Royal Caribbean has quietly been offering free lobster and steak in the buffet of the world's largest cruise ship

01 Jul 2024
Matt Hochberg

The biggest cruise ship in the world has made a name for itself in many ways, but it also stands out in a gastronomical way.

Steak and lobster choices

Ever since Icon of the Seas first started sailing with paying passengers, the Windjammer buffet on embarkation day served up an upgraded offering.

In addition to the usual buffet fare, there's also been filet mignon, lobster tail, and shrimp.  These delicacies are usually not offered in the buffet due to their higher cost.

On Icon of the Seas' inaugural sailing, the buffet had these items and this was in line with Royal Caribbean's traditional approach to celebrating the maiden voyage of any new cruise ship.  But with other ships, the embarkation day lunch menu would drop those upgraded items after the initial sailing.

Windjammer on Icon of the Seas

I boarded Icon of the Seas for a 7-night Caribbean cruise on June 29, and was pleasantly surprised to see the steak and seafood were still available.

Filet mignon and lobster in the Windjammer

As you walk into the Windjammer on embarkation day, there is a selection of freshly grilled filet mignon steaks on the first buffet line. along with lobster and shrimp.

Further into the buffet, there was more seafood to be found.  Flanked by ice carvings, there's a wider selection of lobster, muscles, shrimp and more.

Ice carving

It's impressive to see this high quality seafood available to guests as part of the included cruise fare.  Moreover, it's unusual in my experience to see that food offered in a buffet setting.

I had heard from other cruisers that Icon was still serving this food, so I was curious if it would still be offered by the time our sailing began.


When the food was first offered on Icon's inaugural, most cruisers assumed it was a one-time offering for the inaugural. I shared photos of it on the Royal Caribbean Dining Facebook group and while impressed, a lot of commenters felt they would not be able to enjoy it too.

The sort of comments I saw were:

"Zero percent chance this presentation makes it to a single revenue sailing."

"That won’t ever be on a normal sailing"

"You'll never see this. Special cruise for sure."


Given the past history, you can't blame folks for being a little pessimistic.

Can you expect steak and lobster tail on your Icon of the Seas cruise? Possibly.

Seafood buffet

Royal Caribbean has never announced or confirmed the fact Icon of the Seas serves these items is part of a menu change or upgrade for the ship.  It's certainly not offered on the embarkation day buffet lunch on any other ship in the fleet.

I would consider this a bonus for anyone with an Icon of the Seas cruise coming up. Don't bet on it being there, but you might want to reconsider where you go for embarkation day lunch if you do sail on Icon soon to check if it's still being offered.

More food you should look for on Icon of the Seas

While the Windjammer menu isn't among the top marketed new foods on Royal Caribbean's newest ship, there are lots of other good choices to look for while onboard.

The Aquadome Market has been a revelation as a new food hall concept for Royal Caribbean, and it should be a must-eat spot at least once a day.

Pita at greek station

My favorite of the five booths is Feta, which has Mediterranean cuisine.  The gyros are the favorite of Paul Fortin, Senior Director of Culinary Operations for Royal Caribbean.

The gyros are made on the spot when you order it, and it's the sort of food you don't typically find on a cruise ship.

Pier 7

If there's one specialty restaurant on Icon that flies under the radar, it's Pier 7, and that's largely because it's located in the family area of the ship.  Don't let the nearby carousel and splash zone dissuade you from trying it, because I really liked the food here a lot.

Royal Caribbean Vice President Food & Beverage, Linken D'Souza, talked a lot about how much he likes the Korean fried chicken at Pier 7. I gave it a try when I sailed on the inaugural and already Pier 7 just to be able to eat that again on this current sailing I'm on.


Lastly, I was impressed by the upgraded steak choices at Chops Grille.

There's waygu beef, Porterhouse, and a Tomahawk steak (among other choices).  The extra cost these steaks have serve up the sort of steaks you'd find at a high-end land restaurant.

While having an upcharge for an extra-cost restaurant is not ideal for cruisers, I do think the choices are a great upgrade to the menu.

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost experts on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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