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11 foods you must eat on a Carnival cruise


From all-you-can-eat pizza to endless sweet treats and gourmet meals in the Main Dining Room, there's no denying the food is one of the best parts of a cruise. 

Carnival ships don't lack variety, either. Everything from poolside burritos to soft-serve ice cream cones and delicious French toast during SeaDay brunch is available to satisfy all cravings. Truthfully, it's hard not to come back weighing a few more pounds than when you boarded! 

Whether you're looking forward to your next sailing or have no idea what to expect, here are 11 dishes that should be on your radar on your next Carnival cruise. 

Chocolate melting cake


You can't go wrong with Carnival's infamous chocolate melting cake. Available nightly in the Main Dining Room, it's perhaps one of the closest things to dessert heaven. 

While I've noticed the serving ramekins vary, the warm, gooey center and cold vanilla ice cream remain constant; it's an irresistible choice! I've taken my friend and fiancée on their first Carnival cruises, and they both agree it's worth the hype! 

If your next cruise is too far away and you can't bear the thought of going months (or even years) without Carnival's chocolate goodness, no need to fear! They've shared the recipe on their website. Apparently, it's super easy to make, taking just 15 minutes for four servings. 

Loaded burger from Guy's Burger Joint

guy's burger celebration

I'll be honest, I wasn't too sure the hour-long wait for Guy's on Carnival Celebration was worth it; however, I was proven wrong the moment I bit into the juicy burger. A staple on ships ranging from the 26-year-old Carnival Elation to the brand-new Carnival Jubilee, Guy's Burger Joint is the brainchild of no other than Guy Fieri. 

The acronyms can be hard to understand as a first-timer, especially under pressure, so here's a guide to help you study before you're put to the test in line! 

  • L.T.O.P = Lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle
  • S.M.C = Super Melty Cheese
  • Rojo Ring = Crispy spicy onion ring
  • Donkey sauce = Jacked up "secret sauce"

Let's say you're ordering the "Straight Up," which comes with L.T.O.P, S.M.C, and donkey sauce. You can expect your burger to come loaded with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, cheese, and Guy's secret sauce. 


And yes, veggie burgers are available for those who don't eat red meat! Typically, crew members aren't constantly grilling them up like standard patties, so you may have a short wait. Regardless, it's worth it! 

Bananas Foster Crêpes


Available only on Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration, and Carnival Jubilee, Emerli's Bananas Foster Crêpes are worth the extra charge. They're on the "small plates" breakfast menu, along with the Breakfast Po-Boy, Shrimp & Grits, Shrimp Creole Omelette, Sweet Potato Waffles, and more, all of which cost just $6. 

While sweeter than traditional breakfast favorites like scrambled eggs and bacon, it was one of the highlights of my Carnival Celebration cruise, ranking far above the standard offerings in the buffet. 

The notes of caramelization weren't overwhelming and complemented the natural banana flavor. Paired with a hot latte, I was in breakfast heaven! 

12-hour French toast


Plenty of yummy breakfast options are included in your cruise fare, too, such as SeaDay Brunch's 12-hour French toast. Topped with roasted peaches and your choice of sides, it's the best way to start a leisurely day onboard. 

If you are craving something a bit more savory, go for the Steak & Eggs, Huevos Rancheros, or Brunch Burger. Regardless of what you're in the mood for, make sure you arrive hungry because the portions are large! 

SeaDay Brunch is a popular affair, so it's not uncommon to see wait times exceed an hour. When I sailed on Carnival Celebration, I was shocked to see a 100-minute wait on the first sea day. To avoid the rush, consider dining early. 

Custom tacos from BlueIguana Cantina


The buffet is my least favorite dining venue onboard Carnival ships. Rather than eat mediocre food sitting underneath heat lamps, fresh tacos from BlueIguana Cantina sound more appealing. 

In addition to tacos, guests may build their own burrito or bowl with chicken, pork, or fish. There's also a salsa bar with various options to cater to sailors with various spice tolerances. 

If that wasn't enough, BlueIgauana Cantina dishes up delicious Mexican-inspired fare for breakfast—including huevos rancheros and arepas—so guests can further avoid the chaos of the Lido Marketplace. And yes, it's all included! 

Read more: Carnival menus 2024: Main dining room, specialty restaurants & more

Complimentary lobster tails


If your cruise is 6 nights or longer, you can enjoy complimentary broiled lobster tails on the second Elegant Night in the ship's Main Dining Room. 

You can order two included entrées each evening, so you can pair the lobster tail with the Slow Cooked Prime Rib, Roasted Vegetable Lasagna, Chicken Cordon Blu, or Crawfish Fettuccini. Third entrées incur a fee of $5 to aid in reducing food waste. 

Those on shorter cruises can still order lobster tails in the dining room for $23. 

Soft-serve ice cream

Ice Cream

There's nothing quite like a refreshing soft-serve cone by the pool on a warm day. While it's the perfect before-lunch treat, one can also be enjoyed after returning from a long day ashore. 

Something I have yet to try (but have heard a lot about) is the DIY frosted lemonade. Since both lemonade and vanilla soft-serve ice cream are included, mixing them together creates the perfect cool and creamy sweet treat. 

Other available flavors include chocolate and strawberry. 

Tender, juicy steaks from the steakhouse


Between three-course meals in the dining room to late-night buffets and fast-casual bites by the pool, you won't go hungry with all of Carnival's included dining. However, there's nothing wrong with treating yourself to a meal in one of the specialty restaurants. 

When sailing on Carnival Conquest, my friend and I decided to try The Point Steakhouse, and we were not disappointed. For $59 (including gratuities), I enjoyed lobster bisque, a lobster tail, macaroni and cheese, and a decadent dessert. The star of the show, however, was the juicy filet mignon, which was incredibly tender and flavorful with every bite. 

The ambiance was much more relaxed than the noisy Monet dining room, further justifying the extra cost. 

Read more: I take over 10 cruises a year as a cruise reporter. I always book a specialty restaurant — even though it costs extra money

Crab and shrimp cake


In mid-2023, Carnival Cruise Line began testing new dining room menus designed in consultation with Emeril Lagasse, Carnival's "Chef Culinary Officer." 

Rather than simplify the offerings, they added dozens of new dishes, ranging from Cornish Game Hen to Pappardelle with Braised Lamb, an Asian Chopped Salad with Chicken, Dutch Double Chocolate Pave, and—one of my favorites—the Crab and Shrimp Cake. 

One of "Emeril Selects," the tender meat pairs well with the tangy remoulade sauce. It's a shame it is typically only on the menu once! 

Big Chicken sandwiches

big chicken carnival celebration

If you are a fan of fried chicken sandwiches and chicken tenders, you cannot skip Big Chicken on Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration, Carnival Jubilee, and Carnival Radiance. 

Created in collaboration with Shaquille O'Neal, Carnival's "Chef Fun Officer," Big Chicken promises a unique culinary experience with its crispy chicken and signature sauces, including Shaq Sauce, Spicy Chipotle BBQ Sauce, and Carolina Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce. Plus, the fries, homemade sweet & spicy pickles, and jalapeño slaw complement the sandwiches and tenders. 

Like BlueIguana Cantina, guests can also stop by Big Chicken for breakfast. Though a limited menu with just three items, the morning offerings are designed to offer passengers a quick option to start their day right. 

Read more: Here's what you should do with your dirty buffet plates, according to Carnival Cruise Line

Tempura Roll from Bonsai Sushi


I'm quite picky when it comes to sushi. Sashimi and nigiri aren't my favorites because of the texture of raw fish, so I'm usually limited to California and Tempura Rolls. 

On Carnival Vista, I was impressed with the quality of Bonsai Sushi. For just $13, I enjoyed a 6-piece Tempura Roll and Miso Soup. 

The drizzle of Bonsai Sushi sauce and yuzu mayo enhanced the flavors without drowning the roll in condiments. I enjoyed the miso soup, too, which was served in a piping hot kettle and poured at the table. 

There are many great dishes to enjoy on a Carnival cruise! What's your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

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