Which mass market Cruise Line has the best food overall?


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First of all, the question of "How good is the FOOD?" IS extremely subjective...Everyone has different taste...

The other problem here is how many of you have been on how many different lines and how often? So, how do most of you qualify to make the comparison?

ALL cruise lines will give you at least good food, attractively presented and a variety of styles and recipes, multiple appetizers and desserts, etc....So, it would be easy for almost anyone to like the food on any cruise line they go on a lot...

So, are there any objective standards with which to compare? About the only one I have ever found was an article I read a few years back that actually gave the numbers for how much each cruise line spent on food per passenger per day. If nothing else, it may have some bearing on the quality of the ingredients the lines used--a cruise line buying cheaper cuts of meat, for example, could save considerably on food cost. All "filet mignon" is NOT the same...

Not surprisingly to me, Carnival ranked far at the bottom in terms of what they spend on food. Celebrity, Cunard, HAL at the top...

I hate to break it to all of you Carnival fans, but, Carnival thrives on cutting corners...they offer low prices and still make a tidy profit. How do you think they do it?

Now, I HAVE cruised on seven different cruise lines...and most of them multiple times...

About the ONLY thing I can really say for Carnival is that, from my first Carnival Cruise back in the mid 90s to my most recent one in 2007, they did considerably upgrade their food...but certainly NOT to the top of the industry or anywhere near it...They went from high school Cafeteria to Applebee's/Stuart Andersen's...Decent enough, but nowhere near gourmet...

In my humble opinion, the BEST food I have had on a cruise ship has been on Oceania, followed closely by Celebrity...others go down from there...

To be fair, I have never cruised on HAL or Cunard or Costa (though reports from my sister on Costa don't hold out much hope there)...

I will also say that any improvements in Carnival's cuisine are easily counterbalanced by their attrocioulsy poor service and crowded dining rooms...and a good part of the dining experience is in the service and the ambiance...
While I respect your opinion (on all threads you post on - not just this one), the question was not which line has gourmet food. The question is, which mass market line has the best food. Even if the best is comparable to Stuart Andersen's, if the rest rank with the fast food chains, then Stuart Andersen's is the best.

Of the five cruise lines I have cruised on, the food on Carnival is the best. The service on Carnival might not be the best of the five, but the food is. But again, the question was not which cruise line offers the best dining experience, but rather which mass market line has the best food.

I've been on five cruise lines and have sampled three others (via tours). If we consider the tours, then Crystal is the best. However, I am not sure Crystal qualifies as a mass market line.

And while not part of the question, there are at least three to five other cruise lines I would like to try out. That will give me a total of eight to ten. I may not be in the same league as Douglas Ward, but I do think I am at least getting a varied sample of the different cruise products. After all, I've only own, and regularly driven, cars from three different manufacturers. So even though I have a lot more days on the road that days at sea, I believe my cruise experience does have some variety (and I am looking for more), and certainly a greater variety than my automobile experience.
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My experiences are limited to three cruise lines

Celebrity, RCL (which owns Celebrity) and HAL. They all had their good and bad days.

red stripe

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I thought about this and came to the conclusion that I can not answer by cruise-line.. as often the food will vary greatly between ships of the same line.

A "for instance" would be the cruise we took on Celebrity Century about a year ago.. the food was outstanding.
Then we took another Celebrity cruise..(forgot what one.. too many cruises.. too few remaining brain cells) The food was.. OK..

Once I would have swore by the food on Cunard or HAL.. But I ran into the same problem.. things are not equal across the board any longer.
I have also encountered this on RCI (OK.. if there is a consistently bland"bottom of the list" they would be there) Carnival, Princess, and the rest of the cruise-lines I have sailed on.

So I would be reluctant to single out any one cruise-line for consistently good food in this day and age..

And YES.. we are going on RCI in under two weeks. Just goes to show that Itinerary, friends etc. can sometimes outweigh the food... :biggrin:


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I've had some goods and ok's based on individual ships - not so much with the cruiseline.. however, I'll answer the question in the order of preference.

1 - Carnival
2 - NCL (only 1 ship many years ago and it was memorable)
3 - Princess
4 - RCCL
5 - Celebrity
6 - HAL

Now.. if we weren't talking about cruiseliners, the Delta Queen was the BEST overall. :doubleup:


Well-Known Member
As someone suggested, I may not be qualified after 39 cruises to offer an opinion here. However, I will do so anyway, and in order of preference:

1. Carnival
2. HAl
3. Princess
4. Costa
6. Premier
7. NCL


Well-Known Member
My preference:
1. Celebrity
2. RCL
3. Carnival
4. Princess
5. NCL
would really like to try HAL some day, but am still too "young!" ;-)

And I guess I fall into the BruinSteve camp, where taste, PLUS presentation, service and ambience all contribute to what makes a meal good. I enjoyed all the meals on all the lines, some more than others. While I thought the food on Carnival was mostly tasty, the constant "waiter entertainment" was way too distracting for me to enjoy a complete meal; "I will bring you your coffee and dessert after we do the song and dance number."
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I have been on three cruise lines, Carnival,RCl and Holland America.
between the 3 of them, there was not much of a different between them. but I have found that the specialty restaurants. Pinacle Grill and Portifino were better . service and presentation was alot better then the MDR. Thats just my opinion!


Active Member
We just came from a Celebrity (Solstice) cruise in the Caribbean and were extremely disappointed with the food in general. Our last two cruises were with Princess and must say their meals were by far much superior. Fellow passengers also commented that they also felt the food was much poorer than in the past. I still refuse to pay "Service Charges" for meals in the specialty dining rooms as I expect decent meals in the price of the cruise.