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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.

New ship No. 4 — Carnival Vista

Fourth in a series of new ships for 2016


Carnival hasn’t had a new ship in either three years or four, depending on whether you consider the re-building and name change of the Sunshine a new ship. When the Vista comes along this spring, it will launch a new class of the same name and it will give Carnival its biggest ship with almost 4,000 passengers…and obviously a more modern ship than the last totally new one, the Breeze in 2012.

Launch date: May 1

Capacity: 3,954

Sister ships: None

Maiden voyage: Dubrovnik to Barcelona (13 days)

Home port: Miami

Ships then in Carnival fleet: 24

Interesting: The world’s biggest cruise line is getting into the boardwalk-style of design by “bringing you closer to the sea” at the Havana Bar & Pool, SkyRide at SportSquare and Seafood Shack. It also claims to have the first IMAX theater at sea and staterooms designed for “Cuban culture lovers” sailing the Caribbean…hmm, could this become Carnival’s first cruise ship for Cuba one day? Like almost all new ships, its first sea days will be in Europe, crossing the Atlantic to settle at home in Miami by year’s end. The first Vista Class ship will also have a 450-foot waterslide, 20 places to eat and/or drink and a working micro-brewery at the RedFrog Pub.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Grand Princess
10 nights
February 23, 2016
San Francisco (return): Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $64

Sensitivities Of How Cruisers Dress

Today’s subject is Muscat and, while people who know us may find this hard to believe, it’s not the dessert wine. It’s the city that is capital of Oman, a country on the Arabian Peninsula that is often visited by cruise ships and their passengers, despite the volatility that comes with that part of the world.

As a cruise port, Oman has grown.

Ten years ago, there were about 25 cruise ships that ported in Oman. Today, there are 100 or so. With that kind of triple-digit growth comes economic gain…and cultural Sky-GSK-1-650 copychange.

At a recent conference in Moscow, it was reported that the local shop vendors and owners — who are naturally in direct contact with cruise passengers when they disembark — are disturbed by the way the visitors dress. Especially the female visitors.

Specifically, the locals are upset that the number of people who wear shorts and revealing clothes. European women dress that way in summer, although the same might be said of North American women, and the vendors and shop keepers of Oman feel that it disrespects local customs and that visitors should know there is a dress code.


Clearly, this is a cultural clash, with valid arguments on both sides. The tourists are on vacation. They have a vacation “dress code” that they take abroad. They either don’t know it offends the Oman people or they don’t care. The locals, on the other hand, are concerned that the visiting dress code might spread and threaten their culture, their values and their beliefs.

Tourists can be insensitive. If you know what local customs are (and many cruisers asked said they did), why would you purposely alienate the country and people who are your hosts? There can be a fine line between respect and disrespect — especially in highly religious countries — and it’s worth finding out when you cross that line, in advance.

On the other hand, you can’t have it both ways, can you? If you want to enjoy the benefits of tourism, you risk having tourism impact your culture. If that’s unacceptable, there’s a simple solution.

Close the port on cruise ships.

In the news…

• Puerto Vallarata cruise port operating at 100% after Hurricane Patricia
• American Cruise Line's new coastal ship to be ready in January 2017

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival changes in beverage policy 

Crown Princess
7 nights
December 12, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas
Inside: $511
Cost per day: $73

Mexico: Why Tourists Matter

If you’ve been reading our meanderings these last almost-six years (and of course you have, right?), then you know that we have a soft spot for Mexico. You know that when things goes sour south of the border, we feel badly and sometimes even defensive. You know when things go well, we raise a glass of…tequila!

So where is Jose Cuervo, anyway?

Tourism has made a comeback in Mexico — again. By the end of this year, there will have Puerto Vallartabeen 5.7 million tourists in Mexico, and 6.1 million next year. While that’s only about a third the population of the capital city, what’s staggering is the impact those six million visitors have. At a trade show in Cozumel, the country’s new secretary of tourism — Enrique de la Madrid Cordero — told Travel Weekly (among others) that tourism represents nine per cent of Mexico’s GDP.

It employs eight million people.

With more comfort about Mexico’s security improvements, four cruise lines will make port calls along the Mexican Riviera during the next two winters — Carnival, Norwegian, Holland America and Princess. If our memory is accurate, there was a time when only Carnival was there.

American Airlines is adding flights to Mazatlan. New hotels are being built. Shore excursions for cruise passengers are better than ever.

Everybody knows what the attractions are in Mexico, starting with the weather. Besides that, there’s something else that (to us) never changes;

The people.

Said de la Madrid Cordero: ““We are aware that we are in a world of constant competition. Our secret weapon [is] the Mexican people, a population that likes to treat people well.”

And why not? Treating people well is clearly Mexico’s bread and butter.

In the news…

• Carnival, Chinese shipbuilder to develop domestic cruise line in China
• Silversea flagship Silver Muse to raise bar on luxury suites in 2017
• Anthem of the Seas two weeks away from permanent New York home

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Norwegian Jade
7 nights
January 2, 2016
Houston (return): Cozumel, Belize, Roatan
Inside: $459
Cost per day: $65

Pearl Time For The Legends

You know, those of us who have seen Legends In Concert on the Norwegian Epic should have known it would find a new home. We should have known it wouldn’t work as well in Europe, where the Epic has been since spring and where it will stay until November 2016, because Europeans don’t seem to take as readily to “tribute” acts as North Americans.

Legends in Concert-MJ copyWe should have known that Legends in Concert was sunk when a passenger pointed out last month on Cruise Critic that the show was cancelled during her cruise, with no explanation from Norwegian. In the fine print of the cruise line’s website, you can find (eventually) that the last show was September 20.

But we didn’t.

The good news is that Legends in Concert is moving to the Norwegian Pearl. Now the Pearl’s no Epic — a little more than half the size — but the theaters are probably much more comparable. Clearly, Norwegian had to find a home for this show once its five-year run on the Epic was over, or risk losing it to another cruise line.

Would that matter?

Norwegian is consistently cited for having the best entertainment at sea, often winning awards for it from the people who create awards. That goes for the Epic, too. It can’t be a coincidence that Norwegian has been at or near the top of the entertainment category for the last five years (the Epic is five years old) and that Legends in Concert has been a fixture on the ship.

PearlWe’ve seen Legends in Concert twice on the Epic. We weren’t expecting the shows to be winners, but they were. The “tribute acts” included some performers who were favourites (Rod Stewart, Jimmy Buffett) and some who weren’t (Michael Jackson, Britney Spears). All were good.

On the Pearl, starting…now, the tribute acts are Madonna, Elton John and Tina Turner. Well, two out of three isn’t bad…and you can guess which two.

In the news…

• Norwegian Star's propulsion problem takes ship straight to Tampa
• Doug Ward's 2016 Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ship Guide released
• Smaller Maasdam to replace departing Volendam in Australia

Today at portsandbows.com: Second American river cruiser for Pacific Northwest

Crown Princess
7 nights
November 28, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas
Inside: $504
Cost per day: $72

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