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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cruise Food: What Are Your Standouts?

Cruises and Food. Where to Begin?
There are few topics that generate more opinions than cruise food. Take the same ship, the same food, and one person will roast it and another will applaud it.
Since I’m solidly in the “some live to eat” part of that old quote, I’m going to be one of cruise food’s harsher critics.
In general, I find the food on the mass market ships pretty much the same. That is, occasionally great, sometimes good, but most of the time, merely edible. I admit that I’m extremely picky, so please take that into account!
So, from the perspective of a picky, finicky and moderately experimental eater, here’s my list of standouts—all free of charge—on Celebrity, Princess, Holland America and Royal Caribbean:
·       AquaSpa Café—This tiny café tucked away on Millennium- and Solstice-class ships does made-to-order salmon. After a steady diet of mass-produced food and steady over-eating, this is a real treat

·       Ice cream at lunch—Speaking of treats, with its colorful candy toppings and sauce choices,
The ice cream bar on Celebrity
Celebrity’s cafeteria ice cream bar helps make up for the less-than-exciting lunch offerings. Lines for ice cream can get long, though

·       Waffles at breakfast—The cafeteria also does small, Belgian-style waffles, but don’t take the ones piled high in the stainless steel warming bins; ask for them made to order
·       Pizza—Many feel that Princess has the best pizza at sea and I agree. Makes you want to eat nothing else

·       Late night noshing—From time to time, we’ve wandered up to the cafeteria at 9 or 10 p.m. for a cup of coffee and have been shocked to find some real specialty stuff. German salamis and hams, interesting cheeses, dried figs and apricots—it made us wonder what else we’ve missed

·       Popcorn, cookies and milk—Princess has a few extra touches like bags of popcorn for movie-goers “Under the Stars,” and cookies and milk for people-watchers in the Atrium

Holland America
·       The dates-mint-and-ginger man—He stands quietly and unobtrusively at the dining room exit, but frequent HAL cruisers know where to find him. The dates, mints and crystalized ginger provide a  sweet and spicy way to end the meal
HAL's signature dessert
·       Desserts—The four cruise lines usually have a few terrific desserts each trip, but my prize for the most memorable goes to HAL for the mousse tucked inside a white chocolate chef’s hat and the chocolate bomb, with its ice cream encased in a hard chocolate shell

·      Asian food—If you’ve bemoaned the disappearance of decent Chinese restaurants on land, you’ll enjoy the excellent stir fries in the Lido
Royal Caribbean
·      Main dining room lunch salad—I know it’s strange to highlight a salad, but until you check it out, you won’t understand. This is the mother of all salad bars. Just some of what it includes:  prosciutto, shrimp, arugula, brie. After one of these, you’ll feel like you had a full-course meal!
What are your standouts? Do share!