Last updated: 01:00 AM ET, Fri October 30 2015

The 5 Best Burgers at Sea

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Royal Caribbean International | Jason Leppert | October 30, 2015

The 5 Best Burgers at Sea

PHOTO: A burger from Johnny Rocket's just tastes better at sea. (Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

As fine as the gourmet food is aboard a cruise ship, sometimes you just crave a good hamburger, and many cruise lines cater to those comfort food cravings as well with their own signature offerings.

In fact, one not yet on the list, but to soon watch out for, is the sure-to-please Cheeseburger in Paradise heading for Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Norwegian Escape at Jimmy Buffett’s first Margaritaville at Sea. In the meantime, five other great choices await your palate below.

Azamara Club Cruises

The inclusion of Azamara Club Cruises on this list may come as a surprise to you, but the pool grill onboard the Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey whips up a mean burger.

After selecting a juicy hamburger, cheeseburger, turkey burger, salmon burger or vegetable burger patty, a list of yummy toppings are available to crown the culinary creation. Bacon, American cheese, Swiss cheese, blue cheese, sautéed mushrooms, sautéed onions, guacamole, jalapeños and BBQ sauce are all tempting options that send an otherwise simple sandwich over the top.

Carnival Cruise Line

Celebrity chef Guy Fieri was called upon by Carnival Cruise Line not to create a 5-star dining experience but rather an ace roadside-style eatery for serving up some delicious meat on a bun at Guy’s Burger Joint, on select ships.

Each variety starts with a perfect blend of 80/20 ground chuck. Specialty preparations include my personal favorite, the Pig Patty with a bonus bacon patty topping, Chilius Maximus with, as you guessed it, chili and The Ringer complete with Guy’s Bourbon and Brown Sugar BBQ sauce and an onion ring.

Things then get even more wild with acronyms and pseudonyms. L.T.O.P. (lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle), S.M.C. (super melty cheese), Rojo Ring (crispy spicy onion ring) and Donkey Sauce (jacked up secret mayo sauce) are all available plus a whole additional fresh toppings bar. And the savory seasoned fries are a delightful accompaniment.

Pig Patty. Photo by Jason Leppert.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line has recently updated its fleet-wide Terrace Grill to feature Dive-In, a new poolside gourmet burger and hot dog stand.

One-third freshly ground beef patties are served with chopped lettuce and a sliced tomato on a buttery brioche bun, and burgers feature signature Dive-In Sauce – think of a tangy mustardy secret sauce – and a side of tasty crispy fries. 

Delicious variations include The High-Dive cheddar cheeseburger; The Gainer crispy, frizzled onion burger and The Cannonball gouda cheese, applewood smoked bacon and caramelized onion burger.

The Cannonball. Photo by Jason Leppert.

Royal Caribbean International 

On select ships, including Royal Caribbean International’s newest Anthem of the Seas, Johnny Rockets is the only burger option on this list that comes at an extra cost, but it’s a wonderful retro diner experience worth the small surcharge.

The old-fashioned style choices range from The Original with lettuce, tomato, chopped onions, relish, pickle, mustard and mayonnaise to the Streamliner with Swiss cheese, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions and mayonnaise.

Add on a side of “frings" (half fries and half onion rings) and a classic milkshake, and you’re good to go — that is unless you’d like a slice of apple pie à la mode too.

A maxed-out Johnny Rockets burger. Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International.

Viking Ocean Cruises

A more recent discovery was onboard Viking Ocean Cruises’ new Viking Star at the pool grill where the Pancho Villa Burger squarely drew my stomach’s attention to its tasty blend of arugula, guacamole, chipotle aioli and blue cheese toppings. It was an unusual but scrumptious combination that resulted in an outstanding flavor explosion.

Is it lunchtime yet?

Pancho Villa Burger. Photo by Jason Leppert.


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