A Spicy Perspective

Cruising for Foodies

Cruising for Foodies - Finding the Absolute Best Cruise for Serious Food Lovers on ASpicyPerspective.com! #travelRecently Lt. Dan and I went on a Caribbean cruise with Carnival Cruise Line. Let me tell you all about it!

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Lt. Dan and I have traveled quite a bit over the last few years, however neither of us had ever been on a cruise ship before, and we hadn’t been on a “grown up trip” without our kids in over 5 years.

It was time. We needed a romantic getaway to unwind and reconnect, and felt a cruise might be the perfect opportunity.

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Our 8 day cruise left Cape Canaveral Florida heading to Saint Maarten, Saint Kitts, San Juan Puerto Rico, and Grand Turk, with two days at sea on the way to the first island, and one day at sea on the way back.

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Although I had never been on a cruise, I had certain expectations based on stories from friends… Expectations like fabulous night time entertainment including comedians, shows and live music, plus excursions at port, and lots of time to lay in the sun.

What I didn’t necessarily expect was great food.

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Over the years I have heard mixed reviews on cruise ship dining. Some people say cruise ship food is terrible. Some people think it’s opulent and delicious. I’ve even heard mixed messages on whether there is too much food or too little food available, depending on the cruise line.

Since this was my first time cruising, I can’t really compare Carnival to other cruise lines. But I can tell about our experience… and it was really really good!

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Carnival is known for being an affordable cruise line with lots of fun options for both couples and families. In fact, they are considered the world’s most popular cruise line with 24 ships operating over 1800 voyages a year. You can find great deals on Carnival Cruises to destinations all over the world.

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Many of the ships (like the Carnival Sunshine) are maxed out with pools, shopping areas, mini golf, clubs, a lavish spa, gym, waterpark, casino, wine bar, piano bar, and sports bar.

On top of all this, we were thrilled to discover Carnival Cruises are a great option for foodies, with all sorts of wonderful options to make your culinary experience truly special.

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Cruising for Foodies

On the Carnival Sunshine, you can find tasty comfort food and healthy options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, in the main dining halls and the market place. Dinner is served in the Sunset Restaurant with some long-standing options as well as nightly specials.

I fell in love with the Indian curry. So much so, I ordered it twice!

Cruising for Foodies - Dinner on Carnival Sunshine

On sea days you can enjoy brunch in the Sunrise Restaurant. We had bagels with smoked salmon, huevos rancheros, fresh made popovers, and the “Funny French Toast” coated in Fruit Loops.

Cruising for Foodies - Brunch

The Sunshine’s lido deck offers a Guy’s Burger Joint with fabulous burgers and fries for lunch and early dinner. Dan and I could not believe how good the burgers and fries were. In fact, we kept comparing them to some of our favorite burger joints and felt they held their own pretty well.

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine Guy's Burger Bar

Blue Iguana Cantina is also on the lido deck with fresh breakfast burritos, as well as tacos and burritos as lunch. I’m a sucker for fresh hot tortillas made to order. Plus, the salsa bar gives you the option of loading up your tacos just how you like them.

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine BlueIguana Cantina

At lunch you can find a made-to-order Asian wok bar, an Italian pasta bar, and Cuban snacks if you’re looking for something a little different.

The Carnival Sunshine offers 24 hour room service and a pizza bar that is also open 24 hours a day, so there is always something to snack on, no matter when you decide to eat.

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Although many dining options are included in the price of your cruise, there are some specialty restaurants that will make your culinary experience even more exciting.

Amazing Cruising for Foodies - Finding the Best Cruise Ship for Serious Food Lovers on ASpicyPerspective.com! #travel

Here Are the Highlights:

JiJi Asian Kitchen ($15 per person)

JiJi offers flavors from all over Asia served in a fun and creative way. The staff does an impeccable job with presentation. Dinner is offered for one price that includes an appetizer selection, dinner, and dessert. We especially loved the Peppered Beef, Wide Noodles, and Jade Shrimp Dumplings. (And it was so delicious we ate here twice!)

Cruising for Foodies - JiJi Asian Kitchen on the Carnival Sunshine

Cucina Del Capitano ($15 per person)

Cucina serves up Italian comfort food in a cozy atmosphere. The name signifies that all the dishes are inspired by the families of the Italian captains aboard the Sunshine. Again, appetizers, dinner, and dessert are included for one price. We were crazy over the Arancini risotto ball appetizer, the decadent creamy Spaghetti Carbonara, and Sorbetto Al Limone (lemon sorbet) dessert.

The tiramisu is pretty spectacular as well!

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine Cucina del Capitano

Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse ($35 per person)

The Sunshine’s premier steakhouse restaurant offers the appeal of the classic upscale American steakhouse with a few surprises. Appetizers, dinner, and dessert are included for one price. I had the ahi tuna tartare, surf and turf with half a grilled lobster and a fillet, and the chocolate sampler dessert. Divine!

Cruising for Foodies - The Steakhouse on the Carnival Sunshine

Bonsai Sushi

Order your favorite sushi bar items a la carte! The miso soup and spicy tuna roll were a real hit.

Cruising for Foodies - Bonsai Sushi on the Carnival SunshineCruising for Foodies - Bonsai Sushi on the Carnival Sunshine Ship

Shake Shack

Creamy milkshakes and coffee drinks to satisfy your sugar or caffeine cravings.

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine Shake Shack

The Chef’s Table Experience

Take a tour of the ship’s galley, then dine on an amazing feast with multiple courses in a private dining room. This culinary encounter will give you taste after taste of the very best the chefs have to offer.

Just look at some of these dishes!

Cruising for Foodies - The Chefs Table on the Carnival Sunshine

Other places to check out…

Havana Bar

A festive bar with cuban inspired snacks!

RedFrog Pub

Try a wide selection of microbrew beers and Carribbean cocktails! Plus, live music and island-inspired snacks.

Cruising for Foodies - The Alchemy Bar on the Carnival Sunshine

Alchemy Bar

Inventive craft cocktails are served each night at the Alchemy Bar. Gather around the bar and watch the Mixologists work their magic.

For a special treat, sign up for the Mixologist Class and learn to make your own craft cocktails at home.

Cruising for Foodies - The Alchemy Bar Mixology Class on the Carnival Sunshine

Just in case you think all we did on our cruise is eat and drink, I have proof we did in fact port at four gorgeous islands. *wink*

There are many excursions offered at each stop like private beach trips, snorkeling and scuba diving, deep sea fishing trips, culinary tours and more. Or you can just hop off the ship and make your own fun.

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine in Saint Maarten

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine in Saint Maarten

We loved watching the planes fly in over Saint Maarten.

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine in Saint Maarten

On Saint Kitts we took a catamaran ride and went snorkeling by a sunken ship.

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine in Saint Kitts

In Puerto Rico we walked the streets of Old Town San Juan to the historic forts, then hunted down a local café to try mofongo, a regional plantain dish.

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine in San JuanCruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine in San Juan Puerto Rico

On Grand Turk we took a taxi to quiet Pillory Beach and floated in the crystal aqua water for hours.

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine in Grand Turk

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine in Grand Turk Pillory Beach

It was such an amazing getaway!

Dan and I will definitely cruise again. Especially with Carnival Cruise Line, because we loved the endless activities and entertainment, and could not believe the quality of the food.

Cruising for Foodies on the Carnival Sunshine

Although we wanted (and needed) a couples retreat, I think next time we’ll take the kids with us.

I hate that they missed all the fun!

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine

Our Top Cruise Planning Tips:

Make sure to research your cruise ship before booking your trip. Some of the smaller ships (that only go on 2-4 day cruises) don’t have as many entertainment and specialty dining options. I’m sure the food they offer is just as good, but we loved all the variety on the Carnival Sunshine.

Cruising for Foodies - Port Day

Plan to visit at least 2-3 of the specialty restaurants. They are so good guys! We never had a bad meal on the Carnival Sunshine, but the upgraded dining experiences really made me feel like we were celebrating.

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine in Grand Turk

Visit the Taste Bar. If you aren’t sure if you’re interested in the special dining options, you can visit the Taste Bar each day to sample some of the restaurant favorites (complementary) to help you make up your mind on where to eat.

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine Taste Bar

Upgrade to a stateroom with a balcony. At first, I thought it wouldn’t matter whether we had a balcony or not. After all, I wasn’t planning on spending a lot of time in my room. Yet it was so nice to open up the doors and let the fresh ocean air into the room. Every time we got back on the ship after a port day, we’d head up to our room before dinner and hang out on the balcony as the ship pulled away from the pier. It’s also a private and romantic place to watch the sunset.

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine State Room

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine Balcony

Check out the spa specials. Each day the spa offers discounts and specials on their services. You might get a killer deal on a couples massage or seaweed wrap… Or both!

Catch every sunset. Stand on your balcony or the deck and take in nature’s dramatic, yet serene, light show.

Cruising for Foodies - Carnival Sunshine Sunset

Get in the water. You’re on a ship. On the ocean. Then on an island. It’s only natural to put your toes in the gentle waves. Instead of just walking around the port shops, take advantage of at least one of the ocean excursions the cruise ship has to offer. We absolutely loved our catamaran and snorkeling trip.

Cruising for Foodies - Cruise Tips

Wear a watch. Set your watch to the ship’s time and keep it on your wrist on port days. If you are on a Carnival excursion, the guides will make sure to get you back on the ship with time to spare. However, if you explore the island on your own, keep careful track of time.

The ship will leave without you if you don’t show up when it’s time to leave the port.

Cruising for Foodies - Lt Dan

Now get out there!

Cruises for Foodies - Finding the Best Cruises for Serious Food Lovers on ASpicyPerspective.com! #travel

Disclosure: Carnival Cruises hosted us on this trip. I was not required to write about our experience. We had a marvelous time, so I wanted to share it. All opinions are our own.

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17 comments on “Cruising for Foodies”

  1. Pingback: Drunken Monkey Cocktail - A Spicy Perspective

  2. It’s great that you are getting thoughts from this article as well as from our argument made here.|

  3. I haven’t been on many ocean cruises, but I’ve definitely been impressed with the food offerings on the ones that I have. I particularly like the specialty restaurants and Carnival is one of the ships I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying.

  4. The cruise looked like it was so fun! The food looks awesome!

  5. What an awesome cruise and that FOOD – wow!!!!  The fruit loop french toast is just hilarious, how creative! :)  Awesome pics, my husband and I are ready to take a cruise NOW! :)

  6. I’ve never been on a cruise before, so I wouldn’t really know what to expect – but all of your photos make the food look amazing. That french toast is so much fun. and that spaghetti carbonara made me want to reach in and grab the plate. This looks like an amazing experience all around.

  7. Not only does this look like such a fun trip, but the food looks incredible! I want to book a trip just so I can eat all of those desserts. And the excursions look like so much fun too. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

  8. I feel like that plate of carbonara alone is worth booking a cruise!! Such great pictures :)

  9. Wow. I know it’s not the most foodie of all the amazing dishes but that fence toast looks amazing

  10. Love all the dining options on cruises now!  It’s so different than it was 10 years ago.  I went on a girlfriend’s getaway on a Carnival Cruise last year and loved it!  Enjoyed seeing your post with different excursions and ports of call too.   Makes me want to get back on the water.

  11. I have been on cruises before where the food is just kind of average, so I’m SO HAPPY to see that you had amazing food!  The Taste Bar is a brilliant idea.  Definitely have to check out Carnival for our next family cruise.  Looks beautiful!

  12. I have only been on one cruise so far (it was not Carnival), but besides really good bread and butter, the food was a joke. I actually spoke to the head of the dining services as we were on the boat for a week and after the first few “incidences” I had to say something.  

    What a different experience you had on Carnival! I’d be willing to give cruising another try if the food was better. Glad you had such a fab time!

  13. So glad you guys had fun!!!  It looks like a blast!

  14. Thanks for sharing! We cruise on the Sunshine in about a month. Now I’m even more excited! From your balcony picture, looks like we may have the same room.

    Thanks again!
    Donna (across the mtn in Johnson City TN)

  15. I really enjoyed your post! I met my husband on the Carnival Mardi Gras over 20 years ago and we’ve been happily cruising along ever since! We’ve cruised other lines but Carnival holds a special place in our hearts. We always love the food on board. Especially the desserts as we’re huge Chocolate Melting Cake fans! I love your photos. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!