I booked a 7-day western mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas. Like any other excited foodie, I immediately jumped online to see what specialty dining options were available. After reviewing the restaurants and dining packages, I decided to try Hooked Seafood, 150 Central Park, and Wonderland. Well, I tried them ALL and in today’s blog, I’m sharing my full review of each restaurant – we’re talking price, menu, dress code, atmosphere, which ones are worth the money, and a few helpful tips to help you plan well for your specialty dining experience.
What is a specialty restaurant on a cruise ship?
Let’s get started with a quick overview of the basics: what is a specialty restaurant on a cruise ship? For those who don’t know, a specialty dining restaurant is a smaller venue that focuses on a particular cuisine, like sushi, steak, Italian, or American, or food-related experience, like the chef’s table, wine pairing dinner, a “Taste of Royal”. The difference between a casual dining restaurant and a specialty restaurant is the atmosphere, price, and menu. Casual dining is just that – casual. You can pickup as many items as you please. Plus, a lot of the casual eateries onboard a cruise ship are included in the cost of your cruise.
Specialty dining restaurants are usually in a more intimate setting, require a dress code and reservation, and come at an additional cost over and beyond your cruise fare and paid in advance. With specialty dining, you’ll choose a 3-, 4- or even 8-course meal from a pre-fixed menu. Speciality dining restaurants are onboard every cruise ship, but the bigger the ship, the more options you have to chose from.
How much does a Royal Caribbean Dining package cost?
With this in mind, let’s talk about the price. You can either pay for each individual speciality dining restaurant or book a dining package. I searched for the specialty dining options onboard Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas. There were 11 complimentary dining options and 11 specialty restaurants to choose from, but your ship may have different options so go to the Royal Caribbean website, search for your ship, and check out the dining venues to see what’s available and a sample menu so you can determine if the menu is right for you.
How much does a Royal Caribbean Dining package cost? It depends on how many times you want to dine at a specialty restaurant. You can book and pay for each dinner reservation separately, starting around $45/pp per restaurant up to around $120/pp with the average price around $45-$60/pp. Keep in mind these are typically dinner prices. You can often find a reduced price for lunch or kids menus (kids under 5 years old are free!), if available, or you can buy a dining package. With a dining package, you choose from two, three, or 5 nights of speciality dining, or an unlimited package.
There are even special packages to select restaurants like, “Chops Grill + 1”, meaning a night at chops grill plus one other restaurant of your choice or if you book an unlimited dining package you may receive a dining credit at Johnny Rockets hamburger spot or Playmakers sports bar. All at a reduced rate than booking each individually. Certain restaurants may not be included in the dining package and premium drinks (like soda, alcoholic beverages, etc.) are not included, either, so read the descriptions carefully!
How to Plan Well for a Royal Caribbean Cruise Speciality Dining Experience
We chose the 3-night dining package because it offered the most value for us – we were interested in two, possibly three restaurants and the total price was only a just few dollars more than paying for only two restaurants individually. Plus there was a pre-cruise special – take 25% off dining packages! In total for the 3-night dining package we spent $118.24/pp or $236.48 for both of us, which averages $38/pp per restaurant.
My tips to plan well for a cruise speciality dining experience:
- Book your dining experience online in advance in your cruise planner account because there could be a special waiting for you at up to 40% off!
- Royal Caribbean uses “dynamic pricing”, so you may see different prices for restaurants based on the time of year, availability, ship, etc.
- When booking multiple restaurants or a dining package online, you may be prompted to enter a reservation for only one restaurant. Once onboard, find the specialty dining concierge to complete the rest of your specialty dining restaurant reservations. All we had to do was choose the restaurant, the number of diners, the date, and time, just like any restaurant on land. With our reservations made in advance, all we had to do was show up on the dates and times we chose.
Now that you know what speciality dining is, the price, and how to book, let’s get into the reviews!
Hooked Seafood Royal Caribbean Review
On the first night we dined at Hooked Seafood.
What is the Atmosphere/Ambiance of Hooked Seafood?: East coast, coastal beach town vibe. Think nantucket, Martha’s vineyard, new England sandy beaches. and nautical vibes. Located on Deck 16, you’ll have beautiful views of the sea. The service was excellent and I enjoyed the friendliness of the staff.
Hooked Seafood Dress code: Casual, but no flip flops, bathing suites, tank tops. It’s a seafood beach restaurant, not a pool party!
Hooked Seafood Menu: Like I mentioned before, you can view a sample menu online, but the Hooked Seafood menu is all about seafood! Crab, lobster, oysters, fish, shrimp! You’ll choose starters, a main dish, sides, and desserts. You can choose as many items from each menu as you want. Keep in mind the portions are hearty, so choose wisely!
What we ate:
- BAKED OYSTERS: broiled oysters on the half shell served with fresh lemon, two of each style:
- leeks and white wine
- Brie and Champagne
- I’m not a huge oyster fan, but theses were pretty good!
- CLAM & CRAB CHOWDER: tender clams and lamb crab meat.
- MARYLAND STYLE CRAB CAKE
- FRESH HAND-TOSSED SALAD: mesclun greens, tomatoes, onions, orange segments and strawberries dressed in a lemon-mustard vinaigrette.
- Butter biscuits
- WHOLE MAINE 2 LB LOBSTER stuffed with crab, topped with creamy béchamel sauce and grated Gruyere, then baked until golden brown served with choice of side. This was incredible!
- THE CAPTAIN’S PLATTER. 4 oz. lobster tail, fresh fish filet and shrimp all grilled to perfection, served with warm melted butter and choice of side.
- Sides: Seasonal vegetables, Cajun fries, corn on the cob, lobster Mac & cheese
- Dessert: Coconut cream pie,
Price: $49.99/pp. On select nights lunch is offered at a reduced price, but… is Hooked Seafood worth the price?
My overall review of Hooked Seafood on Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas? Rating: 10/10. For all seafood lovers who want to enjoy in a casual setting. Great for all ages and casual group outings with exquisite food.
Wonderland Royal Caribbean Review
The next specialty dining restaurant we dined at on Royal Caribbean’s wonder of the Seas is Wonderland. Imaginative Cuisine.
What is the Atmosphere/Ambiance of Wonderland?: Imagine you’ve been transported to a whimsy and bright dinner party in Alice and Wonderland. It is a place of opposites – grand yet cozy, colorful yet dark. Playful yet sophisticated, Whimsy yet traditional furniture. It has an eclectic vibe and is one of the most innovative experiences on the entire ship. The service is similar to what you’d find at a Michelin Star restaurant, but with a more playful twist.
You’ll find Wonderland on the Oasis class ships, but on Wonder of the Seas it is located on deck 11, two decks above Central Park with a view of both the sky and Central Park balcony rooms. If you’re lucky, you may also get a visit from the Alice in Wonderland inspired “Mad Hatter” himself! “Venture down the rabbit hole and ask yourself: What is real and what is imagined? At Wonderland, our chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes to invent an elaborate dreamscape of never-before-seen fare.”
What is the Dress Code at Wonderland?: Smart Casual. Chic, modern, be a little adventurous and have fun!
What is the Menu at Wonderland?: Where things may not be as they seem.Think: “Molecular gastronomy” – incorporates science and new techniques in the preparation, transformation, and artistic presentation of food. Think WAY outside the box! Limited menu, can only order a selection of two appetizers under the Sun (playful, reinvented vegetables), Ice (provides a cold, chilly feeling to your palate), and Fire (warmth, heat) sections; One main choice of Earth or Sea, followed by the element of Dreams (dessert). Because the menu, preparation, and presentation is so out the box, the waiters really take the time to describe how the chef prepared each dish and give you insight into what, exactly, you’re eating because without it you may not be able to tell!
Drinks are fun! You can just sit a the bar and order something whimsy if you want without dining.
What We Ate:
- Fire: THE BIRD’S NEST – hard boiled egg, smoke, blue roquefort cheese, Japanese mayo, siratcha sauce. MAD HATTER’S PURPLE POTTED SHRIMP – Crispy crumb, scotch bonnet
- Sun: RECONSTRUCTED CAPRESE SALAD – liquid olive, ricotta powder, mix of bocconcini & blue cheese, heirloom tomatoes, and basil. TOMATO WATER – pepper spherification, red bell pepper, bread foam
- Ice: CRISPY CRAB CONES – cilantro, avocado mousse, ohba leaf. LIQUID LOBSTER topped with bone marrow and caviar with a wasabi bottom. CITRUS SEAS SHHH – spicy tuna, floral yuzu granité.
- Earth: THE RIB “I” LUSCIOUS SHORT RIB Bordelaise (red wine) sauce, mashed potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, red and yellow beet relish, butternut squash puree.
- Sea: BRANZINO IN CRISPY BREAD TAMARIND SPICE EMULSION. Basmati rice cooked in coconut milk, bock choy, sesame seeds. Tamarind and Ginger sauce on the side.
- Dreams: Chocolate sphere, Egyptian gold dust, chocolate mouse, peanut butter, salted caramel ice cream. FORBIDDEN APPLE – lemon butter cookie crumble, raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry mouses, lemon curd and coconut tart, frozen yogurt. Mystical Mushroom garden – red velvet crumb, pistachio, and chocolate nut soil, pink peppercorn macarons, chocolate and pistachio mouse, served with homemade mango sherbert.
My overall review of Wonderland on Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas? Rating: 8/10. The experience is fun! Excellent for those who crave something different, unique, out of the ordinary. Fabulous for curious adults who are completely open to new experiences and are willing to try new flavor combinations. Wonderland is avVery hands on experience and is also great for celebrations (ie- bachelorette parties and birthdays). Not recommended for anyone who doesn’t like to play with their food or stray far from a “traditional” dining experience. Try it! Wonderland is unlike any other dining experience onboard!
150 Central Park Royal Caribbean Review
On the last night of our cruise, we dined at 150 Central Park. ”Only onboard our Oasis-class ships, guests can indulge in a premium dining experience in the most exclusive and sophisticated restaurant onboard, offering Sample seasonal, locally-sourced menus.”
What is the Ambiance like at 150 Central Park?: Exclusive, sophisticated. Of all three restaurants, this feels the most “elevated” of the restaurants. With that said, 150 Central Park is appropriately located on deck 8 in Central Park for even more of a trendy, date night in the city restaurant vibe. The service is excellent!
What is the Dress Code at 150 Central Park: Smart casual, semi-formal, the most “buttoned up”.
What is the Menu: 6-8 course tasting-style menus. Modern American fare. Can order are much, or as little, as you’d like. Starters, entrees, deserts.. Some items are prepared tableside.
What we ate:
- ORGANIC BEET SALAD with prosciutto, goat cheese, and apple chips.
- SEARED SCALLOPS in a honey glaze sauce.
- ROASTED SPICED PUMPKIN BISQUE. Crème fraîche, sourdough croûtons, applewood smoked bacon
- CRISPY BERKSHIRE PORK BELLY appetizer served in a port wine reduction over parsnip puree. It comes with refreshing apple and watermelon radish slaw.
- PAN-SEARED VEAL MEDALLIONS*. Potato mash, organic vegetables, Madeira sauce
- LAMB WELLINGTON* Crispy puff pastry, butternut squash, sautéed spinach, garlic jus
- FRIED CHEESECAKE. Nutella, whipped cream, caramelized popcorn
- HAZELNUT PASSION FRUIT BAR, Lime gel, yuzu mango sorbet
- PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE TART. Caramelized walnuts, blackcurrant sorbet
My overall review of 150 Central Park Rating: 9/10. 150 Central Park is worth a visit. If you’re debating whether to book 150 central park vs chops grille, feel free to read my Chops Grill review from our time on Enchantment of the Seas, but I am torn! My husband prefers Chops grill – it is a tried and true steakhouse that doesn’t disappoint. However, I like 150 Central Park for the high-end feel and the options outside of just steak (even though I LOVE a good steak!). If I had to spend my money on one, I’d probably choose Chops.
Which specialty dining restaurant on Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas is worth the price?
Out of all three restaurants – Hooked Seafood, Wonderland, and 150 Central Park – which one was my favorite? Hands down, I would choose Hooked Seafood! I enjoyed the coastal casual atmosphere, the friendly service, and the food…wow! The food is perfectly seasoned, in hearty portions, and everything was good! From the starters and salads to desert – everything was delicious! If I were to rank all three, I’d say hooked seafood is my favorite, then 150 Central Park, and followed by Wonderland. Don’t get me wrong, all were great experiences but if I only chose one to dine at again, it would be Hooked Seafood. No doubt about it!
Thanks for reading and let me know – which restaurant would you choose?
Antoinette | Frolic & Courage