The Evolution of Cruise F&B: Healthy, Sustainable, Immersive Cultural Experiences

Seabourn Odyssey Dining on Deck

The drastic increase in food and beverage costs presents a key challenge for meeting and incentive travel planners in 2024. To stay within their budget, many have resorted to offering fewer, or scaled-back F&B events. However, the increasing demand for healthier, eco-friendly food choices and authentic gastronomic experiences cannot be ignored. 

That’s The Challenge – Here’s The Solution

A cruise is a creative cost-cutting solution to ensure a high-quality event and positive attendee experience. By choosing a cruise ship as your event venue, you can provide a wide variety of high-quality, sustainable food options without exceeding your budget.

Celebrity Ascent plant-based tasting menu.
Celebrity Ascent plant-based tasting menu. Image courtesy of Celebrity Cruises.
Cruise companies are not just introducing new food concepts, they are creating unique, immersive culinary experiences with delicious, more nutritious options. They’re also stepping up to the plate to meet the needs of passengers with special dietary requirements, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free. Importantly, these cruise lines are committed to reducing their carbon footprint by adding plant-based alternatives, sourcing more goods locally, and minimizing food waste, contributing to a healthier planet.

And the best part? During a cruise event, meals are included in a variety of venues, with no added cost for special dietary options. This means simplified planning for you, more choices, and fewer out-of-pocket expenses for attendees. Hosting an event at sea can lead to significant cost savings without compromising on the quality of the event or the attendee experience.

More Plant-Based Options

Due to the rising popularity and sustainable benefits of plant-based diets, cruise lines are expanding their plant-based menus with diverse creative culinary offerings.
SeaDream Yacht Club salad.
SeaDream Yacht Club salad.. Image courtesy of SeaDream Yacht Club.

In 2011, SeaDream Yacht Club was the first cruise line to introduce a plant-based menu onboard their luxury mega-yachts. Today, guests on SeaDream’s yachts can indulge in the most extensive plant-based menus at sea. A variety of delicious and nutritious dishes showcase the best of local and seasonal ingredients, providing healthy and sustainable dining choices.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has added over 200 vegetable-based meals across its Oceania and Regent Seven Seas fleets. When Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Aqua sets sail in 2025, it will feature the company’s first-ever plant-based food restaurant offering plant-based bowls and other healthy options.

Princess Cruise Line, Atlas Ocean Voyages, Celebrity Cruises, and Carnival Cruises have also introduced plant-based menus, demonstrating their dedication to meeting guests’ dietary needs and promoting a healthier, greener future.

Sustainable Seafood

Holland America Line Alaska Salmon
Holland America Line Alaska Salmon. Image courtesy of Holland America Line.

Holland America Line was the first global cruise line to serve 100% fresh, certified, sustainable, and traceable wild Alaska seafood on board its six ships sailing in Alaska. In 2024, the cruise line also became the first to receive Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certifications, the most credible standards worldwide for certified seafood.

These certifications build on Holland America’s commitment to bringing regionally inspired fresh seafood dishes from port to plate in 48 hours in all onboard restaurants. Guests can find fresh fish and ingredients native to the various regions where their ships sail, with destination-inspired menus and local specialties.

What About Beverages?

Many cruise lines now offer zero-proof cocktails with high-end ingredients, elevating the “mocktail” experience. Norwegian Cruise Line introduced the first sustainable bar at sea on Norwegian Prima. Guests can enjoy a sustainable craft cocktail or biodynamic wine at the new Metropolitan Bar. Zero-waste cocktails include ingredients such as banana syrup, which is made onboard from banana peel leftovers.
Holland America Alaska Glacier Ice cocktail
Holland America Alaska Glacier Ice cocktail. Image courtesy of Holland America Line.
Holland America Line introduced new cocktails featuring authentic glacier ice to delight the senses during Alaska cruises. The ice was harvested by state permit among floating glacier bergs in Prince William Sound.

Immersive Cultural Culinary Experiences

Cruise lines are responding to the growing passenger demand for authentic, immersive culinary adventures – both onboard and ashore. Here are a few examples:
Regent Seven Seas Epicurean Wine Tour
Regent Seven Seas Epicurean Wine Tour. Image courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Silversea offers guests deeper insights into the destinations they visit through their unique Sea And Land Taste (S.A.L.T.) program during all voyages on Silver Nova, Silver Ray, Silver Moon, and Silver Dawn. Exclusive S.A.L.T. events range from market trips and culinary tours accompanied by food experts to destination-inspired dinners and cooking demos with local guest chefs in the interactive cooking lab.

Regent Seven Seas: During Regent’s specially crafted chef-led tours, small groups can discover vibrant markets, sample world-class restaurants, and return to the ship for a cooking class inspired by the local cuisine.

Royal Caribbean offers flavorful excursions in many destinations, including the Caribbean, Europe, and other locations. For example, during a Gourmet Mayan Cooking Excursion in Cozumel, Mexico, guests can engage in a hands-on experience, preparing gourmet Mayan dishes that highlight the region’s rich flavors and culinary history.

Holland America Line offers a selection of food & wine-themed tours in some of the world’s most renowned gastronomic destinations, During a Mediterranean voyage, guests can shop with a renowned Barcelona chef and create an extraordinary meal, learn the secret to making the perfect pizza crust in Naples, or explore a family-owned Santorini vineyard and sample its wines.

SeaDream Yacht Club Shopping with the Chef
SeaDream Yacht Club Shopping with the Chef. Image courtesy of SeaDream Yacht Club.

Local Market Tours: Many premium and luxury cruise lines, including SeaDream Yacht Club, Seabourn Cruise Line, and Windstar Cruises, offer chef-led market tours that provide an insider’s view of the regional food experience. Guests accompany their chefs to local food markets to select fresh ingredients for meals on the ship.

Cost Saving Bonus Of Meeting At Sea

Celebrity Beyond Eden Restaurant
Celebrity Beyond Eden Restaurant. Image courtesy of Celebrity Cruises.

One significant advantage of hosting your event on a cruise is the cost savings. With all meals included on a ship venue, an organization can drastically reduce its F&B expenses. Complimentary event spaces, use of A/V equipment, onboard activities, and entertainment also add to a successful event at sea.

Find Your Perfect Cruise

Ready to explore cruise options for your next meeting, incentive, or group travel program? To learn more, request a quote, call us at +1 786-594-0732, or email


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