What line has the best food?

Welcome to Cruise Critic! If you'd like to participate on our forums by joining in the conversation, please Register Now! Be sure to visit our FAMOUS Roll Call forums, where you can meet other cruisers sailing with you and share a tour or shore excursion and SAVE MONEY!

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
All times are GMT -4.
The time now is 06:31 AM.
98 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
New here and hope I am posting in the correct forum.
Just returned from from my 2nd cruise on Royal Carribean. I felt the food has gone down hill from my first cruise with them in 2004.

What cruiseline has the best food in your opinion? Looking at an inside passage cruise for 2012.
Summerville, SC
6,633 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Of the lines we have sailed we prefer the food on Celebrity above the others. Now for my opinion to help you at all, I need to include why.

Celebrity spends more per passenger on food than other mainstream cruise lines. This is clear when looking at the cuts of meat they offer, the quality/variety of produce etc. Menus are more inventive and have greater variety. This is true if comparing the main dining rooms to those on the other mainstream lines or comparing specialty dining.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Past/Upcoming Cruises:
Song of Norway (7 night Western Caribbean)-1981
Fair Sky (12 night Alaska)-1985
Nordic Prince (7 night Bermuda)-1990
Norwegian Sea (7 night Western Caribbean)-2004
Celebration (5 night Bahamas)-2005
Norwegian Majesty (7 night Western Caribbean)-2006
Mariner of The Seas (7 night Eastern Caribbean)- Sep. 2007
Norwegian Star (8 night Mexican Riviera)-April 2008
Carnival Glory (7 night Western Caribbean)-November 2008
Celebrity Constellation (11 night Eastern/Southern Caribbean)- April 2009
Carnival Spirit (7 night Alaska)- August 2009
Celebrity Mercury (11 night Eastern Caribbean)-March 2010
Celebrity Constellation (14 night Southern Caribbean)-March 2011
Celebrity Silhouette (12 night Eastern/Southern Caribbean)-March 2012
Freedom of The Seas (14 Night Back-To-Back Western/Eastern Caribbean)-April 2013

Carnival Fantasy (7 Night Eastern Caribbean)-August 2014
Celebrity Silhouette (7 Night Western Caribbean)-March 2015
Carnival Sunshine(10 Night Eastern Caribbean)- May 2016
Carnival Sunshine (5 Night Bahamas) -November 2016
Carnival Magic (7 Night Western Caribbean) - February 2017
Oasis of The Seas (7 Night Eastern Caribbean) - October 2017
Celebrity Edge (7 Night Eastern Caribbean) - January 2019

533 Posts
Joined Oct 2001
I think chef Michael Roux also introduced the concept to Celebrity that all food must be made from scratch. So no sauce packets, frozen food, etc. He's no longer advising Celebrity, but I've seen somewhere on these boards that they kept that concept.

I've also seen a consistent theme that every line has had a noticeable downgrading of their quality because of cost-cutting measures. You could have experienced this with Royal Caribbean since it was 7 years between cruises. We last cruised in 2002, so I will lower my expectations based on that. And we have kids now, so we won't be choosing Celebrity again until they are older.
3,332 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Food has become an up and down thing - no mainstream line is always good or always bad. I found while some of the expensive items are no longer served - the food with the same menu is very hit and miss. I do think having the food come in a timely manner cold food cold and hot food hot makes a big difference. The dining room staff seem to have much more to do - getting drinks, refilling water - no more bar staff.

We were on the Celebrity Solstice earlier this year and food in Blu (the Aqua class restaurant) was wonderful. But that is our taste - some thai, indian and other types of cuisine. The main dining room has more traditional offerings.

We always go to the specialty restaurants at least 2 nights on a 7 night cruise - because we sail quite a bit with Royal Caribbean and the menus do not change very much.

I have read that dinner in the Windjammer is often better than in the Main Dining Room.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Celebrity - Summit, Century, Mercury, Constellation, Solstice
HAL - Rotterdam
Princess - Diamond, Dawn, Island
Crystal - Harmony
Cunard - QE2
RCCL - Nordic Prince, Song of Norway, Monarch, Vision, Navigator, Radiance,
..... Grandeur, Freedom, Mariner, Liberty, Oasis, Allure
Carnival - Tropical , Paradise
Avalon - Poetry (riverboat)
A&K - Lafayette (barge)
Seabourn - Pride
Oceania - Insignia, Marina
coming up Oasis and Solstice
Shanghai, PRC / Sete, France
3,858 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Originally posted by cruzeluver
Of the lines we have sailed we prefer the food on Celebrity above the others. Now for my opinion to help you at all, I need to include why.

Celebrity spends more per passenger on food than other mainstream cruise lines. This is clear when looking at the cuts of meat they offer, the quality/variety of produce etc. Menus are more inventive and have greater variety. This is true if comparing the main dining rooms to those on the other mainstream lines or comparing specialty dining.
Celebrity USED to spend more per passenger on food than any other mainstream cruise line.
They held that #1 position for years.
Since 2008 they have cut that spending more and more until they are now in third place.

Holland America and Princess now vie for the First Place position, depending on ship and itinerary.
1,013 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by BruceMuzz
Celebrity USED to spend more per passenger on food than any other mainstream cruise line.
They held that #1 position for years.
Since 2008 they have cut that spending more and more until they are now in third place.
Holland America and Princess now vie for the First Place position, depending on ship and itinerary.
I understand that this data is not commonly shared or known. Can you say how MSC compares to the mainstream competition per passenger food expense?
1,209 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
I have cruised Carnival and Princess. With Carnival it has been hit or miss with the food and the ships. On both of my Princess cruises the food has been good. I also enjoyed the inside passage cruise. On Princess they have an International Cafe with various salads, sandwiches, desserts, and breakfast pasteries that are very good. The MDR has good food as well and never thought anything was just 'meh".
98 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Thanks all. I found http://www.beyondships.com/ and found that all RCL main menues appear that they have the same offerings on all ships. We won a trip on MOS and will be going on a Western Caribean cruise in Feb or March. Also looking at an inside passage cruise for 20012. Considering a different cruise line. You opions have been very helpful.
When we were in port at Nasau, Carnival Liberty (I believe) was docked next to us. I struck up a conversation with a fellow cruiser and he said the food was better on Carnival. Thought I run it by you all.
I think that my inside passage cruise may just be booked with another line to experience how they do it.
new jersey
102 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
We have been on Celebrity, Holland America, and Princess. Celebrity as far as quality, presentation,variety of food and service gets my vote.
Bensalem, Pa
311 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
We also thought that the food on Royal Caribbean has declined & were apprehensive cruising on Carnival last year, but were pleasantly surprised so much that we have decided to cruise on Carnival Miracle next year instead of the Explorer of the Seas.
19,308 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
We think Holland
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
We've been on
Carnival: 27 voyages 184 days
Celebrity: 3 voyages 24 days
Holland: 27 voyages 605 days
Norwegian: 2 voyages 16 days
Princess: 16 voyages 154 days
Royal Carib: 5 voyages 35 days
Vantage:River 2 voyages 39 days
GRAND TOTAL: 82 Cruises 1057 days


Rotterdam Voyage Vikings 8/17 - 38 days
Maasdam Boston to San Diego 9/17 18 days
Veendam Atlantic Crossing 10/17 - 49 days
Amsterdam World Cruise 1/18 - 113 days
Rotterdam crossing. 6/18 - 32 days
Prinsendam 8/18 - 124 days
Amsterdam World Cruise 1/19 113 days
Sunny South
1,339 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
I've viewed the Galley area on tours with several lines, MSC and NCL had the most canned and prepackaged items than any others, and also have had the worst quality of all the lines we've sailed.

1) Holland
2) Carnival
4) NCL
5) MSC

Of course, further research is needed...
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature

2015 Viking Grand Europe river cruise
2015 CCL Valor East Caribbean
2015 HAL Amsterdam Alaska
2014 RCL Vision of the Seas 7 day Roatan, Belize, Cozumel, Costa Maya
2014 HAL Nieuw Amsterdam 12 day: Barcelona, Spain; Marseilles, France; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Livorno, Italy; Rome, Italy; Naples, Italy; Messina, Italy; Taormina,, Italy; Corfu, Greece; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Venice, Italy;
2013 NCL P.O.A 7 day Hawaii: Honolulu, Maui, Kona, Hi-Lo, Kauai
2012 CCL Victory 7 day: San Juan, St. Thomas, Barbados, St.Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Marten

2011 CCL Liberty 7 day Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Miami, Florida;
2011 RCL Vision of the Seas 11 day: Istanbul, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Ashdod, Haifa, Mykonos
2010 CCL Victory 7 day: San Juan, St. Thomas, sea day, Barbados, St.Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Marten
2010 HAL Ryndam 7 day Alaska: Vancouver, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Seward
2010 MSC Poesia 7 day: Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, Cozumel, Jamacia, Nassau
2009 CCL Victory 7 day: San Juan, St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St.Lucia, Antigua, St. Kitts
2009 NCL Jewel 12 day: London, Dover, Copenhagen, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Helsinki, Stockholm, Paris
2009 NCL Sky 4 day: Miami, Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay
2008 CCL Glory 7 day: Port Canaveral, Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Bahamas
2008 HAL Zuiderdam 12 day Med: Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Florence, Rome, Sicily, Navplion, Katakolon, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Venice
2007 CCL Fascination:4 day, Miami, Key West, Cozumel, Freeport
2006 RCL Majesty of the Seas: 3 night, Miami, Coco Cay, Nassau
barnegat, nj
2,397 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Just our opinion.. #1 is Celebrity for best service & food(slightly more upscale choices & excellent quality) #2 is HAL for the same reasons as #1. Tied for #3 is CCL & RCCL., almost always good to very good. #4 is NCL and #5 is Princess (only 1 sailing with them, probably just a fluke bad experience, but it was 'eh' MDR food & BAD service)
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature

Premier Royale ~ Bahamas '88 ~ RCCL Song of America ~ Bermuda '97
RCCL Nordic Empress ~ Bermuda '98 & '99 ~ Carnival Destiny ~ carrib '00
Celeb Horizon ~ Bermuda '00 ~ Carnival Triumph ~ carrib '01
Celeb Horizon ~ Bermuda '02 ~ Princess ~ carrib '03
NCL Dawn ~ bahamas '04 ~ Celeb Zenith ~ Bermuda '04
NCL Dawn ~ bahamas '05 ~ HAL Noordam ~ sth. carib '06
RCCL Explorer ~ Bermuda '06 ~ HAL Noordam ~ sth. carib '07 Celeb Summit ~ Bermuda '10
Carnival Miracle Bermuda '11 Miracle 9/27/2011 Bermuda Cruise Review
HAL Veendam ~ Bermuda '12 & Link to my Veendam Review
Carnival Ecstasy ~ '12+'13 & Link to my 2013 Ecstasy Photo review
Celeb Summit ~ Bermuda Aug '13 ~ RCCL ExplorerOTS ~ carrib '14 Carnival Conquest ~ carrib '15
RCCL Grandeur ~ Bermuda '15 Carnival Pride '15 & '16 Carrib & Bermuda
Carnival Paradise '17 carrib 187 days at sea! 19 more coming up!

san diego
471 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
Food is a very personal thing, influenced by one's background and experience. Standardized recipes that the lines use will taste and look different from ship to ship as the Chefs put their view and translation in.
Overall, each line gravitates to some kind of cuisine, generally French, Italian, or American. Food budgets are tight. RCCL, at one time allowed $1 per day, per passenger for baked goods (that's based on 4 meals!!!)
Imho, Holland has been the best, Celebrity second, and the rest- third, based on Mainstream lines.
Crystal was the line I really enjoyed the food as I saw the artistic efforts and attention to quality.
Dennis, Executive Chef
West Yorkshire. UK
17 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
I've just returned from 12 days in the Baltic on the Jewel. I need a gluten free diet and my experience was very poor (I've also posted on the gluten free tips thread in more detail). However, the concensus among our fellow diners is that the food varied from good/satisfactory most of the time in the MDR, to occasionally inedible (literally, a calzone pizza on the last night had to be sent back without a bite taken out of it, it was so disgusting, and another dish chosen instead. Also on the last night several people left the veg as it was stone cold. The Windjammer is a disorganised scrum, catering to the masses with huge quantities of cheap food - burgers, fries, beans, processed cheese etc. only small offerings of healthy stuff such as salad or fruit which take some finding as they are not rationally organised (a superfluity of melon though - presumably it comes cheap).

All that aside, the salad bar at lunch in the MDR is superb - this doubles as a muesli bar at breakfast and is also superb. Alas, the former is only available on days at sea and the latter is not available on the last morning when the whole breakfast offering is very limited, not even a banana to be had on the whole of the ship apparently - shame that breakfast experience is the final memory you take with you.

Obviously for me the food and dining experience is going to colour my judgment of the whole cruise experience because of my gluten free diet but to compound that there was lots wrong with the RCI dining experience from bungling waiters in the MDR to ones in both the MDR and W/J who were indifferent and unhelpful; There are certainly not enough tables for 2; Food is generally low quality.

Expand Signature
Collapse Signature

Previously cruised

P/O, Sea Princess - 23 nts. - West. Caribbean - Xmas/New Yr. 1994/95
Airtours, Sunbird - 7 nts. - Med. - Sept. 2001
RCI, Jewel OTS - 12 nts. - Baltic - August 2011
Pennsylvania, USA
8 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
I've been on Royal, Princess, and Celebrity. None were bad, however, Celebrity is the only one that left lasting impressions, and a desire to get back on board for a good number of the selections. Argentinean flank steak and lamb chops come to mind, as well as the incredible cheese filled mini croissants.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature

1,040 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
Originally posted by BruceMuzz
Celebrity USED to spend more per passenger on food than any other mainstream cruise line.
They held that #1 position for years.
Since 2008 they have cut that spending more and more until they are now in third place.

Holland America and Princess now vie for the First Place position, depending on ship and itinerary
Ugh, really? That does not bode well for Celebrity, since I was thoroughly unimpressed with Princess' food recently. I remember thinking Celebrity's food was really pretty good for a mainstream cruise line, but it has been a while, so maybe they have gone downhill since? Their menus still appeal to me the most though, so perhaps it's more in the prep/selection than the cost?

Do they still have sushi (as in actual raw salmon) and pasta made to order in the buffet area? (Holland and Celeb both had the pasta, which I enjoyed)

As for my opinion, of the five major lines we've sailed (bear in mind the chronology though, some were quite a while ago), the order was Celebrity, Holland, Carnival, Princess/RCCL tie.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
3/17 - NCL Breakaway ~ Bahamas and GSC (7) ----- 09/16 - Crown Princess ~ Pacific Coastal (7) ----- 03/16 - Coral Princess ~ Panama Canal (10)
02/16 - NCL Sky ~ Bahamas and GSC (4) ----- 03/15 - NCL Jade ~ Western Mediterranean (11)
----- 01/15 - NCL Dawn ~ Western Carib. (7)
03/13 - Sapphire Princess ~ Pacific Coastal (7)
----- 10/12 - NCL Dawn ~ Canada/New England (7)
----- 08/11 - Caribbean Princess ~ Canada/New England (7)
07/10 - Caribbean Princess ~ Caribbean (9)
----- 08/09 - HAL Oosterdam ~ Mediterranean (12)
----- 04/08 - RCCL Adventure of the Seas ~ Southern Carib. (7)
03/06 - Celebrity Constellation ~ Repositioning (7)
----- 04/05 - RCCL Jewel of the Seas ~ Western Carib. (6) ----- 02/05 - Carnival Spirit ~ Mexican Riviera (8)
02/04 - Celebrity Millennium ~ Eastern Carib. (7)
----- 02/03 - RCCL Vision of the Seas ~ Mexican Riviera (7) ----- 03/01 - American Hawaii ~ Hawaii (7)
02/99 - Carnival Destiny ~ Western Carib. (7)
----- 02/98 - Carnival Fascination ~ Southern Carib. (7) ----- 02/94 - Carnival Celebration ~ Eastern Carib. (7)
Days at Sea: 158
Albuquerque, NM
7,451 Posts
Joined May 2003
Of all the cruise lines I have experienced, I would place them is this order --

#1 -- Oceania (excellent main dining room cuisine)
#2 -- Azamara (very similar to Oceania; really great desserts; buffet just okay)
#3 -- Celebrity (very best in main stream lines; quality of beef has dropped as of late; best alternative restaurants at sea)
#4 -- Cunard (British influence everywhere, except the food. Very good!)
#5 -- Holland America (nothing over the top great, but very good, and an excellent buffet area)
#6 -- Princess (poor alternative restaurants, but pretty good MDR food)
#7 -- Royal Caribbean (poor buffet areas; alternative restaurants are nice; MDR food much better on the Radiance class ships)
#8 -- NCL (If I ever cruise NCL again, I will eat all meals in alternative restaurants; everything else sub-par)

My wife and I like small amounts of high quality food!
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Future Cruises: NCL Escape (06/2017), Celebrity Equinox (06/2017), NCL Pearl BtoB (12/2017), MSC Seaside (Yacht Club, 03/2018) and Cunard Victoria (WC, 02/2019).
Past Cruises:
Celebrity -- Horizon (‘93), Galaxy (‘97), Zenith (‘98), Constellation (‘02), Century (‘02), Millennium (‘03), Summit (‘04), Mercury (‘05), Galaxy (‘05), Century (‘06), Millennium (‘06) , Constellation (‘08), Constellation (‘08), Solstice (‘09), Solstice (‘10), Eclipse (‘11), Summit (‘11), Millennium (‘11), Silhouette ('12), Silhouette ('12), Silhouette ('13), Infinity ('13), Infinity ('13), Century ('13), Century ('14), Eclipse ('14), Reflection ('15), and Equinox ('15).
Holland America -- Veendam (‘03), Volendam (‘04), Zuiderdam (‘05), Westerdam (‘06), Maasdam (‘07), Maasdam (‘07), Westerdam (‘08), Maasdam (‘09), Nieuw Amsterdam (‘11), and the Westerdam ('16)
Royal Caribbean -- Rhapsody of the Seas (‘01), Voyager of the Seas (‘02), Splendor of the Seas (‘02), Grandeur of the Seas (‘04), Vision of the Seas (‘04), Radiance of the Seas (‘09), Allure of the Seas ('12), Navigator of the Seas ('14), and the Anthem of the Seas ('15)
NCL -- Starward (‘78), Norwegian Dream (‘95), Norweigan Sea (‘01), NCL Jewel ('15), NCL Jade ('16), and the Getaway ('17)
Princess -- Star Princess (‘03), Caribbean Princess (‘05), and the Golden Princess ('13)
Azamara -- Journey (‘07) Oceania -- Regatta (‘09) Cunard -- Queen Mary 2 (‘10), and Queen Mary 2 ('13)
Sitmar -- Fairsea (‘82)

(508 days total)
Seattle, WA
158 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
Interesting thread. To date, we have only cruised Princess and NCL. Of the two, Princess does a better job in their main dining rooms. NCL used to have pretty good MDR food, but they seem to be getting worse. However, NCL does the alternate dining roomsuch better than Princess and the food is wonderful. Of course this comes at extra cost, but NCL cruise fares are often much lower than Princess so if you look at it that way, you have some money to put toward your dining on NCL.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Norwegian Spirit - Alaska - June 2005
Pride of America - Hawaii - November 2005
Dawn Princess - Alaska - August 2006
Norwegian Star - Mexican Riviera - October 2006
Norwegian Dawn - Canada/New England- Oct 2007
Pride of America -Hawaii - December 2007
Norwegian Pearl - Alaska - August 2008
Norwegian Star - Mexican Riviera - October 2008
Norwegian Pearl - Pacific Coastal - September 2009
Sapphire Princess - Pacific Coastal - September 2009
Sapphire Princess - Mexican Riviera - March 2010
Royal Princess - Pacific coastal - September 2010
Diamond Princess - Australia/New Zealand - January 2011
Norwegian Star - Western Caribbean - December 2011
Coral Princess - Pacific Coastal - September 2012
Norwegian Dawn - Western Caribbean - December 2012
Diamond Princess - Australia / New Zealand - February 2013
Golden Princess -Inside Passage - September 2013
Norwegian Jewel - Pacific Coastal - September 2014
Norwegian Getaway - Eastern Caribbean -December 2014
Regal Princess - Baltics - May 2016
Diamond Princess - Australia / New Zealand - February 2018