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Cruise Line food, some better than others?

Just home from our first cruise. We took the Pacific Princess for 2 weeks through Alaska. We both were disappointed about the food on the ship. We paid a lot for this cruise and hoped for something better than we had. Seemed just like wedding food. The desserts looked good but totally lacked any flavor. Don't even try the desserts in the buffet. The cookies were made with crisco, no butter at all.I guess some people don't know what well prepared food is. Seems our dining companions really enjoyed the food but we didn't. I'm not a food snob by any means but I know when I am being served wedding food. The better meals were the last 2-3 days of the cruise. I was figuring they wanted us to give them a high rating on the survey about the food and such and maybe they hoped people would have forgotten about the so-so meals. Are any of the cruise lines better than others when it comes to the food? P.S. If this is in the wrong board can you move it? Thanks.

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  1. There are cruise lines with really great food - Crystal (which I know from experience), Seabourne and Cunard (by reputation) - but you really pay through the nose for them - as in 3-4 times the price of a bargain cruise.

    Norwegian is a middle between the truly good, and the Celebrity/Carnival bottom; we enjoyed most of our meals there, although they didn't serve lobster. Steaks, chops, fish were all very good, and with my mother-in-law on a low cholesterol diet, our waiter was conscientious about making sure all her fish were broiled, sauces on the side, etc. Dining was a very pleasant experience.

    7 Replies
    1. re: FrankDrakman

      Of the three I've tried, I'd put Norwegian at the bottom with Carnival. It seems to have undeservedly good reputation. Royal Caribbean's was much better than either of them.

      I'm not sure how much the food varies from ship to ship within a line, though, and all of those opinions are based on a single ship.

      1. re: Jacquilynne

        We just came off a Royal Caribbean cruise on Liberty of the Seas, and I must say that except for the first night, when the sea-bass was a bit dry, the food was consistently good in the main Botticelli Dining Room. The steak was done to perfection (which totally surprised us), the lamb shanks were moist and tasty, the risotto was not overcooked -- all of the food was done right and tasty, if not wildly creative. The wine list had some surprisingly good wines priced below restaurant markups. The Caymus and the Ornellaia 2007 were both superb. All told, perfectly satisfactory, as long as you were not expecting Michelin quality or caviar.

      2. re: FrankDrakman

        I have to say the lobster tails and king crab legs we had were good but that was towards the end of the cruise. I had a filet mignon that tasted like an "Outback Special" sirlion. It was tasty but was too tough for beef tenderloin.

        1. re: javaandjazz

          You should have asked for another steak if you thought it was tough. Every filet I've had on the Princess was tender.

        2. re: FrankDrakman

          I haven't used them, but I was under the impression that Celebrity was a higher end line just under Crystal.

          I have been on Princess and Royal Caribbean and thought the food was good.

          1. re: mrfood16

            I just went on Celebrity in January and the food was abysmal. It seems like they put all their energy into the premium restaurants and buffet and the main dining room food was barely edible unless you ordered a steak/red meat. I don't eat red meat, so I dreaded dinner every night because I knew I'd be faced with another awful meal. The buffet was actually much better than the dining room.

            Princess seems to be pretty much in the middle in terms of food. I haven't really had a bad experience there. After all I'd heard about Carnival (granted this was 6 years ago) I was surprised that the food was not too bad. I think at that point, they were introducing nicer ships and trying to improve their image as not being so cheap, so the food quality on the newest ships was fairly decent.

          2. re: FrankDrakman

            I would add Regent Seven Seas to that list. We took a cruise on Regent last year from Athens to Monte Carlo and the food was fantastic. Of course, the cruise was really expensive but it was a great treat.
            Have cruised on Royal Carribean and Carnival too. Food was awful but Carnival had a "specialty" steak house where you could go and eat for $30. It was pretty good and the quality and service were far better than the main dining room and (horror) buffet.

          3. I'd rate Royal Carribean above NCL. Holland America in between. Though I've never been on a Princess ship, I bet that some of the desserts you passed up in the buffet were pretty good. When cruising, I try to remember not to go for the fancy or exotic menu items as it is unlikely that those could be prepared well in great volume.

            2 Replies
            1. re: WinTer15

              We tried most of the desserts in the buffet and most lacked any flavor at all. Ya know, they used gelatin in the apple pies and cherry pies and that turned me off. They did have a few desserts my partner liked but that was towards the end of the cruise. We both enjoy baking so we kinda know what stuff is supposed to taste like.

              1. re: WinTer15

                My last cruise on NCL was before they were acquired by Star Cruises of Malaysia. It's quite possible the food has gone downhill since then.

                But I'm curious about dinner dessert buffets; I can't remember a cruise that had one of these. Midnight buffet, sure. Chocolate special midnight buffet, sure. But at dinner, we always ordered off the menu.

                1. Did you mean the desserts at the lunch buffet? Because I always found them to be kind of uninspiring and always skipped them. However at the dinner buffet they had a good selection of whole cakes and tortes from which to select and they were pretty good...some of the same ones served in the dining room. As far as the cookies I always had a couple everyday and found they were like home made and good, didn't think butter or shortening when I was eating them.

                  The first poster is correct. You get what you pay for. A cruise on Crystal will cost you $300-$400/day and cruise lines like Princess you're probably paying around $100/day.

                  When you consider they prepare 10,000 meals a day and have to have some kind of variety they don't do a bad job and it's a few steps above the wedding food I've had. I think the food on all those middle of the road cruise ships is about the same. All have their strengths and weaknesses, but overall the food is good not great. They're all purchasing their provisions from the same places.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: monku

                    We were on a small ship, held less than 700 passengers and paid $215 each a day for the 14 day cruise. I agree with you monku, the food is good but not great. I think they could have tweaked it a bit and used better ingredients and the food would have been much better.

                    1. re: javaandjazz

                      Being your first cruise you had high expectations about what you heard about the food. The first day your expectations weren't met and you got "wedding" food so I'm sure the next 13 days were a let down.

                      Quick look at the Pacific Princess, it appears that it appeals to the seasoned cruiser over the age of 50 because of it's itineraries and the size of the ship. January the Pacific Princess will embark on a 107 day world cruise for the first time.

                      These days it's possible to cruise the intermediate lines for as low as $75/day on some itineraries. The majority think it's a deal and their expectations have been more than satisfied. I was on a Mexican cruise paying about $100/day and met some guy in the jacuzzi and he'd got a last minute deal for $55/day...I'm sure everything was great to him. My friend is going on an 11 day Baltic cruise this week on Crystal for almost $500/day...but he says the food and everything is worth it, plus they got a $2,000 ship board credit.

                      Don't give up on the cruise food, next time try a different cruise line. Nothing's going to knock your socks off and some meals may be hit or miss. You don't like something order something else, they're more than happy to accomodate your request. My mother complained they didn't serve enough vegetables like they used to and the waiter said people didn't eat them, so they cut back....every night thereafter he brought her a side order of vegetables which she couldn't finish.

                      Interesting the best overall ranking on this one survey for the intermediate cruiselines goes to Holland America. First time cruiser satisfaction for Princess was a 9 out of 10 but 8 out of 10 on the food. Overall Princess was ranked 3rd. The interesting fact is that Carnival owns Holland America and they were ranked 2nd from the bottom.

                      1. re: monku

                        Princess was actually offering deals on Alaska cruises for as low as $45 a day this spring, so the food is really going to seem pretty good when you're paying that little. Unless you pay for the Crystal and other higher end lines or fork out the extra $10-20 for the premium restaurants on the other restaurants, the food is probably going to be wedding banquet.

                        1. re: queencru

                          At $45/day I'd have no complaints.
                          Food is better than a wedding banquet these days. At least when you order a steak it's cooked to order and hasn't been sitting around.

                          I did have a disappointing rib eye in their Sterling Steakhouse. They show you a nicely marbled representative steak when you order and it sure didn't seem like the nice steak I was shown when I was eating it. $15 extra...no big deal but felt a bit slighted. Complained on my cruise survey.

                          The food on the intermediates is good and satisfies most of the people. I imagine half the CH's would be disappointed.

                          Interesting figure I saw last night on cruising (featured NCL), that only 17% of the U.S. population has ever cruised. The other is they have to sell $7.25 in liquor to every passenger per day to break even on bar sales.

                          1. re: monku

                            I am not sure that is always the case. On my last Celebrity cruise, the food other than the red meat was abysmal to the point where some of it wasn't even edible.

                  2. We've only been on one cruise, the Emerald Princess, and were very pleased with the quality and diversity of the food. Buffet food is buffet food, yes, but I would say this buffet food was above-average. Always hot and never sitting out for too long before being replenished. I liked that they had themed nights. On top of the casual, there were also sit-down restaurants with a menu that changed daily, and a fairly nice steak and seafood lounge. We also enjoyed a sushi bar on the ship. Even having a slice of pizza poolside whenever we wanted it was wonderful.

                    My beef with cruising was not in the quality of the food, but in that we only had lunchtimebasically in the ports to experience the true cuisine of the countries to which we were traveling. The pros and cons of cruisin'.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: KayceeK

                      Most cruise lines will only stop in a port for the day because they pay a daily port tax of $10-$15/person/day (usually added on to your cruise) for everyone including the crew on the ship. The majority of the people are at the port to see the sights and buy the local goods and at the last choice is to eat the local cuisine. Some use the excuse- why pay for food off the ship when it's included in my trip.

                      1. re: monku

                        Yes, this is true. But for my husband and I, who love food, this was our beef. We went on a cruise because we wanted a relaxing stress-free vacation for hubby's mid-tour of Afghanistan break - and the cruise certainly did the trick!

                        1. re: monku

                          We had heard something about port charges form other passengers on the boat. That's why in some of the less interesting towns where there was nothing to do we were there all day. You had to take an excursion otherwise you were bored all day! There were some ports where we could have spent at least 2 days.

                          1. re: javaandjazz

                            I looked at the Pacific Princess itinerary and noticed the strange arrival time (5:00pm) and shortest port of call was Vancouver, BC where you could have spent 2 days. Since your cruise started in Seattle, it was to satisfy the age old PVSA (Passenger Vessel Service Act of 1886) which says a foreign flagged ship (the only U.S. flagged ship is the Pride of America which operates in Hawaii) can't pick up or drop off passengers in the consecutive US ports without touching a foreign port. Itineraries are scheduled around other cruise lines since there might not be sufficient space to dock more than one cruise ship on a particular day. The evening stop in Vancouver was because there are other Alaskan cruise ships originating from Vancouver that are docked at the ports which probably depart by 4pm.

                            See your point on your ports of call. Skagway you can walk from one end of town to the other in an hour. Nothing really to do in Valdez or Skagway for a whole day in my opinion. Haven't been to Kodiak, so can't comment. As I mentioned before that particular ship and itinerary is geared to seasoned cruisers and some don't care where they cruise and some of them don't even get off the ship at certain ports. Maybe a 14 day Alaska cruise was too much, we took a 7 day to Seward then a bus to Anchorage and boarded the Alaska Railroad to Denali Park.

                            Excursions are a profit center for the cruise lines and they get a cut of every excursion they sell. I avoid buying the ship excursions. The two times I went to Alaska I got a weekly fishing license and just fished wherever I could drop a line and chartered a private boat for my family to salmon fish at our leisure and price. If I want to snorkel I'll bring my own equipment and make my way to where the beach access spots are. We'll get on city buses go the the central markets to see what the locals eat and sample some street food.

                            We were on a family trip of 16 on the Radiance of the Seas on an Alaskan cruise. I befriended the maître d' on the first night with a conversation about restaurants he worked at in Europe. Every night thereafter he brought us off the menu kind of appetizers like snow crab claws, giant shrimp cocktails, seafood chowders and one night jambalaya for one of our Creole members. Othere diners are staring at us wondering why we got the special stuff. We ended up tipping him $50 at the end of the trip.

                            Don't give up on cruising. I like it because it's a convenient and relaxing way to travel without moving from one hotel to another and it gives you a glimpse of a place. Don't be too critical of the food, sure it's an integral part of the cruise experience and it's mass produced, better than most wedding food I've had.

                            1. re: monku

                              Just a quick request, folks, that we keep this conversation focused on cruise line food. Shore excursions, itineraries, etc, are off topic for Chowhound.

                              1. re: monku

                                How as the food on the Radiance of the Seas otherwise? We saw that ship in several ports along the way.

                                1. re: javaandjazz

                                  I think the food on Radiance of the Seas and other Royal Carribean ships was about the same as the others in the intermediate category except maybe Carnival being a notch below. I thought the Carnival presentation is more about serving the masses in that items like the dessert cakes seem to be cut from a sheet pan and kind of run of the mill on some of the basics like pizza I think they were using pre-made pizza shells.

                                  I like the little things on the larger Princess ships. By the pool their pizza is some of the best you'll find anywhere (they made the dough fresh every day), hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages were pretty good. The hot buffet entrees were kept in platters that weren't gigantic steam trays and they restocked frequently to keep them fresh. Don't know if you went up to the buffet at dinner but they had a someone making a pasta of the night like fettucini Alfredo using Parmigiano-Reggiano and the Penne All'Arrabbiata was my favorite. At the dinner buffet they had tenderloin of filet, prime rib, beef Wellington they hand carve.

                          2. re: KayceeK

                            I agree- my experience has also only been on Princess- Emerald at that :-). However I felt that the food was good. I'd always heard about the amazing food on ships- but I really feel that when people talk about that- they are more referring to the quantity rather than quality. That said- I had some delicious dinners on board, and some that were good-but not fantastic. They were incredibly accommodating though- and I think that definitely needs to be mentioned. Any preference that you voiced they were willing to help you with-and would remember it night after night.
                            Breakfast and lunch in the buffets had great variety of offerings, again some good and bad. I stuck with the salad bar for lunch every day-with an occasional cup of soup. Salad bar was always packed with good options, and the soups were delicious when I had them.

                              1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                                I do too! Especially when they are loaded with healthy stuff- instead of all the pre cooked stuff. Give me raw veggies and some spinach any day :-)

                          3. Found the food on Princess Sun (Panama Canal Cruise) was good, loved the caviar and martini bar, I was there every night before dinner.

                            Carnival, well some was good some was not so good. (Mexico) The Carnival (Belize) cruise had a Supper Club restaurant, yes, you paid an extra $20 per person, but WOW…it was really good and worth it. They bring the silver tray over with the cuts of meats and lobster tail, service and food was amazing. I had the NY Strip grilled to a perfect rare with the broiled Lobster tail and for dessert a trio of crème burlee!

                            Norwegian Pearl (Alaska) I like the whole freestyle dinning thing, I found the French and Italian to be the best. We would have tried the sushi restaurant, but my expectations of sushi are way too high (think 15 East!) We did try Cagney’s Steakhouse, which was ok, but after eating at Peter Luger Steakhouse, nothing compares. We did however spend a lot of time in the Martini Bar (no food, but great martinis!!) in the long run we really kept going back to those 2 places and never got tired of it.

                            Also when in port we never go back to the ship for lunch or dinner. We always find a cool little place and try the local cuisine! And let me tell you it is hard to find King Crab in Alaska!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                              Interesting you would say that about the Pearl. I took a cruise (Western Carribean) on that ship two years ago and found the worst food was at the Italian restaurant. The French one was great and so was the steakhouse. The Japanese hibachi was pretty typical and not any better or any worse than others I have been to. I ate a couple of meals in the main dining room and nothing was terribly memorable.

                              I did a Panama Canal cruise on the Island Princess a year or two before that and thought they put out a good effort, but it sometimes fell flat. One of the best things I remember from that cruise was a pesto lasagne that I had in the buffet!

                            2. I've been on Cunard, Princess and RCL, and rate their food in that order. On the Queen Mary 2, they really did make an effort to give you a good variety. Lunch buffet had 4 different stations, you couldn't possibly try everything. For dinner, they had an Asian tasting menu that you don't need to pay extra for. Princess is sort of middle of the road, although the dinner buffet (if you don't want the dining room) was pretty bad last year on the Ruby. RCL was the one that I had one or two bad experiences with, one time the lobster tail was so salty it was almost inedible.

                              One thing I find is that the "afternoon tea" is frequently a joke on the ships I've been on. They pour everyone the same blah tea, and the sandwiches were something to laugh at.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Teep

                                I have to agree about the afternoon tea. It was a joke and it wasn't even real clotted cream they served.

                                1. re: Teep

                                  Well recently went on RCL - Voyager of the Seas and it was better than I remembered it. My favourite was the "Jade Asian Cafe" - they had delicious authentic Indian dishes. Upma for breakfast, for lunch there was parkoras, biryani, vindaloo etc. Although the same place also served "sushi" - I can't even look at them, they were so badly made!

                                  The layout of the buffet was also much better and easy to find a table, whereas it was difficult on the Ruby Princess. Dinner portions were a bit small. On formal night there were tiger shrimps (instead of lobster). The serving was 3 shrimps - the waiter said he already added one more so the regular serving is 2!

                                  They no longer have the English Afternoon Tea, they just serve sandwiches at the buffet.

                                  1. re: Teep

                                    I liked Jade too. The Indian offerings, though not as spicy as my local favorite Indian restaurant, was very well executed. They really had a nice touch with legume based dishes, it was never mushy. I like lentils, but steer away from them in most restaurants. RCL was an exception.

                                2. First the disclaimer - Mrs. Swift has cruised since she was a child, on the France, the QE II, HAL, NCL and others I can't recall. She made the mistake of taking me for my first cruise on Crystal and 20 years later that's the only line I've been on so I can't really compare. But I'll offer my observations about the food on Crystal and suggest a few tips on how to enhance your chowing experience aboard ship.

                                  The 2 Crystal ships are about 900 passengers. They do not have a daily midnight buffet, although on 50's Theme night (when they do it) they'll have a buffet of hot dogs, chili, fries, malts, burgers and the like. The food is excellent (see caveats below) and, of course, all you can eat. The specialty restaurants are superb: Prego, an Italian with a menu designed by Valentino Restaurant (the mushroom soup in the bread bowl and the osso buco have received raves on other threads here). The Asian restaurant (different names depending on which of the 2 ships you're on) has a sushi bar stocked, staffed and trained by Nobu Matsuhisa. It is pleasant to eat all the sweet shrimp, urchin and toro (as well as Nobu's signature dishes) you can hold. No surcharges for either of the restaurants as is common on other lines.

                                  The dinner menus are typical as others have described: lobster, king crab, beef in its many forms, etc. The killer is their cream soups: any cream soup is delicious and if they tried a cream of tire tread soup I'd be first in line to taste it. The caveat is that the menus seldom change. The first night out is always the cream of king crab and brie soup which, while excellent, is ALWAYS the first night out. Crystal does mostly 14 day cruise segments and the menus rotate around that schedule. The trick to avoiding boredom is to ask for the lunch and dinner menus at breakfast, see if they have anything you want, then to special order mains so you can avoid the stuff served to the rest of the passengers. This way we get steak tartare, sweetbreads or whatever strikes our fancy. This probably won't work on a lower end line.

                                  Another problem with Crystal is that breakfast never changes (with the exception of a menu revivsion a couple of years ago). We learned a trick from the World Cruisers (whose ranks we haven't yet joined as we, alas, must work) - you special order your breakfast the day before so you can get prime rib, duck, pommes souffle, caviar, king crab, etc. Again, probably won't fly on Carnival.

                                  Crystal usually does 3 lunch buffets on deck, themed to the locale (Mexico, Baltic, Carrib. etc.). They provide a refreshing break from the dining room and the grill, but are pretty predictable. Still, really good food.

                                  We too have had the "We already paid for the food so why eat ashore?" impulse, but we've found that some of the best eats we've had have been from street vendors and holes in the wall. Since you were in Alaska I'm sure you stopped at the usual suspect ports - I hope you went to Burger Queen in Ketchikan (through the tunnel to the left of the pier) and to the guy selling Dungeness crabs from his pickup in the parking lot behind the general store in Sitka. You can only have so much butter and cream and then your body cries out for real food.

                                  If you like caviar, try this. When you "check into" your cabin and meet your stewardess, tell her that you want a standing order for caviar for 4 at 9:00 pm (or whenever). Also you can get an ounce or two of caviar for breakfast (or lunch or dinner). Maybe only on Crystal and its ilk.

                                  Crystal clings to the tradition of main and late dinner seating so you know your table mates and recognize those of the tables around you. A certain competition develops, with tables ordering roast goose, suckling pig, whole prime rib carved tableside and other elaborate stuff. It's fun, but again probably only on higher end lines.

                                  Crystal does have so-so stuff, but always remember that if you order something that describes deliciously on the menu but tastes otherwise you can send it back and order something else. It's one of the things you're paying the big bucks for.

                                  Overall, don't give up crusing because of one poor experience with the food. Remember, you're unlikely to be seated with true CHs.

                                  1. My DH and I took a Princess cruise to Alaska a few years ago and the food on our cruise was horrible. There was a new chef on the ship for our cruise and we thought that may have contributed to the problem We even resorted to buying food in the ports and eating sandwiches in our room. Almost turned us off from cruising permanently.

                                    Then we were lucky enough to go on three Regent cruises. Yes, a LOT more expensive (we weren't paying) but the food was mostly fabulous. On our dime we tried Cunard (QMII) and were happy with the food on that ship too.

                                    We have talked to someone who worked for a major cruise line (not on the ship but helping manage the company) and they basically told us that you get what you pay for. I guess if I'm paying not a lot more for a cabin on a ship then a campsite at Walt Disney World then there isn't much left in the ships budget for food!

                                    Too bad these cruise lines can't find some of the hole-in-a-wall places CH's love and figure out how they turn a $10 meal into something wonderful! I'd take a fantastic hambuger over a gristly steak any day.

                                    1. We were on the NCL Dawn to Bermuda in May. I thought the food was eh. We ate at Salsa, the Tex-Mex pay restaurant, one night and that was very good. The other nights we ate in the main dining room or Aqua, the other free dining room. Mrbuffer, who spent four years as Chief Storekeeper for American Hawaii Cruise Lines, was appalled at the pay restaurant/free restaurant concept. We had steaks pretty much every night because it was the same night after night. After all the anticipation for my first cruise, I wasn't impressed. The breakfast buffet was ok, lunches we ate at the buffet and it was just ... eh.

                                      1. I went on a Royal Caribbean cruise last year and the very first day the "head" chef was available for questions and special requests. They also provided a tour of their kitchens and the chef mentioned during any cruise to let staff and the chef know of issues and requests. After researching other cruise lines this is par for the course, even though they are cooking for the masses they are responsive to individual tastes. When I went I kept my expectations low and was surprised by some very good meals. Our ship had a few restaurants so meals were made to order. With higher price cruise lines there are better/more restaurants to choose from. I only ate at the breakfast buffet which I loved because I think I ate the equivalent of my board in lox.

                                        1. My family of 5 just got back from the NCL cruise on the Norwegian Spirit- Boston to Bermuda - 7/31 to 8/7. The food was so-so. The free restaurants, Windows and the Garden has basically the same menu every day. Breakfast in Windows was pretty good. We tried one pay restaurant, La Trattoria, ($10.00 per person extra) and my husband and son liked the chicken parm. I didn't feel well that night and only had pasta fagiouli, which was ok. My daughter and granddaughter had spaghetti, which you can get at the buffet Raffles every night. The steakhouse restaurant, Cagney's, charges $25.00 per person extra. We felt we were paying enough for the entire cruise so we didn't go there, or to the French Rest. ($15.00 per person extra). My son did love the Blue Lagoon (free) and open 24 hrs. He said they made a great cheeseburger. I had one desert at Raffles, a kind of flan. It was good, and my granddaughter ate most of it. :) Other food options were the grill near the pool and a grill at the Bier Garten bar on the 13th deck. Neither looked appetizing. We ate well enough but the food wasn't good enough to write home about.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: joan828

                                            Just got off the Carnival Splendor. The food in the dinning room was fabulous. That was the opinion of everyone on the boat.

                                            1. re: mackbuck12

                                              Where did you go? Was the food themed to the ports? Does this ship have specialty restaurants and, if so, is there a surcharge? Never having been on a Carnival ship, is it generally as I described in my post of 8/2/09? Glad you had a fabulous eat and have great holiday.

                                              1. re: mackbuck12

                                                Have only been once on a Carnival cruise some years ago for a family reunion, but the food was actually much better than we had thought it would be, the buffet being constantly replenished, shrimp in abundance -- and the crowd a mix of all ages and families.

                                            2. DH and I cruise a lot, but not for the food. Food onboard is generally okay, but not great. Our best meals are lunches onshore at local eateries. Cruise for great access to hard-to-reach destinations, not for the food.

                                              1. Well, we're going on a three-day Carnival cruise from LA to Ensenada and back. We could DRIVE to Ensenada in 9-10 hours from here, but i've never Cruised so I digress mainly because I don't know about the Cruise Culture/Mentality.

                                                Anyway, our friends are plus-sized and have zoomed in on the food as a biggie. Not to threadjack, but some more Carnival experiences would be great, especially on that particular cruise.since they have a sushi bar for a couple of hoursin the late afternoon that I imagine there will be a line for (not that interested if that's what is going to happen) versus the dinner experience. What's good there?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                  Roughly 200 miles from San Pedro, CA to Ensenada, Mexico.
                                                  Why do they take 2 days to get there? If they didn't there would be no such thing as cruising....relax and enjoy the trip. You'll look out on the ocean and see that at times you might be able to swim as fast as the ship is going to get down there. Carnival Elation can cruise at 21 knots which = 24.15mph, so yes they could make it there in 8 1/2 hours no problem.

                                                  I went on one Carnival cruise and it was a 7 day trip on the Elation. You'll find the food to be ok and nothing is really going to wow you, so take it for what it is. I like to eat breakfast and lunch at the Lido buffet...basically some of the same entrees that are going to be in the main dining room. I prefer to pick and choose at breakfast and lunch. Some people like to be waited on and they'll always eat in the dining room. Dinner definitely eat in the dining room and be waited on. Your friends will know their way around ordering at dinner...don't be shy. You see two appetizers you like...order them both. Can't decide between the two entrees...order them both. You really like an entree...order two orders. Like lobster tails, I've order three orders.

                                                  As far as the sushi bar don't have high hopes. You're right, you won't believe how long the line is going to be and for what? The sushi they served on the free sushi night on the Elation was basically like you'd get at Todai buffet and there were no raw fish offerings...cooked shrimp and smoked salmon and the like. Don't make it a priority, you won't be missing anything. It's not sit down or anything. Line up, take a plate, get your sushi and it's like you're at a cocktail party (standing while eating).

                                                  Don't know what your age is, but expect it to be a big party from the moment you set sail. One thing I didn't like was the music was blaring at the main pool deck day and night. Don't forget to check out the "clothing-optional" deck if they still have it.

                                                2. In http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/602103 we discussed some of these same issues. While there were a few good spots, the food was pretty bland and nothing to distinguish it. The buffet food definitely needs improvement.