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Best Holland America Specialty Dining Restaurants? One is a Must-Try!

If you’re like us, one of the things you savor when cruising is the food. And when it comes to specialty dining on Holland America cruises, you’re in for a treat!

We recently enjoyed a Holland America Rotterdam cruise. It’s the newest Pinnacle Class HAL ship – regaled for its show-stopping views from the Crow’s Nest and wonderful array of entertainment, including live music and performances. 

However, one aspect that really got us raving was Holland America’s specialty dining. It’s something we particularly noted in our review of HAL’s Rotterdam ship.

On our voyage, we ate at four of the five specialty restaurants. (The only one we missed was Club Orange, which we’d already experienced on a previous Holland America Nieuw Statendam cruise. It offers the same dishes and experience no matter the ship.)

We therefore thought we’d put together a dedicated blog post solely on Holland America Line dining. (We’d already written about the wine packages on Holland America.)

So whether you fancy sushi or steak, these onboard restaurants will have you returning from your shore excursions, ready for a new taste sensation each and every day!

The main dining room on the Holland America Rotterdam ship
The main dining room on the Rotterdam

5 Holland America specialty restaurants

As mentioned, Holland America has five specialty restaurants.

1) Pinnacle Grill

The elegant Pinnacle Grill restaurant on the Rotterdam ship
The elegant Pinnacle Grill on the Rotterdam ship

Of all the specialty restaurants on Holland America ships, the Pinnacle Grill is the fan favorite.

Found on all HAL ships, this steakhouse is elegant, with a blue-and-gold color theme – from the royal blue leather chairs right down to the gold candle holders, gold-rimmed Limoge charger plates and gold-colored water glasses.

For appetizers, the steak tartare and lobster bisque hit the spot with our group of four.

For entrées, the cow is king on the Holland America Pinnacle Grill menu – filet mignon, New York strip steak, bone-in Rib Eye.

Choose a sauce to up the flavors. Maybe béarnaise or mustard-and-cognac? Or shallot-and-red-wine bordelaise?

Surf-n-Turf at the Pinnacle Grill
You can’t go wrong with the Surf-n-Turf at the Pinnacle Grill (Credit: HAL)

On the fish side, you could choose Alaskan halibut, salmon or king crab legs.

One of us ordered the seared jumbo scallops, but they were a tad too salty for our salt-averse tastes.

But the key lime pie for dessert made us forget that peeve. It was sinfully creamy and faultless.

Key lime pie at the Pinnacle Grill on the Rotterdam cruise ship
We’re still dreaming of the key lime pie!

Note that if you want lobster, there’s an additional surcharge for this – even though you’ve already paid the Pinnacle Grill specialty restaurant surcharge.

The Pinnacle Grill is found on all 11 Holland America ships:

  • Rotterdam
  • Nieuw Statendam
  • Konigsdam
  • Nieuw Amsterdam
  • Eurodam
  • Noordam
  • Westerdam
  • Oosterdam
  • Zuiderdam
  • Zaandam
  • Volendam

See a sample Pinnacle Grill menu here.

2) Rudi’s Sel de Mer

One of the best Holland America restaurants is the French-inspired Rudi's Sel de Mer.
One of our favorite Holland America restaurants is the French-inspired Rudi’s Sel de Mer (Credit: HAL)

Holland America specialty dining meets cozy French brasserie at the 54-seat Rudi’s Sel de Mer.  

Step into this Parisian-inspired restaurant and take a seat on one of the plush carved red banquette chairs.

Admire the pop-art porcelain plates – painted with colorful food faces – that adorn the back wall. And try not to gorge too much on crusty baguettes garnished with sprigs of fresh rosemary!

The menu changes frequently. But the array of classics inspired by La Belle France are constant.

We couldn’t resist the classic escargot baked in Pernod butter for an appetizer. C’est bon

Escargot at Rudi's Sel de Mer on Holland America
Escargot, anyone?

Alternatively, you could start your dining experience with a fresh Mediterranean tuna salade Nicoise or French onion soup with Gruyere cheese. 

Popular entrées include duck à l’orange, coq au vin and whole Dover sole meunière with shaved pink Himalayan sea salt.

Fancy something sweet to wind up your time in Holland America’s Little Paris? Opt for a mountain of creamy profiteroles, served with rich hot chocolate sauce, or sample the apple tart tatin with cinnamon gelato. 

Rudi’s Sel de Mer is available on the Pinnacle Class ships:

  • Rotterdam
  • Nieuw Statendam
  • Konigsdam

See a sample Rudi’s Sel de Mer menu here.

3) Canaletto

If you love pasta (don’t we all!), Canaletto is just the ticket. 

It takes inspiration from traditional Italian dining – think hearty food made from fresh seasonal ingredients served in a relaxed no-rush atmosphere.

Canaletto provides the perfect atmosphere to unwind in after a busy day on or off-board your Holland America cruise. 

Canaletto is the restaurant to hit for Italian food on Holland America cruises.
Canaletto is the restaurant to hit for Italian food

Start your Italian food affair with tender beef carpaccio or tuck into an antipasto plate, which groans with everything from Sicilian olives to truffle salami to Parmigiano Reggiano. 

For your mains, taste the sea with lobster and shrimp ravioli or sample pasta Genovese, a delicious but simple classic consisting of basil pesto and sundried tomatoes.

The quintessential tiramisu is a popular choice at Canaletto for dessert. But for something a bit different, try the orange blossom ricotta tart. The fresh berries perfectly balance out the sweet flavors.

Canaletto is available on all Holland America Line ships. On the Rotterdam, it occupies one side of the casual Lido buffet.

See a sample Canaletto menu here.

4) Tamarind

The Pan-Asian Tamarind turned out to be our favorite restaurant.

It’s been praised by Conde Nast Traveler for “cuisine that rivals the top restaurants on land.” We won’t argue!

For Asian food devotees, this is Holland America line food at its finest.

Tamarind is sophisticated and moody in feel.
Tamarind is sophisticated and moody in feel (Credit: HAL)

The atmosphere is perfect. Sophisticated dim lighting. Black wood tables and plates. Rich purple glassware. Enhancing the exotic mood? Asian servers dressed in long Thai-style silk dresses.

On our previous Nieuw Statendam cruise, we sipped chilled sake while waiting for our orders.

First up: A tempting array of fresh lobster and dragon rolls from sushi master Andy Matsuda’s sushi bar.

Next, we sampled wok-seared lobster, red Thai curry of cashew barramundi and Mongolian barbecued lamb chops with baby Bok choy and plum sauce.

On our Rotterdam cruise, we chose a selection of appetizers to share among the four persons in our group – shrimp tempura, lobster and shrimp gyoza, Thai citrus scallops, Chinese baby back ribs and more.

For an entrée, lobster was no longer on the menu. But we were happy to see the Mongolian lamb chops still featured. And the ginger-glazed crispy duck was delicious.

Mongolian lamb chops at Tamarind on Holland America Rotterdam ship
Mongolian lamb chops at Tamarind (Credit: HAL)

It was all so tasty that if our cruise was longer, we’d have happily sprung for the extra $34.20 USD p.p. cover charge to eat here again!

Tamarind is available on the following ships:

  • Rotterdam
  • Nieuw Statendam
  • Konigsdam
  • Nieuw Amsterdam
  • Eurodam
  • Westerdam
  • Zuiderdam

See a sample Tamarind menu here.

5) Club Orange restaurant

Club Orange is Holland America’s VIP pay-for-perks program.

It costs an extra $35 USD p.p. per day on the Rotterdam, Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam and $25 p.p. a day on other HAL ships.

We signed up for it on our previous Nieuw Statendam cruise. This allowed us to skip the lines when embarking in Fort Lauderdale and board the ship almost immediately.

Other Club Orange perks include priority tendering and your own (shorter) special lines at the guest services and shore excursions desks.

Best of all, it includes complimentary exclusive access to a private Club Orange restaurant. Neptune and Pinnacle Suite guests can also dine at Club Orange for free.

With décor color pops of pumpkin orange and an open kitchen, the restaurant serves exclusive Club Orange dishes (which change daily), in addition to what’s on the menu in the main dining room.

Club Orange restaurant on the Rotterdam
Club Orange restaurant on the Rotterdam (Credit: HAL)

It’s particularly great for avoiding the breakfast crowds in the main Lido Market Buffet and enjoying a civilized sit-down breakfast of Eggs Benny (without having to wait too long).

On the Nieuw Statendam, we also enjoyed dinner in the more intimate Club Orange setting rather than in the main dining room.

On ships other than the Rotterdam, Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam, a dedicated section of the main restaurant is set aside for Club Orange guests.

Is Club Orange worth it?

Yes, if you’re sailing on one of the Pinnacle Class ships.

The ability to have breakfast at Club Orange rather than in the big and busy Lido buffeteria is reason enough to spring for the extra $245 p.p. on a 7-night cruise.

Holland America specialty dining cost

All of the specialty restaurants have an extra charge (except Club Orange, which is reserved just for Club Orange guests, and free for them).

How much is specialty dining on Holland America?

On our 2023 Rotterdam cruise, the following per person surcharges were applied:

  • Pinnacle Grill = $46
  • Rudi’s Sel de Mer = $57.75
  • Canaletto = $22.40
  • Tamarind = $34.20
  • Club Orange = Free for Club Orange and Neptune/Pinnacle Suite guests

A gratuity of 18% is automatically added on top of the surcharge (and to any drinks you purchase). This also applies to all alcohol packages on Holland America.

Kids eat for cheaper (or free) in many restaurants, including Canaletto and Rudi’s Sel de Mer.

Kid-sized meals are generally half-price for under 12s. Or if you order for them from the kid’s menu, they’ll dine for free. 

Best specialty restaurants on Holland America

What if you don’t want to spring for all the specialty restaurants. How do you choose which one(s) to pick?

  • Tamarind: It’s our favorite specialty Holland America restaurant. The Asian food served here is the most creative and freshest. It’s also light and doesn’t sit heavy in your stomach. If you can only pick one extra restaurant, this would be our don’t-miss recommendation.
  • Canaletto: You also can’t go wrong dining at Canaletto. Most people like Italian food and the surcharge price here is the most reasonable. So it’s kind of a no-brainer to shell out for this Italian resto – especially if you’re traveling with friends or family.
  • Pinnacle Grill: While this is the most heavily-booked restaurant on Holland America, it wasn’t our personal favorite (a couple of dishes missed the mark). Also, you can always find good steakhouses back home (and if you want lobster, you have to pay extra for it anyway).
  • Rudi’s Sel de Mer: What can we say? We like French food. The atmosphere is fun and it’s not every day you get to eat escargots. If you’re trying to choose between the Pinnacle Grill and Rudi’s Sel de Mer, we’d suggest Rudi’s Sel de Mer.
Seafood dish from Rudi's Sel de Mer
Seafood dish from Rudi’s Sel de Mer (Credit: HAL)

Last words on specialty dining on Holland America cruises

These Holland America Rotterdam restaurants take you through a culinary adventure.

The variety of meals served will have you imagining you’re in a sushi restaurant in downtown Tokyo one night, and in the vineyards of Italy on another! 

While these specialty Holland America food options do come at an extra cost, they’re definitely worth it, in our view. After all, who wants to miss out on the joy of dining while on their cruise vacation!  

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Photo credits: 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

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