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Cruise Ship Food: Dishes And Delicacies

Mention the word “cruise” and the word “food” is usually not far behind. Today, we’re giving you a “taste” of some of the dishes we’ve enjoyed on a variety of cruises and a variety of ships…

Crown dessert balcony dinnerThe presentation is as immaculate and tasteful as this Crown Princess chocolate raspberry dessert.

Riviera-red ginger diningSeafood delicacies like this from the intimate, upscale Asian restaurant known as Red Ginger on the Oceania Riviera.

Allure-IzumiHot Rock (525 degrees) is the name of this specialty at a specialty restaurant, Izumi, on Allure of the Seas.

Freedom-cheesecake steakhouseCheesecake (and wine to match) — the perfect postscript to a meal when dining in the renowned steakhouse on the Carnival Freedom.

Eclipse-elegant expressA treat that comes when you have “Elegant Tea” on Solstice Class ships like the Celebrity Eclipse.

Epic-slime cakesThis baby’s called “slimecakes” — the Nickelodeon spin on “pancakes” on the Norwegian Epic and, yes, it does taste better than it sounds or looks.

Coral-chef's tableOn the Coral Princess, the Chef’s Table includes an old standby — surf ‘n turf — or steak and lobster, exquisitely cooked and displayed, of course.

Reflection-dessert buffetEvery ship has them, the fabled dessert buffet, and this caloric delight is from Celebrity’s newest ship, the Reflection.

Cruise Food's Ever-Changing World

Food has always been challenging for cruise lines, which have developed an amazing ability to handle just about everything. In the early days of cruising, the challenge was to make sure the customers didn’t refer to “cruise ship food” the way patients refer to “hospital food.”

From those pre-historic culinary times, you can now dine in restaurants that are often the equal of the finest of fine dining in big cities, and that’s become pretty much industry-wide.

But there are always glitches.

Today’s world includes more food allergies than ever before, and cruise lines have to cope. It doesn’t matter what makes the customer unhappy with their food so, while the onus is always on the person who is allergic, cruise lines want happy, satisfied clients. A big one these days is gluten…or more specifically, no gluten.

A couple of decades ago, it sounded like a word lifted from a German dictionary. Today, grocery stores have sections of gluten-free food. Restaurants in growing numbers serve gluten-free food — and that means food that has not so much as touched anything containing gluten. The reaction can be devastating for the sufferer.

We’ve started to notice more and more gluten-free items on cruise-ship menus, in part because we have a granddaughter with Celiac disease. It’s the old story, isn’t it? You don’t pay attention to things like this until it touches you.

The same goes for cruise lines. Years ago, they probably would have thought gluten might be from a German dictionary, too.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Celebrity Reflection
7 nights
December 13, 2014
Miami (return): San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71
www.celebritycruises.com

Pick 'em: Blue Iguana, Guy's Burgers

Choosing where to eat out is not always easy for us.

One of us likes — no, loves — Mexican food. She would have it every day. Every meal. It must have started the day, many moons ago, that her husband said she was his “little chiquita.” She’s even bilingual, sort of, because her Spanish vocabulary includes all the Freedom-Iguanaimportant words…enchiladas, tacos, tortillas, carne, huevos, salsa, tequila…you get the idea.

Her better half is, well, kind of meat-and-potatoes. Or hamburgers and French fries. Calories aren’t among the things he counts in life as critical. His major concession is “Diet” Coke. It’s not that he doesn’t like Mexican, but how many times a week (or day) can you enjoy rice and beans?

The Carnival Freedom made it easy…as simple as pushing “9″ on the elevator for the Lido Deck.

On the right, you have Blue Iguana. She was in her element. Freshly made tortillas for lunch (or breakfast) waiting to be stuffed with Mexican sausages, heuvos or chiles. Top it off with a choice of 10 sales ranging from wimpy-mild to screaming hot. Burritos or tacos with a huge assortment of fillings of meat, cheese, guacamole, veggies and sauces. Seldom a line-up. Always fresh. Always hot.

On the left, mere steps away, you have Guy’s Burger Joint. Her husband never watches the Food Network but he knows Guy Fieri is the cook with bleach-blond electric hair and a Freedom-Fierishape that is, if not admirable at least acceptable. Not everybody needs a six-pack, right? His customers build their own burgers and, like Blue Iguana…always fresh, always hot. You don’t have to eat junk food to only live once, but since you only live once, junk food is okay…and, anyway, who’s going to tell Fieri to his face that his food is junk?

So, with our plates of personal preferences and with no cuisine compromising, we sat together and enjoyed what, for each, was the perfect meal. Can it get any better!

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruise news and views you can use

Caribbean Princess
7 nights
October 4, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Princess Cays, Roatan
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57
www.princess.com

Work On The Buffet Waistlines

It’s that day again, isn’t it? Monday. The go-on-a-diet day. It comes around every week, of course, and is overshadowed only by January 2…the ultimate GO-ON-A-DIET day.

This Monday, Labor Day is a good name for going on a diet, because it is laborious. It’s also a good time to bring up what’s happening at Celebrity Cruises.

Smaller plates.

We’re talking cruise buffets. You know what it’s like, cut from the all-you-can-eat part of the menu. In trying to help passengers be more calorie responsible, Celebrity is Eclipse-buffettrying to serve everything as individual portions, on individual plates, instead of leaving it to us to serve ourselves (as much or as little) as we choose. It’s only being tried on one ship…so far.

Will it help?

““Guests are eating less, it’s all psychological,” Chef John Suley told the Cruise Industry News. “It was human nature with a large plate to take the things you wanted to try. Now they are portioned and our guests are also thinking about the health conscious aspect.”

Celebrity has discovered its overall food consumption has dropped, the chefs are enjoying make their dishes more visually appealing and fewer passengers have been freed from doorways in which they were stuck…just kidding.

There is one flaw.

What if you take a second helping?

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Carnival Splendor
7 nights
September 20, 2014
New York (return):  Boston, Portland, Saint John, Halifax
Inside: $369
Cost per day: $52
www.carnival.com

Food For Thought From A Man Of Many Cruises

Yesterday we bumped into our neighbor Tom, who has been on more cruises than we have and thereby qualifies as something of an expert on likes and dislikes of cruising…mostly likes, because he wouldn't be on cruise ships if he didn't enjoy them.

Tom has been on Oasis of the Seas three times. A friend of his questioned why he Oasis of the Seaswould go on a ship so big, saying he would never go because there were too many people. Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class flagship can handle about 6,000 passengers.

"Because it's so big," Tom reasoned, "there are lots of places to go. So it feels the same as if you're on a ship that carries two or three thousand people."

MagicInteresting is that our neighbor felt so comfortable on a ship so big.

On another cruise, Tom's ship was the Disney Magic. At dinner the first night, he mentioned to the waiter that he didn’t like his food too spicy. The next day he received a call in his stateroom from Disney staff, advising Tom that scallops was on that night's menu and assuring him care would be taken to make certain his dish wasn't too spicy.

That continued throughout the cruise.

"Of all our cruises," he says, "that was my best food experience."

Just a couple of observations from a seasoned cruiser.

Today Phil Reimer answers a question at portsandbows.com: Vienna? Amsterdam? Budapest? What's YOUR choice?

Norwegian Sky
3 nights
August 15, 2014
Miami (return): NassauGreat Stirrup Cay
Inside: $159
Cost per day: $53
www.ncl.com

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