It’s the battle of the buffet that will rage all through Australia’s summer.

Is P&O’s new dining concept, ‘The Pantry’, better than Royal Caribbean’s ‘Dining Options’.

As you read this, the first patrons aboard the Pacific Jewel – one of Australia’s favourite ships – will be tucking into The Pantry’s fare on their way to Brisbane from the Singapore dockyard that recently completed her refit.

At first glance, it sounds like The Pantry will deliver a knock-out blow. Designed after a huge survey of Australians – many of them women – said they hated buffets because they were concerned about health and fitness, the line is calling it “revolutionary”.

“The Pantry is a dining experience like no other at sea,” says P&O Cruises Senior Vice President Sture Myrmell. “Designed as an international food market, it features eight bespoke outlets reflecting the many flavours Australians love to eat.”

In place of the usual buffet area, you can expect to find eight new eateries, including Hook’s Fish and Chips, taking design inspiration from a beachfront shack; Mexicana, for the tastes of Mexico, complete with an Aztec theme; Grill, an industrial burger joint, and Stix, serving popular Asian cuisine.

After the Pacific Jewel, The Pantry will be extended to P&O’s newest vessels, Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, to be revealed later this year.

So what is Royal Caribbean doing?

Sean Treacy, Commercial Director of Royal Caribbean International Australia and Southeast Asia, says the fleet has a longstanding dining reputation that will certainly be able to compete with P&O’s dining overhaul.

“Our newest ships, including Australia’s recently announced Ovation of the Seas, offer guests a landscape of 18 restaurant concepts, including Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant at sea,” says Sean. “Our other local ships all offer a range of complimentary dining, too.”

“Thanks to revitalisations, Voyager of the SeasExplorer of the SeasRadiance of the Seas and Legend of the Seas also have a range of specialty dining restaurants – Japanese Izumi, Italian Giovanni’s Table, Chops Grille American steakhouse, Mexican Rita’s Cantina and burger and hotdog joints.”

With so much culinary goodness to choose from, who are you most likely to cruise with: P&O or Royal Caribbean? This gallery should help you decide…