Food is at the center of many memories made while you’re on vacation, and there are plenty of opportunities for such moments on a cruise. Whether you’re into discovering new cuisines or bonding with family over a good meal—or both—you’ll have a variety of restaurants, bars and lounges to choose from on Royal Caribbean ships. From casual Mexican street fare like tacos and burritos at El Loco Fresh to authentic Italian dishes at Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, to fresh sushi, sashimi and hibachi at Izumi, as well as a lineup of vegetarian and vegan options, there’s something for everyone.
Wondering where to begin? To share a taste of what you can look forward to on board, our crew members have dished on their favorite menu items and insider tips.
Read on for the top seven picks, ranging from Asian-inspired flavors to sweet endings you won’t want to miss:
Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura — Izumi
Akil Pascall, technical stage staff, Voyager of the Seas — Instagram: @kontar868
Izumi serves up fresh sushi and sashimi, though, another highlight is watching the chefs prepare delicious dishes cooked in the traditional teppanyaki style, such as a combination of beef tenderloin and tiger shrimp, or sea scallops and lobster. One of the restaurant’s most popular appetizers, however, is the crispy shrimp and vegetable tempura that is served with a sweet and savory dipping sauce.
“The reason I like the shrimp and vegetable tempura dish is the way it’s prepared, the taste and the sauces—not to mention the amazing service that comes with it.”
Where to find it: Several ships, including Odyssey, Navigator and Wonder of the Seas
Crispy Goat Cheese Salad — Chops Grille
Neil Costa, activities manager, Quantum of the Seas — Instagram: @neilfrombrazil
Chops Grille’s crispy goat cheese salad is topped with green apples, candied walnuts and balsamic dressing. Also keep an eye out for other popular dishes at this American-style steakhouse, like the beef carpaccio, the tender steak and the signature gruyere cheese Tater Tots and truffle French fries.
“As a big fan of salads, I’m always looking for the perfect one. The crispy goat cheese on top makes me look no further. My tip: Ask for double the cheese!”
Where to find it: Most ships, including Anthem, Freedom and Symphony of the Seas
Creamy Penne Carbonara — Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver
Kent Wyckoff, broadcast technician, Mariner of the Seas — Instagram: @vacationkent
Jamie’s Italian, by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, is all about Tuscan-inspired cuisine. The creamy penne carbonara, made with pancetta, egg, cracked black pepper and parmesan, is a favorite.
“If you are a pasta lover, you can’t skip the penne carbonara at Jamie’s Italian. You could just eat their handmade pasta plain and be blown away, but the [carbonara] sauce will make your stomach find room you didn’t know existed.”
Pro tip: Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, Royal Caribbean’s authentic Italian trattoria, is another great option for a taste of Italy. The restaurant serves up classics with a twist, along with a robust list of wines from around the world that are available by the glass — and several by the bottle, of course.
Where to find it: On board Harmony, Quantum, Mariner, Ovation of the Seas and more ships
The World — Wonderland
Edmar Pineda, youth staff, Odyssey of the Seas — Instagram: @edpineda_
The World—a dark chocolate shell filled with peanut butter ganache—is a must-eat treat at Wonderland, an imaginative restaurant where dishes are as beautiful as they are delicious and the menu is based around the themes of Earth, Fire, Ice, Sea and Sun. For example, if you like spicy, smoky flavors, look to dishes in the Fire section, such as crispy shrimp kataifi made with scotch bonnet pepper. The Ice section has more cool and refreshing fare, like tuna sashimi, while the Sea and Earth sections feature heartier meals like pork belly.
“The World is my absolute favorite. I am not a big fan of sweets, but this is an exception. Everything in the dish complements the overall taste. The texture, sweetness and contrast of every flavor make each meal worthy of every bite—not to mention the magic that happens when they pour the caramel on top and the chocolate melts.”
Where to find it: Ships like Quantum, Symphony and Wonder of the Seas
Buffalo Wings — Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade
Naveneet Sharma, deck supervisor, Freedom of the Seas — Instagram: @navneetaha
Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade lets you catch any game on its dozens of screens while enjoying one of many icy-cold beers and a menu of game-day favorites like burgers and nachos. Their wings are especially popular, as Playmakers serves buffalo, barbecue and Jamaican jerk wings made as spicy or mild as you like and served with either blue cheese or ranch as well as celery and carrots.
“I love the savory and spicy aspects of the wings coming together perfectly.”
Pro tip: Get the Touchdown Sundae for dessert—scoops of ice cream drizzled in chocolate and caramel sauce and housed inside a football helmet bowl that you can keep.
Where to find it: Oasis, Odyssey and Freedom of the Seas, to name a few
Beef Carpaccio — Chops Grille
Charly D’Carlo, cruise staff, Navigator of the Seas — Instagram: @the.magic.factor
Along with the crispy goat cheese salad, one of the most popular appetizers at Chops Grille is the thin-sliced, charred beef carpaccio, which is served rare with fresh arugula, parmesan and a truffle-mustard dressing.
“I enjoy the texture and combination of flavors. It’s a special dish for special occasions, too.”
Where to find it: Most ships, including Navigator, Allure and Wonder of the Seas
Campfire Cookie — Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade
Samantha Grassano, head stage staff, Wonder of the Seas — Instagram: @manthgrassano
The campfire cookie at Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade is a chocolate chip cookie topped with marshmallows and melted chocolate. Naturally, they can come with milk shooters, too.
“The campfire cookie is one of my favorite dishes. I love the taste of the melted chocolate and marshmallow together. The perfect treat at the end of the day!”
Where to find it: Freedom, Navigator and Mariner of the Seas, and several others
These dishes are just a glimpse of what you can discover on a Royal Caribbean cruise. To experience the many restaurants, bars and lounges for yourself, find your next getaway here.