The 9 best cruise ship steakhouses and steak-serving restaurants
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There are all sorts of eateries on cruise ships these days — from elegant French restaurants to casual Italian trattorias and sushi bars. But perhaps none are as popular — or as commonplace — as cruise ship steakhouses.
If a cruise line has room for just a single restaurant on a vessel in addition to a main dining room and a casual buffet eatery, it’s likely to make it a steakhouse. By our count, there are more than 100 of them on major cruise ships catering to North Americans.
Cruise giant Carnival alone has 19 steakhouses on its 23 ships.
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In many cases, the steakhouses are as elaborate and elegant as any you’ll find on land, with lovely, marbled, mouthwatering cuts of USDA Prime beef that has been dry-aged for weeks.
In addition to all the classic meat cuts, from New York strip to porterhouse, they’ll also serve up classic steakhouse seafood selections such as Dover sole and lobster, too. And expect all the classic sides, from sauteed spinach to potatoes every which way.
How much do cruise ship steakhouses cost?
On many ships, the steakhouse is the date-night restaurant — the place you go for a special night after sending the little ones to the children’s program.
In many cases, they come with an extra cost, generally a flat fee ranging from around $29 to $45 per person, not including drinks and gratuities. Given that meals in the main restaurants on ships are included in the price of a cruise, this can seem steep to a cruiser. But compared to the typical steakhouse on land, it’s a bargain.
Even with the cost of a bottle of wine added in, it’s possible for a couple to have a full steakhouse dinner — appetizers, mains, sides and dessert — at some cruise ship steakhouses for not much more than $100.
On some ships, there’s no cost at all to dine in the steakhouse. Many higher-end lines such as Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises include the cost of dining in steakhouses and all or most other eateries in their fares.
Related: The 7 best meals you can have at sea
The best cruise ship steakhouses
Below are our picks for the best steakhouses at sea. Some of them, as you’ll see, are on the finest luxury ships and others are on the most mass-market of vessels. Some of them come with an extra charge while others are included in the fare. But what they all have in common is that they offer a wonderful array of classic steakhouse dishes.
A couple of the picks aren’t technically steakhouses but are known for serving up fine cuts of beef. The Grill by Thomas Keller restaurants on Seabourn ships, for instance, offer a number of steakhouse classics such as New York strip and lobster Thermidor cooked to perfection.
Where you’ll find it: All Regent Seven Seas Cruises ships
Regent operates some of the world’s most luxurious ships, so it perhaps comes as no surprise that it offers some of the most elegant and upscale steakhouses at sea. On all five Regent vessels, the line’s Prime 7 venues have a contemporary flair with burnished woods and rich earth-tone fabrics as well as supple leather wing-back chairs.
As for the cuisine, it’s everything you would expect from a high-end steakhouse, with a choice of New York strip, porterhouse, filet mignon and other beef cuts that all are USDA Prime and dry-aged at least 28 days. Non-beef menu items include Alaskan king crab legs and Dover sole. Starters include jumbo lump crab cakes, classic steak tartare and clam chowder.
Cost: There’s no extra charge to dine at Prime 7, but reservations are recommended.
Where you’ll find it: All Celebrity Cruises ships except Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Apex and Celebrity vessels in the Galapagos
Billed as an “Italian steakhouse,” Tuscan Grille is a steakhouse with a distinctly Italian twist. In addition to classic steakhouse fare, such as New York strip and filet mignon, it serves up a wide range of Italian pasta dishes (with handmade pasta) and other Italian-style cuisine. Fish dishes, for instance, include swordfish Acqua Pazza Castelvetrano, with is made with olives, fennel, celery and leeks, and there’s a tuna Romanesco with kalamata olives, capers and tomato.
A typical starter at Tuscan Grille is an antipasti board for the table featuring artisanal salami and cheeses, and the wine menu is full of regional Italian offerings. The decor is rustic elegance with a contemporary, minimalist edge.
The two newest Celebrity Cruises ships — Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex — have a separate steak eatery called Fine Cut Steakhouse.
Cost: $45 per person for dinner; $25 per person for lunch
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Where you’ll find it: All Oceania Cruises ships except Sirena
If it’s a classic steakhouse you want, Oceania Cruises is your line. The Polo Grill restaurants on Oceania ships are the embodiment of the classic steakhouses of old with decor that features crisp, white linen tablecloths, dark wood furnishings and supple, high-back, burgundy leather chairs — and a menu to match.
The items on the menu include all the classic beef cuts, from a 32-ounce porterhouse to a 10-ounce New York strip (all USDA Prime and dry-aged for 28 days). Seafood choices include such steakhouse classics as grilled swordfish and whole Maine lobster (steamed with drawn butter or au gratin), and there’s a classic Caesar salad, to boot (prepared tableside, of course).
Cost: There’s no extra charge to dine at Polo Grill, but reservations are recommended.
Where you’ll find it: Carnival Breeze, Carnival Vista, Carnival Horizon, Carnival Panorama, Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Sunrise (and coming soon to Carnival Radiance)
One of the great paradoxes of the cruise world is that one of the lowest-cost operators — Carnival — has one of the best steakhouses at sea. At a fixed price of $38 per person, Fahrenheit 555 also is a relative bargain compared to similar steakhouses on land.
Found on Carnival’s four most recently built ships plus a couple of others, Fahrenheit 555 offers all the steakhouse staples, from a 14-ounce New York strip to a nine-ounce filet mignon (both USDA Prime, aged 28 days). Other entree choices include an appropriately marbled hunk of Australian Wagyu beef, grilled lamb chops and Dover sole. Starters include Heritage Berkshire pork belly, bone marrow and hand-cut beef tartare, and — of course — jumbo shrimp cocktail.
Carnival has a long tradition of offering high-end steakhouses on its ships. The line began rolling out steakhouses in 2001 with the debut of its Spirit Class ships (where, in one of the great quirks of cruise ship design, the steakhouses are located in red domes that form the forward portions of the ships’ funnels). There now are steakhouses on 19 of Carnival’s 23 vessels, with varying names and decor. When it comes to culinary offerings, they’re all similar to Fahrenheit 555.
Cost: $38 per person
Where you’ll find it: All Royal Caribbean ships except Adventure of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas
Chops Grille is a classic steakhouse serving up the usual suspects when it comes to beef cuts. You’ll find New York strip, filet mignon and porterhouse on the prix-fixe menu, albeit with the twist that you’ll pay extra for the better cuts (the 20-ounce porterhouse comes with a $19 upcharge). The better cuts are all Prime beef that is dry-aged for nearly four weeks.
Seafood options at Chops Grille include grilled branzino and spicy jumbo shrimp. Plus there are all the classic sides, from sauteed spinach to a baked potato.
Cost: $35 to $39 per person for dinner, depending on the ship, plus upcharges for Prime cuts of beef. Chops Grille also is open for a pared-down lunch at $19 per person for adults, $10 per child.
The Grill by Thomas Keller
Where you’ll find it: All Seabourn ships
Famed chef Thomas Keller collaborated with Seabourn in the creation of these steakhouse-like eateries, which Seabourn has described as Keller’s take on the classic American restaurant. While not offering a huge range of traditional steakhouse cuts, their relatively small menus include a thick-cut prime New York strip steak and a rib-eye steak as well as lobster Thermidor and Dover sole meunière. For dessert, there are ice cream sundaes and a seven-layer coconut cake.
Keller also has designed menu items for other dining venues on Seabourn ships, including the casual The Patio outlets found around outdoor pools. Both The Grill by Thomas Keller restaurants and The Patio eateries are, notably, open to Seabourn passengers at no additional charge. That’s a big deal considering that Thomas Keller restaurants on land can set a couple back nearly $1,000 for a single meal. The price of a dinner at Keller’s flagship in New York, Per Se, for instance, is fixed at $355 per person, not including drinks and gratuities.
Cost: There’s no extra charge to dine at The Grill by Thomas Keller, but reservations are recommended. Passengers can make reservations in advance of sailing online, on a first-come, first-serve basis, up until 15 days before departure. Reservations also can be made on board.
Where you’ll find it: All Silversea ships
The Grill on Silversea ships isn’t a steakhouse, per se. But it offers up grilled meats to rival many of the steakhouses at sea — and with an unusual twist. It’s a restaurant where passengers cook their own meats and fish at their tables atop hot lava stones. And by hot, we mean hot. The volcanic rock used for cooking is heated to 400 degrees Celsius — about 752 degrees Fahrenheit.
Offered in an outdoor setting, The Grill is open for lava rock cooking during the evenings only. During the day, the venue serves rotisserie and gourmet salads, and offers a variety of sandwiches and burgers.
Cost: There’s no extra charge to dine at The Grill, but reservations are recommended.
Where you’ll find it: Caribbean Princess, Crown Princess, Emerald Princess, Golden Princess, Grand Princess, Regal Princess, Royal Princess, Ruby Princess, Majestic Princess, Star Princess and Sky Princess
The “Love Boat” line’s steakhouses are known for their theater-style kitchens, which let you keep an eye on the chef cooking your New York strip. They’re also known for a wide menu. Among the beef cuts available are New York strip, Kansas City strip, rib-eye, filet mignon and porterhouse. Plus there’s a “surf and turf” option that combines a filet mignon and lobster tail. Seafood choices include Chilean sea bass and brioche-breaded king prawns (that’s one dish), and a mussel and smoked sausage pot.
Decor-wise, the Crown Grills on Princess ships have a classic steakhouse look.
Cost: $29 per person
Where you’ll find it: All Holland America ships
Holland America’ Pinnacle Grill is a steakhouse with a Pacific Northwest theme — a nod to the company’s home base in Seattle. The menu includes sustainable raised beef from Washington State’s Double R Ranch (with all the usual cuts from filet mignon to porterhouse) as well as wild-caught king salmon from Alaska, and Alaskan halibut and king crab legs. The wine list is heavy on boutique selections from the Pacific Northwest.
Of note, the menu includes specialties designed by celebrity chef David Burke, a member of Holland America’s Culinary Council. Among them are braised short ribs with mushroom cavatappi, and broiled lobster with corn and bacon crepes. The latter dish comes with a $20 extra charge. Burke also designed a “gourmet cheesecake lollipops” dessert.
Cost: $39 per person for dinner; $15 per person for lunch
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Featured image courtesy of Princess Cruises
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