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Cruise Experts Tell All: The 6 Best Dining Experiences on a HAL Cruise

Holland America Line puts a lot of care into the onboard culinary program. From specialty restaurants to inclusive options, each dining experience serves as a reminder that a cruise is a special type of vacation. On Facebook we asked experienced cruisers to weigh in on the best onboard dining options. The top six dining venues ranged from formal and elegant to casual and relaxed. Here are the favorites:

1. Pinnacle Grill
2. Main Dining Room
3. The Lido
4. Tamarind
5. In-Cabin and Balcony Dining
6. Canaletto

Whether you’re a first time cruiser or just looking for some new insight, take a look at what fans had to say about the best place to dine onboard a Holland America Line ship — the answers might surprise you!

1. PINNACLE GRILL

From the ambiance, cuisine and An Evening at Le Cirque, the Pinnacle Grill is fans' number-one dining venue.

From the ambiance, cuisine and An Evening at Le Cirque, the Pinnacle Grill is fans’ number-one dining venue.

Many guests said they were happy to eat anywhere onboard, but when dealing in specifics The Pinnacle Grill came out on top! Guests praised the venue as really special, from the “best Mac and Cheese in the world,” according to Roslyn Kelln, to the dreamy creme brûlée, and many said a night at the Pinnacle Grill was not to be forgotten and a fabulous place to celebrate. Ron Achtenberg had particularly fond memories — after being married onboard Zuiderdam he and his bride celebrated that evening at the restaurant. And Tracy Love Holmes had high praise for the venue.

The Pinnacle Grill was amazing … The food is just unlike any food I’ve ever had my whole life! Absolutely amazing! — Tracy

2. THE MAIN DINING ROOM

There's something to be said about the tradition of the main dining room, not to mention the incredible menu and fantastic service.

There’s something to be said about the tradition of the main dining room, not to mention the incredible menu and fantastic service.

After the Pinnacle Grill, the Main Dining Room was a major preference for Holland America Line cruisers! Many cited the delicious meals, the gorgeous setting and the fabulous service. Marilyn Cannezzaro said, “It’s so nice to be waited on after cooking all my life!”

Others, like Catherine Molchan Donald and Carol Burns love the Main Dining Room as a grand tradition and social gathering. As a classic feature of cruising, many said that they loved to sit down to a lovely dinner at the end of the day, unwind and get to know their cruising companions.

Judi Matthews: The Main Dining room on any of the beautiful ships with our new found friends. We always request 2nd seating at a table for 6 or 8 … on a cruise that might be 7 days or 30+. We have gotten to know & loved all of our table mates and after many years keep up with almost all of them!

3. THE LIDO

From exotic stations to mouth-watering burgers at “Dive-In at the Terrace Grill,” the Lido offers a huge variety of options.

From exotic stations to mouth-watering burgers at “Dive-In at the Terrace Grill,” the Lido offers a huge variety of options.

Another classic option that guests prefer is The Lido area. On Lido Deck you can find an outstanding array of options, from sandwiches and salad bars to sushi and Pad Thai! Many enjoy the variety and the casual setting. A newer option that garnered praise is Dive-In at the Terrace Grill, Holland America Line’s poolside destination for gourmet burgers, fries and hot dogs. Bobbie Nickell Dechant said that Dive-In has “the best hot dogs ever!”

Others, like Esmeralda Sammut are gearing up to “Dive-In” for the first time.

Everywhere is outstanding. Looking forward to trying the ‘Dive-In’ restaurant later this year. Did not have it in 2013. — Esmeralda

4. TAMARIND

Vibrant Asian fusion and elegant service are hallmarks of Tamarind.

Vibrant Asian fusion and elegant service are hallmarks of Tamarind.

Tamarind, Holland America Line’s onboard Asian fusion restaurant, was a popular choice for many HAL guests. Despite the fact that the restaurant is exclusive to Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam, it got a heap of votes! The menu — including pho, sushi, Thai beef salad, Cantonese duck and scallops and prawns with garlic, ginger and chili — reflects the vibrant culinary influences of Southeast Asia under the direction of Master Chef Rudi Sodamin. Eric Templin and Carole Toomey are among enthusiastic diners, with Carole saying, “I wish I was there right now!”

Robin Sullivan: Oh my gosh the Tamarind. Absolutely out of this world so good!

5. IN-ROOM AND BALCONY DINING

Many consider room service -- whether breakfast in bed or on the balcony -- the ultimate vacation perk!

Many consider room service — whether breakfast in bed or on the balcony — the ultimate vacation perk!

In a sea of luxurious options, many found dining in their own cabin to be the most delightful. After all, how often are you served breakfast in bed? Ted Crossland said he has breakfast in bed every morning when cruising! Complimentary room service is one of those fabulous perks that is unique to a cruise.

Guests with balcony cabins particularly enjoy breakfast in the open air, as a wonderful and peaceful way to ease into the day. Lilliana Clark said she hopes to dine on her balcony as Zuiderdam transits the Panama Canal this week, taking in the sights in comfort and style.

Tina Den Adel: All the food is great … but my favorite place to dine is on my own balcony with my wonderful man by my side. Relaxing and peaceful!

6. CANALETTO

Canaletto is known for fabulous ocean views and scrumptious small plates.

Canaletto is known for fabulous ocean views and scrumptious small plates.

Finally, Holland America Line’s Italian restaurant named for the famous 19th century Venetian artist, is a favorite for folks who love to share! The menu of small plates is designed to be enjoyed with family and friends, a truly authentic Italian experience. Vicki Walker praised the balsamic vinegar, others fans loved the Beef Carpaccio with rosemary aioli and the Potato Gnocchi. Kris Knutson was pleased at the variety of vegetarian options, from Eggplant Caponata to Ricotta Ravioli.

Canaletto on the Prinsendam while sailing in to Stockholm! Great food — especially for vegetarians — fantastic service and magnificent views! — Kris

While many guests had favorite dining venues, a great number of guests chimed in saying that they were happy to eat anywhere as long as they were cruising with Holland America Line, like Pamela Hyatt who said, “they are all good, everything is served with a smile!”

Holland America Line puts a lot of thought and care into its culinary program, and guests have a lot to look forward to! The 2016 introduction of ms Koningsdam, Holland America Line’s new Pinnacle Class ship, brings a variety of new dining options from Sel de Mer, a fabulous French bistro, to The Culinary Arts Center re-imagined to include a dining area called Dinner!

Are you celebrating a special occasion on your cruise, or just interested in one of Holland America Line’s specialty restaurants? Make a reservation in advance to secure your spot!

What’s your favorite dining venue onboard Holland America Line ships? Weigh in in the comments!

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