Cruise ships are designed to keep people busy. There are things to do from sun up to sun down – and beyond. But on board these ships there are dining experiences worth halting the activities for and celebrating the food. From romantic evenings in Nouveau* Restaurant to the ultimate gastronomic indulgence seated around The Chef’s Table*, there’s something for everyone.
Here’s just a taste of some of the culinary delights you can sample on board:
The two-deck dining room conjures feelings of grandness. The design, colour scheme and ornately painted ceilings promote a feeling of opulence. You can dine at tables for 10 or find a little quiet corner for a romantic dinner for two – the choice is yours. The menu is a tale of two pages. One selection of dishes stays the same throughout the cruise; these are the always-available Carnival classics. The other side of the menu changes nightly and is often culturally themed. There are two dinner sittings (5.30pm and 7.45pm) or you can opt for anytime dining, which allows you to choose when you eat. The menu caters for all tastes and with gluten free and vegetarian options. Brunch is also served in the main restaurant on certain days of the cruise. Even though it is a formal setting, the wait staff often burst into song and dance, also in celebration of guests’ birthdays.
Fact. Chilli fires up the metabolism. Fact. Your metabolism will be working overtime if you start the day with the breakfast burritos at the BlueIguana Cantina, which are filled with eggs, onions and the hottest of the hot peppers. The truth is the staff will make the burritos as hot, or as mild, as you like. Dining at this outside eatery is a great way to start the day. You can smell the salt air and feel the warmth of the sun on your back as you indulge your taste buds. Breakfast is served from 7.30am until 10.30am.
If there are two of you dining, make sure you order a “Ship”. This meal comes in a crafted timber ship with miso soup, side salad, Californian rolls and a mix of tuna, salmon and prawn sushi. The sushi is incredibly fresh. This bright and cheerful Japanese restaurant has comfortable green high stools and blonde timber tables. Each table features an intricate mini Bonsai tree and cute mini teapots that supply the soy sauce. Orange and yellow bamboo drop lights and glass kitchen panels add a touch of pizzazz. The kitchen is open so you can watch the talented chefs in action. The one-page menu is certainly not endless, but it is delicious. If you are still hungry after the “ship” try the Tuna and Mango Tartare or the Wagyu Kakuni – it is mind-blowingly good with cubes of slow braised wagyu short ribs on little doughy dumplings, topped with caramelised onions.
Guy’s Burger Joint^
The electronic billboard of Guy Fieri outside Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar in New York on W 44th Street is about 20 metres high. Guy’s burgers are an American institution, but you don’t have to visit New York to taste them. You can get the real thing on Carnival’s Australian-based ships. Guy’s Burger Joint has been a part of the Carnival experience since 2011. The open-air bar ticks all the hamburger boxes and Fieri has even added a taste of Australia with the recently created Boomerang Burger – the essential ingredient being beetroot. It’s so relaxed you can jump straight out of the pool – order a burger – and jump straight back in after you’ve finished. Perhaps you should sit on a lounge chair for an hour or two if you intend to plunge down Green Thunder!
There’s something magical that happens as you climb the “glass” staircase to Deck 10 and enter the Nouveau Restaurant. It is the ultimate in opulent, romantic dining at sea. You are greeted with a smile by glove wearing wait staff and often seated with uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean. The restaurant seats 152 guests, and the meal will cost you $40 per head for dinner and $30 per head for lunch. You should dress up to dine at Nouveau. It has that kind of upmarket Steak House feel to it. There’s no doubt that this is a “meat lover’s” paradise, though there are vegetarian options too. The steaks are oh so plump, juicy and sweet. It’s the perfect setting to perhaps propose, celebrate an anniversary or even host a wedding party.
The Chef’s Table*
Memo: Book this as soon as you get on board. It may cost $75 per head, but it is arguably the best meal you will ever eat for that price. It’s not often that you get the “rounds of the kitchen” and it’s such a pleasant experience. The journey to The Chef’s Table starts with a tour of the galley, free-flowing champagne and a delicious assortment of canapés. This seven-course degustation meal, eventually served to 14 of my fellow guests, in the Dancin’ nightclub is something every “food lover” should experience. The menu changes often but usually includes blue swimmer crab, barramundi, Waygu beef and at least two desserts. Oh, and did we mention, red and white wine. Divine. This is a feast to share, and remember.
^On Carnival Spirit only