Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Wed April 01 2015

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  • Amber Nolan | April 1, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    8 Specialty Cruise Ship Restaurants Not to Miss

    8 Specialty Cruise Ship Restaurants Not to Miss

    Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

    Alternative dining restaurants are extremely popular on mainstream cruise ships, and are offered exclusively to passengers in certain cabins, or as an addition to the cruise fare. While most major cruise lines now have a specialty dining option, some are worth the splurge while others miss the mark. Here are eight exceptional cruise restaurants to consider when making specialty dining reservations.


    Inspired by the Mediterranean Sea, Celebrity’s spa restaurant, Blu, has a chic ambiance and menu that changes daily. The “clean cuisine” consists of healthy — yet flavorful — dishes like blackened ahi tuna with baby bok choy and forbidden rice, or chilled avocado and lemon soup with poached shrimp. Open for breakfast and dinner, Blu is included in the fare, and is available exclusively to Aqua Class passengers.

    Le Champagne

    The prestigious restaurant and hotel group, Relais and Châteaux, brought their dining concept to sea aboard Silversea’s vessels. The six-course tasting menu at Le Champagne incorporates locally-sourced and regional ingredients paired with fine wines. Expect hors d'oeuvres such as red tuna carpaccio and ossetra caviar, followed by Normandy-style Dover sole and New Zealand rack of lamb — finished with a trilogy of chocolate lava cakes. The price is $40 per person.

    Todd English

    It has been more than a decade since Cunard debuted the Todd English restaurant on Queen Mary 2, but the venue continues to impress passengers. The Mediterranean-inspired menu from legendary restaurateur, Todd English, features items like pan-seared diver scallops with braised oxtail and grapefruit, or paella with saffron rice and chorizo. It is open for lunch ($5 to $12 per dish) or dinner (three courses for $26).

    Le Bistro

    A favorite among Norwegian Cruise Line’s loyal following, Le Bistro is an ideal choice for Parisian cuisine in a formal dining atmosphere. A white-gloved wait staff will present items like Mediterranean bouillabaisse with scallops and snapper, or confit duck served with potatoes, French beans, and Madeira sauce. A $20 per person cover charge applies.


    Aboard Holland America’s newest vessels, the MS Eurodam and MS Nieuw Amsterdam, passengers can sample the sophisticated Pan Asian cuisine at Tamarind. Designed by Chef Rudi Sodamin, the menu incorporates dishes from Southeast Asia, China, and Japan. Start with Shanghai-style, baby-back pork ribs before trying Penang red curry with coconut chicken, or Cantonese duck with Hainan rice. Lunch is complimentary, and dinner costs $20 per person.


    Serving innovative Italian cuisine, Azamara’s Aqualina has two rotating, four-course menus, and a resort casual setting. Antipasti include prosciutto-wrapped scallops with cauliflower puree or ahi tuna with pistachio and avocado. Soups and salads are more traditional: expect minestrone and mixed romaine, followed by entrees like veal chops with black olive polenta and Venice-style seafood. Specialty dining is complimentary for suite guests; otherwise there is a $25 per-person cover.


    Inspired by the main character in the Disney film, “Ratatouille,” Remy is an adults-only, French restaurant with sophisticated décor on both Disney Dream and Fantasy. The menu was designed by high-profile chefs Arnaud Lallement, of a Michelin three-star restaurant in France, and Scott Hunnel from the award-winning Victoria and Albert's at Walt Disney World Resort. A complimentary cocktail is included as well as added touches such as tableside trolley for international cheeses, and an after-dinner coffee service. Dinner reservations must be made well in advance, and cost a hefty $75 per person. There’s also the option of dining with the chef for an additional charge.

    Chops Grill

    Although a presence on Royal Caribbean ships for nearly a decade, Chops Grill continues to evolve into a premier steakhouse and new American restaurant. Grilled New York strips and filet mignon have been aged for nearly four weeks — ensuring flavorful, tender cuts that are served with homemade steak sauce. The cover charge is $30 per person for a four-course meal.


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Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
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