Taking off on a casino cruise ship isn’t just about the gaming alone; your journey also includes good eats! We’ve seen cruise lines expand their culinary options so much that their onboard restaurants compete just as well with those on land. Specialty restaurants tend to stand out the most among these lines, presenting a fusion of tasty delights, exquisite dishes, and unparalleled dining experiences.
One of the most exciting aspects of specialty dining aboard a casino cruise ship is the variety. These floating culinary hubs offer an array of options to suit every palate, from Asian fusion to classic Italian, steakhouse extravaganzas, and even celebrity chef collaborations. Some of these specialty diners tend to require a reservation to attend, however, we find that they’re well worth the forethought!
The Best Floating Restaurants:
1. Le Petit Chef:
A personal URComped favorite is Le Petit Chef; a new and captivating take on mixing culinary arts with technology. Showcased on Celebrity ships, it’s an immersive dining experience where sailors are treated with 3D animation, storytelling, and of course gourmet cuisine. Le Petit Chef uses tabletop projectors so the diner can watch their very own tiny, animated chef creating their meals on the table itself, guiding them through an entertaining visual tale while their dishes are being prepared. We believe it to be a must-see (and taste) if you’re looking for a fun and entertaining meal made by (real life) world-class chefs.
Wonderland, found on Royal Caribbean’s ships, brings a lot of whimsy and imagination to the table. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” this restaurant transports guests into another world from first brush– literally. To reveal the menu you’ll brush over a provided storybook with a wet brush, and voila, you are presented with a curated list of dishes inspired by the five chosen elements: Earth, Sea, Fire, Ice, and Sun. From molecular gastronomy to unexpected combinations, each course at Wonderland is an exploration of culinary arts that show we are only limited by our own creativity.
Izumi is a renowned sushi and hibachi restaurant featured on Royal Caribbean, offering a delectable fusion of Japanese flavors and skilled craftsmanship. The restaurant showcases an array of traditional sushi rolls, sashimi, nigiri, and other notoriously delicious Japanese delicacies expertly prepared in a four course meal. Of course, there’s no fresher tasting fish than the ones aboard a ship! Izumi’s menu caters to both sushi veterans as well as those totally new to Japanese cuisine, even children, making it a popular choice for guests seeking a truly authentic experience aboard Royal Caribbean.
Named after the Korean word for “cheers,” Gunbae is an immersive and social dining experience centered around Korea’s famous barbecue and found on Virgin Voyages. Lively is a term that just barely covers the environment as this restaurant kicks off every table with a drinking game alongside a free shot of soju. If you’re familiar with K-BBQ, you’ll also know to expect a grill built right into the center of your table where the meat will be cooked– either by you or the person in your party best known for their skills! This menu offers a variety of marinated meats and flavorful sides inspired by traditional cuisine, perfectly complementing the vibrant space and interactive service. Gunbae encourages a friendly and social floor, fostering connections among diners as they share in the joy of cooking their own delicious Korean-inspired dishes.
5. Pink Agave:
Another restaurant that has taken off on the Virgin ships is Pink Agave; a vibrant, modern restaurant that celebrates the bold flavors of Mexican cuisine with all the contemporary twists you can expect from this cruise line. The menu offers a fusion of traditional Mexican dishes creatively reimagined with new and innovative ingredients and techniques. Indulge in a diverse array of tacos, ceviches, and other Mexican-inspired delights crafted with fresh, high-quality ingredients. The restaurant’s lively ambiance, colorful decor, and dynamic presentation of dishes create a dining experience that sailors just can’t stop talking about!
6. Tuscan Grille:
It’s impressive to be a favorite staple restaurant aboard a Celebrity ship– a cruise line already well liked for its amazing food. Tuscan Grille does just that, however, embodying all the essence of modern Italian dining fused with the sophistication of a classic steakhouse. This restaurant is always a hit among sailors for its focus on flavor, high-quality ingredients, and impeccable presentation. The menu features succulent steaks, freshly prepared seafood, and well-known Italian dishes prepared with a modern take. The warm, classy ambiance, elegant finishes, and impressively smooth service create an inviting atmosphere for guests to enjoy an upscale dining experience.
7. Butcher’s Cut:
Back on MSC you can find Butcher’s Cut, a sophisticated steakhouse that caters to all of you meat loving, steak loving travelers. This restaurant boasts a menu filled with high-quality cuts of beef including the classic filet mignon, a ribeye steak, and even a 38-ounce dry-aged tomahawk. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Butcher’s Cut is also applauded for their delicious desserts, all made with care and acute attention to detail. We’d recommend this upscale restaurant for all those seeking a nostalgic, decadent steakhouse experience.
8. Ocean Blue:
If you find yourself aboard an NCL ship be sure to look out for their classic Ocean Blue. You’ll find a refined seafood-centric restaurant that has all the best known oceanic treats. Helmed by a culinary maestro, Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, this venue offers a cultivated seafood experience featuring diverse selections of expertly prepared dishes– always using the freshest catches of the day, naturally. From seafood entrees to eye-catching appetizers and beautiful desserts, Ocean Blue is sure to please everyone. Maybe, of course, with the exception of those who don’t like fish!
9. Chef’s Table:
Circling back now to Royal Caribbean! Calling all foodies and fans of high-end, elevated dishes in intimate and chef-guided settings: you must check out Chef’s Table. This restaurant was named with good reason as you’ll be hosted by the ship’s executive chef themself, or potentially a specially invited guest chef. This event offers a five-course tasting menu that showcases your chef’s expertise and creativity. This all takes place in a private dining room, allowing only a small group of diners to interact closely with the chef and gain insights into the preparation of each dish.
10. Le Bistro:
We couldn’t end our list without giving one more spotlight to NCL, and more specifically to the classic French cuisine respected so highly by so many. Le Bistro is a common favorite amongst NCL sailors and is known for its romantic, Parisian surroundings; this restaurant is sure to whisk you away to a magical evening in the heart of France both by way of ambiance and taste buds! Enjoy traditional, authentic dishes like escargots, bouillabaisse, duck à l’orange, and crème brûlée. Careful– you may find yourself looking around for the Eiffel Tower after a couple hours dining here!
Remember to Make Your Reservations!
To make sure you can snag a seat at one of the many incredible tables, we advise you to make reservations in advance, especially for popular venues or during peak mealtimes. Consider purchasing specialty dining packages offered by cruise lines, which will provide you the opportunity to sample multiple specialty restaurants at a discounted rate.
Bon appétit and bon voyage!