We Tried the Food on a Carnival Cruise Ship, and Here’s What We Thought
Recently, I took a cruise from Galveston onboard the Carnival Breeze. Sailing for Cozumel, my companion and I played in the sun and enjoyed the boat’s nightlife (can’t praise “Piano Matt” enough for evenings spent singing along to the classics). However, what most interested me about our cruise was the plethora of food available. From sushi to steak, if you were hungry for it, you could find it in one of the restaurants.
Lido Marketplace: On the Lido Deck, there is a food-court-style cafeteria with two buffet areas and menus that rotate throughout the day. Continental Breakfast service opens at 6:30 a.m. with pastries, cereal and fruit options, and a full-service spread that includes an omelet station that opens an hour later. The lunch and dinner services are expansive, with an assortment of buffet counters offering comfort food, deli counter, Mongolian stir-fry and more. Late at night, the Lido Marketplace offers a snacking station. One thing I cannot stress enough no matter what time you are dining: try the bread. It’s fresh, and the taste is just delightful, no matter if it’s a bun or a slice.
Guy Fieri Restaurants: Fans of the Food Network celebrity can get a taste of his creativity via two on-boat restaurants: Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que and Guy’s Burger Joint. The latter is on the Lido Deck and serves burgers and fries in a buffet-style line for dining at area tables or taking back to your deck chair. Toppings include the standards — lettuce, tomato, bacon, and onions — and more. Find Pig & Anchor outdoors on Deck Five across from the Ocean Plaza and Alchemy Bar. It offers cruisers options such as round of beef, smoked andouille sausage and Blue Ribbon Chicken in Fieri’s flavor-packed style.
Pizza Pirate: Satisfy cravings for pizza any time night or day at this pizza stand on the aft side of the Lido deck. The 24/7 menu just has two categories: pizza and salad. There are five types of pizza — Margherita, Funghi, Pepperoni, Quattro Formaggi (four cheese) and Prosciutto — and two salads. Stop by before or after visiting Liquid Nightclub or attending the late-night shows.
Dining Room Dinners: There are two formal dining rooms on the Breeze called Blush Restaurant and Sapphire Restaurant. Every guest is assigned to one of these large dining rooms for dinner, whether you choose early dining, late dining or “your time” dining. Each serves identical dishes each evening from a three-course menu that includes your choice of an appetizer, entrée and dessert. The menus rotate nightly, and the main course options include a vegetarian Indian dish served with lentils. My favorite on this four-day cruise was the Steak Ale and Cheese Soup, which was filling and well-seasoned.
The major highlight in these evening dining venues is Carnival’s famous molten chocolate cake. It is sweet, decadent, rich and dreamy, and it’s served alongside cooling vanilla ice cream. It is available nightly alongside other classic desserts such as crème brulée and Baked Alaska.
Bonsai Sushi: The Breeze is also equipped with a sushi restaurant on Deck Five. Bonsai Sushi offers an additional-cost menu with appetizers, sashimi, rolls, sake and more. Guests at this restaurant simply check the boxes next to their menu choices and sit back to enjoy. This restaurant features two unique dessert options: green tea cupcakes and yuzu custard.
Seafood Shack: Carnival’s Seafood Shack is a New England-style eatery serving dishes such as clam chowder, lobster BLTs and snow crab. Open for lunch and dinner, this seaside restaurant is located on the Lido Deck (Deck 10, aft).
BlueIguana Cantina: Cruisers can enjoy a taste of Mexico midship on the Lido deck at this lively cantina. Find it across from the Red Frog Rum Bar and Blue Iguana Tequila Bar. The made-to-order menu includes tacos, burritos and a salsa bar, with specials for breakfast and lunch.
Cucina Del Capitano: Nestled above the Lido Marketplace midship on Deck 10, this swanky, wood-decked space offers diners a casual Italian meal at lunch and, for an additional fee, a high-class pasta dinner in the evenings. The menu is inspired by the Italian heritage of the ship’s captains and officers. It features favorites such as minestrone soup, Nonna’s Meatball and biscotti with gelato.
Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse: Meat-loving Texans will love this onboard steakhouse. For an additional cost, it offers cowboy steak, filet mignon and New York strip steaks, along with other steakhouse favorites. There are seafood dishes, soups and salads, too, and a variety of appetizers. Try a plate of escargots bourguignonne or broiled lobster tail, and finish off your meal with a Chocolate Sampler or Caramelized Washington Apples.
Room Service: We couldn’t resist the luxury of (included!) room service, and ordered a variety of breakfast plates on our third day at sea. The night before, the steward left a door hanger in our room on which we could fill out each item we wanted, and we chose a couple of breakfast sandwiches, toast, bagels, coffee and orange juice. The food came hot and fresh, packaged in airline containers to keep the contents at temperature.
As two cruisers who don’t drink alcohol, my sail-buddy and I spent some time hunting through the ship’s offerings in search of the perfect by-the-ocean beverage. Carnival impressed us again and again, with delightful bartenders eager and willing to make our mocktail dreams come true. We started with fruit punch in bar glasses, made more festive with a dash of grenadine. Limelight Lounge served us perfect virgin piña coladas, and the bartenders at Alchemy Bar embraced our challenge by creating a fabulous purple concoction with pomegranate and lemon. Liquid Nightclub came through, too, with delicious virgin mojitos to quench our thirst while we danced the night away.
Having sailed on other cruise lines in the past, I have to say that Carnival goes above and beyond when it comes to serving up fun. From our first day of massages and spa treatments to our late nights dancing in the club and lunging for the best seats at the piano bar, we had four days of nonstop entertainment. Cozumel was amazing, too, with beautiful weather and nice beach resorts to relax the day away. Our boat was relatively quiet this time, with precautions in place that kept cruisers and staff safe in each other’s company. (Carnival currently requires either proof of vaccination or a medical exemption to sail.)
If you’re looking for a vacation that’s all-inclusive and relatively cheap during the winter, Carnival is the way to go. The weather was beautiful, and aside from a rocky morning at sea, we couldn’t have enjoyed ourselves more.