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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cruise Food Hideaways

Sometimes, the best place to eat on a cruise ship is where no one else goes. It’s that little gem—the small café tucked away in a nook or cranny where the food is better—and free. But you could go through an entire seven-day trip and never find it.
 
If you follow the forums on your ship (see my July 18 posting, “Cruising the Web,” for a list), you’ll often find that oyster’s pearl. Here are some of the ones I’ve uncovered:
 
Celebrity’s AquaSpa Café—Like Royal Caribbean’s Solarium Bistro (see below), this fabulous little spot probably suffers from the mere suggestion that it serves health food. But it’s Celebrity’s best-
Salmon can be had already plated or
made to order at the AquaSpa Café
 
kept secret: it’s the only place onboard where you can get salmon, tuna or chicken made to order (you need to ask for it). It’s often hard to find—it’s usually in the Solarium (check the location on your ship), has just a few tables and is only open for breakfast and lunch. But it’s worth searching for.

 
Oasis Class’ Solarium Bistro—RCI’s Solarium Bistro, like the Solarium itself, was minimally used when we’ve been there. Like Celebrity’s café, it’s set up cafeteria-style, with the always-interesting food already plated. And the quality is excellent.
 
Oasis Class’ Park Café —This little place on RCI’s serene Central Park “neighborhood” serves breakfast and lunch. At lunch, you can get you-choose-it salads or hot paninis and while I’ve not tried it myself, the forums are filled with praise for the café’s roast beef sandwich.   
 
Princess’ International Café—While its location disqualifies the International Café as a hideaway (it’s in the piazza, the hub of the ship), it’s surprising how few people actually eat there. There’s a lot to like about the 24-hour café—while the drinks are not free (bar and specialty coffees), the food is. The salad combos, quiches and desserts vary every day, and they’re wonderful. And if you hit it just right, you’ll have live music to nosh by.
 
Making pizza on Princess
Pizza on Princess—While many cruisers already know that Princess has the best pizza on the sea, I’ve classified it as a hideaway because we have a devil of a time finding it on every ship. The last time on the Emerald, we must have circled Deck 15 three times before we found it. If you do take Princess, give it a try (if you can find it). Make it worth the while of the poor crew member sweating in the Caribbean heat who has to open that blazing-hot pizza oven all day long.
 
Musing’s Top Tip: Cruiseline.com, a website I highlighted in a posting a few weeks ago, has just made some improvements, including new ship pages, price drop notifications, itinerary maps and a search by the ship with the highest member reviews. A neat feature: once you bring up all the reviews on a particular ship, you can select “View all tips” to get a list of tips reviewers have submitted.