While you’re fast asleep on your next cruise, teams of pastry chefs are hard at work creating the best cruise ship desserts to tempt your tastebuds, from the perfect slice of chocolate cake to dessert that arrives at your table on fire.
It all adds up to a sweet ending to some of the best meals you’ve probably had this year. Trust us when we say that when you’re on a cruise, you’re going to want to save some room for that ultra-decadent dessert.
Here are nine best cruise ship desserts worth the caloric splurge at sea.
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 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.
Your first clue that you’re in for something special is the silky dripping chocolate backdrop on board some MSC Cruises' ships at Venchi 1878, a signature venue for the line. Italian chocolatiers create mouth-watering truffles, slabs of fudge, and even chocolate sculpture, not to mention 22 house-made gelato flavors. Order up a Suprema Gelato cup, a sundae made with Venchi cream, hazelnut and Cuor di Cacao gelato, whipped cream and melted gianduiotto (hazelnut-flavored chocolate), for the ultimate treat.
When the "bomb" drops on Scenic Eclipse, everyone cheers. Because in this case, it’s a Chocolate Bomb signaling the end of a delightful Chef’s Table experience for 10 lucky cruisers, after they’ve traveled through 10 wine-paired courses (the meal takes up to three days to prepare). The dessert starts with a plating of hot chocolate lava cakes, raspberry and mango gel, hot vanilla sauce, yuzu marshmallows, and caramelized nuts. The "bomb" is salty chocolate mousse and other hidden treats inside a chocolate shell. The result is messy -- and delicious.
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, and is a staple of the line's dessert offerings. 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).
Princess Cruises offers several ways for cruisers to indulge in chocolatey creations, (think: milk chocolate peanut butter bar; heart-shaped raspberry chocolate mousse; and chocolate tiramisu), but one that has always captivated fans has been the Flourless Chocolate Cake, a dense, fudgy treat served with steeped berries and Chantilly cream for a decadent finish to your meal (ideally paired with a hot cup of coffee).
The Decadent Brownie S'more Coupe at Coco's, a creperie and sweet shop found only on Norwegian Cruise Line's 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 meringue 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.
We love a good theme menu, and Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, Disney Wish, is no stranger to ensuring that every aspect of your meal on board two new restaurant additions to the fleet’s complimentary rotational dining (Worlds of Marvel and Frozen) enhances the storytelling that unfolds while you enjoy each course. One of our favorite examples of that happens at the end of "Avengers: Quantum Encounter" inside Worlds of Marvel. During the course of the meal, you are recruited to help Ant-Man battle the bad guy Ultron, while journeying through the catalog of high-tech Pym Technologies. We won’t completely spoil the surprise dessert finale, but just know that the red velvet cupcake that arrives at the end hasn’t escaped the supersizing rays of your tableside Quantum Core.
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's 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' Prime 7 restaurant 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.
Head to Royal Caribbean’s Wonderland specialty dining restaurant on board select ships (Wonder of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, and Anthem of the Seas) to experience a truly unique spin on cruise ship cuisine. The sense of quirkiness and whimsy extends to the dessert course, during which we highly recommend ordering The World, which arrives at your table in chocolate sphere form. Hot caramel is then drizzled over the sphere revealing salted caramel ice cream topped with chocolate mousse and peanut butter ganache. It’s a surprise worth waiting for.