The 10 Best Cruises for Food

Global Tastemakers is our first-ever reader’s choice awards, celebrating the best culinary destinations in the U.S. and abroad. F&W readers voted based on travel completed within the past three years, on categories including restaurants and bars, cities, hotels, airports, airlines, and cruises. Due to the limitations of pandemic travel, this year’s Global Tastemakers winners reflect a smaller portion of the globe. In many categories, we’re including an editor’s pick to shout out some more culinary destinations in places you can’t miss. See all the winners at

Gone are the days when all-you-can-eat buffets dominated cruise ships. More and more, cruise lines are creating smaller specialty restaurants that offer guests a diverse variety of cuisines and hands-on experiences. The best cruise lines are ensuring quality dining onboard. Some have menus developed by celebrity chefs, while others are doing away with rigid mealtimes and making it easier for guests to eat whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want. 

When voting in our inaugural Global Tastemakers survey for the best cruises for food, our readers rewarded cruise lines placing quality above all else. Mid-size ships claimed the top three spots, and the No. 4 spot went to a river cruise company with a wealth of wine-focused itineraries in Europe. Nos. 5 to 10 are large and mega-ships where the number of onboard drinking and dining outlets ensure that there’s something to satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Below, the full list of the ten best cruises for food. 
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Dining area on a Viking cruise ship
Award-winning company Viking consistently ranks among the best for both ocean and river cruises. Known for engaging itineraries designed for inquisitive travelers, Viking is also known for the consistent quality across all of its ships, especially in the culinary department. Its ocean cruises have eight different food and beverage outlets, ranging from the Restaurant (its main dining venue serving regional cuisine and international classics) to the Wintergarden serving afternoon tea with live music by a string quartet. Every ship has an onboard herb garden, and ocean cruises have cooking classes onboard. And Viking never upcharges guests for its more upscale restaurants.

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Regent Seven Seas Cruises
A meal on a Regent Seven Seas cruise ship
Beloved by industry experts and travelers alike, Regent Seven Seas Cruises has truly all-inclusive rates that include gourmet dining, unlimited beverages, and unlimited shore excursions, which might take the form of market tours with the chef, wine tastings, and more. Every ship has Compass Rose, the largest restaurant onboard the fleet, as well as the elegant steakhouse Prime 7 and the buffet restaurant, La Veranda, which transforms into a casual Italian restaurant in the evenings, and the Pool Grill. Select ships also have a French restaurant and a pan-Asian restaurant.

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Oceania Cruises
Dining on Oceania Cruises
Legendary chef Jacques Pépin is the executive culinary director for Oceania Cruises, and the executive chefs have star-studded resumes peppered with experience at the world’s top hotels and restaurants, so you can rest assured that quality is the brand’s top priority. In addition to the Grand Dining Room — inspired by Europe’s five-star hotels — all ships have the Terrace Café for informal dining, Waves Grill for al fresco dining, afternoon tea, and a coffee bar serving Illy coffee. Select ships also have specialty restaurants that serve Italian cuisine, bold Asian cuisine, steakhouse staples, inventive American cuisine, French cuisine by Jacques Pépin, and more.

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Food on an AmaWaterways cruise
In addition to general interest river cruises in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America, AmaWaterways is known for an extensive selection of wine cruises that bring travelers to Burgundy, Bordeaux, Provence, and other wine regions in Europe. Naturally, guests enjoy regional wine pairings with lunch and dinner, which are served either in the main restaurant or at the chef’s table. Snacks are available between meals at the main lounge. All of the European ships are members of the prestigious Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, a gastronomic society founded in Paris.

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Princess Cruises
Princess cruise ship
With cruises going to North and South America, Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, the South Pacific, and the Caribbean, Princess has a wide variety of ships and itineraries. In addition to the main dining room, specialty restaurants serving an array of cuisines, like French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, steakhouse, and New Orleans-style seafood are available for an extra charge. Princess also recently introduced OceanNow, which lets guests order food and drinks delivered to them wherever they are through an app or stateroom TV.

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Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Prima cruise ship 
Norwegian’s fleet sails pretty much all over the world, with destinations including the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Aegean, the Pacific, and beyond. It’s notable for its “Freestyle Dining” concept, which lets guests eat anytime, anywhere, without fixed dining times or assigned seating. Options range from the three main dining rooms, wide-ranging buffet, and 24-hour eatery, in addition to specialty dining, where guests can enjoy Mexican tacos, Brazilian meats, Texas BBQ, Spanish tapas, and more.

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Disney Cruise Line
Dining area on a Disney Cruise ship
A favorite among families with young children, Disney Cruises also caters to adults traveling without kids by offering adults-only pools, nightlife, and specialty restaurants. All of the ships have different dining venues, ranging from the elegant 1923 — named for the year the Walt Disney Company was founded — to character-themed dinings, like the Royal Tea Court, where kids can enjoy a tea party in the company of Disney princesses. Kids — and let’s be honest, adults — love the unlimited soft serve ice cream. There’s also 24-hour room service and late-night snacks in the adult nightclubs and lounges.

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Holland America Line
Dining room on a Holland America Line ship
A team of six world-class chefs — Rudi Sodamin, Ethan Stowell, David Burke, Jacques Torres, Jonnie Boer, and Andy Matsuda — form the Culinary Council that advises the culinary direction of Holland America’s ships. The chefs’ influence can be felt everywhere from the flagship Dining Room to the specialty restaurants like Pinnacle Grill, which serves steakhouse recipes by David Burke, Rudi’s Sel de Mer, and sushi master Andy Matsuda’s Nama Sushi. It’s also worth noting that Holland America is the only cruise line with Alaska seafood certified sustainable by the Responsible Fisheries Management.

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Celebrity Cruises
The Celebrity Beyond cruise ship
Celebrity positions itself as a relaxed luxury resort at sea, with entertainment, pools, a spa, and diverse drinking and dining outlets. From its four Main Restaurants, Cyprus, Normandie, Tuscan, and Cosmopolitan, you'll find plenty of delicious options to satisfy your taste buds, while its specialty dining venues offer something exceptional, too, including Le Grand Bistro, serving meals inspired by classic French bistros. Guests of the all-suite Retreat also get exclusive access to Luminae, which serves dishes by its Brand Culinary Ambassador, Daniel Boulud.

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Royal Caribbean International
Dining on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship
Despite its name, Royal Caribbean goes far beyond the Caribbean, with sailings to Alaska, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, Asia, and Canada. The massive ships have a suitably huge variety of onboard dining options. Highlights include Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver, meat and seafood grilled right before your eyes at Teppanyaki, modern American at 150 Central Park, and a globally-inspired buffet at Windjammer. There are plenty of kid-friendly options, like Johnny Rocket’s, as well as bars like a Latin-themed club with a live band playing salsa, merengue, samba, and cumbia.

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