Clash of the Cuisines: Which Cruise Ships Have the Most Varied Dining?


In recent times, cruise lines have increasingly turned their focus toward the food their ships have on offer, allowing guests to choose from a range of delectable cuisines and delicacies from across the globe. Whether it’s classic American diner fare or gourmet French repast for true foodies, all manner of tastes, palates and stomachs are catered to. Some lines take inspiration from their surroundings, hand-picking ingredients while your ship is in port, others have the stamp of celebrity approval, with sumptuous menus curated by some of the world’s best-loved TV chefs.

As they say, variety is the spice of life, and a lot of the biggest cruise lines pride themselves on having the most wide-ranging, globe-trotting array of dining options on offer. But which cruise ships have the most varied menus, the most far-flung food options that mean every meal is a new, exciting occasion to satisfy your hunger? In this face-off, we’ll compare the major cruise ships’ dining options and show whose menus provide the most diverse – and delicious – eats on the seas.

Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s ‘most instagrammable ship’ might not have set sail just yet, but their biggest ship promises a plethora of dining options to boot, some of which are new to the line. Hooked Seafood, a seafood restaurant that has truly trawled the depths of the oceans to bring guests everything from salmon, flounder and striped bass, to lobster, crab claws and shucked oysters is sure to be a highlight, while El Loco Fresh’s wild Mexican menu is definitely going to tempt those who like things on the spicier side.

As well as the Playmaker Sports Bar, they’ll join Royal Caribbean classics including Sorrento’s, Johnny Rockets, Jamie’s Italian and Chops Grille, a lively steakhouse serving up superb cuts of meat all cooked to perfection.

Princess Royal Princess

olives and basil on wooden table

In Royal Princess’ main dining room, guests can partake of a menu designed by acclaimed chef Curtis Stone, who brings his culinary nous to a range of options that includes SHARE, a six-course banquet that’s a feast for the senses. Elsewhere, you’ll find Alfredo’s Pizzeria, voted Best Pizza at Sea by USA Today; Trident Grill, a poolside eatery serving up hearty American Grub and all manner of speciality  dining options, where Royal Princess truly comes into its own.

Sabatini’s does iconic Italian dishes with gusto, Crown Grill specialises in award-winning steaks, while the Crab Shack brings Stateside seafood favourites such as Louisiana crawfish and clam chowder straight to your table. If you’re a budding gastronome or have reason to celebrate, then don’t forget about the Chef’s Table Lumiere, a culinary event that’s part behind-the-scenes tour, part delectable multi-course experience, all hosted by the ship’s executive chef.

MSC Meraviglia

Twelve dining options await guests onboard MSC’s biggest ship, running the gamut from the main dining room’s Mediterranean dishes and Eataly’s authentic Italian cuisine to the Kaito Sushi Bar’s charming Far Eastern flair and the Marketplace Buffet’s many-splendored choice of exotic foods and healthy options.

Looking to indulge your sweet tooth? Jean-Philippe Chocolate & Cafe showcases the master chocolatier and his team’s dextrous skills, while those wanting to splash out can treat themselves to the Chef’s Table, an impressive seven-course offering, with your very own sommelier to talk you through each dish’s wine accompaniment.

Norwegian Escape

medium grilled steak

With 25 dining experiences on offer, there’s certainly no shortage of options onboard Escape. Its complimentary selection includes three dining venues serving up chic Mediterranean eats, O’Sheehan’s classic pub grub and the Garden Cafe’s morning-to-night buffet selection.

If you like casting your culinary tastes a bit further, then Escape’s speciality dining is for you. Teppanyaki serves up classic Hibachi fare with a side of spectacle, while Bayamo’s seafood specialities  are fresh and elegant. For something on the meatier side, Cagney’s Steakhouse has Angus beef, prime rib and classic cuts down to a tee. With fusion, French, Brazilian and Spanish cuisines to choose from, Escape’s highly varied choice stands out from others of its kind.

Queen Mary 2

Sophisticated, traditional and refined, Queen Mary 2’s dining options are fit for royalty. The Kings Court serves up tried and true staples such as steak, salmon and chicken, but the cheese station (!) is what really impresses here, with an array of cheeses, chutneys and crackers to indulge in.

At night, the Kings Court plays host to a different regional cuisine from across the globe each evening. From Mexican and Indian, to American and pan-Asian menus, the food is exceptionally good, though you are limited by the evening’s chosen cuisine. If French food is more your thing, head to the Verandah for a true foodie experience; tempura frogs’ legs, lobster tail soup, and shoulder of Dorset lamb, carved in front of you at the table.  

beef stew with potatoes

Celebrity Reflection

From casual to classic, Celebrity’s ever-changing menus offer plenty of opportunity for exploration. With French classics in the main dining room to the top-deck Seaside Grill, the varied complimentary food is sure to impress.

If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, then a fleet of speciality eateries are on hand with a mouth-watering selection of cuisines. Try Silk Harvest’s pan-Asian specialities , or savour the flavours of Tuscany at Tuscan Grille and its bold, healthy dishes. Like your food on the interactive side? At The Lawn Club Grill, you can show your skills alongside one of the ship’s chefs and cook up a storm.  

P&O Cruises Britannia

A team of celebrity chefs bring their credentials to the menus onboard Britannia, creating all manner of masterpieces for guests to try. From Eric Lanlard’s sweet treats such as pistachio petit choux and marble swirl red velvet cake to Atul Kochhar’s subtle Indian fusions, the food onboard P&O’s biggest ship rules the waves.

With light bites, poolside grills, and buffet restaurants, there’s plenty to choose from while you’re here.

Buffet Seafood US diner Italian French Sushi Pan-Asian Indian Steak Brazilian
Symphony of the Seas Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No Yes No
Princess Royal Princess Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes No
MSC Meraviglia Yes No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Norwegian Escape Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Queen Mary 2 Yes Yes* Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Celebrity Reflection Yes Yes Yes Yes * Yes Yes * Yes * Yes * Yes  No
P&O Britannia Yes Yes * Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes * No

*But no dedicated restaurant.

If this tempting array of food has got the wanderlust going, head over to Cruise1st’s homepage to view our latest cruise deals or give our friendly customer care team a call on 0808 2746 777.


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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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