Food is to cruising as water is to the ocean. It's essential; a cruise just wouldn't be a cruise without vast amounts of delicious goodies. Although some cruise lines are jumping aboard the health food craze bandwagon, there are still plenty of sinful options available, not the least of which are these nine decadent cruise ship desserts. If you want to make sure your splurge is worth all those calories, read on for our list of the best desserts at sea.
1. Warm Chocolate Melting Cake - Carnival Cruise Line
2. Baba and Gelato - MSC Cruises
3. Norman Love Chocolate Journeys - Princess Cruises
4. Decadent Brownie S'more Coupe - Norwegian Cruise Line
5. Bread and Butter Pudding - Holland America Line
6. Chocolate Buffet - P&O Cruises
7. Cheese Trolley - Oceania Cruises
8. Caramel Popcorn Sundae - Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Carnival Cruise Line
This Carnival Cruise Line staple -- arguably the most famous modern-day cruise ship dessert, perhaps next to baked Alaska -- is available most nights in the main dining rooms on all ships. It's a tiny chocolate cake filled with ooey gooey hot fudge, and served with a side of vanilla ice cream. Try the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake once, and we bet you'll be ordering it again and again throughout your cruise.
MSC is a Mediterranean cruise line, so it's no surprise that it does a great job with its Italian sweets. The baba is certainly no exception. A small cake filled with cream and soaked in liquor, this little dessert -- found in the main dining room on all ships -- packs a big punch. Another exceptional onboard treat that's great for dessert is the authentic Italian gelato. You can really indulge with the Suprema Gelato cup, which is a gelato sundae featuring Venchi cream, hazelnut and Cuor di Cacao gelato, whipped cream and melted giandujotto (hazelnut-flavored chocolate). The baba is free, but gelato costs extra.
Through a fleetwide partnership with renowned chocolatier Norman Love, Princess offers several ways for cruisers to indulge in his chocolatey creations, which include a milk chocolate peanut butter bar; heart-shaped raspberry chocolate mousse; and chocolate tiramisu. Look for special (and complimentary) desserts offered on select main dining room and buffet menus on all ships, as well as in Sabatini's, Sterling Steakhouse, Crown Grill and Bayou Cafe & Steakhouse. Special chocolate and wine pairing events are also available on all ships with Vines Wine Bar for an added cost.
Norwegian Cruise Line
The Decadent Brownie S'more Coupe at Coco's, a creperie and sweet shop found only on Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Encore, is the ultimate indulgence. Double-fudge gelato serves as the base ingredient for the oversized sundae, which also includes fluffy marshmallow cream, graham cracker crumble, brownie pieces and whipped cream. It's topped with toasted merengue and chocolate shavings. The whole thing is put together like a piece of art, served in a glass goblet overflowing with gooey goodness. This one is best shared. Desserts at Coco's, including this one, cost extra.
Holland America Line
It's rare to meet a longtime Holland America fan who hasn't tried the line's legendary bread and butter pudding -- and most will rave about it. The warm, "melt in your mouth" dessert has been around for years. While some argue the recipe has been tweaked over time, one detail remains the same: It's best served with a drizzle of vanilla sauce. Look for the bread and butter pudding in buffet dessert sections across the fleet (tip: sometimes you need to ask for it).
Chocolate lovers on Azamara get not only one dessert, but an entire spread of cocoa confections. Once per cruise, each ship hosts a chocolate buffet -- complete with a flowing chocolate fountain, tiered cakes, doughnuts, truffles and an ice cream sundae station. The sumptuous affair takes place in the upper atrium by the Mosaic Cafe; it can get crowded, so you might need to savor your treats elsewhere. It's worth every calorie, but even if you don't indulge, stop by to at least take in the scene and snap a few photos.
For those who prefer a plate of cheese over cheesecake, nothing beats the trolley in Jacques restaurant on Oceania Marina and Oceania Riviera. Served on a glass-encased marble platter, the cheeses are imported from France and AOC-certified (which guarantees a product's authenticity in terms of style, ingredients and origin). Just remember, don't judge a cheese by its smell!
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Regent's Prime 7 is best known for its USDA prime grade steaks, but luxury cruisers know that the specialty restaurant's caramel popcorn sundae is the dessert to order onboard. Served in a martini-style glass, the dessert features vanilla and chocolate ice cream, topped with Bourbon caramel and dark chocolate sauces, whipped cream, caramel popcorn and salted peanuts. If you're a fan of salty-sweet treats or like a little crunch with your cream, embrace your inner kid and save room for dessert. It's available fleetwide.