Best Cruise Destinations for Foodies
From the sun-speckled vineyards and fish-filled waters of the Mediterranean to the Caribbean’s robust flavors and refreshing seaside libations, the right cruise destination can make all the difference on a foodie cruise. Finding the best foodie cruise also means picking the itinerary that includes all things epicurean - from sumptuous sea-day dining to market tours on shore, cooking classes, and premium wine pairings.
Here we’ll explore some of the best cruise destinations for food by cruise region, as well as which cruise line to take to delight your palate. When it comes to planning the ultimate foodie cruise, the world is truly your oyster.
The Best Cruise Destinations for Foodies: Regional Breakdown
Whether you’re embarking on your first gourmet getaway or your fiftieth, one of your first steps should always be to decide what you’re looking for. After all, not every cruise destination offers the same experiences - that’s part of what makes a cruise so exciting! Seafood is a mainstay of pretty much every cruise region, meaning you can sample luxurious lobster, crab, and fish dishes in all the following ports. However, you should hone in on your personal palate preferences to plan the perfect escape to paradise.
- The Best Cruise Destinations for Foodies: Regional Breakdown
- Best Mediterranean Cruise Destinations for Food
- Best Caribbean Cruise Destinations for Food
- Best Northern European Cruise Destinations for Food
- Best Cruise Destinations for Food in Asia
- Check out these articles for more information on cruise dining:
Best Mediterranean Cruise Destinations for Food
The Mediterranean is world-renowned for rocky coasts disappearing into crystal clear azure waters, rich history, vibrant culture -- and cuisine ranging from the refreshing to the decadent. You’re likely to find some similar ingredients across this gorgeous region (tomatoes, cheese, and extra virgin olive oil, for example), but each port offers its own unique twist on the classic cuisine.
Here are our top Mediterranean cruise destinations for connoisseur cruisers.
Long an overlooked port city on France’s southern coast, Marseille has enjoyed something of a renaissance since being named a European Capital of Culture in 2013. Blending Provençal charm with notes of opulence infused with genuine diversity and multiculturalism, Marseille is a unique cultural hub in its own right.
The best way to see the city is on a food excursion, particularly a culinary tour through Vieux Port. The old town boasts an impressive fish market and specialties center on seafood. The best bouillabaisse can be found a 25-minute taxi ride from the cruise port, at upscale Chez Fonfon. However, there’s really no need to go so far afield or spend a premium for good food, as delectable delights can be found by the sea. Head to Le Refuge in the Le Panier district for more affordable plates crafted from everything from sea bass to octopus.
Best cruise line for food cruises calling at Marseille: Oceania Cruises
Italy’s floating city is an enchantingly atmospheric fusion of close-set winding alleyways and expansive plazas, interlaced by the city’s iconic waterways. Somewhat overcrowded in recent years by a surge in tourism, the City of Masks has nevertheless managed to keep some of its secrets - some of which are hidden in plain sight.
Any food tour of Venice worth its salt will start in the Rialto Market. Fruit and vegetable vendors hawk their wares next to fishmongers peddling the day’s catch near the Grand Canal. San Polo, Venice’s culinary capital, is another must-visit. Visit one of the many bácari, bite-sized bars serving up snackable morsels called cicchetti, best enjoyed with wine or prosecco.
Best cruise line for Venetian food themed cruises: Celebrity Cruises
Croatia’s very own King’s Landing has made a splash in recent years as an up-and-coming Eastern Mediterranean cruise destination, and despite being relatively compact, it certainly packs a gourmet punch. Exploring the Old Town is great for easy-to-find eateries if you aren’t picky, but true gourmands will want to venture a bit beyond the main drag to find Lady Pi-Pi near the Pile Gate, where you can feast on grilled meats and fish. Nishta is a great option for vegetarians and vegans, and Bota Sare offers superb Asian-Dalmatian seafood specialties.
Best cruise line for exploring Dubrovnik’s food culture: Holland America Line
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Best Caribbean Cruise Destinations for Food
It may be shocking to you, but the Caribbean was once considered a gastronomic bore - in large part because local cooking methods and practices were ignored in favor of shoddy Continental-copied cuisine. These days, the unique combination of herbs and spices popularized by many Caribbean islands, specialties centered on fresh-caught seafood, and sun-ripened fruits and veggies make the Caribbean the ultimate paradise destination. Plus, an abundance of prime beachfront bars and pubs means you can get a flavorful feast with your feet still in the sand.
Here are our top picks for Caribbean culinary cruise hotspots, and the cruise lines to get there.
Serving up a smorgasbord of diverse tastes, this tiny British isle in the Eastern Caribbean blends Spanish, French, African, and British food cultures. Fresh seafood is the common denominator across the island’s 100+ food shops and restaurants, though Blanchards Restaurant is particularly worth a visit. Barbecue lovers will also find scrumptious smoked meats to suit their fancy at Smokey’s at the Cove.
Best cruise line for Anguilla food cruises: SeaDream Yacht Club
One of the Caribbean’s top hotspots for the rich and famous, St. Barts offers a tempting array of upscale restaurants. French flair is prevalent, and some areas on the island bear a striking resemblance to the French Riviera. Sidewalk cafes are always available in Gustavia, and the Tamarin St. Barth is a perennial favorite for international cuisine. However, if your cruise happens to fall during the first week of November, be sure to visit the Saint Barth Gourmet Festival for superb market tours and sumptuous samples.
Wine connoisseurs and enologists: don’t miss La Cave de Saint Barthelemy for the region’s largest wine warehouse, boasting upwards of 200,000 bottles of white, rosé, and red wine.
Best cruise line for calling at St. Barts: Crystal Cruises
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Despite being ravaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017, Puerto Rico has regained its status as a top-notch cruise destination. The 16th-century Spanish colonial architecture in the picturesque Old San Juan has long captivated connoisseurs and tourists alike, and beachy nightclubs, bars, and food halls lend the island capital a vibrant spirit of fun. Carnivores are sure to crave the pork-heavy dishes, particularly lechón asado, a local specialty that involves roasting a full pig on a spit. Peppers are also a common ingredient, though to appreciate true mastery of their full spice and flavor you may have to ditch the street food in favor of the upscale Condado district.
Best cruise line for foodie San Juan cruises: Norwegian Cruise Line
Best Northern European Cruise Destinations for Food
Northern European or Baltic cruises offer some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes, colorful and culturally-rich cities, and some truly excellent food scenes. Gourmets who value a connection to nature may want to opt for a Northern European cruise during Scandinavia’s berry season and head out on a berry-picking adventure. Foodies who’d prefer to skip the labor in favor of just enjoying can also find a diverse array of seafood spots, bakeries, and fusion cuisine restaurants to excite the palate.
Here are our top recommendations for a foodie cruise to the world’s pristine northern waters.
Known affectionately as the City of Rain, Bergen nevertheless sparkles among Norway’s many coastal delights as a particularly worthwhile foodie port of call. The city’s colorful Bryggen district offers a whimsical step back in time to the city’s medieval roots with tall, narrow, brightly-colored buildings built at impossible angles and interconnected by solid beams. Plenty of sidewalk cafes litter Bryggen’s broad boardwalk, offering hot fish cakes, reindeer sausage, and a surprising abundance of caviar to peckish passersby.
The real draw of Bergen, however, is its incomparable fish market, which sells fresh-caught seafood of all kinds. Food stalls sell hand-battered fish and chips and lobster in equal measure, as well as rich fish stews and even whale steaks. The market is open daily rain or shine, and offers covered seating on a first-come first-served basis.
Some other notable Norwegian nibbles: the iconic brown goat cheese makes for a great souvenir, and is surprisingly sweet. Norway’s alcohol laws are draconian, but if you’re willing to pay a premium, the Bergenhus Bryggerei microbrewery offers some excellent house-brewed beers on draft.
Best cruise line to visit Bergen: Holland America Line
The home of chef René Redzepi’s Michelin-starred restaurant Noma, Copenhagen has recently emerged onto the world stage as a gourmet capital. If you can’t afford to go all out on avant-garde culinary creations, fear not - the Danish capital city offers noteworthy budget eats as well. Head to the industrial Vesterbro meatpacking district to find WarPigs, a barbecue joint styled a la Bavarian beer hall. Just around the corner is the local favorite spot for fish, the Kodbyens Fiskebar, where you can expect not only a delicious daily catch, but also immaculate plating.
You could also spend an afternoon at the Copenhagen Street Food Market, an indoor food stall mecca peddling fish, hot drinks, and the famous Danish hot dog. Noma-ites can also find respite at the nearby 108, a more affordable Michelin-rated alternative offering shareable small plates.
Best cruise line for a foodie cruise to Copenhagen: Viking Ocean Cruises
Seasonal food meets traditional Scandinavian favorites in this coastal city, no longer overlooked in favor of the more bustling metropolises of neighboring countries. Helsinki’s reputation as an introverted and cordoned-off summer-only spot (thanks to farming and fishing relegated to six-month stints by harsh weather conditions) is quickly changing, and foodies are among the first to rediscover this Nordic destination.
Coffee is an art form in Helsinki, which boasts more coffee consumed per capita than anywhere else in the world, so be sure to partake of some rich roasts before you depart. Helsinki Coffee Roastery’s Coffee Bar is a prime spot, located in the old working-class district of Puu-Vallila. Markets and food halls like the Hakaniemi Market Hall just north of the city center are local favorites for a variety of vittles, from cheese to pastries to vegetables and sausage.
Best cruise line to visit Helsinki’s food scene: Princess Cruises
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Best Cruise Destinations for Food in Asia
East Asia’s culinary scene is as flavorful, varied, and dynamic as the cities themselves, offering a gourmet glimpse into life in these cities that never sleep. From the spicy to the subdued, savory to sweet, these Asian hotspots are not only excellent entry points into the vast and distinct cuisines and cultures of this huge continent.
Here are our top picks for the best culinary cruise destinations in Asia.
This city-state’s skyline cuts a unique silhouette against the tropical sky thanks to the graceful Marina Bay Sands and the ethereal Gardens by the Bay, which sprouts tree-like solar generators and plant pots that give off a bioluminescent-style glow after dark.
Restaurants are myriad in this busy port city, and you’re never far from food - in fact, two of Singapore’s food stalls have earned Michelin stars. This is a cruise destination best for the adventurous, as being willing to try new things is sure to uncover new hidden gems among the city’s buzzing streets.
Best cruise line to sample Singapore’s street food: Seabourn
The multitudinous streets of Japan’s dizzying capital city are constantly awash in neon lights and the aromas of its notoriously curious cuisine. Visitors are treated to inventive treats like squid jerky and every flavor of Kit Kat bars imaginable - and that’s just in the convenience stores. Japan is the home of sushi, and everywhere you look in this cosmopolitan culinary hub you’ll find new tastes and smells to tempt your stomach. From ramen sold from food stalls to exquisitely cute bento bowls, to the delectably sweet mochi balls that are a classic Japanese dessert, Tokyo’s food scene is ubiquitous and multifaceted. Plan to eat a lot and you won’t be disappointed.
Best cruise line for foodie tours of Tokyo treats: Regent Seven Seas
Bangkok’s income disparity is readily apparent to all visitors, particularly those exploring the Chao Phraya River, where luxury hotels abut shanties and shacks. While these social differences can be tough to see, they also infuse Bangkok’s culinary scene with authenticity and variety that foodies will love. If you’re feeling adventurous, head into the market to haggle with sellers for fresh fruits, vegetables, and other souvenirs. Bold flavors and spicy combinations are a hallmark of Thai food, as are brothy phos, omelets, shrimp, and pork. Blood is also an occasional ingredient, so it’s best to keep an open mind.
Best cruise line to explore the best of Bangkok: Royal Caribbean