Although cruise ships offer main dining restaurants (well, all except Royal Caribbean's Quantum class ships), you might like to treat yourself to a meal or two in a speciality restaurant during your vacation.
While most main dining rooms on board the ships are fine, speciality dining — also known as alternative dining — offers something a little more distinctive and a little extra special. On some ships, though, the upgraded dining experience is going to cost cruise passengers: Expect to pay at least $10 or $25 per person or more, depending on the venue.
For special occasions or just special nights
It really is worth booking yourself a table at a specialty restaurant. Here’s why:
If you're planning to celebrate a special occasion on board, perhaps a birthday or anniversary, then a meal in one of the onboard speciality restaurants (some ships have several) is certainly something you should consider. Whether the venue serves Italian cuisine, Indian spice, Brazilian or good old steak and lobster, you're in for a real treat. It adds an extra sparkle to your cruise vacation and allows you to break away into a dining experience that is a little more intimate and exciting.
Speciality restaurants are now big features aboard cruise ships. In recent years many celebrity chefs have embraced the demand for ‘designer dining’ and developed their own unique piece of culinary heaven aboard. You can find Ocean Blue aboard Norwegian Getaway, which is the creation of Food Network’s Geoffrey Zakarian. Jamie’s Italian aboard Quantum of the Seas is thanks to famed British chef Jamie Oliver. And Umi Uma aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity is inspired by master chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsushia.
Costs vary per venue and cruise line and can be as low as $10 per person or as high as $85 per person, but you sometimes find when cruising with the top luxury lines that the speciality restaurants are part of all-inclusive pricing and come at no additional cost. They are already included in the cost of the cruise fare. These include Silversea, Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises.
After you've paid for your cruise, you'll want to make reservations on the cruise line's website. Make sure to do this well in advance — some specialty restaurants are booked up before the ship even leaves the port! On some sailings, specialty restaurants are so popular that it may be difficult to get in if you wait until you're on board.