cafe. Along with on-the-house croissants and for-a-charge cappuccinos, passengers can purchase gelato and sorbet (the Italians call it sorbetto) by waffle cone or cup. (We like that even the smallest portion size includes up to two scoops.) What's not typically offered at your everyday gelateria are cookie gelato sandwiches -- with six cookie and flavour combinations -- or something called spaghetti gelato, which are elaborate sundaes; choices include an "Ice Spaghetti Pomodoro" (vanilla gelato with cream, fresh strawberry sauce and white chocolate) or "Ice Spaghetti Carbonara" (vanilla and hazelnut gelato with cream and chocolate-hazelnut zabaglione sauce).
Bonus: Oceanview Cafe, Celebrity's free buffet restaurant, also makes ice cream and sorbet (made on the premises) available throughout the day, gratis.
Viking Ocean Cruises
We all scream for: Exotic gelato flavours at the World Cafe
Why: New flavours of gelato are available each day at World Cafe, Viking Ocean's buffet restaurant. Tart fruit flavours like a tropical blend make gelato or sorbet the perfect way to cap a lunch of handmade sushi or toasty paninis. During our sailing in the Mediterranean, we enjoyed a scoop of cassis, a popular flavour in the South of France, made from black currants. Taking it just a few steps to the outdoor Aquavit Terrace to enjoy with a view made it taste just a bit sweeter.
We all scream for: It doesn't get much better than a deliciously indulgent Godiva ice cream at Sir Samuel's
Where: Queen Mary 2
Why: Take your pick from soft and creamy chocolate or vanilla Godiva ice cream, with passengers first selecting their base from an offering of chocolate-dipped waffle cone, plain waffle cone or a cup. The ice cream is then topped with a selection of milk, white or dark chocolate crispy "pearls," chocolate, strawberry or raspberry syrup, chocolate flakes or bresilienne (a rich nutty caramelised hazelnut crumb). Sir Samuel's is also the place to go on QM2 for Lavazza coffee and other Godiva treats, such as handmade chocolates and cakes.
Bonus: If you don't want to fork out for an ice cream, passengers can also find the whippy-style self-service ice cream -- also offering vanilla or chocolate - at Cunard's buffet restaurants, including Lido Restaurant on Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria or Kings Court on Queen Mary 2.
Disney Cruise Line
We all scream for: Ice cream in a souvenir racecar at Vanellope's Sweets & Treats
Where: Disney Dream
Why: Fans of "Wreck-It Ralph" young and old will enjoy the sweets, cupcakes, cookies and gelato offered at Vanellope's, a confectionary corner store. Diehard ice cream and Disney enthusiasts will have to dish out $12.95 for the ultimate sugar rush -- the Vanellope Von Schweetz Race Kart Sundae: three scoops of ice cream or gelato in flavours like butterscotch waffle crunch or king candy, five toppings, whipped cream and a cherry in a cute collectible racecar. It's a little vroom for the tastebuds (and your dentist's private yacht fund).
We all scream for: Delicious scoops of gelato in a wide range of flavours.
Why: This gorgeous vintage-style ice cream parlour offers a selection of ice creams and toppings with new flavours and the variation switched up daily. We love the more unique flavour combinations, such as G&T, oreo and banoffee, and the quirky bike seating that faces out towards the ocean. A charge applies at Scoops.
We all scream for: Handspun milkshakes at Waves Grill
Why: Oceania is renowned for its fine dining, but did you know the line also makes a darn fine milkshake? The casual, poolside Waves Grill is not only a go-to spot for burgers and barbecue, but has plenty of homemade gelato, made-to-order sundaes and thick, handmade milkshakes. There's nothing better than baking in the sun and then sipping a frosty shake -- with no added fees to kill the chill.
We all scream for: Chocolate meets gelato at Venchi Gelateria
Why: MSC's partnership with Italian chocolatier and gelato artisan, Venchi, brings more than 135 years of sweet experience to the cruise line's first-in-class Meraviglia. While flavours -- created in a specially designed onboard laboratory -- rotate daily, you really can't go wrong with Venchi's hallmark extra-dark chocolate or gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut).
We all scream for: Traditional Italian delicacies at Gelataria Amarillo
Where: Costa Diadema
Why: We dare you to deny the charm of Diadema's revamped gelateria, complete with gumdrop ceiling, chocolate fountain and 18 flavours of gelato and ice cream. Partnering with Italian brand Agrimontana, Costa provides authentic gelato along with other sweets like macaroons and snow cones, straight from Italia. Scoops are roughly 1.5 euros. Priceless is the old-fashioned carhop element, as waiters don cheery aprons and baseball caps.
We all scream for: Drunken gelato with some ambiance
Why: Princess Cruises is known throughout the industry for its dazzling Piazza, a place to see and be seen in an eye-catching atrium setting. Adding to the hang-out vibe, two of Princess' newest ships offer handmade gelato (and sorbet) at -- wait for it -- Gelato, for a fee. (Tip: If you have a coffee card, it can be used to purchase gelato here.) Garnish your creamy cup of Nutella, cookies and cream or dulce de leche with toppings like toasted nuts and enjoy the vintage atmosphere; despite the Italian-tinged offerings, the venue is modeled after the American ice cream parlours of the early 20th century. Spice things up with an alcoholic sundae: vanilla scoops drenched in liqueur such as Bailey's or Frangelico.
Royal Caribbean and Crystal Cruises
We all scream for: Good ol' Ben & Jerry's
Where: Royal Caribbean's Freedom- and Voyager-class cruise ships; Crystal Cruises' Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity
Why: Sometimes you just need the name brand stuff, and two cruise lines carry Vermont's finest. Cruisers might know that Royal Caribbean is synonymous with Ben & Jerry's at sea (thanks to their hard-to-miss "cow butt cabin"), but many might not realise luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises also serves the gourmet ice cream in its Trident Ice Cream Bar (on Symphony) and Scoops (on Serenity). During the course of a single cruise, Crystal's ice cream joints will rotate about 20 flavours including low-carb options, nonfat yoghurts and a dozen homemade sherbets. Freshly baked waffle cones, cookies, sundaes and shakes are also available; fresh berries are a topping favourite.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
We all scream for: Malts at Pool Grill
Why: On a line known for luxury, it's nice to just lay back and savour one of life's simpler pleasures: a malted milkshake. The Pool Grill on Regent Seven Seas offers high-brow cruisers the chance to relax by the pool and grab a snack, or in this case, a chance to gleefully gulp a milkshake made with old-fashioned ice cream and magical malted milk. Sundaes with custom toppings are also available for those who like dessert to be a bit more solid. The perk of an all-inclusive line is that these frozen delights are free.