Food is one of the great pleasures of a cruise and the incredible abundance and amazing variety, plus the fact that a lot of the food you eat on-board will be free, makes a cruise holiday the perfect opportunity to try something new.
You also won’t want to waste the chance in port to give a local delicacy a go (unless you’re in Mexico and presented with Escamol, perhaps). Let us help you on your culinary cruise adventure, with our top picks of unusual foods to try on land and at sea –
On land: Fegato alla Veneziana in Venice
A stop off in this romantic city might see you learning to love one of those ‘screw your nose up’ school dinner classics, liver and onions.
Fegato alla Veneziana is a traditional Venetian dish which combines finely sliced calves liver with gently stewed onions to create a dish that will make you look again at liver.
Just don’t tell granny or it’ll be on the table every time you visit.
At Sea: Osso Buco on Azamara
If liver really is not your culinary cup of tea then osso buco may be a more palatable Italian way of eating veal.
On Land: Chocolate and Churros in Barcelona
Any stop in the popular port of Barcelona, however short, must include chocolate and churros.
This sweet treat consists of thick hot chocolate that you can, quite literally, stand a spoon up in, with long strips of cinnamon or sugar – or cinnamon sugar – coated donuts (churros) to dip.
For the best in the city, head to the labyrinthine gothic quarter. La Pallaresa is a safe bet, if you can find it.
At Sea: Tanzanian Chocolate Timbale on Disney
For a chocolate hit that’s more fine dining than fine dipping – this dish in Disney Cruise’s gourmet Remy restaurant (supplement), takes some beating!
‘Stolen’ from the prestigious Victoria & Albert’s in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, this Tanzanian chocolate ‘drum’ is paired with orange scented milk chocolate ice cream.
A magical dish that’s choco-heaven on a plate.
On Land: Green Curry Lobster Rolls in LA
Lobster is one of the gourmet foods that you’ll definitely want to try on your cruise holiday – especially if you can get it for free in the main dining room.
However, if you’re cruising to America you might find lobster served in a far more low key way – in a lobster roll.
Similar to our prawn mayo sandwich, the Americans have gone one better and upgraded to prime lobster meat.
Maine is the rightful home of the lobster roll but if you’re stopping in LA and feel like going crazy (and taking a great food selfie for Instagram), pick up a green curry lobster roll served in a charcoaled black bun from Hinoki & The Bird.
At Sea: Lobster Mac n Cheese on Holland America
For another twist on a gourmet fave, try the Lobster Mac n Cheese at Holland America’s Pinnacle Grill restaurant (supplement).
If adding lobster to this sofa-surfer’s comfort dish just isn’t fancy enough for you visit the restaurant on Le Cirque night, where it’s transformed with a menu from the famous Le Cirque restaurant in NYC.
On Land: Jerk Chicken in Jamaica
There’s nothing quite like the jerk chicken in Jamaica, no matter how many imitations you try elsewhere.
This spicy dish actually tastes best from a shack on the beach, washed down with a cold bottle of Red Stripe or a rum punch cocktail of course.
In Ocho Rios, try Scotchies, for chicken made the simple and traditional way. In Falmouth, head to Pepper’s Jerk Center.
To add an unusual course to your meal, try the conch (sea snail) soup for starters and don’t forget the rice and peas!
At Sea: Sushi Lollipops on Celebrity
The words sushi and lollipops might not go naturally together but, trust us, at the QSine restaurant on Celebrity Cruise liners (supplement) they go together like apple and crumble or bangers and mash!
This restaurant has a firm focus on fun food and dishes don’t come much more playful than this.
Served on lollipop sticks with ‘sprinkles and sauces’ on the side, these fishy popsicles are like something Willy Wonka would dream up if he decided to ditch the sweet stuff.
On Land: Rocky Mountain Oysters in North America
Heading to North America on your cruise? Don’t confuse these on the menu with traditional oysters.
Rocky Mountain Oysters are actually buffalo testicles, often deep fried in breadcrumbs. Apparently they taste just like chicken nuggets – although we can’t see the kids being terribly keen!
If you see these being served, and you spot a buffalo approaching, run!
At Sea: Smoked Oysters on Seabourn
If regular oysters are more your thing, you’ll be in heaven on a luxury liner. On Seabourn smoked oysters are a casual option (go figure!) – eat them alfresco with smoked salmon and jumbo shrimp. Remember though, they’re supposedly an aphrodisiac, so you might want to limit your other half’s consumption, even though they’re all you can eat (for free!) on this ultra all inclusive line.
On Land: Pufferfish in Japan
Despite the fact that they are actually poisonous you’ll find Fugu (pufferfish) on some menus in Japan.
Proceed with caution however – while it gives a great story to tell over dinner, these poisoned puffers have actually been known to cause accidental death when being prepared for the dining table.
At Sea: Black Cod on Crystal
Far more palatable is the black cod bathed in sake that you’ll find at Silk Road and the Sushi Bar on Crystal Symphony and Serenity (no supplement – hooray!!!).
These high end Japanese restaurants are the brainchild of world-famous chef Matsuhisa of Nobu fame, so if you can’t afford to dine like a celebrity in Nobu London or New York, you can at least try a taste of the high life on the high seas – for free!
On Land: Insect Caviar in Mexico
Ok, those without strong stomachs may want to stop reading right about now.
If you’ve carried on then you won’t mind us telling you that Escamole, or insect caviar, is a Mexican delicacy consisting of ant larvae cooked up with spring onions.
No one will blame you if you stick to the burritos.
At Sea: Caviar and Champagne on Seabourn
Much more pleasing to the palate, although still a decidedly acquired taste; caviar is available on Seabourn cruises, washed down with lashings of champagne, as it should be, darling! Don’t miss the once per Caribbean cruise Champers and Caviar BBQ in the Surf where crew members set up a gourmet experience on the sands for your dining pleasure.
Fancy a swim? No worries! A crewmember will follow you out into the deep blue with iced champagne and caviar on a custom life ring or surfboard. Now that’s what you call surf-ice (service, surf-ice – come on!).
There’s so much food on offer on a cruise, both on and off ship that it would be rude not to push the boat out and try something different.
Give the surf and turf, the steak and chips and the chicken caesar salad a miss and enjoy a holiday full of new taste experiences.
We’ll understand if you want to skip on the testicles or the ant larvae though.