The Best Celebrity Chef Restaurants on Cruise Ships (Slideshow)
April 7, 2016
Cruises always have a boatload of dining options, but did you know these celebrity chefs have their own restaurants on board?
#11 Guy’s Burger Joint, Guy Fieri, Carnival Cruises
I’m sorry, did you think this list would be all fancy, hoity-toity, fine dining restaurants? We enjoy a good burger as much as the next guy, especially when that guy is chef, author, Food Network personality, and burger expert Guy Fieri. In 2011, Fieri partnered with Carnival Cruise Line to roll out Guy’s Burger Joint on nearly every ship in the fleet to offer fresh-off-the-grill specialties with hand-cut fries. The signature burgers include the “Pig Patty” (which comes with a patty made out of bacon), the “Chilius Maximus” (topped with an onion ring, secret mayo “donkey” sauce, and chili), and “The Ringer” (with Guy’s bourbon and brown sugar barbecue sauce and an onion ring). If you’re curious participating ships are the Carnival Breeze, Conquest, Fantasy, Freedom, Glory, Inspiration, Liberty, Magic, Pride, Sunshine, Triumph, Vista, and soon, the Valor. Did we mention the burger joints are located poolside? As if the shades-wearing Fieri would have it any other way.
#10 Jamie’s Italian, Jamie Oliver, Royal Caribbean
With a branch on both Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas, Jamie Oliver’s specialty Italian restaurant, Jamie’s Italian, has been a big draw since first opening back in 2014. Although they’ve flip-flopped the cost structure from a surcharge to à la carte pricing and back to a surcharge (now about $30), the food quality has remained the same. Guests can opt to start with crab and avocado bruschetta, Italian spiced chicken wings, or crispy squid, before moving on to pastas like penne carbonara, tagliatelle bolognese, spaghetti vongole, or prawn linguine, or entrees like Jamie’s Italian Burger (British chuck and flank steak with smoked mozzarella, mortadella, balsamic onions, tomato, pickles, and chiles), baked salmon, porchetta, or eggplant parmesan. As for the restaurants themselves, the décor matches the cuisine: casual, cozy, and familiar.
#9 SHARE, Curtis Stone, Princess Cruises
In addition to crafting dishes in the main dining room of all 18 of Princess Cruises’ ships, superstar chef Curtis Stone now (as of this year) has his own specialty restaurant, SHARE, on the Ruby Princess, Emerald Princess, and Sun Princess. While dining in the sleek, polished, eclectically-decorated restaurant, guests can feast on shrimp salad, cavatelli, or tagliatelle appetizers; butter poached lobster, wild mushroom ragù, or twice cooked duck entrées; and ricotta fritter and tarte au citron vert desserts — as well as a selection of meats and cheeses. There is a $39 per person surcharge for this restaurant, but it includes five courses in all. As the name implies, Stone encourages guests to share their meals with one another — but this, of course, is only a suggestion. In other words, don’t you dare touch our dark chocolate crémeux!
#8 Todd English, Todd English, Cunard Line
Although the second of Todd English’s two Todd English restaurants closed a couple of years ago, his Queen Mary 2 location, open since 2004, is still going strong. The menu at this intimate restaurant (which overlooks the pool terrace) is constantly changing, with past offerings including tuna crudo, garlic shrimp, scallop porcini tarts, eggplant ravioli, grilled beef tenderloin, rack of lamb, milk chocolate panna cotta, and wild Maine blueberry cobbler. There’s a surcharge, but at only $26 per person for an impressive three-course meal, it’s more than worth it.
#7 Ocean Blue, Geoffrey Zakarian, Norwegian Cruise Line
Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian has three restaurants onboard Norwegian Cruises, but Ocean Blue is the main attraction. Sure, The Raw Bar is fantastic for à la carte snacks at six or seven bucks a pop, and Ocean Blue on The Waterfront is a great place to grab boardwalk-style, lunch-only food with an upscale twist, but both restaurants are basically the offspring of Ocean Blue. And since all three are available on the Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway ships, there no need to actually choose just one while aboard. If you couldn’t tell by the names, seafood is the specialty at each location, with featured dishes like mussels in chicken confit, wild salmon, crab risotto, sea bass, monkfish, and the signature dish, Dover sole. For meat-eaters, the Delmonico steak and Beijing duck can’t be missed, and hopefully everyone can agree a lemon tart with fresh blueberries, and possibly even the apple strudel with aged cheddar cheese and whiskey sauce — odd as it may seem. Ocean Blue used to be a $39 cover charge, but recently moved to à la carte pricing.
#6 150 Central Park, Michael Schwartz, Royal Caribbean
Although the snacks and brews at Michael’s Genuine Pub are not to be missed (like those at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in Miami), the real star restaurant of Royal Caribbean’s fleet is chef Michael Schwartz’s other eatery, 150 Central Park. Found only on the Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas ships, the restaurants require a $40 per person charge, but you’ll quickly discover it’s worth the price when digging into jumbo lump crab cakes with carrot butter sauce, homemade ricotta and porcini mushroom tortellini, pan-roasted pacific halibut, mahogany black cod, grilled pork loin, and slow-roasted and grilled beef short ribs. 150 Central Park’s six-course tasting menu features distinctive ingredients, many of which are sourced locally from small South Florida farms, and wine pairings are selected by Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink wine director Eric Larkee.
#5 Dining Room, David Thompson, Aqua Expeditions
Instead of having Michelin-starred chef David Thompson (of Nahm fame) start his own onboard restaurant, Aqua Expeditions simply handed him the entire main dining room aboard the Aqua Mekong. As the consulting chef, Thompson helped craft the Vietnamese- and Khmer-influenced menu that features dishes indigenous to the cruise’s Southeast Asian itinerary, like smoked fish, tapioca, and vegetable dumplings; river prawns with ginger, shallots, tamarind, and palm sugar served on betel leaves; Cambodian green curry of catfish; lemon basil cashew nut pudding with coconut cream; and artisanal chocolate fondue. Meals in this elegant but simple dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows do not involve any surcharges.
#4 La Veranda, Jean-Pierre Vigato, Paul Gauguin Cruises
Paul Gauguin Cruises is known for pulling out all the stops for their guests in terms of luxury, and enlisting Michelin-starred Parisian celebrity chef Jean-Pierre Vigato is the just the tip of the iceberg (pun definitely not intended). Vigato personally crafted the menu aboard the Paul Gauguin ship’s La Veranda restaurant, as well as select dishes at L’Etoile and at the Tere Moana’s restaurants too. His creations include braised veal, heart of beef tenderloin with beef tartare, lobster lasagna, roast halibut, chocolate and passion fruit millefeuille, and a warm raspberry compote with pistachio ice cream. In true a pampered fashion, there is no surcharge at any of these restaurants.
#3 Jacques, Jacques Pépin, Oceania Cruises
In addition to authoring over 25 cookbooks, hosting multiple cooking shows, and winning a James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, French chef Jacques Pépin also has two restaurants on Oceania Cruises. Both named “Jacques” (and both free!), the dinner-only eateries are currently featured onboard the Marina and Riviera ships, and include dishes like foie gras, Maryland lump crab meat salad, baked escargots, goat cheese soufflé, sautéed scallops, Maine lobster with mushroom cream sauce, five peppercorn steak, and crispy duck à l’orange. The French bistro-inspired setting is also the perfect place to split a dessert like the chocolate and vanilla lady finger cake or Jacques’ favorite apple tart. As a bonus, Pépin also works with the executive chefs in every one of the line’s dining venues in every member of its fleet.
#2 Remy, Arnaud Lallement, Disney Cruise Line
Here’s an interesting situation: Disney Cruise Line has a restaurant that’s named after a cartoon rat (from Ratatouille), but is adults only, and the menu was crafted by famed chef Arnaud Lallement of Michelin 3-star restaurant L’Assiette Champenoise in France and chef Scott Hunnel from Walt Disney World’s Victoria & Albert Restaurant. Now that you’ve wrapped your head around that, let’s get to the details. Remy can be found on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy ships, and it serves both brunch and dinner. The former is a five-course Champagne affair featuring French-inspired gourmet fare like vegetable risotto, lobster cannelloni, sea bass, veal, and gnocchi — and the latter features multiple tasting menus with dishes like langoustine, pheasant, elk, sea bass, and Kurobuta pork. Additionally, a five-course “dessert experience” is available, as is a six-course small plate tour. Like any good French restaurant, there’s literally a boatload of wine, or more specifically, about 900 bottles. Meal surcharges run from $50 to $75 per person, but most guests feel like the cost is more than worth it.
#1 Silk Road, Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, Crystal Cruises
Renowned chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa partnered with Crystal Cruises back in 2003, and dining on the Symphony and Serenity ships hasn’t been the same since. A master of Japanese-Peruvian cuisine and the man behind the acclaimed Nobu restaurants (take your pick: New York, Miami, Dubai, etc.), Matsuhisa’s onboard menu includes dishes like seafood tacos, grilled salmon, waygu beef ribeye steak, Nobu-style lobster with truffle-yuzu sauce, and a “Nobu Box” with beef, cod, and rock shrimp. There’s also a dessert Nobu Box containing a chocolate soufflé cake. Dining at Silk Road is free, but guests are limited to one visit per every seven days of sailing. Can’t get enough Nobu? A $30 per person fee will land you an additional reservation.