VLOGS AND BLOGS
IS CRUISE SHIP FOOD GOOD?
SO MUCH MORE THAN A BUFFET
Food on a cruise ship is so much more than the buffet, despite what our friends and families assumed before we boarded. Ask anyone who’s actually taken a cruise though, they’ll tell you all about the amazingness of their time at sea! If you’re curious to find out the real details about food on a cruise, you’ve come to the right place — we’re here to help… and eat.
We’ve just wrapped up 7 days of filming onboard with Princess Cruises and found ourselves disembarking feeling pleasantly surprised, and a few kilos heavier — you can see all our YouTube videos here. Food is obviously a subjective thing, and it will vary from ship to ship, but the options and quality on the Sapphire Princess blew our expectations out of the water.
Before we take you on this culinary journey, we thought we’d explain how it all worked on the ship. There’s an extensive list of dining options that are included in the full-board cruise fare, plus a few basic drinks like water, tea and filter coffee. To be honest, if you split your time between the main dining room and the buffet you probably wouldn’t need to spend a cent. However, if you’re feeling a little fancy and want to splash out, you can purchase a drinks package (for alcohol and soft drinks) and/or book a table at a specialty restaurant for an additional fee. No surprises we went for the second option on occasions to be sure we had the chance to try everything!
We basically started our day a different way every single morning. On day one we kept things light by popping down to the International Café for coffee and banana bread. Being coffee snobs from New Zealand, we’re pleased to report the flat whites were up to scratch. The ‘lets keep things light’ approach didn’t last long, by day three we found ourselves going wild at the buffet like unaccompanied children. The range of different options here was almost overwhelming. They had everything from traditional Full English to Chinese bok choy porridge. Unsurprisingly, our favourite breakfast option was the Deluxe Balcony Dining that we featured in our cruise food video below. We placed our order the night before and in the morning what showed up at our door was enough pastries, fruit and champagne to feed a small village. Although it cost a little extra, the experience of sitting out on our balcony watching the world go by while we ate ourselves into a food coma was second to none.
Unlike breakfast, lunch became pretty consistent each day. If you’ve been following our journey for a while, no doubt you’ll be aware of Stacey’s pizza addiction. This addiction was definitely made worse while onboard due to the hand tossed, fresh pepperoni pizza conveniently located about 5 steps from our stateroom door. Prego Pizzeria was part of the included dining options so not only did it feel like it was free, it was also unlimited. We also often found ourselves eating lunch on land having signed up for shore excursions, so luckily we also got to try some more local experiences in Spain and France which helped make the trip that little bit more authentic as well.
Dinner is definitely where the food stood out the most for us. The most common dining options were the buffet and the main dining room. We selected an 8pm dining time and had a dedicated table number we could return to each night at our assigned dining room. The menu would change every night but there were also some classics that stayed the same, literally everything we ordered was to a high standard of quality and competed with any traditional land based restaurant.
Things lifted up a notch again when we visited the specialty restaurants, our personal favourite was an Italian place called Sabatinis. We paid an additional $29USD per person to enjoy the best meal we had on board. For starters we had fresh olive oil and balsamic with breads, flat bread with prosciutto and crispy bread sticks. For our entrees we went for burrata with a balsamic glaze and calamari. Mains were curtesy of our lovely waiter’s recommendations, fresh hand-made ravioli stuffed with spinach, pumpkin and ricotta and an insanely rich veal dish. We were almost tapped out by dessert and willing to settle for a glass of Limoncello but that clearly disappointed our waiter so we caved and shared an amazing Tiramisu.
Dessert & Drinks
If Tiramisu isn’t your thing, there’s no shortage of other sweet treats to choose from. We would often pretend we were being healthy and say no to dessert at the restaurants then on the way back to our room we’d grab a complimentary ice cream or do a drive-by cookie run at the buffet – there’s something about grabbing food on the go that makes it invisible to your daily calorie count, right? Because we opted for the drinks package our late night snacks were also usually accompanied by a cheeky Espresso Martini or Prosecco. To make matters worse (or better, depending on how you look at it) every night there was a turn down service and we returned to our room to find little peppermint chocolates on your pillow, which it would be rude to not eat.
We can genuinely say we were impressed by the cruise ship food on the Sapphire Princess, in particular the main dining room which is included in your fare. The quality and freshness surprised us, especially given the vast number of passengers on board.
Our least favourite dining option was the buffet, but in all fairness it’s hard to find a Michelin star buffet anywhere in the world and they’re always intended to be a one-size-fits-all solution anyway. Our favourite option was definitely the specialty restaurants, although you pay a little extra, you definitely get your moneys worth. Honourable mentions have to go out to the pizza and cookies too, which as you’ll see in the video, we practically consider these as their own food groups.
If food is something that’s holding you back from booking a cruise, we hope this post makes you think twice, check out the various options Princess Cruises has here. We also hope you have more self control than we did and don’t find yourself wondering where your beach bod went.
* This post was created as part of a sponsored partnership with Princess Cruises. As always, all views & opinions are our own.