Even the healthiest cruisers sometimes crave the juicy beef and tasty toppings afforded by a great hamburger. That's why we've decided to call out cruise lines that boast the best burgers the industry has to offer. Some are free, and some require you to hand over a bit of extra dough, but all are superb. (Don't worry, vegetarians; there are some options for you, too.)
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Updated October 10, 2019
1. The Ernesto, Princess Cruises
The Burger: The Ernesto is a mouthwatering concoction found on the menu at the Salty Dog Gastropub, which shares space with the Wheelhouse Bar on select Princess ships, as well as the Salty Dog Grill on Caribbean Princess. Named for celebrity chef Ernesto Uchimura -- the creator of the gastropub's menu -- this swanky and savory burger encompasses a ground rib-eye and short rib patty, grilled pork belly, gruyere cheese, caramelized kimchi, beer-battered jalapenos, charred onion aioli, salt and pepper on a brioche bun.
The Cost: Dining at the gastropub will set you back $19 per person. The price includes a starter of breadsticks with cheese dipping sauce and three small plates. The plates are chosen from a list of a dozen items, including The Ernesto. A choice of truffle-parmesan or sweet potato fries accompanies all selections. At the Salty Dog Grill, while the venue itself is free, the Ernesto burger will cost you $5 ($8, if paired with a beer).
2. Pool Grill Burgers, Viking Ocean Cruises
The Burgers: At the Pool Grill on all its ships, Viking Ocean Cruises offers four varieties of burgers (one veggie burger and three made with Black Angus beef) that will make you salivate. The Viking Burger features cheddar cheese, red onion marmalade, bacon and barbecue sauce; the Pancho Villa Burger comes with arugula, blue cheese, guacamole and spicy habanero mayo; the Pastrami King's burger is dressed with pastrami and double American cheese; and the Veggie Burger offers a selection of cheese, roasted red peppers, red onion marmalade, guacamole and alfalfa. Chili fries are also available.
The Cost: They're free.
3. The Pinnacle Burger, Holland America Line
The Burger: The Pinnacle Burger -- the sinful melding of a burger with bacon jam, garlic chipotle aioli, cheddar cheese, red onions and avocado -- is found on the lunch menu at the Pinnacle Grill aboard all Holland America ships. As do most spectacular burgers, this steakhouse specialty comes with fries.
The Cost: Lunch at Pinnacle Grill will cost you $10 per person.
4. Guy's Burger Joint Burgers, Carnival Cruise Line
The Burgers: Guy's Burger Joint, a pool deck establishment, serves up patties in five set varieties: the Plain Jane, a basic cheeseburger; the Ringer, a cheeseburger with an onion ring; the Straight Up, which includes special sauce, lettuce and tomato; the Piggy Patty, featuring a beef burger and a second patty made entirely of bacon; and Chillius Maximus, a burger with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and, of course, chili. Warning: They're as greasy and potentially heart attack-inducing as they sound.
Those who don't like any of the menu options can order a plain burger and dress it themselves at a generously outfitted toppings bar. Unlimited fries are also available for the taking. (Guy's also has a delicious veggie burger; you just have to ask for it.)
The Cost: They're free.
5. Jamie's Italian Burger, Royal Caribbean
The Burger: A burger might not be the first meal you think of at an Italian restaurant, but it's a popular item at Jamie's Italian restaurant on Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas. Created by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, the burger consists of prime chuck and flank steak, smoked mozzarella, mortadella, balsamic onions, tomato, pickles & chilies, served in a charred bun. We recommend it with a side of Jamie's famous polenta chips, with rosemary salt and parmesan.
The Cost: Dining at Jamie's Italian costs $20 to $25 for lunch and $35 to $45 for dinner (depending on the ship); the cover charge includes everything on the menu.
6. Black Angus Burgers, Oceania Cruises
The Burgers: Oceania, renowned for its phenomenal cuisine, offers five Black Angus burgers, two fish burgers and a veggie burger at Waves Grill, found on all ships in the fleet. The Classic simply comes with a choice of Swiss or American cheese; The Texan boasts cheddar cheese, grilled red onions, bacon and bourbon-barbecue sauce; The Swiss offers Swiss cheese and garlic-sauteed mushrooms; The Romano includes provolone cheese, roasted peppers and pesto on ciabatta bread; and The Kobe Burger consists of Wagyu beef, black truffle sauce and baby cress.
Rounding out the menu are The Alaskan, a salmon burger with bearnaise tartar sauce and spicy slaw; The Maguro, which is soy- and ginger-marinated ahi tuna with wasabi-garlic mayo; and The Grilled Veggie Burger is self-explanatory, but it's covered in Caribbean mango salsa. All burgers are also topped with lettuce and tomato and come with fries.
The Cost: They're free.
7. The Napa Burger, Seabourn Cruise Line
The Burger: Developed by Michelin-starred chef and Seabourn partner Thomas Keller, this decadent burger is made with a high-quality RR Ranch beef and pork patty, five-year aged Wisconsin cheddar cheese and Thousand Island dressing made in house -- all packed into a potato brioche bun with the freshest fixings (lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles).
Unlike Keller's land-based restaurants such as The French Laundry and Per Se, you don't have to sign up for a waiting list or pay hundreds of dollars to get into The Patio. All it takes to indulge in the Napa Burger is booking a cruise and sitting yourself down by the pool at the The Patio grill.
The Cost: It's free.