Out to Sea for Dec. 19/15
(c) By Jim and Barb Fox
Ah, yes the all-inclusive cruise vacation buffet – morning, noon, night and “midnight.”
Those lavish all-you-can eat buffets at sea are included in the price of admission, with some of them open 24 hours a day, along with room service, pizza joints and late-night “snacks.”
“Most people think of a deluxe buffet when they think of cruise dining and, while that is one option, there are plenty of additional dining delights available on a cruise ship,” said Cindy D’Aoust of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
|The Pinnacle restaurant is a fine-dining option at an additional charge on Holland America ships where the legendary Le Cirque restaurant is recreated on one night each voyage. (Barbara Fox photo)|
“Today’s cruises offer specialty dining options that invite guests for once-in-a-lifetime palate experiences,” she added.
The terms epicurean experiences, haute cuisine and culinary delights can now be applied to cruise ship experiences.
Cruise travellers know to expect the unexpected when it comes to cuisine, so pick your ship options carefully to fit your palate.
The trend is for cruise lines to offer numerous options to satisfy any appetite and please any palate.
This ranges from specialty menus to made-to-order dishes, with a wide range of dining options that might surprise even the most seasoned traveller.
|Carnival ships have added the popular casual Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint. (Jim Fox photo)|
This includes Food Network’s Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint on Carnival ships, singer Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville at Sea on Norwegian and An Evening at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Grill on Holland America ships.
CLIA has compiled a sample of cruise cuisine “surprises.”
- Eat locally: More and more cruise ships are indulging in local cultures and sourcing their onboard ingredients from their destinations.
Chefs are finding everything from strawberries to red snapper from local food markets in destinations around the world when the ship’s in port.
|Holland America’s Culinary Arts Centre is a “show kitchen at sea” with demonstrations and cooking classes. (Barbara Fox photo)|
Guests on American Cruise Lines’ American Eagle can enjoy seafood with a Cajun and creole flair, all fresh and locally sourced, while some lines offer “shore excursions” for shopping trips with their executive chef.
- Specialty diets: Cruise ship culinary staff members are trained to accommodate any dietary restrictions and preferences from vegetarian and gluten-free to allergies.
A cruiser with Windstar Cruises asked the culinary team to “just bring her fruit” for dessert every night after dinner.
She was treated to an imaginative presentation of seasonal and local fruit with a variety of healthy toppings.
|Princess Cruises’ Chef’s Table is a culinary treat with Champagne, hors d’oeuvres and a multi-course dinner created and hosted by the executive chef. (Jim Fox photo)|
- Dining delicacies and rare finds: Cruisers can please their palate with local destination delicacies and rare dishes for once-in-a-lifetime epicurean experiences.
Carnival Cruise Line offers adventurous eaters a “Rare Finds” menu with dining offerings, including spicy alligator fritters, ox tongue and more.
- Wining and dining: There are more than culinary options at sea, with a thirst for fine wines and spirits also quenched on today’s cruise ships.
The MSC Divina offers a wine blending class that lets passengers create, bottle and label their own wine, while the Seabourn Odyssey features an extensive wine menu with more than 200 wines from the world’s top growing regions.
|“Pasta anyone?” with personalized service at Holland America’s Lido buffet at the top of the ships. (Jim Fox photo)|
- Top chefs and artisans: Celebrity chefs and top culinary artisans are regulars on cruise ships, with each whipping up menus full of their specialties.
Holland America Line’s Culinary Council is made up of five world-renowned chefs, including Jonnie Boer, David Burke, Elizabeth Faulkner, Jacques Torres and Mark Best whose special dishes are offered in the dining rooms.
- Become a cheftestant: Cruising foodies can learn a thing or two about cooking up something special with onboard and on-shore cooking classes.
Beyond the classes, many lines offer the chance for guests to become “cheftestants” in culinary showdowns, such as Celebrity Cruises’ Quickfire Challenges, in partnership with Bravo’s Top Chef.
- Specialty ships fit for foodies: Many cruise lines offer specialty cruises focused on cooking, dining and all things culinary that’s perfect for epicurean travellers.
|It’s taco time as many cruise ships offer a casual Mexican option poolside in addition to the buffet. (Barbara Fox photo)|
Oceania Cruises offers hour-long Culinary Discovery Tours led by a chef instructor where guests can interact with regional culinary experts and explore local food markets, restaurants, vineyards, farms and cooking schools.
For more information about cruise cuisine, lines and destinations, go to CLIA’s website: cruising.org
Jim and Barb Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more Out to Sea trip tips: http://outtoseatravel.blogspot.ca