A Moveable Feast on
Chef's Table, a new offering just introduced by Princess Cruises on Emerald Princess, gives guests an up-close-and-personal look at culinary arts including interactive time with the ship's chef, a galley visit, and a host of exquisite dishes.*
By Anne Kalosh
In a gown and strappy heels, I sashayed into the galley during the heat of dinner preparation aboard the new Emerald Princess. Cooks paused from their tasks, bemused at six passenger interlopers in formal dress. A chef in a tall white toque welcomed us with champagne.
We nibbled on blue crab Margarita cocktails and caviar as Chef Alfredo Marzi detailed the night’s menu. He had picked up fresh lobster at an island market for the meal he would prepare specially for us.
After our briefing, we were escorted to the dining room where we tasted the lobster, big chunks of it in asparagus risotto.
This is the Chef’s Table, just introduced on Princess Cruises’ newest ship. The big, sparkling white Emerald Princess is plying the Mediterranean this summer but will sail the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale starting in late October.
Guests participating in chef's table are shown at left in the galley with Chef Alfredo Marzi.*
A Feast of Choices
Dining is an important part of any vacation, and Emerald Princess lays out a feast of so many choices there’s hardly time to sample them all. A trio of main restaurants provide traditional fixed-seating dining or flexible, open-seating “Anytime Dining.”
The Horizon Court buffet goes around the clock with a casual menu of varied dishes. Café Caribe rolls out tasty themed buffets, from Mexican to Asian.
The International Café in the piazza-style atrium presents a changing array of treats throughout the day. I went every morning for an almond croissant and espresso.
At the nearby Vines wine and seafood bar, passengers can nibble a $3 sushi sampler with wines by the glass or bottle. Vines is shown at right.*
Pies are baked by a real Neapolitan chef – remember that pizza originated in the Italian city of Naples – at the poolside pizzeria.
New with Emerald Princess is cabin pizza delivery, for a $3 charge.
A separate pool deck spot grills burgers and hot dogs. In the afternoon stewards circulate with warm-from-the-oven cookies and cold milk.
Two Specialty Venues
The sister to last year’s Crown Princess, Emerald Princess reprises two specialty dining venues, Sabatini’s trattoria and Crown Grill. Service charges are $20 per person for Sabatini’s and $25 per person for the Crown Grill. Those are definitely worth the experience at both restaurants.
For a superb Italian meal, head for Sabatini's, a signature alternative restaurant on Princess.*
Sabatini’s has been a Princess fixture for almost a decade, but on these two newest ships it takes a more prominent place on an upper deck.
The first few courses are “tasters” shared by the table. I could have made a meal from the olives, chunks of parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and marinated artichokes. Calamari, sardines, pasta and soup were other Sabatini's appetizers before entrees that included a moist slab of snowy sea bass.
Dark and masculine with its paneled walls, the Crown Grill (shown at left.*) serves as the ship’s steak house.
Dishes include lobster, steaks and chops, with a host of delicious sides (don’t miss the crispy garlic fries).
Diners at my table feasted on grilled tiger prawns, New Zealand lamb, filet mignon and a 22-ounce porterhouse that a friend deemed “outstanding.”
I enjoyed the “black and blue onion soup,” with bleu cheese. A dessert of intensely rich double chocolate ice cream paired with molten chocolate souffle was also a savory treat.
Another gustatory treat is “Ultimate Balcony Dining,” which takes two forms. You might enjoy a champagne breakfast at $28 per couple. Or, an over-the-top surf and turf dinner, served by course, is $100 per couple.
Back to Chef's Table
Offered on select nights to a handful of passengers who pay $75 each, this is "the" exclusive gastronomic event.
It has other diners gazing on with envy. The champagne and lobster risotto were only the start.
Waiters paraded in with a trio of “Medieval Spiked Flambe Roasters” skewered with meats.
As Chef Marzi doused the roasters with cognac, the chunks of beef, veal and pork tenderloin burst into flame, dribbling juices on a bed of mashed potatoes.
Potted stilton with port wine followed. As we struggled to make room for dessert, Chef Marzi again emerged, joining us for Amaretto parfait.
Savory desserts await their "owners" onboard Emerald Princess.*
The Chef’s Table was dazzling, and the specialty restaurants were superb. But my best meal of the cruise was a regular dinner in the Da Vinci Dining Room. I started with a rich twice-baked goat cheese souffle followed by wild mushroom soup with Madeira. My main course was potato gnocchi with roasted portabello and asparagas cream – sublime!
A tablemate couldn’t decide between two favorites so the waiter brought two plates: pork tenderloin rubbed in cocoa spice and Alaskan king crab legs with drawn butter.
Ship of Dreams
The classy atrium of the Emerald Princess delivers classical music prior to dinner.*
There’s more to Emerald Princess than food. A 113,000-ton ship towering 17 decks high and carrying more than 3,000 passengers, the ship is a huge resort. You’ll find activities for all ages as well as multiple swimming pools, bars and lounges. Guests even enjoy an outdoor movie screen.
Princess fields big ships with intimate spaces. Emerald Princess sports a huge theater for production shows and guest stars – on my cruise, comedian Norm Crosby, and a performance of “Love Letters” by Gavin MacLeod (of “Love Boat” fame) and his wife, Patti.
But most public rooms are small- or medium-sized, like the elegant hide-away, Adagio, tucked beside Sabatini’s and a perfect location for dessert and coffee, or the nautical-themed Wheelhouse Bar or the cozy piano bar, Crooner’s.
Passengers could also slip away to an adults-only shaded deck area. Access to The Sanctuary is available by the half day, for a $10 per person fee. Yet another retreat is the Lotus Spa with a full-range of pampering treatments.
Beginning Oct. 27, Emerald Princess will sail 10-day roundtrip cruises from Port Everglades (the port for Greater Fort Lauderdale), alternating to the southern and eastern Caribbean.
The southern route calls at Princess Cays (the line’s private Bahamian island); St. Thomas, U.S Virgin Islands; Dominica; Grenada; Bonaire; and Aruba. The eastern route visits Antigua; St. Lucia; Barbados; St. Kitts; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Princess Cays. Emerald Princess sails from Port Everglades this winter.*
Emerald Princess, shown at right, will sail from Port Everglades to the Caribbean late this fall and winter.*
Cruise fares start at $899 per person double occupancy. The ship’s Caribbean season runs to early April.
Whenever you sail, get ready to enjoy some mouth-watering meals on this moveable feast!
For More Information
To learn more, contact your travel agent or Princess Cruises at 800-774-6237 or www.princess.com.
Anne Kalosh is a Miami-based journalist who has been covering the cruise industry for national and international publications for 25 years. She is the U.S. editor for Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Insider. Kalosh got hooked on cruising when, fresh out of college, she signed on with Royal Viking Line as a shipboard newspaper editor sailing the world.
*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used courtesy of Ralph Grizzle (www.avidcruiser.com and www.avidcruisertv.com) and Princess Cruises. All rights reserved. Do not copy or link to these photos. Thank you.