Huevos Rancheros at Carnival Cruise Line’s Sea Day Brunch.
Sea days can be some of the busiest periods onboard a cruise ship, making it one of the hardest to navigate the buffet or pool grill, but brunches offer one of the best alternatives: a quieter relaxing respite in the main dining room or specialty restaurants. Here are our top picks for cruise lines with the best morning to midday brunch options.
Azamara Club Cruises
Taking up the entire center section of the main dining room is Azamara Club Cruises’ self-service jazz brunch buffet. As the house combo plays on, fresh shellfish is layered atop an ice tower while fruit and vegetable carvings add plenty of additional color among other photogenic ice sculptures of swans and the like. Egg specialties soon lead to an array of tempting desserts and an obligatory cheese tray. Once a staple of corporate cousin Celebrity Cruises, cream-filled pastry swans are great edible versions.
Carnival Cruise Line
With Guy’s Burger Joint and the BlueIguana Cantina available up on deck, you wouldn’t necessarily peg Carnival Cruise Line as a brunch delight, but indeed it is. Its latest sea day brunches originally emerged as an extension of its Punchliner Comedy Club back when it was still presented by George Lopez. The original concept was for short standup comedy sets to periodically entertain diners in the main restaurant as they enjoyed Mexican breakfast specialties like huevos rancheros.
While the comedy dining concept didn’t last long, the excellent free menu for full-service brunches did, and it remains to this day as one of the best at sea. The aforementioned huevos rancheros are delicious, and traditional favorites from bagels and pastries to omelets and corned beef hash are also tasty. Best of all, it can all be enjoyed without the hustle and bustle of the pool deck.
On the other end of the spectrum is luxury line Crystal Cruises with its occasional complimentary Grand Gala Buffet for brunch. The main Crystal Dining Room is not enough room to even contain the massive spread that must spill well into the atrium plaza for guests to serve themselves anything and everything from lobster tales and sushi to items from a carving station and cheese trolley.
The dessert lineup alone would count as its own buffet on other cruise lines. I even recall taking a jumbo chocolate Easter bunny away when I was a child and having it last days in our stateroom.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line has always touted its adults-only sea day brunch at its Palo specialty restaurant and for good reason. Its combination of waiter-served and self-serve offerings are splendid and well worth the $30 per person surcharge. Charcuterie and dessert items await your hand-picking while classic egg dishes and Italian pizzas are made to order. Available on all four of Disney ships, this is an easy one to quickly fill up on. My suggestion: the surprisingly wonderful Gorgonzola and Grape Pizza.
More recently, Remy, the French specialty restaurant found only on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, has also begun to serve its own adults-only brunch for a heftier $60, plus $30 more for the champagne pairing, per person, but the fare is decidedly more gourmet. French-inspired dishes include vegetable risotto, lobster cannelloni, sea bass, veal, gnocchi and, of course, decadent dessert. www.travelpulse.com