By Hayden Field
Cruise ship cuisine has seen a major upgrade in recent years – esteemed chefs craft select menus three months in advance, buffets offer options like fresh seafood and homemade ice cream, and there is even waiter service at buffets on some ships. As career foodies and Instagram hashtags become more the norm, cruise ships are revealing fancy dining rooms and more all-you-can-eat options than ever before.
As cruise ships try to cater to customers who don’t want to keep signing bills once on board, all-inclusive buffets are on the rise. Don’t forget, though, that there are unofficial rules for cruise ship buffet etiquette – like stay in line, don’t mess up the traffic flow, and use a new plate each time.
In order to assemble our list, we built a short-list from existing rankings, considering oceanic cruises only, and then judged them according to food selection, décor, and hours of operation. When you’re considering your next trip with a seaward view, take these smorgasbords into account.
#8. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
La Veranda is a breakfast and lunch buffet onboard select ships, offering global cuisine. Dine indoors or with an ocean view or out on the shaded veranda. The buffet includes a pizzeria. (La Veranda transforms into an upscale Italian restaurant for dinner.)
#7. Seabourn Cruise Line
This luxury cruise line’s buffet option for select ships is called the Colonnade, offering ocean views, indoor and outdoor seating, and buffets for breakfast and lunch. For dinner, the restaurant serves regionally themed table-service dinners with menu options such as pan-seared grouper and caramelized guava cheesecake.
#6. Carnival Cruise Lines
Sit indoors or outdoors at Lido Restaurant, a seafaring buffet with options such as a salad bar, deli, and Asian food. It’s open for lunch and dinner and is included in the ticket price for all Carnival ships. An added plus: the pizza station and soft serve and frozen yogurt stations are available 24/7.
#5. Royal Caribbean International
The Windjammer Café is an all-day buffet onboard select Royal Caribbean ships. The eatery offers made-to-order omelettes, pastas, salads, soups, sandwiches, and a carving station.
#4. Norwegian Cruise Line
Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line / Facebook
The Garden Café is the buffet on board most Norwegian Cruise Line ships, and it serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner alongside floor-to-ceiling windows. Popular choices include a pasta station, a carving station, and made-to-order omelettes and waffles.
#3. Oceania Cruises
The Terrace Café serves three meals a day complete with indoor and outdoor dining. Lunch options with international inspiration include bouillabaisse and homemade vegetarian spring rolls. The dinner menu offers choices like fresh hand-cut sushi and made-to-order lobster tails and lamb chops.
#2. Azamara Club Cruises
Azamara’s answer for snacks and casual cuisine, the Windows Café is part of an all-inclusive dining experience onboard select ships. The buffet’s choices change daily, but some examples are fresh sushi, fish, pastas, desserts, and a carving station. The Café also offers Indian, Spanish, Italian, Mexican, and other global cuisine.
#1. Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises modeled their Oceanview Café after an international marketplace, complete with a variety of cuisine options inspired by the world’s countries. The buffet is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late at night, and options include pizza, sushi, stir-fry, and made-to-order pasta.
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