Beach Dining in Curacao

If you’re anything like us, you look forward to the delicious food on holiday as much as the good weather. The Caribbean heartily ticks both of these boxes – rich, spicy flavours infused with exotic ingredients, and a perpetually sunny disposition.

You’ll have the chance to experiment with some new dishes on your Caribbean cruise. So where will you find the cream of the crop when it comes to food? Read on for our handy guide to some of the highlights of Caribbean cuisine – and where to find it (clue: there’s so much more to it than rum and jerk chicken). 

Dominican Republic

Sancocho

Dominican food is a rich blend of Spanish and African influences. Referred to as comida criolla, it’s rich and hearty, and popular ingredients include rice, chicken and plantain. Sancocho is considered the national dish, and is made for celebrations and good times.

It’s not hard to see why it’s a favourite; flavourful and complex, this stew contains five to seven different meats, four varieties of tuber (a kind of root) and a mouth-watering menu of spices and herbs, completely unique to this island. It’s often served alongside rice and beans (known as la bandera dominicana, translating as “the Dominican flag”) to absorb the thick, delicious sauce. This is a dish to savour outside as the evening air cools.

To enjoy this classic dish at its best, head to the La Esquina de Yeya restaurant in Punta Cana. Huge portions at great value mean that this is a local favourite, too.

Barbados

Cou Cou & Flying Fish

If the white sand beaches and sparkling blue ocean aren’t enough to bring you to Barbados, we think the island’s national dish will do the trick. A combination of fresh, local fish cooked with cou cou – a kind of dumpling made from okra and cornmeal. These two elements, combined with a creamy, tomato-based sauce, create a satisfying dish that manages to offer the vibrancy Barbados is known for.

To try some flying fish and cou cou during your time on the island, check out the Brown Sugar restaurant in Bridgetown (this is where we make port, so you won’t have far to travel). Situated down a quiet backstreet, it looks inconspicuous from the outside, but don’t be fooled – the interior is a calm oasis, and you’ll find of the best Bajan food in Bridgetown here. 

Or, if you can't wait to get there, try this Cou Cou & Flying Fish Recipe courtesy of Great British Chef, Jason Howard. As pictured above.

Image courtesy of Great British Chefs.

Curacao

Ayaka

Curacao offers a unique fusion of Indonesian and Dutch flavours. The spirit of the island is best captured in its Ayakas – meat tamales made from cornmeal and served in banana leaves. They’re eaten all around the Caribbean (referred to as hallaca in Venezuela and pasteles in Puerto Rico) but we like the Curacao variant the best.

They’re most traditionally eaten around Christmas time, so if you’re visiting the island in December, you’re in luck. However, Ayakas can be found all year-round, if you’re willing to dig a little deeper.

For some great value, informal food, head to the Marsche Bieuw market in Willemstad. Mingle with the locals as you browse stalls serving up traditional favourites. Make sure to come early – the market is filled with hustle and bustle and seats are first come, first served.

Puerto Rico

Arroz Con Dulce

Looking for something to satisfy that sweet tooth? Come sailing with us to San Juan in Puerto Rico, where you’ll be able to taste the mouth-watering arroz con dulce. This is a traditional rice pudding given a tropical Caribbean makeover – think cinnamon, ginger, coconut milk, rum and raisins served with sweet and sticky rice. It’s the ultimate comfort food, best enjoyed after a meal of fresh fish, rice and chorizo.

As well as this sweet variety, Puerto Ricans use rice to create other delectable dishes. During your time here, don’t miss out on arroz con gandules y lechón – a hearty combination of rice, peas and roasted pork.

Jamaica

Curried Goat

Traditionally reserved for parties and special occasions, curried goat is becoming more and more commonplace in Jamaica, and we couldn’t be happier. Goat is slow cooked, becoming soft and tender. When served in a rich and spicy sauce (which often includes onion, garlic, ginger, thyme and chilli), it’s by far our favourite Jamaican dish.

Enjoy curried goat in Falmouth, one of our ports of call. Head to the Glistening Waters Luminous Lagoon restaurant, which has been voted one of the best experiences in Jamaica by Jamaica Island Tours. Specialising in authentic dishes, including curried goat, there’s also an airy outdoor terrace with a patio bar to enjoy. Make the most of the experience and go for a twilight tour around the bay afterwards. 

Mouth watering yet? The smells and flavours of the Caribbean are waiting for you. Browse all of our Caribbean cruises