As part of Princess Cruises’ largest ever fleet deployment to Australia this wave season, its biggest vessel makes her maiden arrival into Australian ports this November. We tell you how to eat, stay and play on the Emerald Princess in this three-part series; in this first part, let’s eat.
Freshly refurbished at the end of last year, the nine-year-old Emerald Princess has added not only numerous cabin upgrades but two new eateries, bringing its food and beverage offering up to a lucky 13 venues just in time for its debut in its new home port of Sydney on November 15.
The big news is ever-smiling celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s new for-fee SHARE concept dining experience, translating his well-known passion for fresh produce into small-plate dishes designed to be passed around the table. Also now available on fleetmates Ruby and Sun Princess, the restaurant sees Stone tackling the old idea of stodgy cruise cuisine head on with a multicourse menu based on handmade pasta, top-shelf charcuterie and crisp salads that aren’t as much mixed together as curated.
For serious foodies, the ‘Chef’s Table by Curtis Stone’ experience will not include a meeting with the man himself, but a galley tour fuelled by Champagne and hors d’oeuvres, followed by an exclusive meal put together by the ships’ executive chef, promises a suitable VIP experience.
While Princess cruisers that don’t have a SHARE eatery on board instead feature ‘Crafted By Curtis Stone’ dishes in their main dining rooms, Emerald’s dining rooms don’t include these items.
The formal Botticelli Dining Room stays with traditional, fixed-time dining, keeping the same waiter and fellow guests on your table throughout the cruise, while the Michelangelo and Da Vinci Dining Rooms offer more casual ‘anytime dining’.
Similar in style, all three dining rooms serve three meals a day and share a common dinner menu: you’ll find most dishes have an Italian bent, as well as a solid range of vegetarian options, and the line’s usual ‘Princess Favorites’ specials.
Other eateries that require no extra charge include the round-the-clock International Café, found alongside the ship’s social hub of The Piazza, which bakes its own cookies and desserts. The Horizon Court Buffet is open from 6am until 11pm, and tempts diners away from the dining rooms at night with themed dinners from time to time.
For themed buffet lunches, the Café Caribe tucked behind the Horizon delivers these on sea days. There’s a pizza and ice-cream bar midship, and the Trident Grill poolside for the usual burger-and-fries-type snacks.
Extra-fee dining goes beyond SHARE with Argentinian Ernesto Uchimura’s Salty Dog Gastropub, serving up rich, saucy steaks, pork and seafood, plus craft beers and cool cocktails. The Crown Grill on the same deck features steaks and seafood too, but with much more old-school panache.
For the ultimate treat, room service is taken a step further with Princess’ Ultimate Balcony Dining package, bringing the white-glove dining experience to your cabin, including flowers, cocktail and a photograph to remember the evening.