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5 Best Cruise Ship Main Dining Rooms
The Restaurant Onboard the Cunard (Photo: Cunard)

5 Best Cruise Ship Main Dining Rooms

5 Best Cruise Ship Main Dining Rooms
The Restaurant Onboard the Cunard (Photo: Cunard)
Gary Buchanan
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Main dining rooms are a cruising staple. You'll find one on just about every ship -- a large, opulent space with a wedding reception feel that serves as the "default" dinner venue for most passengers. The meals are included in your cruise fare, and there's typically no limit to how much you can order.

Foodies, however, tend to be underwhelmed. Main dining rooms aren't known to offer the best quality, which is why a number of passengers opt to splurge on specialty restaurants. On the flip side, there are a handful of main dining rooms that whip up some pretty drool-worthy dishes, making it hard to ever skip a night.

If you have a picky palate and a sweet tooth for tradition, these six best cruise ship main dining rooms are sure to whet your appetite.

1. Meridian Dining Room

Britannia's Meridian Dining Room

Ship: Britannia

Why we love it: This dining room's uniform of white, blue and gold is classically cruisey. Mirrors, tall ceilings and bright lighting give it the fresh air feel you'd only expect to get on deck. Freedom dining is in play here, which means you're not tied down to a certain table or dinner time every night. Passengers can turn up any time they like between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

The menu, meanwhile, gives you the choice of five courses. Options change every day, but you'll find familiar favourites like steak and chips sharing the same page as a regional dish, such as Norwegian salmon when you're in the fjords. Every week there is a gala night, when the menu muscles up to six courses and the dishes have been designed by Marco Pierre White.  

2. Britannia Restaurant

The Britannia Restaurant on Queen Mary 2

Ship: Queen Mary 2

Why we love it: This is a pin-up of a dining room. A sweeping staircase, stained glass roof and pearly pillars start its sense of glamour. The striking Art Deco mural in the centre of the space tops it off. Both breakfast and lunch are served here. But most importantly, dinner is served in two sittings, one at 6 p.m. and another at 8:30 p.m. Whichever time slot you choose, you'll experience an atmosphere befitting of the Great Gatsby era that its design emulates.

There's a decadence about the menu choices, too. Expect to see the likes of foie gras on the appetiser menu, lobster tail on the main course list, and the classic baked Alaska amongst the dessert options.

3. Grand Cuvee

The Grand Cuvee Dining Room on Celebrity Eclipse

Ship: Celebrity SilhouetteWhy we love it: While some ship dining spaces glance back to a bygone era, this one is on-time as far as 21st century style is concerned. It's spread generously across two floors, the central lower floor is surrounded by contemporary high-kick-shaped pillars, and the centrepiece of the whole space is a modern eye-shaped chandelier. The room's real talking point, though, is its wine rack. More installation art than bottle holder, it's two storeys high and made from chrome and glass. We'd venture to say that Celebrity Silhouette's dining is among the best you'll have on any mainstream ship afloat: the attention to detail, the emphasis on "a la minute" (cooked to order), the sheer variety and the abundance of fresh and unusual dishes, puts this ship a league above others.

4. 47°

47 Degrees on TUI Discovery

Ship: Marella Discovery

Why we love it: There's something glade-like about this dining room. Floor-to-ceiling windows, mirrors and lots of glass, on everything from the staircases to the second floor railings, make it feel fresh and uncrowded. The menu puts a slight twist on traditional cruise line food. You can expect familiar dishes like cod fillets and chicken dishes listed on the main course menu alongside slightly more leftfield items like Rueben sandwiches.

And the best part? A selection of wines is included in the cost of your cruise.

5. Ballindalloch

Ballindalloch Restaurant on Balmoral

Ship: Balmoral

Why we love it: This dining room's certain something starts with its tongue-twisting name. There's a bit of trivia behind it, which makes a great ice breaker if you're dining with new people, or a conversation starter if you're with those you already know. Tying in with the Balmoral's Scottish theme, it's named after a small Speyside village that's overlooked by a grand baronial castle and known for its whisky distillery.

There's a bit of build up before you even enter the dining room itself. You approach the restaurant via a stately corridor. Once inside, the dining room drops further hints to Regency such as the subtle fleur-de-lis patterns in the carpet.

Dinner is served here in two sittings. The menu offers up choices for five courses and dishes pendulum from Indian spiced butterfish to Irish stew with dumplings.

Updated January 08, 2020

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