Are you a lobster-lover? A crab connoisseur? A fish fanatic? When it comes to seafood, cruises do it right, from casual catch-of-the-day dinners to specially prepared and delivered dishes to satisfy any foodie. Check out our list of eight onboard restaurants that take cruise ship seafood to new culinary heights.
1. Sel de Mer
Experience: This restaurant, whose name means "sea salt" in French, is Holland America's signature seafood brasserie. When possible, chefs choose fresh daily catches from local markets in ports of call. Sample menu items include salted fish, seafood chowder, scallops, crab salad, baked escargot and various types of shellfish including lobster and oysters. On select Holland America ships without the restaurant, Rudi's Sel de Mer pop-ups take place one evening of the cruise (typically in Pinnacle Grill).
Price: Fees apply on an a la carte basis, with appetizers starting at $6. But if you're planning to order a whole meal with wine, the experience can easily set you back $100 or more for two people. Pop-up venues have a set cover charge of $49 per person.
2. Ocean Blue
Ships: Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Joy
Experience: Ocean Blue is a for-fee, sit-down restaurant on select Norwegian ships where passengers will find everything from lobster bisque, crab cakes and calamari to sea scallops, whole lobsters and a variety of crab legs and fish (snapper, sea bass, grouper, sole). All Ocean Blue locations offer a small selection of outdoor seating for those that prefer to dine al fresco.
Price: Prices range from $3.99 for conch chowder to $39.99 for the "Seafood Extravaganza," which includes a whole lobster, king crab legs, clams, mussels and shrimp.
3. Seafood Shack
Ships: Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream, Carnival Panorama, Carnival Magic, Carnival Vista, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Spirit, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Glory, Carnival Horizon, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Sunrise, Carnival Valor, Carnival Victory
Experience: Carnival's alfresco restaurant Seafood Shack, a for-fee venue, offers a menu stocked with clam chowder, lobster rolls, crab cake sliders and fish 'n' chips, and, in a unique twist, passengers can even order fresh fish, prepared to their liking and delivered to any restaurant onboard. On Australia's Carnival Spirit, the venue is located in a smaller area of the buffet and called Seafood Corner, but it has the same menu and local prawns from Sydney's fish market.
Price: Prices are a la carte and range from $4 for clam chowder in a bread bowl to "market price" for items such as individual oysters, and lobster, crab and shrimp by the pound.
Experience: Modern decor embraces the tradition of New England seafood in Hooked, Royal Caribbean's only dedicated seafood restaurant. A beautiful raw bar is the focal point of the room, offering shooters and oysters picked up in local ports. From the lobster roll to the Boston cream pie, the menu sticks to its New England inspiration while still offering upscale seafood dishes like surf and turf. The crowd favorite, however, goes by the name of the messy fish sandwich. If you like a good cocktail, don't miss the signature drink, the Saint Peter's Spritzer.
Price: Hooked costs $49.99 per person on Symphony of the Seas and $39.99 per person on Navigator of the Seas, with upcharges for select menu items like a whole Maine lobster.
5. Ocean Cay
Experience: MSC's seafood restaurant, which debuted on MSC Seaside, features ocean views and an elevated take on nautical decor. The food is the true highlight, and diners can expect options like rockfish soup, linguini with white wine and clams, oysters and soft-shell crabs onboard Seaside. The crowning dish is a fresh, 25-ounce salt-crusted Mediterranean sea bass ($60). On Seaview and Meraviglia, the menu was created in partnership with Spanish chef Ramon Freixa. The option to pay a cover or order per item gives diners the freedom to customize their experience.
Price: Ocean Cay is $50 per person for a prix fixe menu or priced per item, a la carte.
6. The World Cafe
Ships: Fleetwide on Viking Ocean Cruises
Experience: It's not often you hear of a cruise ship's buffet being called out for exceptional seafood, but Viking Ocean Cruises has changed the game. The spread includes jumbo shrimp, crab legs and sushi nightly.
Price: It's free.
7. Prime 7
Ships: Fleetwide on Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Experience: This restaurant is known as a steakhouse, but seafood-lovers will find plenty to indulge in as well. Menu items include ahi tuna, jumbo lump crab cakes, clam chowder, lobster tail, king crab legs, and surf and turf.
Price: It's free.
Ships: Paul Gauguin
Experience: Paul Gauguin Cruises's only vessel, the namesake Paul Gauguin, sails Tahiti itineraries, giving passengers access to some of the freshest fish at sea. When possible, the chef ventures into port to bring back the catch of the day, which often shows up on the menu at L'Etoile, the ship's main dining room.
Price: It's free.