Who doesn’t like a good slice of pizza? Whether you are 8 years old or 80, sometimes a piece of pie just hits the spot.
And on a cruise, pizza is just about always available. It depends on your line, but many have a spot where you can grab a slice (or a whole pizza) almost any time of day, with some serving around the clock.
The good news? Pizza is a food that even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. But there is definitely a difference between a really good slice and one that’s mediocre. And across cruise lines, the difference can be dramatic.
While we haven’t sailed every cruise line, we’re big fans of pizza and always make it a point to grab some for at least a snack during our trips. And over time, we’ve developed a ranking for what we consider the best… and the not so best… slices for when you’re on a cruise.
Below we’ve ranked each cruise line, starting from our opinion of least favorite to most favorite.
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Norwegian Cruise Line Pizza
If you’re a fan of pizza, then NCL might not be your favorite cruise line. For one, pizza can be hard to find at all!
For instance, on our most recent cruise, we noticed it was served by itself in the ship’s Italian restaurant (which is normally a charge) during lunch. You might also find it on the buffet, but the cruise line doesn’t offer round-the-clock pies like some other cruise lines.
Now, there is likely a difference between the free pizza we sampled and what’s offered in the higher-end Italian specialty restaurants from NCL like Onda and La Cucina for an extra charge. However, for our purposes, we’re comparing only the free pizza options.
In our most recent taste test, we tried an Italian sausage pizza. While the slices get high marks for the toppings (the sausage we thought was excellent), the rest of the slice wasn’t our favorite.
For one, the slices were small, like you’d see at a pizza buffet on land. Meanwhile, the dough was simply too thick compared to the size of the slice, making it seem more like you’re eating bread than enjoying a slice of pizza.
Again, it’s pizza, so it’s not too bad. However, we felt it was similar to mass-produced, high volume pizza like you see in an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet.
Royal Caribbean Pizza
To us, there are more similarities than differences between NCL’s and Royal Caribbean pizza. However, Royal Caribbean gets kudos for availability and variety.
If you want a piece of pizza on a Royal Caribbean cruise, then you can head to the ship’s promenade. There you will find Sorrento’s, which offers up fresh-baked pizza around the clock. So whether you want a full lunch or just a late-night snack, then it’s there for the taking.
As well, you can either grab what’s available or request a different type of pie. And whether you want a slice or the whole pizza, then just ask.
Unfortunately, we think the pizza could be better.
Again, similar to NCL the slices are small, which we find often throws off the balance between actual toppings and crust. It also suffers from the same issue of tasting rather generic to us. It’s certainly edible, but we doubt it’s going to be something you mark as one of your favorite things to eat. If you’ve eaten at pizza buffets, then we think you have a good idea of the taste you’ll find.
Carnival Cruise Line Pizza
If Carnival and Royal Caribbean are rivals, then one place where Carnival tops its competitor is in pizza.
First, like Royal Caribbean, Carnival offers pizza around the clock. So no matter what time you get a craving, you can satisfy it (in fact, you can even get pizza delivered to your location on the ship for a small charge!).
Carnival actually offers two different restaurants with pizza options, depending on which ship you sail. But while they have different names on different ships, they offer the same pizza. The first is called Pizza Pirate and the other is called Pizzeria del Capitano. Again, either one will give you the same pie and best of all, it’s included with the cruise fare.
Now, the pizzas have a bit more Italian flare and relatively limited options on toppings. You can order Margherita, Funghi (mushroom), Prosciutto, Peperoni, or Quattro Formaggi (four cheese). So if you want a pizza with, say, bell pepper and sausage, that’s not on the menu.
But the pizza that’s served up is a step above. For one, the pies are fresh-baked continually throughout the day. So instead of pizza that’s been sitting under a heat lamp, there may be a pie or two that are ready to serve, but most are made to order.
As well, while the pizzas are relatively small, the thinner dough means that you get a nice mix of actual pizza and dough. And the pieces also fold easily instead of breaking.
Finally, whether it’s the ingredients or the recipe, something about the pizza is simply delicious. It tastes not like a mass-produced pizza, but instead like a pie you’d order from a restaurant (and pay a decent amount for!). We suggest not just considering Carnival’s pizza as a snack, but making it an actual meal.
MSC Cruises Pizza
If you love pizza, then we think you’ll love MSC. It’s a cruise line that has a strong presence in Europe and a smaller (but growing) fleet sailing the United States.
In fact, it has a very European feel when you sail, even if you cruise from a place like Miami. So it shouldn’t be a surprise with that influence, the cruise line takes a traditional Italian dish very seriously.
Now, there is no dedicated pizza restaurant on the ship we sailed, but instead, pizza is served in the buffet, which is open several times a day. So while there is some drawback that you can’t always grab a slice, it’s more than made up for by the fact that the pizza is so delicious.
What sets it apart? For one, these aren’t tiny pizzas and slices that throw off the ratio of crust and dough to actual cheese, sauce, and toppings. Instead, these are large pizzas with full-sized slices just like you’d get at an authentic pizzeria.
In our experience, you don’t get your choice of toppings, nor could you get a pizza made just for you (although you might be able to ask the staff). Instead, the pizza was offered up on the buffet offering several different choices, including ham, margherita, and red style.
Just like you’d expect from a pizzeria on land, the slices were large, foldable, and perfectly cooked with great flavor. Considering you’d pay upwards of $25 (or more!) for this type of pizza, having all you can eat is an amazing deal.
Combined, these factors make MSC the clear winner when it comes to the best cruise line pizza.
Are you a pizza aficionado? Which line has your favorite pie? Let us know in the comments below.
Princess’s Gigi’s (and Alfredo’s) sit-down restaurant tops them all. I agree that MSC has very good pizza. In a side-by-side comparison, some may prefer it. It’s just that their topping selection is very limited and they won’t make a special pizza for you. Their answer was I had to order room service (for a fee of course). By the end of the 10-day cruise, I was tired of the 3 types that were available when the rest of the Buffet was closed down.
Princess on the other hand would make my Pizza any way I wanted with a wide selection of toppings. The Calzone was also fantastic. They also had a couple of pasta dishes that were rich in flavor and very satisfying. I did like the Pizza served by the pool but was not the quality that we had at Gigi’s.