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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.

Friday File: Favorite Cruise Ships

We’ve often been asked: “What’s your favorite cruise ship?” It’s a question often asked of anybody who cruises a lot by people who cruise a little, or less. Our answer, one we borrowed from the late John Maxtone-Graham, is always the same: “The one we’re on.” That’s pretty much how we feel. When you love cruising, you rarely go on a cruise that you don’t enjoy. At the risk of sounding like Pollyannas, to us cruises are just varying degrees of good. Having said that, over the last six years, these are the six cruise ships we enjoyed the most, for a variety of reasons…


Norwegian Epic: Critics always trash it, but in two cruises we’ve found the complaints mostly trivial.


Allure of the Seas: It’s hard to believe anybody who is objective could find fault with this ship-that-has-it-all.


Coral Princess: In our world, she’s the queen of Alaska, with a feel we call “comfortable in every way.”


Costa Diadema: When you like all things Italian, as we do, you like the flagship of Italy’s main cruise line.


Celebrity Eclipse: When you spend six days at sea, you either love or hate a ship — we loved the Eclipse.


Norwegian Sun: This has everything to do with our longest cruise, 19 days, on a ship that became “home.”

In the news…

• Carrie Underwood joins Carnival Live!  in November to raise funds for vets
• Upcoming SS United States Conservancy announcement to save the ship
• Fog in Tampa once again causes chaos for Carnival Paradise, AidaVita

Today at portsandbows.com: What’s next for Princess Cruises

Carnival Fantasy
4 nights
April 25, 2016
Miami (return): Key West, Cozumel
Inside: $239
Cost per day: $59

Norwegian, The Frank Del Rio Way

Frank Del RioWhen Frank Del Rio became CEO of the company that owns Norwegian Cruise Line, everybody who has seen him in action knew there would be more action to see. Outgoing, perhaps even flamboyant, gregarious and entertaining, he seems to stand still for nothing unless it’s for the next idea to pop into his head…within minutes, or seconds.

This week, engaging reporters on the new Norwegian Escape, here’s what Del Rio revealed to Cruise Critic’s Brittany Chrusciel…

• Every older ship will go into dry dock in 2016 and 2017, except the Jewel, which is already scheduled for 2018. By our count, that’s nine refurbishing in two years, 10 if Pride of America is part of the deal. Del Rio wants the older ships to become more popular, like the 16-year-old Regent Seven Seas Navigator is for one of his other cruise lines.

• Norwegian will start the migration towards smoke-free casinos, and the Escape will be first to become 50 per cent smoke-free. The last four Norwegian ships launched — the Epic (2010), Breakaway (2013), Getaway (2014) and Escape — have all fielded complaints about “drifting smoke” from the casinos.

Escape• Complimentary dining in the new Jimmy Buffett restaurant, Margaritaville At Sea, may be short-lived. There were long line-ups once the Escape arrived in “Jimmy Country” and when something is that popular it’s only a matter of time until it becomes an additional revenue stream. As an aside, as people who have waited in line to get into several  Margaritavilles, we get it.

What Del Rio is doing, since replacing Kevin Sheehan at the helm, is turning Norwegian into a cruise line that turns more heads.

There’s every indication that he knows exactly how to do it.

In the news…

• Viking orders two more ocean ships — fledgling fleet to be six strong by 2020
• Harmony of the Seas to combine attributes of Oasis and Quantum Class ships
• 'Tangled The Musical' world premiere on Disney Magic in Miami
• MSC Divina arrives in Florida to begin year-round cruises to Caribbean

Today at portsandbows.com: Guess where Liberty of the Seas is going?

Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
7 nights
January 30, 2016
Tampa (return): Key West, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel 
Inside: $560
Cost per day: $90

How Fast Can You Pack For A Deal?

Everybody loves a deal. That used to mean taking advantage of last-minute sales that were sometimes the product of too much product. Too many televisions…too many optical mice…too many empty rooms. Take your pick.

On cruise ships, empty rooms generate no income. Then, along came Royal Caribbean, earlier this year deciding not to bow to the lure of slashing prices to fill some beds.

End of last-minute deals?

Maybe. Maybe not. This week, Windstar Cruises has last-minute bargains in the name of Veterans Day, which is Wednesday. The sale continues until Thursday and it applies on cruises in Europe, Costa Rica, the Panama Canal and the Caribbean.

How good a deal is 81 per cent off?

Whatever Windstar’s motivation, there are some real bargains, with an additional $100 off Windstarfor vets and active-duty military personnel. Sail (and it is sailing as these are yachts) around Tahiti, or Costa Rica, or the Caribbean for seven days for $1,299. That’s less than $200 per day with a premium cruise line.

The European cruises are less attractive but, by Windstar prices, good deals. A week in the Greek Isles and Turkey goes for $2,599, a cruise with a sticker price of $7,399.

Granted, the deals are on select cruises. Granted, you do have to fly to the embarkation and disembarkation ports. Granted, you may have to book tomorrow, pack Wednesday and leave Thursday. But for a chance to sail on a ship most of us can only admire from the shore…

Isn’t that what last-minute deals are?

In the news…

Emiel de Vries named Captain of Holland America's new Konigsdam
• No decision yet about sending SS United States to ship scrapyard
• Privately owned islands in Papua New Guinea to open for cruising in 2016

Today at portsandbows.com: First look at Anthem of the Seas

Norwegian Epic
10 nights
December 9, 2015
Barcelona (return): Cagliari, Palermo, Naples, Rome, Florence
Inside: $559
Cost per day: $55

Chilling Out On Norwegian’s Escape

The new Norwegian Escape has now left its birthplace in Germany and is en route to its home in Miami, following a short stop in Southhampton. At 5,000 or so passengers, it is now Norwegian’s largest ship and among the top half-dozen biggest ships in the world, and it comes with some innovations.Ice Bar-1

Like a cold room.

This is a curious addition to a cruise ship. The room’s actually being called the “Snow Room” and it’s part of the ship’s spa facility. Its temperature is 14 degrees Fahrenheit and snowflakes fall from the ceiling while passengers watch and…shiver. Spa reps say this is healthy — “good for aches and pains” — but if you were trying to sell your neighbour on going on a cruise this winter and touted the Snow Room there’s a good chance your neighbour would stay home.

The whole concept of a Caribbean cruise is to, pardon the pun, “escape” from wherever you live to a temperate, sunny climate.

Norwegian tried a variation of this concept five years ago on the Epic, which until last week was the cruise line’s biggest ship. It was called The Ice Bar, kind of a play on words since bars usually include ice to cool the drinks. Well, in The Ice Bar there were icicles everywhere but in the drinks. It was so cold that you had to bundle Ice Bar-2up before entering. It wasn’t exactly the North Pole, but 10 minutes was long enough, in the interests of survival…or at least comfort. The bar has survived, too…with a little Ice Bar-3sponsorship input from Svedka (vodka) and Inniskillin (ice wine), but it seemed a strange juxtaposition for the conventional concept of what a cruise delivers.

Once the novelty wears off, maybe the Snow Room will be a bigger hit. The old hot-cold treatment thing, you know. There are people, dozens perhaps, who think that’s good for the body even if it doesn’t feel good. To some of us, these people are known as masochists. Who knows if they’re right? Who will ever know?

Or maybe spa people are just like golfers. They’ll buy anything that they think is going to make them better.

In the news…

• New Orleans, usually a homeport, becoming popular with port calls
• Dawn Princess to be renamed Pacific Explor for P&O Australia in 2017
• MSC Lirica to be customized for Chinese market when it arrives next year

Today at portsandbows.com: Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016

Celebrity Infinity
4 nights
October 23, 2016
Fort Lauderdale (return): Key West, Nassau
Inside: $272
Cost per day: $68

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