Few restaurants on Royal Caribbean ships enjoy the cult status that the Seaview Cafe does and rightfully so. It has become a beloved complimentary restaurant to dine at, building its reputation on really good freshly made food. And while many Seaview Cafes have been removed to make way for new restaurants, we had a chance to check out Seaview on Jewel of the Seas and get a sense of why everyone raves about this place.
The Seaview Cafe is kind of like your local neighborhood deli that offers a simple, yet tasty menu. The theme here is basic cafetria style restaurant. The restaurant overlooks the ocean (hence its name) and features full length windows along most of the indoor eating spaces. The outdoor tables are close to the railing and give an even closer look at the sea.
The seating area reminds me of the sort of tables and chairs you might find near a pool. Light color wood and hard plastic that is less formal than the Windjammer seating but nicer than the tables and chairs found near the Jewel of the Seas pool. Call it casual yet practical.
There's a fair amount of seating available in the Seaview Cafe, but not a ton. During busy times of the day (like lunch on a sea day), it will fill up quite quickly. Since there's just one person to take orders, a line out the door is common but it usually moves quickly if everyone knows what they want to order.
Seaview Cafe does retain a bit of that nostalgic nautical motif that is found in the Windjammer and elsewhere on Jewel of the Seas, but it's far less pronounced. It kind of looks like the casual eatery cousin of the Schooner Bar.
When you enter the Seaview Cafe, you walk up to a staff member who takes your order on the spot. The menu is printed in a few places and offers sandwiches, soups, snacks and that's about it. It sounds simple, and it is but the simplicity is the restaurant's strength.
Once you order, the staff member gives you a number to place on your table and you find a table on your own and then wait for your food. There is self-service drinks available (water) or you can alternatively order beer, wine or soda from the drink bar.
Food is cooked on a first-come, first served basis and will be brought to your table by the staff. They try to bring the appetizers, soups and salads out first although depending on how busy the kitchen is, it may all come out at once.
Coming into Seaview Cafe, I knew lots of people raved about this place and once I actually started eating, I knew why. The food is cooked fresh and to order and you can taste it. Unlike the Windjammer that cooks dozens of burgers at once and then leaves them under heat lamps, here your food is made on the spot. Of course, the downside of this custom cooking is the time to actually get the food may take a while.
Over the course of our seven night cruise, we ate at Seaview Cafe perhaps a half dozen times and tried a number of different items on the menu and quite frankly, everything we had was really tasty. My favorite was the Reuben sandwich, which was among the best Reuben sandwiches I've ever had.
Other favorites were the fish and chips, hot dog and onion rings. Again, the freshness of the food made a difference and compared to what we found in the Windjammer, we could taste the difference. I think most of the food came out tasting like one might use as a reference for what other people making the dish should use as an example.
There are a few items that change each day on the menu, such as the soup and some dessert options. It's worth asking when you order what specials are available.
The Seaview Cafe offers passengers really tasty, comfort food for free. Granted it may take a while for the food to come out depending on how busy it is, but then again that free price tag is what sells it for me.
Sadly the Seaview Cafe is a dying breed and while it's unique to Radiance Class ships, Royal Caribbean is planning on getting rid of the Seaview Cafes from all ships once the fleet-wide renovations are complete. While the replacement specialty restaurants may offer different and arguably better tasting options potentially, the fact is passengers will lose a quality complimentary dining location in lieu of somewhere that costs extra.
Nonetheless, if you get a chance to eat at the Seaview Cafe before they close the last one, I recommend indulging here as often as possible. On our cruise, our group often had "second dinner" late at night because the food was just so darn good. Also going late at night is a good time because it gets the most crowded in the early evening hours.