Cruise Ships - food?
- stellamystar Aug 19, 2007 09:48 AM
My husband and I are thinking about a cruise in a year for vacation. We love food and dining but I have heard mixed reviews on cruise dining experiences.
Perhaps you can help, Hounds!
1. Do you eat with other guests at a Round of 10 on a cruise?
2. Are there any cruise lines that are known for culinary excellence. I'm not so much interested in the midnight buffet as I am in a quality experience.
3. Are there are food specific cruises out there?
Any help is appreciated!
I can't answer all of your questions but can offer some insight. Our last cruise was on Princess and the food was very good to excellent (we do not like buffets either except for something quick and maybe breakfast). They give you seating options, and for dinner, we requested a table for two which they happily provided. We enjoyed our servers the first night and ended up with the same quiet table every night. Some people like meeting new "friends" on vacation. However, you never know who you may be sat with. For example, one large table of mixed vacationers got stuck with a very loud and obnoxious guy from NJ who had to one up everyone at the table every night. To me, that is not a vacation. My other piece of advice would be to choose one of the newest ships. There are some real rust buckets out there, especially in the Carnival Fleet. If possible, pick a ship that is in it's inaugural season. It will be clean, well appointed, and have many amenities that an older ship would not have.
The only thing I can speak to specifically (since it's been a while since I've been on a cruise) is #1. Usually you get the choice of eating with a group or by yourself. If there's open seating, you typically get seated with other people who arrive at the same time as you. I'd say this is the way to go because you can eat when you want.
Cruises with seating times put you at a set table for the entire trip. Everyone orders and receives their food at the same time, so if you sit with someone who is tardy or doesn't regularly come to dinner, you can sometimes end up waiting 30 minutes or more before you have your order taken. Sometimes I've seen situations where the waiter's entire group had to wait for the couple that was late because the server had to bring out each course all at once.
Often times that doesn't matter because you'll have some delinquent couple at another table and your server has to put in every table's order at once and bring out each course at the same time for all tables. I remember one cruise where my server's group always got their food last because of the delinquent couple. The server was as annoyed about the situation as the rest of us, but cruise ships aren't as big on punctuality as they used to be.
We took a Crystal Cruise and the food was outstanding. We had all sorts of dishes, which we had never tried before. Our servers were so good that they were fun to watch. If any one of us really liked something, a sample showed up at everyone's plate without asking. The wine steward and the cellar master hovered over our table. We had a cocktail party in the room one afternoon and they served, among other things, so many chilled prawns that we almost got sick because we ate them all. The desserts were spectacular, cherries jubilee and crepe suzettes prepared tableside. Memorable!
I've been a travel agent 26 years and have been on more than 30 cruises. I totally agree. Crystal trumps 'em all! I took the Symphony on my second trip through the Panama Canal and one day they served us the most incredible lunch I've ever eaten.....a 40-foot-long lobster buffet!!! Forget the midnight buffet. Gimme lobster!! Lobster thermador, lobster Newburg.........omg.........thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Holland America is also very good, just not quite as top-drawer as Crystal.
The quality of cruise ship dining is directly tied to the cost of the cruise. You get what you pay for in cruise travel. Find me a line that offers a great cup of java tho...still looking for that!
Many midnight buffets have been removed from itineraries in favor of specialty restaurants included with your cruise. Our last cruise offered Asian, Italian and Contiental dining rooms (separate from the main dinner room) by reservation but still included in the cost of the cruise. You paid for wine/cocktails only. Crystal Cruise has been our fav under "best dining" experience so far.
As a travel professional I was invited to have lunch on the Queen Mary II when it was docked in Manhattan on one of it's first trans-atlantic cruises. I had lunch in The Britannia Restaurant. Service was excellent as was the food. I think they had 1 waiter for every 3 guests. There were a number of other restaurants on board including an Al a carte - Todd English restaurant. I think the Queen Mary II would not disappoint anyone in the food department. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:QM...