Many cruise ships limit their Japanese food offerings to premade rolls of sushi languishing on the buffet. If you want fresh sushi, sashimi, and miso soup prepared on the spot, you'll need to seek out a ship with a dedicated Japanese venue onboard.
Cruise ship sushi restaurants range from casual spaces with simple "quick fix menus" to upscale venues that go beyond the limits of sushi and sashimi with lobster, steak, and other fancy dishes, with some even offering interactive Teppanyaki experiences.
We've narrowed down the eight best places to enjoy sushi at sea. Fresh ingredients and expert preparation make for an unforgettable dining experience; when the craving strikes, these sushi restaurants are bound to satisfy.
Why We Love It: Kaiseki is the dedicated Japanese restaurant onboard Silversea's luxury ships. Lunches here are included, allowing guests to enjoy fresh-made sushi, sashimi and more for free. Dinners require an additional reservation fee, but Kaiseki is a luxurious treat at a reasonable price of $40 per person per reservation. Dinnertime is also when the restaurant offers teppanyaki, a welcome addition for those who prefer fully-cooked meals.
Why We Love It: Serving dinner for $25, Tamarind offers affordable, high-quality sushi and Asian cuisine in an upscale setting and includes rolls created exclusively by Holland America Line Culinary Council member Andy Matsuda. The menu blends flavors from Southeast Asia, China, and Japan and consists of an array of sushi and sashimi options and other regional dishes. A standout dish on the menu is the black pepper crab, which is served with steamed rice and a tangy sauce. For dessert, the mango sticky rice is a must-try. Tamarind also serves up some of our favorite cocktails at sea, such as the spicy jalapeno martini.
Two additional Holland America Line ships, Westerdam and Zuiderdam, offer Tamarind menu selections in the Pinnacle Grill on select voyages.
Ships: Adventure of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Vision of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas.
Why We Love It: Izumi's menu is almost entirely sushi and sashimi -- all prepared in unique ways. Sushi is served by the roll, in assorted combos and bento box-style, which includes a starter and dessert. Sashimi is available as individual pieces, a carpaccio (thinly sliced raw fish on a plate of olive oil and other ingredients), and on hot rocks. The hot rocks are heated to 575 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect for those who prefer their meal cooked. A top recommendation is the miso-marinated black cod, which is melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Edamame and miso soup are complimentary, while the rest of the menu is a la carte. (Roll prices range from $12.) The Izumi venues on Royal Caribbean's four Oasis-class ships and Independence of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas also include hibachi.
Ships: Carnival Breeze, Carnival Celebration, Carnival Dream, Carnival Elation, Carnival Horizon, Carnival Jubilee, Carnival Legend, Mardi Gras, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Panorama, Carnival Pride, Carnival Radiance, Carnival Spirit, Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Sunrise and Carnival Vista.
Why We Love It: Sushi, sake, and impromptu dance parties… there's much to love about Carnival's full-service sushi restaurant. The casual, a la carte venue--open for lunch and dinner as late as midnight-- allows you to create your own meal by checking off options from the menu. Dabble with a $1.50 sashimi piece or splurge on a $22 "ship for two" (miso soup, side salad, and assorted rolls). A favorite menu item is the Carnival Roll, which features tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, and avocado, topped with seared tuna and a tangy sauce.
Intimidated by chopsticks? You're in luck. Each table setting comes with a chork (fork/chopstick combo).
Why We Love It: A lively sushi bar is the heart of Norwegian Cruise Line's Wasabi, a small space with a lot to offer. The menu is basic at first glance, but its three appetizers and assorted sushi, Yakitori and sashimi options are only a starting point for adventurous eaters. If a menu item piques your interest, but you're not keen on one of the ingredients, speak up. The chefs have free rein in the kitchen. They're full of suggestions and eager to customize orders. Prices range from $7 for nigiri to $12 for an uramaki roll.
Why We Love It: During the day, Seabourn's Sushi serves bento boxes with delicious non-sushi options such as chicken teriyaki, miso salmon, and ramen noodles. But at night, the restaurant transforms, and the sushi options are fabulous, with standard offerings like tuna or salmon rolls and specialty rolls, like the dragon maguro or oyako salmon and asparagus roll. Passengers can order sashimi and nigiri, along with delicious small plates that offer items such as hamachi mizore yuzu. Make sure to try the salmon tataki salad, with a spicy creamy wasabi dressing.
Complement your meal with hot or cold sake or try one of the venue's Japanese beers. The restaurant is free; you can eat there as often as you'd like during your cruise.
Why We Love It: This sushi bistro offers regular sushi and sashimi options like maki and mochi. Most rolls fall in the $7-12 range. Try the "Chef's Choice" omakase for a fun experience and a selection of the chef's favorite rolls. Their pricing structure varies, and if you’re an all-you-can-eat sushi fan, you’ll definitely want to choose that option at least once.
Why We Love It: The Kaito Sushi Bar offers a wide range of delicious sushi options for all taste preferences. Their menu features both classic and unique rolls, such as the spicy tuna roll and the tempura shrimp roll. They also offer sashimi and nigiri options, as well as a variety of appetizers and salads. Prices for rolls range from $5-15, and sashimi and nigiri options start at $3 per piece. In addition to its sushi offerings, the Kaito Sushi Bar has a selection of Japanese beer, wine, and sake available to complement the meal.