Contributor Level: Admiral

Specialty Restaurants

How often do you dine in a specialty restaurant on a cruise, if at all?  Are the meals worth the extra cost?

Tags: specialty Restaurants

19 Answers

Contributor Level: Captain

Depends on the cruise line... NCL and RC - always dine in specialty restaurants. Princess - dined in steakhouse 3 times on our 28 day cruise. Celebrity - 2 times on a 7 night cruise

Contributor Level: Captain

On Princess we have dinned only twice, Once at the steak House on the Golden Princess and the other at the Italian restaurant. On NCL we went to all the restaurants in rotation  as a group. The French Bistro on the Dawn was the best. The Italian was the worst restaurant I've ever been in ever........ NCL paid me back the money I spent on that one. Are they worth it?

 Yes.... If you decide that the few bucks won't make a big difference on the overall cruising bill.

Next year we will be travelling to Alaska on the Norwegian Sun. When we get on we will check out the restaurants and plan our schedule accordingly. When our son joins us in Seward we will have a plan for dining on the way back. Do we plan a bit too much? Maybe, but we are seldom disappointed in the results.

Contributor Level: Cruise Director

I have only been on 2 cruises and the first time we cruised we did not attend but the 2nd one we attended the Steak House on the Conquest.  I can safely say that if there was a meal that I had to have before I died, that was it!  :)

Contributor Level: Captain

Depending on the cruise line.   On NCL you have to go to the specialty restaurants to get a decent meal as the MDR is not good.   On Celebrity the MDR is so good I do not need to pay extra.  On RCI and Carnival I will go once or twice a week.  On HAL the specialty was good and when I wa on Princes it was so long ago they did not have specialty restaurants back then,  but the MDR was so bad that it was my first and last time on Princes line (I understand that they now have good food but still a bit gun shy to try them again) 


Best meal I have had on a ship surprisingly was the Emerald Steak House on the Carnival Glory.   That compared with  Morton's or Ruth Chris.  I rate it one of the best meals I have had land or sea.   Worth every bit of the $ 35.00 per person.  

Contributor Level: Captain

"Depending on the cruise line.   On NCL you have to go to the speciality restaurants to get a decent meal as the MDR is not good."

Completely disagree. The MDR on the Pearl and the Jade both provided excellent meals and we certainly had no need to even try the speciality restaurants. Waste of additional money in my opinion. The service was also superb and table was waiting as soon as we entered the restaurant. 

Contributor Level: Captain

The specialty restaurants save us. Without them sometimes the entire cruise would amount to a negative as the MDRs can be  "not so good". We only use Regent, Princess and HAL. My MDR comment does not apply to Regent as the cuisine and service there is always great, ironically their hard to get into specialty restaurants (no charge but not that good either) one probably wants to avoid. Princess charges $25.00 per and HAL $29.00 per for specialty dining.

We do love formal nights. For us, it hearkens back to the days of yore, days of romantic ocean travel which many yearn for the return thereof. Unfortunately, poor performance in the MDRs completely ruins a good formal night. So our first order of business on Princess and HAL is to book a specialty for formal nights.

On Princess the specialty restaurants can be exquisite, particularly Sabatini's and the Crown Grill. We also book the "Crab Shack" almost every time we have the opportunity. A pleasant surprise on the two new Princess ships is the high end "Alfredo's Pizzeria" which was a no extra charge restaurant laid out like a fine dining Italian restaurant and located in a central portion of the ship's huge three deck level atrium complex. With HAL, "The Pinnacle" can be excellent as well. 

On Princess recently we discovered the "Chef's Table", a specialty dining experience, not a restaurant on the ship. I called and found out that was a special arrangement only offered occasionally where they really do it up big.  As they advertise; "An extraordinary treat for both gastronomes and gourmet novices. Enjoy a behind-the-scenes galley tour with Champagne and hors d'oeuvres, followed by an extravagant multi-course dinner created and hosted by the executive chef." This pitch is not an overstatement, it is truly an eating experience. They even forget to mention the variety of wines served with each course and that you end up in a special section in one of the MDRs  (They drape a huge circular curtain over the entire dinner party after being seated). Only ten guests allowed each time, very-very good. My wife loved it. Trouble was I didn't ask the price. Found out when we received the final bill getting off the ship. $230. But it was still great.

I guess for dinner we eat close to 40%-50% of the time somewhere other than the MDR, not the buffets either.The only disadvantage is the specialties have the same menu each night so if you eat there a lot it can become mundane.  


Contributor Level: Captain




you could preface that as its your opinion, and only your opinion. We find the food on Norwegian's MDR's just fine. We choose to eat in the restaurants. And though the steakhouse on the Glory was good, it does not compare to Morton's, ( IMHO ).  Cagneys has been excellent every time we eat there. Our best meals have been on HAL.    We also like LeBistro on NCL. Last time on the Breakaway we got shut out all week from every restaurant we wanted, but every meal on board was very good.  I'd put NCL's MDR up against Carnival's meatloaf or mac  & cheese any day.

Contributor Level: Captain

Wow now I get attacked for stating my opinion ...... REALLY  any post is just one persons OPINION.....I did not know I had to state that I only put my opinion and not your opinion!!!  


 You like NCL food good for you,  no accounting for taste,  no need to be rude to other people on here.  If you want to get rude CC is a great place for that.


The question was "How often do you dine in a specialty restaurant on a cruise, if at all?  Are the meals worth the extra cost?"   I answered for myself,  not for you. 

Contributor Level: Captain

I wasn't attacking you. Sorry if you felt that way.

Contributor Level: Captain

I've only eaten once in a specialty restaurant -- the Italian one on Carnival (lunch is free).

Although it was delicious, I couldn't justify an extra $25 dollars for it considering the MDR.

Of course my taste buds have drastically changed from living too long on the US/Mex border.


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