Restaurants Afloat: A Guide to the Best Dining Experiences at Sea

By Sue Wallace

Enjoy dining on board Viking cruising through the ocean
Enjoy dining on board Viking cruising through the ocean
Dining has hit new heights on luxury cruise ships with many showcasing menus created by some of the world’s best chefs, along with fine wine pairings.

There’s an emphasis on using local produce where possible, with some cruise lines offering market excursions with chefs to gather ingredients, cooking classes and demonstrations and chef’s table surprises.

From fine dining through to casual deck feasts, speciality restaurants and excellent room service, taste buds will be tempted. 

Fine dining aboard MS Trollfjord
Fine dining aboard MS Trollfjord

Hurtigruten Showcases Norwegian Delicacies

The Norwegian cruise line is all about authentic cuisine featuring Norwegian delicacies that are part of a short journey from fjord to fork. There are three restaurants on the newly refreshed MS Trollfjord. Dining is inspired by archive menus and age-old Norwegian preservation techniques tried and trusted by Norwegians through 1000 Arctic winters, such as drying, fermenting and salting. 

On board, you can eat dry-aged beef served by a chef with a story about the meat’s provenance, drink beer made from water sourced in Trollfjord, and learn all about the distinctly Nordic spirit aquavit.  

Elegant Rost offers arctic fine dining – think Norwegian scallops and sea urchin from Ecofang in Tromsø, with smoked butter sauce and fermented cabbage and reindeer from Finnmark with blackberries, Jerusalem artichokes, and pickled yellow beetroot. 

Brasserie Árran is inspired by the Sámi people with traditional dishes with a modern twist such as bidos – a Sámi reindeer stew, souvas – sliced smoked reindeer meat with lingonberry aioli and pickled herring on rye bread with cured egg yolk.

MS Trollfjord’s main restaurant, Flora, features a menu inspired by Norway’s edible herbs, berries, mushrooms, flowers, fruit and vegetables. 

 Cocktails on board Queen Mary 2
 Enjoy cocktails on board Queen Mary 2 /Photograph by Christopher Ison 

Cunard’s Third Great Australian Culinary Voyage 2025

From white gloved waiters serving afternoon tea to fine dining, Cunard has a reputation for culinary highlights. The Steakhouse at The Verandah features tender steaks and seafood celebrating the best of land and sea. Think buttery soft wagyu, dry-aged Angus beef, a fruit de mer platter laden with lobster, Scottish langoustines, and Alaskan crab.

Diners are even presented with a selection of steak knives to choose from, each one engineered to cut effortlessly.

Lunchtimes at the Steakhouse at The Verandah are relaxed occasions with grilled lemon sole, and the signature Cunarder burger, dressed in bone marrow mayonnaise. 

The elegant Queen’s Grill exclusive for Queen’s Grill guests, serves a coveted line-up of à la carte dishes, complemented by an ‘always-available’ menu of appetisers, entrees, and desserts, 

Next year’s third Great Australian Culinary Voyage on the Queen Elizabeth will be hosted by restaurateur, chef, TV host and author Matt Moran, who will showcase all things food and wine. It’s a round trip from Sydney from February 6 to 11 2025, visiting Hobart and Great Oyster Bay. Chefs, producers and food critics will share their skills with special dinners and talks. 

Watch the sunset on Viking’s river longboats

Viking World Wide Dining

Viking is known for its excellent dining on its elegant ocean and expedition ships and river longboats. The Chef’s Table offers a unique multicourse tasting experience in which culinary creations by acclaimed guest chefs are paired with wines hand-selected by master sommeliers. It’s a culinary journey of cultural enrichment, gastronomic exploration and regional cuisine.

Inspired by authentic Italian trattorias, Manfredi’s is the creation of two industry leaders: Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen and Silversea Cruises Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio. They are longtime personal friends, who share a passion for the fine art of Italian cuisine. 

The Kitchen Table offers immersive experience on port days where guests learn how to cook regional dishes from ingredients that they have helped handpick at a local market, followed by a private evening meal. 

The main dining venue, The Restaurant decked out in Scandinavian design, features regional cuisine and classics enhanced with locally sourced ingredients.

Casual dining includes the World Café with its open kitchen and premium sushi/seafood choices. 

Mamsen’s, located in the Explorers’ Lounge and named after the Hagen family matriarch, offers Norwegian specialties for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks and evening treats – the fabulous Success cake is addictive. 

Regent Seven Seas Prime 7
Enjoy dinner at Prime 7

Regent Seven Seas Epicurean Spotlight Voyages

Signature restaurant, Compass Rose that stars on the new Seven Seas Grandeur offers a unique experience where guests can design their own mains from preferred sides, sauces, pastas, and main features, plus daily specials. New dishes include a decadent Maine lobster risotto served with a mascarpone- leek fondue; a succulent roasted Black Angus striploin accompanied by fingerling potatoes and parmesan broccoli stems with a smoky romesco sauce.

Prime 7, the signature steakhouse aboard Seven Seas Grandeur is inspired by the classic New York steakhouse at the turn of the 19th to 20th century, along with design touches and surprises. 

The menu includes mouthwatering appetisers, such as jumbo lump crab cakes with tartar sauce and lemon, Black Angus Beef steak tartare with truffle-beer bread and succulent jumbo shrimp with a citrus cocktail sauce.

The selection of steaks, all USDA prime beef and dry-aged 28 days, ensure the ultimate in taste and tenderness and include prime New York strip,

porterhouse and succulent filet mignon. Alternative entrée options vary from indulgent whole Maine lobster, ever-popular Dover sole, and New Zealand double cut lamb chops, spice-crusted seared ahi tuna steak and grilled chicken supreme.

Guests can sharpen their skills in hands-on cooking classes in the Culinary Arts Kitchen.

Specially curated Epicurean Spotlight Voyages will cruise on April 14 May 8, August 14  2024 and March 31 2025. 

Oceania Cruise - food

Oceania Cruises Culinary Discovery Tours

Talented chefs on the food centric Oceania Cruises use artisanal ingredients such as Castilla-La Mancha saffron and French flour custom-milled in galleys evoking those in Michelin-starred restaurants, to create culinary masterpieces.

Exclusive Culinary Discovery Tours are offered on board Marina and Riviera, experiencing the local culinary scene and the secrets of authentic regional cuisine during a day ashore. You can visit colourful traditional markets, dine at renowned restaurants and then hone your skills back on board at The Culinary Centre. Experiences vary from a cooking demonstration at a Venetian master chef’s private villa to traveling off the beaten path to tropical plantations on a French Polynesian island.

The new Oceania Vista features restaurants Ember and Aquamar Kitchen. Ember is the signature addition to Oceania Cruises’ family of restaurants with a menu of inventive American creations blended with classics including braised short ribs on polenta, grilled swordfish with asparagus, crab cakes with spicy aioli, and a cobb salad with smoked chicken.

Aquamar Kitchen brings a fresh perspective to dining and the pursuit of wellness. Breakfast selections include cold-pressed raw juices and super-food smoothies, hearty homemade granolas and avocado toasts, organic power bowls, and savoury breakfast wraps. For lunch, dozens of tempting, healthy dishes are offered such as Slow-Roasted Organic Salmon with quinoa tabouleh and lemon tahini, Yellowfin Tacos with white cabbage slaw, or even a Crunchy Chicken Sandwich on a freshly baked whole grain roll. Vista has 11 onboard dining venues. 

Dining on Seabourn

Seabourn Celebrates its Newest Restaurant, Solis 

The new dining experience, Solis which celebrates Mediterranean cuisine has just opened on Seabourn Quest.

Inspired by the places visited by the line’s ultra-luxury ships, it features light, modern cuisine bursting with colour and character, prepared fresh daily. 

Solis will be implemented across Seabourn Ovation, Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Sojourn.

Designed to appeal to every one of the senses, Solis takes diners to the Mediterranean with special culinary moments. Highlights include whimsical cocktails, vibrant plating, and flavour combinations all served within a redesigned dining space reminiscent of the afterglow of the sun.

The signature dishes and imaginative specials that change daily are based on the ingredients found during the chefs’ visits to local markets on port days.

 It also features an assortment of vegetarian and vegan options.

The Solis experience also offers a newly presented, refined vintage-inspired cocktail menu including classics such as the Americano and the Bellini to the always-popular Negroni by a team of talented mixologists. 

Silversea’s New Silver Nova 

Gastronomic excellence is a high priority for Silversea and the fleet of luxury ships features exceptional dining venues including the fine dining offerings, Kaiseki and La Dame.

In 2020, Silversea launched its immersive, S.A.L.T program – an acronym of ‘Sea and Land Taste’, which offers guests a chance to travel deeper through engaging experiences and local food culture. It incorporates both ship-based and shoreside enrichments with market trips, winery visits, and dining experiences in regional restaurants and bars; food and wine tastings; special dinners with guest hosts; insightful food lectures; cooking classes and demonstrations from local guest chefs and food experts.

Silversea’ s newest ship, Silver Nova, offers guests new culinary experiences in nine dining venues, including six complimentary options – more than on any other ultra-luxury ship. 

It includes the first large-scale regional restaurant at sea; S.A.L.T. Kitchen and an enhanced plant-based ‘green cuisine’–available in all dining venues, curated in collaboration with the two-Michelin-starred chef Jean-Luc Rabanel. 


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