Eating is one of the great pleasures of life and there’s no better place to sample every type of food imaginable than on a cruise ship. Sadly, as the wrinkles become more prominent, I find that I can no longer eat 24/7 without consequences. These days, I eat three meals a day and no longer dine in between. I have to exercise at least 30 minutes a day to allow myself dessert, which consists of a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a scoop of orange sherbet. That’s right. Eaten properly, it tastes just like that old childhood favorite, the Creamsicle.
But I digress. With all the food available on cruises, the question I’m most often asked is why anyone would want to dine – an pay an additional fee for - at the specialty restaurants onboard. In other words, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.
My advice: Buy the cow. These separate eateries are markedly different from the main dining rooms. Despite what you’ve heard, the food is not the same. Yes. You can get lobster onboard at least one evening on your cruise, but it won’t be the succulent African Lobster I once had on a Carnival Cruise. I have two dessert weaknesses: Crème Brulee and Key Lime pie, both of which were selections at fee based restaurants on a recent Celebrity Cruise. And I would have never had the opportunity to sample fine Brazilian cuisine without dining at that ethnic restaurant on Norwegian Cruise Lines.
Reservations are usually required. We request – and usually get – a table for two by the window. The service and presentation are what you would expect to find at any upscale restaurant on land. You won’t hear the chatter and clatter of the main dining room. Instead, you might be treated to the gentle sounds of a harp or piano in a more subdued atmosphere.
I try to frequent every specialty restaurant at least once during my cruise and if I am particularly fond of one, I will return a second time. Prices range from $5 to $30 per person, a worthwhile investment especially if you are celebrating a special occasion.
Alcoholic beverages and sodas are extra.