Are you a lobster-lover? A crab connoisseur? A fish fanatic? When it comes to seafood, cruises do it right, from casual catch-of-the-day dinners to specially prepared and delivered dishes to satisfy any foodie. Check out our list of nine onboard restaurants that take cruise ship seafood to new culinary heights
- Holland America's Sel de Mer
- Norwegian's Ocean Blue
- Celebrity's The Porch
- Azamara's Aqualina
- Royal Caribbean's Hooked
- MSC's Ocean Cay
- Honourable Mention (Buffet): Viking Ocean Cruises' World Cafe
- Honourable Mention (Main Dining Room): Hurtigruten
- Honourable Mention (Main Dining Room): Paul Gauguin's L'Etoile
Sel de Mer
Ships: Holland America's Koningsdam
Experience: This restaurant, whose name means "sea salt" in French, is Holland America's new seafood brasserie. When possible, chefs choose fresh daily catches from local markets in ports of call. Sample menu items include salted fish, seafood chowder, scallops, crab salad, baked escargot and various types of shellfish including lobster and oysters. On select Holland America ships without the restaurant, Rudi's Sel de Mer pop-ups take place one evening of the cruise (typically in Pinnacle Grill).
Price: Fees apply on an a la carte basis, with appetizers starting at $6. But if you're planning to order a whole meal with wine, the experience can easily set you back $100 or more for two people. Pop-up venues have a set cover charge of $49 per person.
Ships: Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway
Experience: Formerly affiliated with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, Ocean Blue is a for-fee, sit-down restaurant on select Norwegian ships. Here, passengers will find everything from lobster bisque, crab cakes and calamari to sea scallops, whole lobsters and a variety of crab legs and fish (snapper, sea bass, grouper, sole).
Price: Prices range from $3.99 for conch chowder to $39.99 for the "Seafood Extravaganza," which includes a whole lobster, king crab legs, clams, mussels and shrimp.
Ships: Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Reflection
Experience: This part-outdoor spot on the top deck of Celebrity's later Solstice class ships is probably the best-situated on our list, looking out over the real grass lawn and towards the ocean. It's a raw bar and seafood venue, with some outstanding dishes and some not quite up to par (but we forgive because of its setting). Notable dishes include the lobster bisque, light and delicate; and the stand-out dish -- the seafood platter -- decked high with oysters, prawns, clams, mussels and scallops. Desserts are delicious, particularly the vanilla cheesecake served in a glass.
Price: $30 per person.
Ships: Fleetwide on Azamara Club Cruises
Experience: Standard menu items at this Azamara for-fee restaurant might include lobster bisque, seafood bouillabaisse, lobster various ways, a seafood platter and several types of fish including salmon, halibut and tuna. We were particularly impressed when, during one cruise off the coast of Iceland, the chef pulled out a fishing rod and later served up what he'd caught.
Price: Aqualina is free to cruisers booked in suites. For everyone else, the flat-fee cover charge is $30 per person.
Ships: Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas
Experience: Modern decor embraces the tradition of New England seafood in Hooked, Royal Caribbean's first dedicated seafood restaurant. A beautiful raw bar is the focal point of the room, offering shooters and oysters picked up in local ports. From the lobster roll to the Boston cream pie, the menu sticks to its New England inspiration while still offering upscale seafood dishes like surf and turf. The crowd favourite, however, goes by the name of the messy fish sandwich. If you like a good cocktail, don't miss the signature drink, the Saint Peter's Spritzer.
Price: Hooked costs $39 per person, with upcharges for select menu items like a whole Maine lobster ($30).
Experience: MSC's seafood restaurant, which debuted on Seaside, features ocean views and an elevated take on nautical decor. The food is the true highlight, and diners can expect options like rockfish soup, linguini with white wine and clams, oysters and soft-shell crabs onboard Seaside. The crowning dish is a fresh, 25-ounce salt-crusted Mediterranean sea bass ($60). On Seaview, the menu is curated in partnership with Spanish chef Ramon Freixa. The option to pay a cover or order per item gives diners the freedom to customize their experience.
Price: Ocean Cay is $50 per person for a prix fixe menu or priced per item, a la carte.
The World Cafe
Ships: Fleetwide on Viking Ocean Cruises
Experience: It's not often you hear of a cruise ship's buffet being called out for exceptional seafood, but Viking Ocean Cruises has changed the game. The spread includes jumbo shrimp, crab legs and sushi nightly.
Price: It's free.
Experience: Hurtigruten takes great pride in sourcing ultra-local, so you will more often than not be eating seafood from the port you've just visited. Hurtigruten doesn't have speciality restaurants in the sense cruisers might expect, and you'll find all these local delicacies highlighted as the dish of the day Main Dining Room, whether that is king crab, Arctic cod, halibut, or poached salmon.
Ships: Paul Gauguin
Experience: Paul Gauguin Cruises's only vessel, the namesake Paul Gauguin, sails Tahiti itineraries, giving passengers access to some of the freshest fish at sea. When possible, the chef ventures into port to bring back the catch of the day, which often shows up on the menu at L'Etoile, the ship's main dining room.
Price: It's free.