Why You Should Pay Extra For Specialty Dining on Celebrity Cruises

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Specialty RestaurantsWhen you decide to go on a luxury cruise, you probably already know these two things: That it’s going to be expensive and that what you’re paying so much for is a truly luxury experience that meets all of your expectations.

Celebrity Cruise line delivers on that promise very well. They offer a remarkably luxury experience in every aspect. The ship is undeniably elegant, the staterooms are well-appointed, the bars and lounges are opulent – even the cafe is decked out with modern decor and trendy high-backed chairs. It’s a luxury experience, for sure.

If you’re already expecting to pay for the luxury experience, it would be a real shame if you skimped on the dining experience and didn’t pay a little extra to dine in the specialty restaurants on your Celebrity cruise.

I know that dining outside of the general dining room isn’t a high priority for everyone – the food in the main dining room is already high quality. But imagine spending 12 days eating food from the same menu. It gets boring. Not to mention going to the same dining room, the same table with the same people night after night. 

That’s where specialty dining restaurants add value to your cruise experience. And that is why you shouldn’t shell out all that money for the cruise and then not pay a little bit extra for the diverse, delicious and exciting dining opportunities on board.

>>Wondering if you should splurge for the premium beverage package? We bought the package and did hte math. See our results here.

Specialty Dining for Less

Caeser Salads are made tableside, just the way you want them.
Caeser Salads are made tableside, just the way you want them.

On our Celebrity Cruise, we used our on-board credit to experience all of the specialty restaurants. When we booked, we were given $300 credit with promotion Celebrity was running. Then our travel agent also gave us $175.

Since we already upgraded to the premium beverage package, we didn’t really have anything else to spend that money on except upgrading our dining experiences.

While on board, we were offered deals and discounts at the specialty dining restaurants throughout the cruise. Often, during breakfast or as we returned from our excursions, we were approached by crew members offering deals like 2-for-1 or half off at a particular restaurant. In order to save money, we waited for those opportunities to present themselves before making our dinner reservations. 

You can book a package of specialty dining package on Celebrity before the cruise, but there are restrictions that make it slightly less appealing. You will also miss out on the good deals being offered on board. And remember that you can’t use your on-board credit towards a dining package.

However, if you like to just pay for everything ahead of time and not think about money while on your cruise, the packages are worth looking into. There are 3, 4, and 5-night dining packages. These packages must be booked at least 4 days before your cruise. The first restaurant will be chosen for you, but you can choose the date and time you wish to dine.

>> Is this your first cruise? Read about what we learned when booking our first cruise.

Celebrity’s Specialty Dining Restaurant Choices

Tableside cooking
Tableside cooking at Murano Restaurant

I knew Celebrity was a luxury ship and that they would have great food, but I had no idea there would be so many great restaurants.

First a quick rundown of the options, with descriptions from the cruise website:

Qsine – Awaken your inner foodie on a culinary journey that delivers elements of surprise and delight. Uniquely unordinary.

Tuscan Grille – A celebration of big, bold flavors. This Italian steakhouse features the rustic dishes of Tuscany with a nouveau twist.

Murano – A contemporary take on classic French cuisine. Exquisite fine dining with stellar service in sophisticated surroundings.

Lawn Club Grill – The joys of interactive outdoor grilling with ocean views in an open-air setting overlooking the lush green grass of the Lawn Club. Available on Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Solstice.

Silk Harvest – As the first Asian restaurant in the Celebrity fleet, Silk Harvest takes you on a journey to the Far East, offering authentic Asian hospitality perfectly paired with a contemporary blend of Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Available on Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox.

Eden – Try divine, experiential cuisine at Eden Restaurant to the crescendo of theatrics. Indulge every sense in a space that transforms from chillful mornings to playful afternoons to sinful evenings.

Sushi on Five – A modern take on traditional Japanese cuisine. You can pair your favorite sushi and sake.

The Porch (only open for breakfast and lunch)  – Overlooking the Lawn Club’s cool, green grass, a spot to enjoy freshly-made breakfast or lunch. Featuring quick, simple and fresh food, like soup, salads and panini. Available on Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Reflection.

Blu – The cuisine at Blu is simply an imaginative way of preparing popular dishes without fussiness or pretense. Only for Aqua-Class passengers. 

As you can see, the options are numerous. While not every restaurant listed will be available on every Celebrity ship, there are many great options no matter which ship you’re on.  (Read more about the specialty dining options aboard Reflections.)

I suggest giving them all a try and seeing which you like best. If you’re on a shorter cruise, you may not go back more than once, but on our 12-day cruise we visited each restaurant twice, which spending the remaining nights in the main dining room, which for us was Blu, since we were in the Aqua-Class staterooms.

What to Expect from Specialty Dining Restaurants

Grilling with the Chef at the Lawn Club Grill
Grilling with the Chef at the Lawn Club Grill

Like I mentioned, we went to each specialty dining restaurant twice on our cruise. Each one was quite a bit different, but we found the food to be of a very high quality and standard in each, plus the service was stellar everywhere.

Each restaurant has a sommelier to help you choose wines to pair with your dishes, and they are happy to bring you a different wine with each course. There were plenty of options on the menu to be able to return 2-3 times without ever having the same meal. Though, I must admit that we fell in love with some dishes and couldn’t help but order them again the second time.

So, you can expect to:

  1. Eat really good food
  2. Get really good service
  3. Have a sommelier help guide your wine pairings
  4. Choose 3-4 courses from the extensive menu
  5. Stay for an after-dinner drink
  6. Have a seat with an incredible view

Not too bad for a night out, I’d say!

Warning: Food Porn Photos Ahead!

Here are the photos we took of the food on our Celebrity Silhouette cruise, from each of the specialty restaurants that were available to us.

Qsine

Qsine Restaurant
Qsine Restaurant

Qsine is an interesting concept. It’s really modern and colorful inside, with creative decor like high-back chairs and swirly, colorful plates and glasses. The menu is presented on an iPad where you flip through the descriptions and choose what you’d like to order. It’s a fun, interactive experiences.  Each dish is served family style, too, so you’ll need to confer with your dining mates to decide.

The Food

The food is also very creative. It’s meant to be a fusion of flavors, an unusual delivery, or an interactive dish that you put together yourself at the table. Most of the food was exciting and very good. Some dishes were a miss, but hey – you can order what ever and however much you want, so if you don’t like a dish, just push it aside and try a different one.

Tuscan Grille

The entrance to Tuscan Grille
The entrance to Tuscan Grille

My favorite of all the restaurants was Tuscan Grille. It wasn’t only because of the food, though it was incredible, it was also due to the service we received there. We had three different waiters, but we loved them all. And the sommelier always introduced us to something new to pair with our dishes.

The Food

Tuscan is really just a solid Italian restaurant, serving many of the classic dishes you really want from a good Italian spot. We kept going back for the lasagna, which was rich, creamy, cheesy goodness. And we always had the tableside Caeser salad with anchovies on top. They mixed it up just right.

Another of my favorite things about Tuscan Grille is that they had limoncello to serve as an after-dinner drink.

Murano

Tableside cooking
Tableside cooking

The only actual fine-dining, white tablecloth restaurant on the ship is Murano. It’s a French steakhouse, serving sizzling cuts of beef, classic French dishes like mushroom soup and lobster bisque, along with some great show cooking and a cheese cart. We only wanted to visit Murano once because it was the most expensive of the restaurants and the fanciest, so we dined there on one of the three formal nights.

The Food

The food was all very good. I ordered the lobster dish, which was cooked flambe tableside. It was fun to watch, but the dish was too creamy and rich without pasta. Also, sadly, the restaurant is very dark inside. It’s the only restaurant that doesn’t really have any windows or view. So my pictures all had to be lightened and that always makes things look a little funny (sorry about that!).

Lawn Club Grill

The Lawn Club Grill
The Lawn Club Grill

Most of the time on our cruise, the weather wasn’t really nice enough to enjoy the rooftop lawn on the Celebrity Silhouette. It was beautiful up there, but because of the incessant wind, it was also mostly deserted. The Lawn Club Grill is located in the middle of the lawn, so it was relatively empty the night we visited, which was okay with us because the fun of the Lawn Club Grill is being about to make your own food, if you wish. And we did.

The Food

First you go through the salad bar options and pick out the toppings for your flatbread (which more resembles pizza, I believe). Then you toss the crust for the pizza, dress it up and get it in the oven. Then you choose your meats to grill and take turns seasoning, grilling, flipping and otherwise tending to the grilling. It’s really quite fun. We had the attention of the entire staff, so it was even more engaging and fun.

Blu Restaurant

Blu Restaurant
Blu Restaurant

One of the only restaurants that caters entirely to passengers in a specific class of stateroom, Blu Restaurant is reserved for Aqua-class guests only. It is the alternative to the main dining room for aqua-class, so there is no up-charge. I’m including this restaurant only because I obviously want to entice you to choose aqua class so you can dine there.

Blu Menu
Blu Menu

The menu changes at Blu every day. It features more of a low-calorie option for dining than you will find in any of the other restaurants, so if you’re trying to be health-conscious  or just wan to avoid the heavy foods that cause vacation weigh gain, Blu is the right place.

The Food

I really liked the food choices at Blu. There were an abundance of options and everything looked enticing on the menu. The only problem was that it lacked flavor in most cases. I had to add salt to almost everything, and sometimes even then the taste fell a little flat. I know they do that on purpose, but I don’t think that health-conscious should also mean flavorless. Nonetheless, the food was gorgeous and always made us excited and hungry.

CONCLUSION

If I haven’t managed to pique your interest in the specialty dining on Celebrity Cruises, I think you’re probably one of those people who just don’t care much about the food. You can’t be swayed. It’s okay. More room for the rest of us!

Have you been on a Celebrity Cruise and dined in any of these fabulous restaurants? Which one did you like the most? If you’re going on a Celebrity cruise in the near future, I hope you are prepared for all the delicious food you’re in for! It’s going to be a great trip.

Why You Should Pay Extra For Specialty Dining on Celebrity Cruises

35 thoughts on “Why You Should Pay Extra For Specialty Dining on Celebrity Cruises

  1. Eleanor Lamdin says:

    Thank you Laura for your hints on Celebrity dining. I know Celebrity is an experience but I will certainly recommend my clients take up the specialty dining options offered on board.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      That’s great, Eleanor! I’m sure some folks don’t know what it’s like and think it’s just another expense. But it’s definitely worth it to make your experience even more special.

  2. Andrea Leblang says:

    Your post made me hungry! I completely agree with you – the perks make the experience well worth it. I especially like having a sommelier help with wine pairings. Wonderful post!

  3. chrysoula says:

    I have never been on a multi day cruise. Your post is very enlightening and love your photos the food looks so tasty you just made me hungry. Thanks for the useful info!

  4. Fiona @ London-Unattached says:

    I’ve never been on a Celebrity Cruise, but I have tried some of the food at food festivals in the UK. And, some of it is quite amazing – worthy of a top restaurant in Lonodn. So I do believe your review

    • Laura Lynch says:

      I bought Celebrity’s cookbook and have loved just looking at the photos and trying to recreate everything at home. They have really great chefs and their food is definitely as good as any top London restaurant.

  5. Mel Jones says:

    Laura this sounds divine! I’ve never been on a luxury cruise but I hope I’ll get the chance, you’re so lucky! 😀 This would be great for a honeymoon, relaxing and eating lots of scrumptious food, with so many different options to choose from what more could you want? 🙂

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Very true, Mel. It’s perfect for a honeymoon or anniversary. Everything is taken care of for you so all you have to do is relax and enjoy.

  6. Kimberly Erin @ Walkaboot.ca says:

    this looks so freaking lovely! I have never been on a cruise, it doesnt much fit my backpacker budget ahaha but maybe some day. It looks delicious, lovely and oh so special though

  7. Jennifer says:

    I’ve only been on one cruise and agree that having a choice of where to eat and to be able to get just a table for 2 is probably worth the expense if you are looking for a luxury experience. The food looks fantastic.

  8. Elena says:

    Now I am hungry! I’ve been wanting to take a Celebrity Cruise – having heard such great things – these are great trips. I’d definitely opt for the specialty dining.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Hopefully you’ll make it on a Celebrity cruise soon and can check it out for yourself. It’s a great cruise line and the food is just outstanding.

  9. Mia says:

    I love this idea! I’ve only been on one cruise and we didn’t upgrade the meals but the restaurants looked really good. I work in the airline industry and can usually get balcony rooms on the 5 day cruise for about $200-$300 so next time I will definitely upgrade the meals. The restaurant Blu is so pretty, hope I get to eat there.

  10. Francesca @onegrloneworld says:

    Anything that manages to get devoured before a photo can be taken – that’s a really good sign! I’m sold on specialty dining 😀

  11. Linz says:

    I don’t know where you get the idea that Celebrity is classed as a luxury ship, it is not in that category.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      It’s classified in the Premium category, but many people consider it a luxury experience, which it rightfully is.

  12. CC Marks says:

    April 2017 – 7-day Western Caribbean – The Specialty Dining package on our Silhouette cruise was a great purchase and each night was a wonderful and romantic experiences. Rather than being shoehorned into a two-top with a couple next to us on each side with tables less than 3 inches away in the main dining room, we choose 6 nights of fine dining in very civilized atmospheres where we weren’t forced to hear every conversation to each side of our table.
    We ended up dining two nights at both the LawnClub Grill and at the Tuscan Grill with these being our obvious favorites. Great service, knowledgeable staff and tremendous food and matching wines made these visits quite noteworthy. And we could not say enough about the killer deserts offered everywhere.
    The caloric intake was dramatic…and time spent in the fitness center and walking the track could not keep up.
    I strongly recommend everyone at least add a 3-night dining program before you leave. Then go to main dining room on the first evening and see if you ever want to return. Maybe it will be just fine for you and I trust it might have better for us if we had traveled with a group worthy of a 6 or 8-top table together. But if you seek an intimate dining experience for 2…good luck fulfilling that need in the main dining restaurant.

    It was an very good experience on CELEBRITY…top drawer everywhere we went….

    They really have it down to a science!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      That’s fantastic! We felt the same way about the restaurants. Lawn Club and Tuscan were also our favorites. We went back more than once to each. Looks like your experience was very similar to ours. Glad you had a good time!

  13. cooper says:

    Looks amazing the celebrities dining & also the food looks delicious………similar kind of luxury in dining can be seen in Bahamas Paradise. Varieties of cuisines and the interior arrangement is outstanding

  14. Ken Priban says:

    Will miss the ultimate dining package. Will they have deals for lunch at the Porch, Bistro on Five and Sushi on Five. Or can you ONLY get dinner specials?
    Am going on Reflection in May 2019 and would like the latest info.
    Thank you.
    Ken

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Ken, I think the specialty dining packages only apply to dinner. You can find the most up to date info here: https://www.celebritycruises.co.uk/onboard/food-and-drink/speciality-dining/speciality-dining-packages/. When you’re on board, you’ll be offered other deals for lunch and additional dinners. I’d look out for that.

      • Ken says:

        Laura,
        Thanks for your reply. 2 years ago I was on Reflection. Celebrity sweared they never heard of the Ultimate Dining Pkg. However, when I got on board, they couldn’t wait to sell it to me, dinners, lunch at specialty rest., etc. Hope this happens again.
        Ken

        • Laura Lynch says:

          I wonder if they do that as a flash sale on board only, when they haven’t been able to sell enough dining packages. I hope it happens again too!

  15. Dennis says:

    We are going on the Celebrity Reflection cruise in December 2018 and have signed up online for the dining package for the entire cruise. By doing it this way it is considerably less expensive than purchasing it on board the first day you arrive on the ship. We’ve been on many celebrity cruises and we just love eating at the Tuscan Grille and Murano restaurants. We are looking forward to trying several of the other new restaurants too. The celebrity line is our most favorite line of all the crew ship lines.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Dennis, that’s a great way to go. It’s definitely cheaper in advance, unless you want to try to get deals each day. We really enjoy those restaurants too. The Tuscan Grille was my absolute favorite. Be sure to come back and tell us about the new restaurants you try!

  16. Jane says:

    Wonderful site & info, thank you. But I’m not clear what you get in the Dining Pckage. Is it just priority access to select restaurants? Do you still pay for food & drinks after you’re seated? Or is it all included? We will shortly be travelling on Solstice to NZ.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Jane, you purchase a dining package and can then dine the specified number of times without paying anything extra. The only thing is that you’d pay for drinks unless you have a beverage package too. We preferred to purchase specialty dining while on the cruise because they’ll sometimes have special deals and then you can decide when you arrive rather than in advance.

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  19. Persephone Collins says:

    Ate at the Murano, wish I hadn’t bothered. Frozen lobster badly cooked (raw). Desserts so pretty but all show no taste.
    Tuscan grill …steak so salty I couldn’t finish it.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Well that’s not good. I wonder what was going on in the kitchen that night (or that cruise). I’ve eaten at Tuscan Grill many times and it was always great.

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