Celebrity Beyond Is the Ultimate Cruise Ship for Foodies
Never having been on a cruise, I made many assumptions before my first, picturing overcrowded pools, teeny-tiny cabins and buffets that would inspire nightmares of my college dining hall. (Oh, and I was really worried about being seasick for seven days straight.) But after having experienced the Celebrity Beyond, I can admit that I severely underestimated what a cruise could be—namely in the food and drink department. There’s no limit to the culinary splendor aboard this next-level ship, from specialty restaurants to mixology classes to international food-focused excursions. Here’s everything you need to know about Celebrity Beyond’s food and drink offerings before you book, including the dishes I couldn’t get enough of during my stay.
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What Is Celebrity Beyond?
Celebrity’s ships are considered resorts at sea, complete with all the amenities you’d get at a hotel on land. (In fact, Celebrity Cruises are the first and only relaxed luxury resorts at sea to be star-rated by Forbes Travel Guide.) Named Best Premium Cruise Line for 14 consecutive years by Travel Weekly’s Annual Readers’ Choice Awards, Celebrity is famous for its hospitable, friendly service. Celebrity is also known for its award-winning theater shows, entertainment and on-board activities. You may think an eight-day cruise is too long, but there’s *always* something fun to do on the ship, promise.
As for the Celebrity Beyond, it’s the first cruise ship with an American female captain—ever. (Her name is Captain Kate McCue, and she has the cutest elf sphynx cat you’ve ever seen, Bug Naked, on board with her for every voyage.) Beyond officially joined the Edge Series fleet in March 2021. These ships are famous for their signature cantilevered Magic Carpets—aka decks that are suspended over the side of the ship (up 13 stories high!), offering unrivaled views of the open water. (You can even book a table for Dinner on the Edge, if you don’t mind the height.)
There are plenty of open-air spaces to unwind in, from the resort deck’s multiple pools and hot tubs to your own stateroom, many of which come with groundbreaking Infinite Verandas, that blur the line between indoors and outdoors. (Picture lying in bed while being cooled by revitalizing ocean air or digging into room service to the sound of gentle waves.) And thanks to the high-tech stabilizers, the ship’s rocking is kept to a minimum. I kept anti-nausea meds in my purse just in case, but rarely needed to use them. So don’t fret, newbies!
Celebrity Beyond’s Food & Drink
There are a whopping 32 food and beverage venues on board, including eight specialty restaurants and two exclusive restaurants. There are also 14 cafés, bars and lounges, four casual dining venues and four main dining restaurants. Regardless of the type of stateroom you book, you’ll have complimentary access to all four main dining restaurants, as well as the casual dining venues. As for specialty dining, you can book in advance as a package or pay a la carte once on the ship. (So, for instance, if you went with a basic dining package and stateroom, you could still dine at a specialty venue for a cover charge.)
Casual dining includes the Oceanview Café, a large buffet surrounded by massive windows that offers globally inspired fare, as well as Eden Café (casual breakfast and lunch), The Spa Café and Juice Bar (nourishing grab-and-go bites) and Mast Grill (a poolside burgers-and-dogs joint with soft serve ice cream).
The main dining restaurants include Cyprus, Tuscan, Normandie (do not miss the whipped passion fruit curd for dessert here) and Cosmopolitan, each with a different ambiance and theme. The menus change nightly, but they share the same kitchen, so you can mix and match your favorites from each venue. (For instance, if you want a dessert from Normandie while dining at Tuscan, odds are you can order it.) You can also book a table at one restaurant and switch to another upon request, or book the same table with the same waiter for your entire trip with Celebrity Select Dining.
As for exclusive dining venues, you need to be staying in The Retreat—a luxury experience that includes a massive suite, an exclusive lounge and sundeck and unending amenities—to gain access to Luminae at The Retreat, a private resto with a menu crafted by a Michelin-starred chef. (The other exclusive resto is Blu, which is exclusive to AquaClass guests—more on that later.)
There are also endless options for libations that are open to everyone on board. World Class Bar is the place for high-end cocktails and mixology classes (which are so fun and informative, BTW). The Martini Bar in the Grand Plaza offers dozens of martinis to choose from, and it’s staffed with bartenders who can do spectacular tricks, from bottle juggling to mixing a drink in a cocktail shaker balanced on their foreheads. (They flex their skills most during an epic show every evening featuring the massive LED chandelier above the bar.) Sunset Bar, designed by Nate Berkus, is the best place for alfresco hangs and incredible views, while Craft Social is the spot for beer lovers. As for coffee, Café al Bacio has you covered, and with fresh pastries to boot.
The Best Specialty Restaurants on Celebrity Beyond
I got to try most of the specialty restaurants on board. Allow me to be the first to say that your palate is not prepared for the caliber of food on this ship. Here are my top five restaurants on board and the best dishes to order at each.
What to Order: Alaskan King Crab Salad, Vidalia Onion Tart, Prime Black Angus Filet Mignon
Created by Daniel Boulud, a world-renowned chef known for his two-Michelin-starred NYC restaurant Daniel and Celebrity’s Global Culinary Ambassador, Le Voyage is an intimate, upscale restaurant featuring warm lighting, soft-toned decor and private banquette seating. Its global menu is inspired by Boulud’s travels, so offerings range from Thai-style prawns, encrusted in tamarind and peanuts and swimming in green curry, to Brazilian moqueca with cashew rice and coconut broth. In case the drool-worthy menu isn’t enough to convince you, note that Le Voyage boasts the most awarded wine collection at sea, along with a very knowledgeable sommelier who can find the optimal vintage for your taste. Did we mention each meal ends with Boulud’s famous madeleines?
What to Order: Sheep’s Milk Gnocchi, Pan Roasted Carabinero Shrimp, Nova Scotia Lobster Casserole
While Boulud’s resto may be the most alluring to distinguished foodies, no self-respecting gourmand should skip Eden. With lush, green decor and ornate cocktails inspired by the Garden of Eden, this meal was arguably the most divine of them all. Inspired by international cuisines, Eden’s menu is inventive, whimsical and well-rounded. The sheep’s milk gnocchi was unlike any I’d ever had—pillowy soft, delightfully tangy and crowned with shatteringly crisp shards of guanciale. Mushroom lovers will adore the truffled huitlacoche risotto, creamy with mascarpone cheese, while seafood stans need to try the Nova Scotia lobster casserole with sweet corn and marble potatoes. Splurge on the tasting menu or pick and choose your favorite dishes to share.
Le Petit Chef at Le Grand Bistro
What to Order: Poached Shrimp and Persian Cucumber Salad, Braised Short Rib of Beef, Strawberry Chantilly Napoleon
Experiential dining has been on the rise, and this interactive, one-of-a-kind experience proves it. Le Petit Chef, an immersive dinner theater experience starring a 6-centimeter-tall chef that’s projected onto your table from above, takes place at Le Grand Bistro, the ship’s French restaurant. The adorable (and surprisingly funny) cook walks you through each course of the tasting menu, explaining his inspiration for the dishes you’re about to eat. He’ll prepare an animated version of each course on your plate just before your server brings over the real thing. The themes of the show inspired plenty of dinner conversation and childlike revelry at our table —keep the wine flowing and you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable experience.
What to Order: San Daniele Prosciutto, Moroccan Spiced Chicken Chickpea Soup, Pumpkin Gnocchi
If you stay in an AquaClass stateroom, you can dine at Blu, a fantastical, exclusive restaurant with lots of floral accents, plush chairs and royal blue accoutrements. Blu’s menu is more wellness-focused, featuring clean ingredients, lots of plant-based dishes and an extensive list of sustainable and biodynamic wines. (Although I strongly recommend the Picking Season cocktail, a mix of cachaça, lemon, fresh cider and organic apple.) “Clean Cuisine” menu items include scallop-shrimp ceviche with pickled ginger and sesame oil, baked salmon fillet with warm blueberry balsamic vinaigrette and tandoori cauliflower steak with yogurt-cilantro sauce. You can’t go wrong with the cracked peppercorn-crusted tuna salad with watercress and Dijon vinaigrette, but if you’re extra hungry, go for the slow braised, so-tender-you-don’t-need-a-knife Colorado lamb shank with saffron couscous and glazed carrot jus.
Rooftop Garden Grill
What to Order: Smoked Chicken Wings, Pulled Pork Slider Trio, The Cookie
The most casual concept of all the specialty restaurants, the Rooftop Garden Grill slings elevated barbecue fare and game day grub in an open-air setting. It’s nestled in an intimate corner of the Rooftop Garden, so you’ll soak up endless sea breeze while you nosh. The smoked wings with house dry rub were among my favorite bites of the entire voyage—crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and complexly seasoned. The hickory-smoked brisket and mesquite baby back ribs, complete with mustard-vinegar slaw and jalapeño cornbread respectively, both hit the spot after a long day in the sun. The desserts are also nothing to sneer at: Try the salted chocolate chip cookie with vanilla gelato or the mason jar s’mores, made with chocolate mousse and homemade marshmallow.
Other Specialty Restaurants: Raw on 5 (sushi and sashimi), Fine Cut Steakhouse (steak, lamb and lobster)
Culinary Excursions on Celebrity Beyond
Celebrity Beyond tours both the Mediterranean and the Caribbean with a wide range of itineraries. Our particular trip made port at St. Maarten, St. Thomas and the Dominican Republic. With private, small-group and large group tours available, there’s plenty to do when the ship stops besides stretching your legs on land. Here’s a breakdown of what we did (plus some of the best local bites in each destination):
We booked a private tour of the island’s French side. After taking in views of the Caribbean Sea and learning a bit about the country’s history from our driver, we stopped at a commercial village for some shopping. Once we were hungry, we stopped at Cynthia’s Talk of the Town, a lolo (a word for a small, traditional restaurant used in a number of islands in the West Indies) that serves the meanest, butteriest grilled Caribbean lobster you’ll ever eat. Next, we went to Marigot Market to peruse street vendors (with a beyond boozy piña colada in hand) and had lunch at Rosemary’s Seafood and Creole Cuisine, which just so happens to have been featured in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour. (He also penned an article for The New York Times about his experience there, which Rosemary herself told us changed her life forever.) The stewed oxtail and whole fried snapper were plain revelatory, and we washed them down with sweet, smooth shots of guavaberry, a national spirit made from a plant of the same name.
We opted for a lazy day and booked the Magen’s Bay Beach Getaway. An open-air bus took us on a breathtaking drive along the Atlantic side of the island to the bay, which is a protected stretch of white sand and cerulean waters surrounded by mountains. It’s known as one of the most pristine and calm beaches in the world. After a rejuvenating dip and a quick tan, we walked over to Magens Point Bar and Grill for cocktails. I ordered the rum punch, which was refreshing, tropical and as strong as I’d hoped. After a pitstop at Drake’s Seat, a scenic point that offers panoramic views of the bay, we headed downtown for shopping and much needed ice cream.
After getting some R&R the day before, we were ready to get our hands dirty and break a sweat on a private Countryside & Coffee Cultural Tour in Puerto Plata. A unique experience courtesy of Tubagua Plantation and Eco Lodge, our group planted 120 coffee seeds for local farmers to grow, harvest and sell. We also watched a demonstration that explained how coffee gets from bean to cup and tried some freshly brewed java made the old-fashioned way. Finally, we headed to the dining room for sancocho (a meat and vegetable stew), white rice, the most delicious avocado I’ve ever had and local beer. Finally, we headed downtown for shopping, sightseeing and a mamajuana (a deeply spiced local rum) tasting before heading back to the ship.
Celebrity Beyond Pricing
Celebrity Beyond’s current voyages start at $972 (this is for a six-night cruise to Bimini, Mexico and Grand Cayman) per person, plus taxes, fees and port expenses, which vary by cruise. The cheapest room starts at $1,960 per person or $2,941 with the all-inclusive package. The cheapest option that’s inherently all-inclusive (meaning drinks, internet, tips and access to one exclusive restaurant) is AquaClass, which starts at $4,845 per person. (The Retreat costs $4K more, in case you’re curious.) No matter what stateroom you book, you’ll still need to book a specialty dining package to gain access to all the specialty dining restaurants, or you’ll need to book a table a la carte for a venue you’re interested in once you’re on board. Yes, it’s an investment, but what better way to splurge for a traveling foodie?
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Taryn Pire is PureWow’s associate food editor. A former bartender and barista, she’s been writing about all things delicious since 2016, developing recipes, reviewing restaurants and investigating food trends at Food52, New Jersey Family Magazine and Taste Talks. When she isn’t testing TikTok’s latest viral recipe, she’s having popcorn for dinner and posting about it on Instagram @cookingwithpire.