10 Top Cruises for Food and Drinks, According to the Experts

Dining while cruising has never tasted better. Onboard restaurants can match land-based eateries in sophistication and style, with chefs as driven by seasonal ingredients as their peers ashore. The 2024 Global Tastemakers, selected by food and travel journalists this year, favor luxury ocean lines, which invest heavily in food and wine, yet also embrace expedition ships and riverboats. All operate small vessels by today’s standards; kitchen crews can more readily cook with artistry and ingenuity for fewer passengers. 

These Tastemakers share passion and vision; they’re reshaping shipboard norms by introducing dining venues and cuisines rarely spotlighted at sea, such as Virgin Voyages, with a Korean barbecue restaurant among 20 complimentary eateries. Global Tastemakers are also offering more adventurous culinary classes and shore excursions. Silversea, the winner, scores for its multifaceted S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) program, devoted to the sailing region’s food and beverages. Crystal (formerly Crystal Cruises) reclaims its stellar reputation from its prior incarnation, including a renewed partnership with iconic chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Regent Seven Seas Cruises debuted a glam new ship and elevated menus fleetwide, with novel dishes inspired by the culinary team’s extensive research trips. As this year unfolds, expect even more allures: On HX (formerly Hurtigruten Expeditions), local chefs on some itineraries may hop onboard to cook regional specialties. Oceania Cruises debuts both a Culinary Masters Cruise hosted by two Master Chefs of France, and the highly anticipated Editor’s Cruise, with Hunter Lewis, Food + Wine’s editor-in-chief. These are the best cruises for food and drinks.

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Winner: Silversea
A dining room with a water view on a Silversea
Silversea’s impactful S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) program secures the luxury line’s winning spot. S.A.L.T. Kitchen devotes an entire ever-changing menu to reflect sailing itineraries. S.A.L.T. Lab’s cooking instructors share regional cultural and culinary history with passengers during hands-on classes. In S.A.L.T. Bar, passengers sip locally inspired mixologists’ cocktails. S.A.L.T. shore excursions range from foraging in Puglia to lunching at a hyper-local Lisbon tinned-fish eatery and exploring a Patagonian organic farm. S.A.L.T. outings have proven so successful, Silversea is adding selections.

The Best Cruise Line for Food and Drinks Has an Onboard Test Kitchen
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Crystal Cruises
A dining room with a water view on Crystal Cruises
The brand relaunch of luxurious Crystal Cruises (acquired by A&K Travel Group) now sails as Crystal, with two beautifully remodeled ships, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. Eight distinctive restaurants include Umi Uma, showcasing the inimitable Peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine of Crystal partner, legendary chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Osteria d’Ovidio, named for Crystal’s Italian owner Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, presents poetic plates anchored in simplicity and  primo ingredients, such as lobster in tomato essence with basil olive oil.

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Oceania Cruises
A dish of Toscana Branzino and fettuccini served on a Oceania cruise
This line pursues compelling culinary exploits onboard and ashore, like cooking demonstrations at a Venetian master chef’s private villa or a Latvian “farm to table” experience in which guests shop at a market with the Culinary Center chef before cooking and consuming a Latvian lunch on board. Shipboard chefs are so ingredient-obsessed, they even order custom-milled French flour. Among updates, Oceania has reimagined numerous dishes, highlighting local sourcing. On Marina, Riviera, and Vista, a must-try six-course menu with a Dom Pérignon pairing perpetually marvels.

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An overhead table view of dinner served on a Seabourn cruise
This luxe line debuted modern Mediterranean restaurant Solis on Seabourn Quest as an inspired replacement to Thomas Keller’s Grill, before Seabourn Encore, Ovation, and Sojourn rollouts. Seabourn restaurants may differ stylistically fleetwide, yet never vary in quality. Exemplary venues include Sushi for primo fish; the Restaurant with intricate entrees like carved lamb loin with crisp lamb spring roll; and Earth & Ocean for fine dining al fresco. Consider complimentary caviar and 24-hour in-suite service as bonuses.

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A plated dish served on a Hurtigruten cruise
Hurtigruten (formerly Norwegian Coastal) and HX (formerly Hurtigruten Expeditions) ships explore the world, including polar regions, the Galápagos, the Caribbean, and of course, Norway. Both HX and Hurtigruten aim to serve cuisine as compelling as adventures ashore and feature menus reflecting their Norwegian heritage. Supporting local communities, Hurtigruten relies on some 50 suppliers along the Coastal Express route for about 80% of ingredients, while more than 75% of HX’s ingredients used on Antarctica and Alaska routes are local.

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Regent Seven Seas Cruises
An interior view of a dining room on a Regent cruise
This luxury line’s six ships deliver exemplary dining, with its three newest ships (Seven Seas Grandeur, Splendor, and Explorer) exhibiting boundless flair. Among venues, Prime 7’s juicy steaks, Chartreuse’s French plates, and Pacific Rim’s pan-Asian dishes particularly dazzle. Beyond dining, the hands-on cooking school and Regent’s chef-led Epicurean Explorer Tours are part of the draw. Passengers may market-shop for a paella cooking class and feast on the famed rice-based dish at a seaside eatery in Valencia, Spain.

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Windstar Cruises
An overhead view of entrees, appetizers, and side dishes served on a Windstar cruise
Windstar’s six small ships possess yacht-like vibes, with a culinary direction to match. Chefs eagerly source fresh sustainable ingredients in ports to prepare imaginative dishes. On Star Plus class all-suite ships, Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso packs a modern Spanish punch while Star Grill by Steven Raichlen dishes up aromatic barbecue deckside. Windstar’s James Beard Foundation partnership ensures guest chefs board for demonstrations and dinners; the line also features their recipes on fleet eateries.

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Viking Cruises
A dining deck on a Viking cruise
Viking commands attention on all waters, with riverboats, ocean liners, and expedition ships plying every continent. So many touches sum up Viking’s willingness for menus to reflect itineraries, and regional dishes and wines are a given. Flourishing herb gardens allow riverboat chefs to pluck the freshest herbs to grace dishes daily. On ocean-going vessels, specialty restaurant Manfredi’s excels in Italian cuisine (bistecca alla Fiorentina is legendary), and Mamsen’s triumphs the line’s Nordic heritage — all bow to the signature waffles.

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Virgin Voyages
An overhead view of a steak dinner served on a Virgin cruise
With 20 complimentary eateries, Virgin Voyages allows a younger, perhaps less-traveled, cruiser to sample so many cuisines. This line eschews food halls and buffets, preferring to showcase intimate boîtes, instead. Each possesses an oversized personality and emboldened plates, such as Razzle Dazzle for dishes like black garlic bowtie pasta with fennel braised pork and chanterelles, and Gunbae, knocking it out of the foodpark with complimentary soju shots and Korean barbecue.

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A plated dish from Ama Waterways
AmaWaterways has taken food and wine seriously since its 2002 inception. The line, inducted into La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, finds its culinary cues in its riverboats’ itineraries, selecting local ingredients and intriguing wines like Rieslings from Austria’s Wachau Valley. AmaWaterways’ wine-themed voyages, like Flavors of Burgundy with excursions to Beaune and Mâcon, win consistent praise. Onboard gastronomic pinnacles include the Chef’s Table, a small-group dining adventure where a chef prepares wine-paired multi-course meals before passengers.

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Plus one: The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
A dining room with a water view on a Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection cruise
Exuding an exclusive boutique hotel aura, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection consists of superyacht Evrima, and in September, Ilma debuts, with Luminara arriving in 2025. This line lavishes passengers with attention, elegant design, and superb dining with an international spin. Each yacht offers five restaurants, 24-hour in-suite dining, and six lounges. The wine vault features more than 200 wine labels, with many exclusive red wines and vintages on a private reserve list.

Global Tastemakers is a celebration of the best culinary destinations in the U.S. and abroad. We asked more than 180 food and travel journalists to vote on their favorites, including restaurants and bars, cities, hotels, airports, airlines, and cruises. We then entrusted those results to an expert panel of judges to determine each category’s winners. In many categories, we’ve included a Plus One, hand-selected by our expert panel, to shout out more culinary destinations we don’t want our readers to miss. See all the winners at foodandwine.com/globaltastemakers.

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