Connect with us


Holland America Details Gourmet Burgers



In honor of National Burger Day today, Holland America is paying homage to the American classic that has become a worldwide favorite.  Both meat lovers and vegetarians will find a burger to love among the cruise line’s gourmet options at Dive-In at the Terrace Grill, as well as in the Pinnacle Grill and main dining room.  There’s even a burger featured in America’s Test Kitchen.

With 20 unique options onboard, Holland America’s selections take guests on a tasty adventure that goes far beyond cheese, pickles, and ketchup.  There are four styles at Dive-In, a signature burger at Pinnacle Grill, and 14 rotating selections on the main dining room lunch menu.  On a seven-day cruise, it’s estimated that the line serves over 4,000 burgers!

Dive-In Temptations

Dive-In on the lido deck offers a menu of made-to-order beef burgers that are served with Holland America’s secret Dive-In sauce.  These are the four choices:

  • Cannonball: the most popular burger is served with gouda cheese, applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onions, chop-chop lettuce, and sliced tomato on a toasted brioche bun
  • High-Dive: American cheddar cheese, chop-chop lettuce, and sliced tomato on a brioche bun
  • Gainer: A mound of crispy, frizzled onions, chop-chop lettuce, and sliced tomato on a brioche bun
  • Freestyle: This vegetarian “burger” consists of a grilled portobella mushroom topped with cheddar and gouda, chop-chop lettuce, avocado, and sliced tomato on a toasted whole wheat bun.

Cannonball Burger and fries

Pinnacle Grill Perfection

Guests looking for the ultimate gourmet burger will find it in the Pinnacle Grill.  The burger includes bacon jam, garlic chipotle aioli, Beecher’s cheddar cheese, cabernet red onions, and avocado.

Sponsored Link

Pinnacle Grill Burger

American’s Test Kitchen

Through Holland America’s partnership with America’s Test Kitchen, guests can attend onboard cooking shows produced with the long-running television show. One featured recipe is a black bean burger with chipotle mayo.  In the show kitchen, guests can learn how to make it from the onboard chefs that were trained by America’s Test Kitchen culinary experts.

Black Bean Burger

Main Dining Room Options

For lunch in the main dining room, 14 burgers are offered in a cycle; one per day.  Guests on most cruises could try a different one every day and not run out of choices.  The options are:

  • Trattoria Burger with Roasted Bell Pepper, Pesto Mayo, and Mozzarella
  • Melted Brie Bistro Burger
  • Mushroom Fontina Burger
  • Bacon Egg Burger
  • Gouda Burger with Cabernet Onions
  • Andouille Burger with Crumbled Blue Cheese
  • Avocado and Bacon Burger
  • Cheeseburger on Sourdough
  • Cowboy Burger with Grilled Mushrooms
  • Onion Barbecue Burger
  • Cordon Blue Burger
  • Mozzarella Burger with Arugula Pesto
  • Mushroom and Onion Burger
  • Blue Cheese Burger with Crispy Onions

What’s your favorite type of burger?



10 Reasons to Visit Carnival’s Coffee Bar



No matter what you call it – the coffee shop, the café, the “Java Café” on some ships – the coffee shop on Carnival Cruise Line’s serve up so much more than coffee. It’s true that the coffee here may cost a few dollars (unless you have the Cheers! package), but it’s well worth a visit.

1. Someone else makes it.

Sure, you can grab your own coffee on lido deck or have it sent to your room via room service. But why go to the trouble when someone else will make your coffee for you? Some may call this lazy, but you’re on vacation! I drink boring black coffee every day at home. When I’m a cruise, I want those tasty lattes.

2. Specialty coffees and teas

Of course, being a coffee shop, you’ll find an assortment of specialty coffees on the menu. On several ships, they’re even brewed with Starbucks coffee. Options include espresso, cappuccino, lattes, iced coffees, and a “mochachino.” And if you want some extra flavor, there are several different syrups to choose from. The coffee shop also sells an assortment of flavors of specialty hot teas, plus a chai tea latte.

3. The loyalty punch card

For those who don’t purchase the Cheers! package, be sure to pick up a loyalty card at the coffee shop when you visit. The barista will sign it or hole-punch it each time you order. After 6 coffees purchased, number 7 is free!

4. Daily crosswords

If you like brain teasers, the coffee shop puts out a daily crossword puzzle and sudoku game card for free play. There are pencils (albeit without erasers) provided too, so you don’t even need to worry about bringing your own writing utensil. Just bring your best thinking cap and be sure to find a comfy seat nearby with an ocean view to fully enjoy the puzzles.

5. The friendly baristas

My favorite part of cruising is getting to know the crew members, and that includes the friendly baristas at the coffee shop. While most of us come to the coffee shop with feet dragging, eyes still drooping, and bodies desperate for caffeine, the baristas are already wide awake, smiling, and happily ready to serve. My day always starts better with a smile and a friendly chat with them.

Read More: Pros and Cons of Carnival’s CHEERS! Program

6. For an “extra shot”

Hey, you’re on vacation. Why not add more “fun” to your coffee? You’ve probably heard of making your coffee “Irish” (coffee + Bailey’s), but what about Caribbean coffee (Tia Maria-infused coffee + Appleton rum) or Mexican coffee (cappuccino + Patrón)? Or, if you really have a sweet tooth, you could try the Chocolate-Lovers Coffee: chocolate cappuccino with Cruzan rum and crème de cacao. Nothing like starting your day with an extra buzz.

7. Milkshakes

After a hot day in the sun, a milkshake can really hit the spot, and the only place you’ll find them onboard is at the coffee shop. Choose from chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, neapolitan, or a “black and white” (chocolate and vanilla mixed). Best enjoyed with a cherry on top.

8. Boozy milkshakes

Just like the spiked coffees, the baristas also make what I like to call “boozy milkshakes” – that is, milkshakes with a shot of alcohol. However, these spiked milkshakes aren’t actually listed on the coffee shop menu. Simply order a milkshake and ask the barista to add a shot of your favorite liqueur, and they’ll be more than happy to do so. Keep in mind that unless you have the Cheers! package you’ll be paying a little extra on top of the regular price of a milkshake.

9. The treats

Carnival coffee bar

In addition to the extensive beverage menu, the coffee shop also serves up some sweet treats. In fact, when visiting the coffee shop you can’t help but drool over the window casing of desserts: chocolate-covered strawberries, cheesecakes drizzled in fruit, chocolate cake, carrot cake, red velvet cake, mini cakes, cupcakes… you name it! And you may be wondering why pay extra for a dessert when the lido buffet has plenty of sweets. It’s a fair question. But these desserts look (and taste) like they came right from the Chef de Cuisine, and they’re never more than a couple bucks. Plus, the size of one slice of cake is so large, it’s practically three meals worth of dessert! You can also order an entire cake with a specialized message like “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Anniversary” if you’re celebrating with someone on your cruise.

Sponsored Link

10. Other drinks too

The coffee shop sells more than just espressos and desserts. You can also purchase bottled water, sparkling water, hot chocolate, or a Rockstar energy drink here. I In fact, the ship’s café is my go-to spot for grabbing bottled water, because it’s usually less busy than the bars and lounges.


Continue Reading


6 Delicious Norwegian Cruise Line Desserts



A couple of months ago I took my first European cruise aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star. While I could do many posts on the delicious food we had both on land and sea during the trip, I just want to focus on the delicious desserts. If you want to see what I thought of the food onboard overall, check out my 5 first impressions of the ship.

Delicious Desserts on Norwegian Cruise Line

1. Brownie Cheesecake

norwegian star cruise o'sheehan's desserts

Venue: O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill

Can I just say OMG yum! Best of all, this delectable, rich dessert is found at one of the complimentary restaurants onboard – O’Sheehan’s. A brownie base is topped with a layer of cheesecake and then caramel sauce and marshmallows, it’s seriously so many good things in one! Since there were so many venues and desserts to try on the ship, I only ended up ordering this once. But if I had a longer cruise I would totally get it multiple times. It’s also great to share if you just want a light dessert and don’t want anything feeling too heavy in your stomach.

2. Green Tea Cake & Ice Cream

green tea cake ice cream norwegian cruise

Venue: Teppanyaki

Teppanyaki is a hibachi-style specialty restaurant experience that only allows 12 guests per time slot. Everyone sits around the two side-by-side flat top grills while the chefs work their magic – and create a lot of laughs – along the way. The menu is simple and gives two options for dessert – a fruit plate and green tea cake and ice cream. Me wanting to keep with the Asian theme and try something I normally wouldn’t have, chose this. Despite the deep green color that may throw some people off, both the cake and ice cream were delicious and had a nice green tea flavor without being overpowering. Two thumbs up!

3. Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake

lemon ricotta cheesecake norwegian star dessert

Venue: La Cucina

Being the lemon fanatic that I am (seriously, you should see how many things I own that have a lemon print or are lemon-themed), the ricotta cheesecake with lemon curd on the dessert menu at Italian specialty venue La Cucina caught my eye. Honestly, it caught me off guard when I took my first bite. It was much lighter and more textured than I thought it was going to be. This is the type of dessert you’ll want if you are stuffed full from the pasta and want something that won’t weigh you down too much more. It was great for that, and I think it just slightly disappointed me because I was expecting something rich and smooth. But still, I would eat this anytime and it really was delicious.

4. Chocolate Tart

norwegian star dessert chocolate tart cruise

Venue: La Cucina

If we’re being honest, the chocolate tart with raspberries also caught us off guard at La Cucina. I guess this restaurant was full of dessert surprises! Doug ordered this and he is not a huge chocolate fan. He’ll eat it, but in most cases chocolate desserts wouldn’t be his first choice. Obviously the menu description did not quite relay to us that this was the darkest, richest chocolate dessert that has ever touched my tongue. For me, it was a dream come true. I could not get enough of the chocolate tart and would eat it every week if I could. As a result, we sort of shared desserts and then I ended up eating the majority of both! This is a five-star dessert for me, no question.

5. Warm Chocolate Lava Cake

chocolate lava cake norwegian cruise dessert

Venue: Main Dining Room

Okay. So I hear that Carnival has some to-die-for chocolate melting cake, and I will be able to try that for myself very soon (Hello Vista!). But based on Norwegian Cruise Line’s chocolate lava cake, I’m straight-up saying ahead of time that I think it gives Carnival a run for its money, and may be better. I’ll report back once I’ve been able to try Carnival’s. This warm lava cake is so rich and ooey-gooey; a perfect little dessert with ice cream and strawberry compote to round it out. I could not get enough and ordered it three times throughout the course of our voyage. Never take this off of your main dining menu, Norwegian!

6. Raspberry Crème Brûlée / Oreo Cheesecake

norwegian star desserts steakhouse cheesecake food

Venue: Cagney’s Steakhouse

Sponsored Link

So this is actually two desserts, which we took to-go from the steakhouse because we were so stuffed from dinner that night! The raspberry crème brûlée was excellent – that hard top “shell” we all love and the smooth creamy inside, in this case with a light raspberry flavor. I definitely recommend this for anyone who loves crème brûlée. The Oreo cheesecake was also wonderful, and comes as no surprise since by now you’ve discovered my deep love of chocolate and cheesecake. Also can I mention that I actually love how most portions on cruise ships are pretty small compared to what we are used to in landslide restaurants? (At least in the United States!). It gives you a good taste and dessert satisfaction without filling you up to the point of exploding or feeling guilty for wasting half your plate.

Without a doubt, I had some delicious desserts during my cruise on Norwegian StarThe good news is, these venues are not Star-exclusive and can be found on some other Norwegian Cruise Line ships as well. Chances are no matter which ship in the fleet you’re sailing, you’ll be able to find at least a few of the sweet treats I mentioned if you’re wanting to try them for yourself. Happy cruising and happy dessert-eating!


Continue Reading


Review: Lunch at Carnival’s Cucina del Capitano



Pre-Meal Thoughts

When I first tried the Cucina del Capitano venue 4 years ago on Carnival Magic, I wasn’t particularly overwhelmed. I had no complaints, but I also didn’t leave feeling overly eager to go back. That’s why on my recent sailing on Carnival Breeze, Cucina del Capitano wasn’t at the top of my food list.

But it was still on my list. Although I wasn’t planning to pay the $15 per person charge for dinner service, I knew that the restaurant is free during lunch hours and planned to take advantage of that. However, the days of my 7-day cruise flew by, and I kept eating elsewhere, in part also because of other online reviews that reflected my past experience: Cucina del Capitano is good, but not worth the charge at dinnertime. But Carnival Breeze just has too many good places to eat, and I kept passing Cucina del Capitano up.

On the fifth night of my cruise as I was indulging in The Chef’s Table, the sous chef asked the 10 of us there if we had tried Cucina del Capitano. When only 2 people raised their hands, he made it a point to mention Cucina del Capitano several more times throughout the night. He seemed very proud of it.

With that recommendation, I finally went the day we docked in Cozumel. (Tip: Go on a port day; the restaurant was nearly empty!)

The Restaurant

The hostess sat us down at a table with a lovely view of Oasis of the Seas docked next to us and handed us our ordering cards. We checked whether we wanted bread, what type of salad, and then selected our pasta, sauce, vegetables, and meats on the card and placed them on a counter by the kitchen. A waitress brought us water straight away and then came shortly afterward with our salads and bread.

The caesar salad (the first salad I had ordered the entire the entire cruise, believe it or not) was refreshing and perfectly dressed, and the bread was warm, buttery, and super soft with only a touch of garlic.

I ordered linguini with alfredo sauce and shrimp and mushrooms. The pasta was cooked perfectly, and I could tell that it was fresh – not something that had been sitting in the kitchen for an hour or two. The sauce tasted great too and was the perfect consistency – not too runny but not thick and clumpy either. The shrimp were cooked well but not really seasoned, which I personally would’ve preferred; however, I realize not everyone wants that, which is why they probably only lightly salt them. Finally, the mushrooms were also cooked perfectly.

Final Thoughts

All in all, it was a delicious bowl of pasta and meal as a whole. I found myself surprised, impressed, and regretting that I hadn’t come earlier. In fact, I would even be willing to try it for dinner, as the dinner is served family-style rather than through checking cards and the menu is much larger than just pasta bowls.

Long story short: My opinion was completely changed, and now I’m a big fan of Cucina del Capitano. Don’t believe all the “meh” reviews you read online. I believe it has improved since its first debut. Just try it out for yourself!

Cucina del Capitano can be found on Carnival Vista, Breeze, Magic, and Sunshine. It will also be on the upcoming Carnival Horizon.

Sponsored Link


Continue Reading

Sponsored Link


Sponsored Link

Send this to a friend

Hi, this may be of interest to you: Holland America Details Gourmet Burgers. This is the link: