When 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. It’s hard enough for me to be happy getting back on the boat for dinner every night. I certainly wouldn’t want to eat in the same restaurant every single 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.
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Specialty Dining for Less
On our Celebrity Cruise in May, we used our on-board credit to experience all of the specialty restaurants. When we booked, we were given $300 credit with the 1, 2, 3 GO 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.
We were expecting to pay full price at each, but were happy to find that we were regularly 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. So we just waited for those opportunities to present themselves before making our dinner reservations. Don’t think you have to book everything in advance.
You can book a package of specialty dining package on Celebrity before the cruise, there are restrictions that make it slightly less appealing, you will miss out on some of the good deals on board and you can’t use your on-board credit towards it. However, if you like to just pay for everything ahead of time and not think about money while on your cruise, it’s worth looking into. There are 3, 4, and 5-night dining packages. (The first night of your cruise, the first restaurant of your package will be chosen for you.)
Is this your first cruise? Read about what we learned when booking our first cruise.
Celebrity’s Specialty Dining Restaurant Choices
Who knew there would be so many great options for eating on board a ship? I mean, I knew it was a luxury ship and that they took their food seriously, 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.
The Olympic – French cuisine in a restaurant with original paneling from the Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic. Available on Celebrity Millennium.
Luminae – Offering complimentary breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Luminae is a culinary experience of modern, eclectic cuisine and extraordinary service. Only for Suite-Class passengers.
Blu – The cuisine at Blu is simply an imaginative way of preparing popular dishes without fussiness or pretense. Only for Aqua-Class passengers.
Bistro on Five (only open for breakfast and lunch) – A stylish crêperie that lures you in with the enticing aroma of freshly made crêpes.
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.
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
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 3-4 course meal. Though, I must admit that we fell in love with some dishes and couldn’t help but order them again the second time. (We actually went back to Tuscan Grill 3 times just to get the addictive lasagna and Caeser salad.)
So, you can expect to:
- Eat really good food
- Get really good service
- Have a sommelier help guide your wine pairings
- Choose 3-4 courses from the extensive menu
- Stay for an after-dinner drink
- Have a seat with an incredible view
Not too bad for a night out, I’d say!
Warning: Food Porn Photos Ahead!
You know how hard I work for you, right? I mean, I spend copious amounts of time eating, drinking and photographing experiences around the world so that you can see what to expect before you embark on an expensive journey like this one. I take very seriously my mission to try every food and every drink that you might encounter so that I can tell you all about it. For instance, we diligently wrote down everything we drank in an effort to deliver you this post on whether the beverage package on a cruise was worth it. So of course, you can count on us to take mouth-watering photos of all the food in the specialty restaurants so you can see before you buy.
Alas, 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 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 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.
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.
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 lemoncello to serve as an after-dinner drink.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bistro on Five
Only open for breakfast and lunch, Bistro on Five is unique in that it serves crepes – savory and dessert – alongside soups and salads, for lunch. It feel like the chique, newly opened place downtown where lunching ladies meet for a light lunch before going shopping. The crepes are fantastic.
We tried a bunch of different crepes during our lunch. We had a couple of savory crepes that got devoured before pictures were taken, sadly. The one we loved the most was called The Cowboy, with grilled flank steak, spinach, caramelized onion, bacon and blue cheese. But it had stiff competition from the Hot & Spicy, which I almost didn’t want to order because I saw the many jalepeno slices that were on it. It actually wasn’t very spicy – but it was really good, so I’m glad Nick talked me into ordering it. It had shredded steak, peppers, jalepenos, cheddar cheese and cumin dressing.
For dessert, we tried one of each of the dessert crepes. As you can see, I managed to snap a picture of those before inhaling them. They were a Spanish crepe and an Italian crepe. Basically, chocolatey, caramely goodness.
For breakfast, you can build your own crepe with scrambled eggs, bacon, cheddar, sausage, spinach… And they also have panini and salads. It’s a great choice for breakfast or lunch during a sea day. And it’s also the least expensive of the restaurants at $10/per person.
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.
Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.