Showing posts with label Carnival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carnival. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dining at Carnival’s “Chef’s Table”

The cooks moved in synchronized precision preparing and handing off  plates to the parade of wait staff who would deliver them to the hundreds of fellow cruisers eating that night in Carnival Spirit’s formal dining room.

We watched the  choreographed movements from the pastry table at one side of the ship’s shining stainless steel galley; a culinary arts gallery, not galley, we thought.  We also sipped a glass of Prosecco, (that white Italian wine with just a bit fewer bubbles than champagne), with our Head Chef Jerry Furtado.

chelan2012 024Actually our Chef Jerry only sipped only enough to make a welcome toast to the 13 of us who were embarking on a near three-hour, eight-course gastronomic odyssey known as “The Chef’s Table,” ~ a fine dining experience that surpassed anything we’ve ever experienced on any of our previous cruises.

Our extravaganza began with a tour of the galley, and a private reception there which included a sampling of appetizers with such goodies as: Chorizo and dates, Piquilo Sofrito and Langoustine and Sundried Tomato Jam Fritters. (sorry, photos weren’t allowed in the galley).

Then it was on to our private dining room and a parade of food so delicious that even writing about it now, several weeks later, can make my mouth water.   There is not enough room to show you it all, but here’s a taster:

Carnival Cruise 2012 108Our wait staff  hovered throughout the meal to make sure everything was as it should be, asking repeatedly, “Is it to your liking?”

Carnival Cruise 2012 102

This garlic brioche was too much for my will-power. It was baked in a miniature flower pot. Way too cute and way too tasty. . .I ate it all and they brought another!

The Chef’s Table was launched as a pilot on a few Carnival ships in 2010 and as result of its popularity it is now offered on all 23 ships in the fleet. 

Carnival Cruise 2012 112We had been on the ship for only two hours when we learned of the dinner and that there were only a couple of spaces were left. Make note, word is out: this experience is popular!

The cost was $75 per person which included unlimited wine (as if you had room to drink to excess) and included the galley tour and souvenir photo.

The photo above was of the salmon course (which arrived fifth in a series of scrumptious offerings).  What I found most delightful on this plate was the paper thin red rolls standing to the left of the salmon. They were dehydrated beets and the dark speckles on the carrots were a dusting of truffles.

Carnival Cruise 2012 114The salmon was followed by a course called Wagyu, slow stewed short ribs and the dinner finished with the plate pictured to the side, simply titled, “Chef in a Candy Shop”.

Each morsel was mouth-watering, including all those little morsels tucked between the wafers. By the time we got to this course I was in a near coma- state from overeating. . .I sampled half these ‘tasties’ wishing I had just a bit more room.

Should you find yourself on a Carnival cruise in the future we would wholeheartedly recommend signing up – early! -- for The Chef’s Table. You won’t be disappointed.  I can tell you that meal alone is reason enough for me to take another Carnival cruise.

Note:  Google has changed its format and I am on the road, bear with me if the spacing and flow of this post is jumbled.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Carnival Spirit: The Inside Story

Carnival Cruise 2012 028Our cruise tales from the Carnival Spirit continue with a tour of some of our favorite on-board places . . . the ‘inside story', you might say.

It was our second sailing on this ship that stretches 960 feet in length (about the size of three American football fields) and 106 feet in width. When completely full – as it was on our cruise – the total guests number 2,124.

Now, more than a decade old and recently renovated, it sports some new ‘fun ship’ features, yet it retains many we remembered from our earlier cruise.

Carnival Cruise 2012 011 We loved the light fixtures and the seat backs in the Artist’s Lobby. Located in mid-ship we often strolled through it on our way to the Empire Restaurant.

The Empire Restaurant, Carnival Cruise 2012 012the main dining room, is -- as is the case with most present-day cruise ships -- enormous. It takes 45 teams of three people – to serve dinner to guests that fill this elegant two-story venue each night.  There are two set-mealtimes and 'any-time' dining options, so the place is a continual hub of activity. (I’ll tell you about one of our culinary adventures on board in a future post.)

Carnival Cruise 2012 006At the opposite end of the ship is the equally enormous two-story theatre, the Pharaoh’s Palace. The eye-popping motif remained as we recalled it being the first time we sailed this ship.

The Lobby was always one of the liveliest places on the Carnival Cruise 2012 034ship as there was always some musical entertainment or other activity and  guests were always gathered at the circular bar.

The best way to get an overview of it was to ride the glass elevators.  This shot should give you an idea of the height of our ship as well.

Carnival Cruise 2012 009 Our balcony cabin was located toward the front of the ship, not far from elevators and stairways – one of our preferred locations on a ship.
Spending time on our own balcony is one of our favorite parts of cruising.  (Balcony rooms do cost more than inside rooms that have no windows or views but we think the cost difference is worth it.)

What about you?  What is your favorite part of cruising?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Carnival Spirit: What a Difference a Day Makes!

The weather forecast for San Diego called for rain.

Not a good way to start a five day cruise that we booked because we needed sun.

We thought our forecaster was off base when Sunday morning we arrived at the cruise terminal under blue skies. There was a strong wind and it chilled to the bone but it wasn’t raining.  That was a good thing. My ‘carefree’ wind-blown hairdo illustrates the wind power (and yes I was holding the rail to fend off some of the stronger gusts).

carnival spirit 001 We were bundled up but determined the strong cold wind wouldn’t dampen our spirits.

But by the time we set sail at 4:30 we not only had wind, but rain as well. This is my shot of leaving San Diego:

carnival spirit

The decks were nearly deserted. . .of course many were closed:

carnival spirit 003

It was beginning to look like we might have made a mistake in picking this cruise.  One of the ship’s photographers told us, “I’ve sailed two cruises out of San Diego recently and they were warm and we had blue skies.  . . .Can you believe this?!”   No, we couldn’t.

But as we continued south the sea calmed and by today I am happy to report the Carnival Fun Ship Spirit is back:

And guess what?  It is Spring Break!  And not every college student goes to Florida. . .we’ve got a thousand or more of them on board with us.  I’ll tell you more of those stories as the week goes on. . .  for now I’m off to sun tan. . .

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ole’! We are going to a ‘Carnival’. . .

. . . a Carnival cruise ship, that is.

The upcoming trip was prompted in part by the recent wet, dreary Pacific Northwest weather and in part by taking advantage of some of the great cruise fares currently available. 

An article in the Seattle Times newspaper about our weather, summed it up by saying, “Rain, rain, and, more rain. Then a new front moves in with - guess what – more rain!”

The day that article appeared I received some photos I’d requested from the cruise line for use here until until I could take my own.

We looked out our living room window . . . and then at the photos:

interior_spirit_serenity_17022012_0026 (1)

Hmmm, bare-feet, sun-tan oil. . .we started counting the days until we set sail for Cabo San Lucas where the temperatures are in the 80’s. 

We likely will not – at least I won’t be - -using this water slide, one of the new features on the ship since we last sailed on it five years ago.  But I sure will be found on one of those chaise lounges pictured above with a good book in hand.

interior_spirit_waterworks_17022012_0050 (1)

Joel, the researcher of this vagabonding duo, found a good price not long ago on this five-day getaway.  There are any number of good deals to be had right now so if you’ve got a cruise on your bucket list, you might want to do some shopping.

Just one example of the other deals we found was a seven-night Mediterranean cruise departing from and returning to Malaga, Spain in May on Royal Caribbean, and the price of a balcony room was only $444, per person – several hundred dollars less than an ocean view room on the same ship. 

Had it fit in our travel schedule, we would have nabbed it.

Click on this link, Travelnwrite’s Deal Finder, page for links to some of Joel’s favorite travel shopping sites.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Getting into the “Spirit” of Cruising

On a Sunday in the not-too-distant future, we’ll be setting sail from San Diego, California on our old friend, Carnival Spirit.  In all, our five-day cruise will give us two days at sea and two days to explore Cabo San Lucas on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

It will be a rather quick trip, compared to a cruise we took on this same ship five years ago.  That one took us as far south as Acapulco on Mexico’s western coast.  This one will provide what we are seeking: a shot of sea and sun – a change from our slate-gray Pacific Northwest.  An added bonus is Cabo; we've never been there so plan to do some exploring during our short stay.

HAL 2009 cruise photos 026This trip is one of those that one minute wasn't on our radar and the next minute it was, thanks to a last-minute travel deal we couldn’t pass up – our favorite kind of travel.

Joel's travel bug was roused by the cruise price he saw in an email we received from Travel Zoo . We made a quick call to our cruise specialists at CruCon Cruise Outlet who offered the same good rate, so we booked with them.

Since our 2007 cruise, the ship has undergone some major renovations in preparation for its repositioning later this year to Australia. 

Our first day at sea we’ll log a few miles on the pedometer just exploring on board and getting into the Spirit of this 88,500 ton ‘Fun Ship” that carries 2,124 passengers.


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