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When it comes to cuisine, cruise lines have evolved by fathoms over the last few decades, offering passengers ways to maintain their diets and practice healthy habits. But for as many salads and green smoothies as you’ll find on most modern cruise menus, practically every line still offers guests the option to indulge a little.
Such was the scene on my recent sailing with Carnival Cruise Line onboard its latest ship, Carnival Horizon. Lighter fare was available in most of the ship’s eateries, while ample opportunities to stuff my face also abounded. No matter what food mood I was in, there was always something to satiate my craving.
While there are more dining venues onboard Horizon than I have fingers to count, a few standouts quickly made my must-munch list. Here are my top five spots to eat onboard Carnival Horizon.
BlueIguana CantinaThere are certainly plentiful breakfast options in the Lido buffet, but take a few steps outside the venue, and you’ll find something better: Blue Iguana Cantina. The Mexican food counter became my morning go-to spot for huevos rancheros, which the staff kindly made a la minute for me with no cheese because of my dietary restrictions.
Grab tacos or a burrito here during lunchtime and sidle up to the salsa bar to customize your creation. It’s a great place for a quick bite before heading to a shore excursion, but if you feel like lingering alfresco, pair your meal with a margarita from the adjacent BlueIguana Tequila bar.
Note: BlueIguana Cantina’s offerings are included in the cruise price; alcoholic drinks are not included, unless guests have purchased the Cheers! Beverage Program.
Fahrenheit 555 SteakhouseAs much as I love a laid-back eatery, I’m also a sucker for an upscale experience — especially if there’s steak. And specialty dinner restaurant Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse delivered exactly what I wanted.
A good omen of things to come, the meal began with oohing and aahing: My starter of iced and smoked fresh oysters arrived at the table under a cloche that my server removed with a flourish to waft the smoke, revealing mollusks, which were decorated with a fuchsia foam made of apple mignonette, butter and mace (a nutmeg-derived spice).
But this is a steakhouse, after all, and I wanted to stay on theme. I chose the A5 Wagyu, which was served simply grilled and perfectly medium rare as I had ordered it (often a monumental feat for diners who prefer things on the rarer side). While entrees also include lobster, chicken, shrimp and sole, meatheads can choose from New York strip loin steak, cowboy steak, rib-eye, filet mignon, Wagyu and lamb chops.
If you have a large group, order Art at Your Table for dessert and enjoy the abstract, edible presentation.
Note: Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse costs $35 per adult and $10 per child under 11 years old; an $18 wine pairing is also available.
Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse BrewhouseI have no qualms playing favorites: Specialty dinner spot Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse is, in my opinion, Horizon’s No. 1 venue. It combines a casual setting, delectable barbecued meats and Southern sides with craft beer and well-made cocktails.
The best way to try everything is to order The Whole Smoker, a large tray with a selection of chicken, brisket, pulled pork, sausage and ribs (enough for two people). Although I don’t eat dairy, I have it on good authority from multiple sources that the Mac Daddy mac ’n’ cheese side is “to die for.”
Besides having truly tasty food, Guy’s Pig & Anchor is also an excellent laid-back hangout spot. I met up with friends here many nights for a drink at the handsome wood bar, which features faux-cowhide-cushioned stools and checkerboard-tile accents. Cozy up to the friendly bartenders and order an over-the-top drink such as the Bacon Manhattan. Or, try what became my favorite drink of the cruise: the Smoked Boulevardier, served under a cloche with rosemary smoke.
Whatever you do, go “whole hog,” as the menu suggests — or go home.
Note: Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse offers an a la carte menu for dinner; during lunchtime, a more limited food menu is included with the cruise price.
JiJi Asian KitchenJiJi Asian Kitchen is a wonderful spot for larger parties — mostly because you’ll want to try everything on the menu (which I will not dissuade you from doing, but, be warned that portions are hefty.)
That’s what my group did, anyway: Standouts from our chow-down included the slow-braised pork belly appetizer, which came served with a caramel-chili and black vinegar sauce, citrus fruit, Chinese chives, gorgonzola and spiced purple onions. For mains, we quickly devoured the Wagyu short ribs, decorated with watermelon radish, burdock root, wasabi pearls and potatoes; and the Singapore chili shrimp, soaked in a sweet and spicy chili sauce. Really, you can’t go wrong with any dishes here.
Pair the feast with JiJi’s Signature Green Tea Martini, a refreshing cocktail made with vodka, green tea, lemongrass syrup and lemon juice.
Note: JiJi Asian Kitchen costs $15 per adult and $5 per child.
Seafood ShackI nearly missed the delightful, low-key Seafood Shack, which is tucked away on the Lido deck’s aft starboard. Luckily, as my mom and I were taking a few laps around the deck to walk off our numerous indulgences, we spotted the stand, which serves fare ranging from fresh oysters and peel-and-eat shrimp to fried clam strips, fish and chips, lobster rolls and crab cake sliders.
My mom and I shared a beer from the adjacent bar while I slurped down a half-dozen oysters and she dug into shrimp marinated in olive oil and garlic. It was one of the simplest meals I had onboard, but also one of the most heavenly.
Pro tip: Clients who are seafood fiends should pick up their favorite fish onshore; the chefs at Seafood Shack — and the chefs at every venue onboard, for that matter — will prepare any local fresh catch that a guest has purchased anywhere, anytime, any style and with any sauce.
Note: Seafood Shack features an a la carte menu for lunch and dinner.
The DetailsCarnival Cruise Linewww.carnival.com