Expect local ingredients, plant-based dishes, more healthy food, plus plenty of celebrity chefs for cruise food trends in 2024. 

Dining and drinks packages are two of the biggest drawcards for cruise passengers. Speciality restaurants, mixologists and wine pairings – it can be a gourmet heaven. 

Once, it was all about the buffet. A long table of calorie-loaded goodies that broke just about every rule recognised by today’s health-conscious eaters.  

But today, cruise food trends look very different in 2024.

Options are increasingly diverse, with casual eateries, fine-dining and family-friendly restaurants part of a renewed focus on good food. Think Nobu on Crystal, S.A.L.T on Silversea, and Curtis Stone and Jamie Oliver on Princess and Royal Caribbean.  

Jamie Oliver onboard Ovation of the Seas in Sydney.
Jamie Oliver onboard Ovation of the Seas in Sydney.

Even standard steak houses are pushing those on land. And for value, there is little to beat food on a cruise ship. 

In years gone by, cruise lines were keen to commoditise their offerings. And every supply had to go through head office, usually in Miami.  

Today, it’s all about cuisine that reflects the destination. Expect to see more locally sourced ingredients, plant-based food and meat substitutes. Plus, craft-spirit fusions in the drink-and-dine options, and plenty of celebrity chefs.  

Certified sustainability will be a key component

As on land, certified sustainability is also a key component. Holland America, for example, became the first line to earn Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification by serving only fresh, certified sustainable and traceable wild Alaska seafood on its voyages. Paul Gauguin Cruises in Tahiti is unusual in being able to serve locally caught fish. 

Princess Cruises is adding more vegan options as an increasing number of guests embrace a plant-based or flexitarian lifestyle. They are rolling out a series of creative vegan menus across its fleet. Dishes range from black beans on toast with tomato, or green goddess salad with tofu to more substantial dishes of fettuccine with walnut sauce or plant-based shepherd’s pie. 

Oceania’s Aqua Terrace is all about healthy alternatives and zero alcohol beverages and it is proving enormously popular. 

For the more indulgent cruiser, an international array of  cuisines will suit all tastes on Cunard’s new Queen Anne. Unveiled offerings include flagship steakhouse restaurant Sir Samuel’s among its 15 restaurants and eateries. Alternative dining options on the upper decks  include Japanese, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine. For the traditionalists, English-style pub classics are still offered in the Golden Lion.  

A rendering of Queen Anne Cunard ship on the water cruise food 2024
Queen Anne offers everything from a steak restaurant to a pub.

Perhaps the biggest trend is chefs working beyond the kitchen confines. Today, from Oceania to Azamara, going to local markets and returning to the ship with a bag full of ingredients for a cooking class is offered by a number of lines. 

Oceania has a particularly strong culinary school which allows guests to cook for themselves and learn while they do it.  

A picture of crab tian on a plate on Regent Seven Seas cruise food trends 2024
Crab Tian in Regent Seven Seas’ Compass Rose.

Princess passengers aboard Enchanted Princess and Discovery Princess are offered an immersive 360: An Extraordinary Experience. With two sittings per night, it accommodates just 20 diners, surrounded by LED walls in a circular format that places them in a 4K world showcasing the hilltops of Santorini, Amalfi Coast, Barcelona and Provence. The journey is mirrored by a seven-course gourmet experience including wines that emerge from each chapter of the visual journey. 

Meanwhile, Silversea’s newest ship Silver Nova has introduced its own culinary immersive program S.A.L.T. Its Chef’s Table is a deep dive into the local culture for just 18 diners, with one sitting a night. A curated menu of small plates highlights the best  local produce – plus paired wines, of course. S.A.L.T is coming to Australia next season. 

Onboard guest chefs 

Talking of chefs, pastry master Darren Purchese will share his expertise on land and sea as part of Cunard’s chef-curated Great Australian Culinary Voyage. “I’m genuinely honoured to be onboard and it’s such a great opportunity to meet guests who are genuinely interested in food,” Purchese tells Cruise Planner

His unique twist on Cunard’s Champagne Afternoon Tea includes his signature Glamington in Peach Melba flavour and Royal Scones with gin and tonic jelly, juniper cream, fizzy white chocolate and lime curd.   

“I will be spreading sweet love everywhere,” jokes the chef, who knows that fans of his Melbourne ‘sweet studio’, Burch & Purchese – which closed in 2023 – have already booked for their sugary fix. 

Cunard food
Celebrity chef Darren Purchese onboard with the Queen Elizabeth staff.

While he will be hosting cooking classes on board during stops in Adelaide and Hobart, Purchese will also be leading shore excursions to some of his top Melbourne sweet spots. 

Great Australian Culinary Voyage will also feature family favourite Karen Martini, Indigenous chef Mark Olive, celebrity chef Gary Mehigan and wine expert Katie Spain. 

“I know them all really well. It’s going to be fun.” 

Internationally, TV chef Ben Robinson will host an eight-day voyage, Charms of the Caribbean, departed March 2, 2024, on board the new 100-passenger luxury yacht Emerald Sakara. Robinson, a star on TV’s Below Deck and Below Deck Mediterranean, apprenticed at The Fat Duck, the three-Michelin-star UK restaurant, before opening a gourmet catering business. He will offer a cooking demonstration and a four-course dinner, as well as host a shore excursion. 

For families 

While there are not quite hundreds and thousands of delicious moments waiting for families on board Disney Magic at Sea, there is endless ice cream on Disney Wonder.  

Dining options include Tiana’s Place, offering Southern American cuisine such as bouillabaisse and buttermilk beignets, while the Animator’s Palate is a fusion of Pacific Island, Asian and Californian cuisine. Triton’s, named after Ariel’s father in The Little Mermaid, offers French-inspired fine-dining with duck confit and three-cheese lobster macaroni. 

For adults only, and a night off from the kids, dress in your best for an evening at Palo, a slice of Venetian elegance serving northern Italian cuisine – well worth the extra charge. 

There are also casual dining and snack options at the casual Cabanas, plus room service, of course. 

Disney food
Dining takes a twist on Disney.