Bonsai Sushi

Foodie Trends at Sea

Posted June 3rd, 2014

We often get asked what the food is like on board a cruise ship, because the industry reputation has always been that of quantity over quality - food being available 24/7, long buffet lines, and more choices than you can dream of.

But, recently, some new food trends have been turning this reputation on its head, transforming the way people eat while they are at sea. These days, the restaurants on cruise ships are pushing foodie boundaries, and they are looking (and tasting) as good as those on land.

Trend #1: No more dining rooms

In an industry first, Royal Caribbean announced that their newest ship - Quantum of the Seas - will have no main dining room, but rather 18 smaller restaurants and cafes (for a maximum of 500 people), with flexible dining times. This concept of "dynamic dining" is sure to make an appearance on other Royal Caribbean ships, and we'll be watching to see if other cruise lines pick it up too!

One of the new eateries on board Quantum of the Seas

Trend #2: Celebrity Chefs

This isn't necessarily a new trend, as ocean cruise lines have been partnering with celebrity chefs for a while now. But, river cruising is starting to get in on this action, so its definitely worth a mention. Crystal Cruises has partnered with Nobu, the master of Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine; Marco Pierre White works in collaboration with P&O Cruises International; and Luke Nguyen works hand-in-hand with APT Cruising. The celebrity chefs contribute in a number of ways - from acting as menu consultants and training onboard chefs, to lending their name to restaurants on the ships. It's adding an edge to the cruise industry, and it looks like a trend that is here to stay!

Marco Pierre White on P&O Ventura

Trend #3: Chef's Table

From family cruise lines like Carnival, to the likes of luxury line Seabourn, many ships now offer this exclusive experience as an additional dining option (at an additional cost). Chef's Table is a multi-course dinner served with matching wines, at a private table hosted by one of the ship's master chefs. It usually also has a champagne reception and a galley tour, making it a red-hot ticket item that must be booked as early as possible.

Trend #4: Catch your own

This is an emerging trend on expeditionary cruises - fish for barramundi while cruising the Kimberly's; catch and release a piranha in the Amazon, or hook a Spanish mackerel in Fiji. And, if the catch is good enough, the chefs might even cook it for you! You can't beat freshness like that!

Trend #5: Separate sushi

In the past, sushi has been an afterthought in the world of cruising cuisine - offered only a couple times on a cruise. But now, some cruise lines are bringing it into the limelight - and especially for Aussie cruisers who just love their sushi. Carnival Legend will be arriving in Australia, newly fitted out with Bonsai Sushi, where diners can sit among the bonsai trees and enjoy a menu of sashimi, sushi boats, sake and more. Sun Princess was recently retrofitted with Kai Sushi, where you can choose to dine at the bar or at tables. And, all-inclusive Crystal Cruises has excellent sushi on offer, prepared by Nobu-trained chefs. What is there not to love about this foodie trend?

Bonsai Sushi on board Carnival Legend

Trend #6: Al fresco dining

With both ocean and river cruising, you will find more and more open-air dining options available - a lot of the new river vessels in Europe offer indoor/outdoor cafes; Norwegian Cruise Line has a boardwalk of outdoor eateries; Seabourn and Silversea serve romantic dinners on the pool deck; Carnival Spirit has Fat Jimmy's C-Side BBQ outside; and on Celebrity Solstice you can picnic on the top-deck lawn. Enjoy fresh air and fresh food on your next cruise!

Dine outdoors at the Aquavit Terrace on Viking's Longships

Trend #7: Fresh produce

With the ability to dock right in the heart of a city, your river cruise is able to showcase the best of the local flavours - crew are able to head out each day to get the freshest ingredients from the local markets, and prepare regionally-relevant meals for you.

Trend #8: Dietary restrictions

And last, but not least - whether you are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, salt-free, sugar-free, Kosher, Halaal or just looking for low-fat, healthy options, you name it, a cruise line will do it. It's a big step away from the preconception that everything is unhealthy, ready-made and set to go.

As you can see, cruise dining has stepped up its game, and there is now more on offer than ever before. The options are still endless, but when you want to step away from the buffet and out of the main dining room, there are still quality options for you to choose from. For us, this makes the food onboard one of the most exciting aspects of a cruise. But - what do you think?

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