Combining best-loved favorites and traditions with contemporary culinary trends, Princess Cruises is debuting an array of epicurean initiatives which represent the line's most sweeping changes to its highly-regarded food and beverage program.
Princess' two new ships debuting this month - Emerald Princess and the intimate Royal Princess - will be the first vessels to feature these enhancements, which include all-new dining room fare with a modern presentation, enhanced buffet service, redesigned cuisine in the alternative restaurants, and special touches such as an afternoon "cookies and milk break" featuring fresh-from-the-oven soft-baked cookies, and in-cabin delivery of Princess' renowned homemade pizza.
"We always strive to keep our culinary program fresh and up-to-date, reflecting both changing trends and what our passengers tell us they enjoy," said Peter Tobler, vice president of food and beverage operations for Princess. "Princess has a long history of signature culinary traditions, and we wanted to celebrate these while introducing a new variety of modern classical dishes and contemporary service. The result is a significant re-design of our dining room experience that we think our passengers will love, based on the testing we've done."
The most noticeable change will be the new menus and presentation in the main dining rooms. Rich in choice, the menus will present dishes that offer non-traditional combinations, sophisticated flavors, ethnic influences and skillful preparation. Passengers will also find a wider selection of lighter fare, designated with a "Lotus Spa" insignia. Oversized, contemporary white-on-white crockery and beautiful leather-bound menus will showcase the cuisine.
Princess' new culinary initiatives were designed after months of collaboration among Princess' culinary operations team including the five corporate chefs, who together bring decades of both shipboard and landside experience to their craft. Leading the team is Princess' master chef, Alfredo Marzi, a 35-year culinary veteran with the cruise line, who combines his passion for continental (and native Italian) cuisine with a dramatic flair.
"The exciting result of our culinary team's effort is the introduction of over 1,350 new lunch and dinner dishes," Marzi said. He further explained that the line's new menus were developed as part of Princess' C.H.E.F. program, which was launched last year to celebrate Princess' Culinary Heritage of Excellence in Food by fostering culinary initiatives to delight passenger palates, celebrate signature dishes and dining experiences, and introduce new products and educational opportunities for passengers and culinary staff alike.
The new epicurean experiences have also been extended outside of the main dining rooms to the alternative restaurants, the 24-hour buffet restaurant or even to passenger cabins. "We want our passengers to know that wherever they choose to enjoy their meal or snack, that they'll enjoy a signature Princess experience," added Tobler. "For example, our passengers rave about our homemade Italian-style pizza, which they can now have delivered directly to their cabins."
The company's culinary enhancements include:
New Dining Room Fare -The new menus have re-designed the dining room meal to give passengers the ultimate in flexibility in planning their culinary experience. Instead of many specified courses, diners may now choose from a greater variety of starters, main plates and desserts to compose a menu to his or her liking. The famous Princess pasta dishes will be re-emphasized, as will a larger selection of healthy Lotus Spa dishes, now available on the luncheon menu. Those who enjoy sleeping in on lazy sea days will appreciate the "Late-Late Riser" category - breakfast favorites offered at lunchtime.
Among the culinary arts trends represented in Princess' latest menus are Pan-Asian fusion dishes, Mediterranean and Latin American-inspired plates, specialty sandwiches and bite-sized desserts. Taking center stage will be such global ingredients as pomegranates, figs, unique herbs and spices, aged meats, ginger, salsas, relishes, aromatic oils, vinaigrettes and exotic mushrooms. A wider choice in breads such as whole-grain, flatbread and focaccia will also be featured, as will an emphasis on pan-seared, grilled and braised items.
Contemporary Presentation - When sitting down to enjoy the new flavors in Princess dining rooms, passengers will also notice a modern, new tableware look featuring custom-made white, oversized china to showcase the cuisine. In addition, the menus will be presented in rich leather covers and with a completely new layout that easily guides passengers through designing their perfect multi-course meal.
Signature Surprises - The long-time popularity of Princess' homemade Italian-style pizza inspired the company to offer a new cabin delivery service of its renowned pies. For a nominal $3 service charge, the pizza will arrive in a traditional pizza box with plates, napkins and cutlery. A number of varieties will be available, including the oft-ordered cheese, pepperoni and a daily special pizza.
When Crown Princess debuted last year, Princess discovered that passengers fell in love with the warm, freshly baked cookies and the enticing aroma that wafted through the atrium every afternoon. After serving more cookies in one day than during an entire cruise aboard the line's other ships, Princess knew it had a winning combination - a daily afternoon "cookies and milk break," featuring straight-from-the-oven soft-baked cookies, with a different flavor featured each day.
Alternative Restaurant Offerings - Princess' popular Sabatini's Italian trattoria, introduced nearly a decade ago, has undergone a modernization as the traditional fare is presented with the same number of tantalizing courses, but with a lighter twist in keeping with the tasting menu concept. As well, the line's steakhouse restaurant has been re-defined to incorporate the new steak and seafood menus which have proved so popular after debuting aboard Crown Princess.
Enhanced Buffet Service - When passengers visit the buffet restaurant, they will find an experience that is more in keeping with a dining room than a 24-hour eatery. Tables will be pre-set with cutlery and napkins meaning these items will not have to be collected while selecting meals and snacks. Servers will be standing by to provide beverage service to each table, whether passengers order self-service selections or bar items.
Princess' new culinary initiatives will gradually roll out to the rest of the Princess fleet this year and next.
Emerald Princess debuts April 11 for an inaugural schedule of Greek Isles and Mediterranean voyages. A week later on April 19, Royal Princess joins the fleet to offer a collection of Connoisseur Mediterranean and Holy Land voyages. On May 12 the two ships will meet for a historic dual christening ceremony in Santorini, Greece, set in the port's dramatic crater-formed harbor.