Cruise ships offer more dining options than ever before, with multiple restaurants offering menus and ambiance to suit various moods and tastes. Here are dining offerings on four ships, in four categories that feature at least half dozen eateries.
Royal Caribbean International's Allure of the Seas: This moderate category vessel has two dozen restaurants. Among the free venues are the Adagio Dining Room (international) and the Windjammer Marketplace, a casual, buffet-style restaurant.
The popular Rita's Cantina is a combination of So-Cal taqueria and Mexican beach bar with a dining fee of $3. A multi-course gourmet tasting menu is featured at 150 Central Park ($40). The Chef's Table is a fine dining venue ($95). Chops Grille (steakhouse) has a fee of $30; and Giovanni's Table (Italian) charges $20 for dinner, $15 for lunch. Giovanni's Table, decorated with dark woods and paintings of the Tuscan countryside, serves antipasti including prosciutto and olives, Caprese salad, osso bucco and chocolate mousse with fresh berries. Visit royalcaribbean.com.
Disney Cruise Line's Disney Fantasy: On the new, premium category Disney Fantasy guests and their servers go together from one restaurant to another -- Enchanted Garden, Royal Court and Animator's Palace -- on different nights. The Animator's Palate has two shows to entertain diners: "Animation Magic" (menu includes popcorn shrimp, beef Wellington and roasted red snapper) and "Undersea Magic" (sesame-flavored rock shrimp, Angus beef tenderloin). The Royal Court, with a storybook palace setting, serves lobster and jumbo shrimp, escargot, beef tenderloin and Dijon-roasted rack of lamb. The Enchanted Garden is inspired by the gardens of Versailles, and transforms from day to night. The cuisine matches the ambiance with a seasonal menu using market-fresh ingredients.
Alternative restaurants for adults only are Palo (Italian, $20) and Remy (French, $75). Cabanas is a buffet-style restaurant for quick breakfasts and lunches (there are 16 food stations), and table-service casual dinners that include stir-fry, pizza, pasta, comfort foods and grilled specialties. Visit disneycruise.com.
Oceania Cruises' Riviera: An upper-premium category line, Oceania's Riviera has nine restaurants. Five are gourmet, two are casual and two are private dining rooms for a fee. The Grand Dining Room is the ship's main restaurant, serving signature dishes by chef Jacques Pepin as well as light fare from Canyon Ranch. Four specialty restaurants include Jacques (French), Red Ginger (Asian), Polo Grill (steakhouse); and Toscana (Italian). The indoor/outdoor Terrace Cafe and poolside Waves Grill are casual dining spots. Private dining spots for a fee are La Reserve By Wine Spectator (multi-course wine pairing with a surcharge for the wines) and Privee (for up to 10 diners at a set room charge). Visit http://www.oceaniacruises.com.
Silversea Cruises' Silver Spirit: This ultra-luxury vessel offers varied venues to suit most moods and occasions. The Hot Rock Grill is a casual alfresco restaurant where guests cook the meal on a hot volcanic plate at their table. The Restaurant, the main dining room, is open seating and the menu features filet mignon with foie gras poached potatoes and broiled lobster.
La Terrazza serves a la carte Italian dinners (buffets for breakfast and lunch). The Wine Restaurant Le Champagne by Relais & Chateaux serves 24 diners only. Specialties include Lobster Thermidor; dining fee is $30 with complimentary house wines. Seishin, an Asian-inspired restaurant, offers "teaser" menus for $30 with wine/beer; or a nine-course meal with wine/beer is $40, $80 with a sake degustation. The Stars Supper Club is a no-fee venue for 58 diners inspired in New York's Rainbow Room. Nightclub-style entertainment includes a jazz duo and music for dancing. Visit http://www.silversea.com.