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Celebrity’s ‘Evening Chic’ Dress Code

Eclipse

At first glance, the latest attempt to define how people should dress when going for dinner on Celebrity cruise ships could be called splitting hairs. 

Or threads.

No more “formal” nights in the dining room. They’re being replaced by “evening chic” nights. What’s evening chic?

“Dressier than smart casual, less dressy than formal.”

Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that what Celebrity is really trying to do is this: Allow Eclp-Diningpeople to wear designer jeans to the dining room as part of dressing up while making sure they don’t wear ripped jeans…designer or not.

That’s called “too” casual. So are shorts and t-shirts and, yes, you’d think that people wouldn’t have to be told how to dress when going to a “dining” room. But they do.

So in Celebrity’s case, and only on “evening chic” nights, you must dress up by wearing a sports jacket and designer jean (men) or a “flirty dress” (women). You will, of course, still be welcome if you wear a tuxedo or evening gown since that attire is still part of the cruise experience for a shrinking crowd.

What we’d like to know is…who’s going to enforce the dress code? It has been our experience on any number of ships that when certain attire (specifically shorts) is not allowed at dinner, you can always find somebody — and more than one person — in the dining room wearing shorts, and sometimes t-shirt, too.

In the news…

• Liberty of the Seas to Galveston to be largest ship ever home-ported in Texas
• Royal Caribbean now charging for RFID bands on Anthem of the Seas
• Splendour of the Seas to become the Thomson Discovery next June

Today at portsandbows.com: Cirque do Soleil and MSC cruise ships


Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
4 nights
January 18, 2016
Miami (return): CocoCay, Nassau
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $74
www.royalcaribbean.com

Celebrities With Cruise Appeal, Too

Kathie Lee Gifford Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines/Ray Stubblebine

If you think society at large is tiring of celebrities who fail to live up to the lofty standards placed upon them by…well, society, think again.

Celebrity sells. Still. 

That’s why Carnival is partnering with Kathie Lee Gifford, known to her millions of TV fans simply as Kathie Lee. She has a winery, or at least some wines, as do a growing number of movie stars, TV stars and sports stars. Her partnership with Carnival isn’t news, but her latest wine is.

GIFFT Pinot Noir Rose.

Kathie Lee’s wines — the red blend and chardonnay are already being poured on all Carnival ships — are from Monterey County in California. If the idea wasn’t working, and if the wine wasn’t good, there’d have been no Pinot Noir Rose uncorked yesterday in Miami, an event she toasted (above) with Candeloro Donato, captain of the Splendor.

Celebrity sells. Still.

That’s why Princess is partnering with another TV personality, chef Curtis Stone. His presence will also be felt on the entire fleet, which for Princess means 18 ships. His Curtis Stonebusiness is food, naturally, so he has TV shows (All-Star Academy and Beach Eats), restaurants (Maude, in Beverly Hills), not to mention how-to books.

On the Princess ships, his “Crafted by Curtis” menus will be savored in the main dining rooms and perhaps more elaborately by passengers who sign up for the Chef’s Table or visit the new specialty restaurant, his first at sea. The fun with his food starts on the Golden Princess in a couple of months, and fleet-wide by the end of the year.

All of it to appeal to the public’s appetite for celebrities.

In the news…

• Carnival, Justice Department settle over disabilities investigation
• AIDA Cruises achieves environmental protection milestones
• Steel cut at shipyard for new Silversea ship the Silver Muse

Today at portsandbows.com: French billionaire buying into cruising?

Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam
7 nights
December 13, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Half Moon Cay, George Town, Cozumel, Key West
Inside: $615
Cost per day: $87
www.hollandamerica.com

Chef’s Table A Princess Delight

Hors d'oeuvre

ON THE STAR PRINCESS — Of all the “specialty restaurant experiences” you can have on a cruise ship, the creme-de-la-creme is the Chef’s Table. That’s where you pay a fee to be part of a small group of passengers whose dining begins where the menu begins, in the galley.

It almost defies description, but we’ll give it a shot.

Princess was the first cruise line to introduce passengers to Chef’s Table. On the Star Princess, like all the line’s ships, there are regular opportunities during a week-long cruise. The cost is $95 per person and while it might be hard to think of that as a bargain, it is.

For the food…the wine…the experience.

It starts at the sink. That’s where you wash your hands with instructions from (in our case) Ignazio d’Agostinomaitre d’ Ignazio d’Agostino, who surely has the perfect name for a man in his position. With the tap water at 120 degrees (he could tell by the feel), he doesn’t sing it but he does instruct you to wash for “two verses of Happy Birthday” if you want to go deeper into the galley.

With him and executive chef Remo Bolis providing running commentary about how the galley functions, we slip on our chef jackets, which unfortunately do not come with Remo’s skillset. While answering all of our questions, he pours champagne to go with the three hors ‘oeuvres (above is the Ginger and Spicy Red Chili Cocktail, which tastes even better than it looks).

Galley consumption complete, the group is escorted to a special table. Ah yes, the Chef’s Table. You feel like the only customers they’re serving. The appetizer — isn’t that what we had in the galley? — is a Bering Sea Red King Crab and Porcini Mushroom Risotto, enhanced by the complementary white wine. Outstanding. It ’s followed by palate cleansing orange sorbet spiked (our word) with a splash of vodka.

At that point, most people in our group (10 is maximum size) are feeling satisfied but Chef Remo, another nice Italian (are there any other kind?), is just beginning. He specifically Remo Bolisdesigned the menu for the occasion…a menu that isn’t offered anywhere else on the ship, a menu that focuses on “regional cuisine or ingredients from a recent port.” Since we are in Alaska, that means utilizing ingredients such as crab and tuna. We presume the vodka was imported from the western tip of the Alaska’s Aluetians because from there, you can see Russia.

The entree is a tripleheader…Giant Prawns, Beer-Roast Veal Shank and Crusty Lamb Rack. That’s a mouthful in more ways than one, and it’s accompanied by Buttered Asparagus, Main courseMarket Fresh Vegetable and Creamy Mousseline Potatoes…and a Napa Valley cabernet. Chef Remo didn’t say whether he took his calorie counter when he went shopping. That answer is clear by the time dessert arrives — following a cheese specialty called Stilton-Mascarpone Mousse — because there aren’t any diets we know that include the wild-Dessertlooking and entirely edible (right) "Choco-Halzelnut Parfait with Torroncino Heart Englkish Sauce Coulis and Drambuie Marinated Berries" followed by coffee and Bitter Chocolate Truffles and Pistachio Macaroons.

With dessert wine, of course.

In the end — and there eventually is an end to this all-evening experience — the presentation and preparation is as impressive as the food, and the one thing you can’t do is be afraid to leave any of it on your plate. There’s nobody we know with an appetite big enough to consume it all and, as much as diners are often concerned about getting their money’s worth, smaller servings would be appropriate for so many dishes.

Before it’s time to waddle back to your stateroom, each couple receives a copy of Courses, A Culinary Journey, and a printed copy of the night’s menu. You get your picture taken with Chef Remo…alas, with no osmosis of his cooking skills.

In the news…

• Queen Mary 2 heading to dry dock for extensive refurbishing
• Royal Caribbean reverts to My Time Dining on almost all ships
• Costa setting itself apart with Italy's Finest concept

Today at portsandbows.com: Regent's first around-the-world cruise in six years

Celebrity Constellation
11 nights
October 12, 2015
Istanbul (return): Olympia, Corfu, Split, Dubrovnik, Athens, Ephesus 
Inside: $899
Cost per day: $81
www.celebritycruises.com

Drinks For Free On Norwegian Sky

 

Oh, for the days when going on a cruise meant once you paid for your ticket, that was it…everything was included but shopping for souvenirs, and taxes and tips.

Are those happy days starting to make a comeback?

They are in Norwegian’s world. Well, in one corner of Norwegian’s world. Okay, one neighborhood…bar.

Starting in 2016, cruises on the Norwegian Sky, an 11-year-old ship that goes from Miami to the Bahamas and back will be so inclusive that you won’t pay for drinks. From margaritas to wine (even premium) to beer to soft drinks…nada. 

“We’re taking freestyle cruising to the next level,” said Andy Stuart, Norwegian’s President and COO.

“Freestyle cruising” is the umbrella under which Norwegian introduced the non-traditional seating in dining rooms, allowing passengers to pick their times and tables. Following an era in which passengers felt they were being nickled and dimed at every turn, Norwegian announced that the Sky’s passengers will  “enjoy an even more all-inclusive cruise experience with dining, entertainment and now free unlimited beer, wine and premium spirits included.”

However, if you think “dining” includes the Sky’s three specialty restaurants (Il Adagio, Cagney’s Steak House and The Bistro)…guess again. What it includes in dining is what is already included: the dining room.

For anybody too young to drink…free soda. Now that’s a first for an ocean cruise ship.

It’s likely another test. If “free drinks for everybody” fills up its ships, expect that it will be extended beyond the Sky’s horizon.

After that, who knows?

Today at portsandbows.com: Entertained on Anthem of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas
14 nights
June 11, 2015
Sydney, Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Cairns, Darwin, Benoa, Singapore
Inside: $974
Cost per day: $69
www.royalcaribbean.com

Dynamic Dining’s Classic Change

You may recall that we wrote last summer (okay, we hope you recall that we wrote last summer) how something had to change with the dining rooms on Allure of the Seas, then Royal Caribbean’s newest ship.

Our reasoning (in the unlikely event that you have forgotten) was that when you have two traditional dining rooms with 1,100 and 1,400 guests and a lot of empty tables, and one pick-your-time-to-eat dining with 2,067 guests — many of them waiting to get in — then you had a problem.

Or at least a change waiting to be made.

The change will happen on Anthem of the Seas, the next new Royal Caribbean ship, scheduled to arrive in April. This is not exactly the Dynamic Dining concept the cruise line Grandeur dining roomannounced months ago, whereby instead of one main dining room, diners could choose from smaller rooms and eat when they wished.

The “traditional crowd” evidently objected.

So Royal Caribbean creatively designed an off-shoot of Dynamic Dining and is calling it Classic. It’s for people who want to eat at fixed times: early or late. It gives these traditionals a chance to experience all four complimentary restaurants, each of which has a distinctive menu. It means their “wait staff” will move with them. And it gives the cruise line a better opportunity to avoid line-ups at one dining room when there are empty tables at another, by controlling how much of a restaurant is dedicated to early/late seatings — remember, people have to sign up for it in advance.

What Royal Caribbean really did was listen to its customers and, if this more-flexible Classic concept works on Anthem of the Seas, expect it to be rolled out over the fleet in time and refurbishments.

Remember this time where you read it first.

Just like last time, right?

Today at portsandbows.com: Perks continuing for Norwegian

Carnival Elation
4 nights
September 10, 2015
New Orleans (return): Cozumel
Inside: $289
Cost per day: $72
www.carnival.com

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