Onboard: Liberty features endless array of culinary options

The food choices aboard Carnival Liberty are virtually endless but the most popular venue — the ship’s Mongolian Wok featuring made-to-order fresh vegetables, noodles and choice of salmon, beef, pork, shrimp or chicken — is by far a passenger favorite. Photo by Michael Coleman.
The food choices aboard Carnival Liberty are virtually endless but the most popular venue — the ship’s Mongolian Wok featuring made-to-order fresh vegetables, noodles and choice of salmon, beef, pork, shrimp or chicken — is by far a passenger favorite. Photo by Michael Coleman.

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Carnival Liberty on a Western Caribbean itinerary this week. Here’s his latest dispatch:

AT SEA, en route to Miami – Dec. 11, 2009 — The monumental task of serving eight meals plus snacks per day for some 3,000-passengers runs like clockwork aboard Carnival Liberty.

Passengers aboard the 110,000-ton vessel will have consumed 45,300 eggs, 23,750 shrimp, 7,350 hamburgers, 6,950 bananas, 6,480 pounds of chicken, 5,400 pizzas and 3,200 steaks when their Western Caribbean voyage concludes tomorrow.

Obviously, culinary choices aboard Liberty abound.

Harry’s, Carnival Liberty’s intimate reservations-only steakhouse, is complemented by a fine selection of wines. Photo by Michael Coleman.
Harry’s, Carnival Liberty’s intimate reservations-only steakhouse, is complemented by a fine selection of wines. Photo by Michael Coleman.
There are two main dining rooms (Silver and Golden). Each feature diverse menus with six appetizers, two salads, six entrees and four desserts offered nightly. Look for a broiled lobster tail to be served once during the voyage. Dinner menus also include vegetarian selections and Spa Carnival Fare, guilt-free items that are lower in fat, sodium, cholesterol and calories.

An extensive wine and after-dinner drinks list is available.

The pool deck venue, Emile’s, features breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. The 1,250-seat eatery includes carving stations, a Mexican burrito locale, Mongolian Wok, fish ‘n chips counter, poolside grill, New York-style deli, dessert station and 24/7 pizzeria and ice cream. The pool deck grill, meanwhile, serves hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and other casual fare.

Plan your day accordingly. Lines for the deli (hot country roll with turkey and Swiss cheese is a favorite) and Mongolian Wok (choose your own made-to-order noodles, vegetables, meats and sauces) grow longer as the week progresses but whether it’s your first day aboard Liberty or last the wait is worth it.

For those seeking a more intimate dining experience there’s Harry’s, the ship’s reservations-only supper club. Modeled after upscale steakhouses ashore, the venue offers fine hand-cut, dry-aged U.S.D.A. prime beef including a nine-ounce filet mignon, 14-ounce strip loin, and a 24-ounce porterhouse, along with traditional accompaniments such as creamed spinach, wasabi mashed potatoes, and sautéed mushrooms.

The restaurant’s extensive menu also features items such as double-cut lamb chops, broiled lobster tail, veal chops, and Chilean sea bass. Look for impeccable, leisurely paced service, elegant surroundings, nightly entertainment, and an excellent choice of wines. The $30 per person fee pales in comparison to a comparable dining experience on land.

Rounding out Liberty’s dining choices are a patisserie offering specialty coffees and sweets, a sushi bar, and 24-hour stateroom service.

Still hungry? The ship also features late-night buffets, along with a more elaborate Gala Midnight Buffet and Chocolate Extravaganza offering a variety of all-chocolate desserts once each cruise.

Liberty also features one of Carnival’s largest spa/gymnasiums at sea to work off the calories before enjoying your next culinary experience.

The two-deck Golden Olympian Dining Room features 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. service for passengers aboard Carnival Liberty. Passengers may also opt for “Your Time Dining’’ where they may dine when and with whom they choose between 5:45 to 9:30 p.m. Photo courtesy CCL.
The two-deck Golden Olympian Dining Room features 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. service for passengers aboard Carnival Liberty. Passengers may also opt for “Your Time Dining’’ where they may dine when and with whom they choose between 5:45 to 9:30 p.m. Photo courtesy CCL.

Onboard: The Great Escape – Carnival Liberty a welcome reprieve

carnival liberty

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Carnival Liberty on a Western Caribbean itinerary this week. Here’s his latest dispatch:

AT SEA, En Route to Grand Cayman Island, Dec. 8, 2009 — The cares of the world seem to disappear at sea and nowhere is that more evident than aboard Carnival Liberty in the Western Caribbean this week.

While CNN and other news channels (beamed to the ship via satellite) remind us of a sagging economy, a nation at war, and the titillating trials and tribulations of Tiger Woods, passengers aboard this mega-ship have been embracing a week-long respite from the daily grind and 24/7 news cycle.

They’re enjoying a host of resort-style amenities — 22 bars/lounges, four pools, a 214-foot-long corkscrew water slide, four dining venues, 13,300-square foot spa, a 4,200-square foot kid’s play area and high energy Vegas-style revues, nightly.

Even the ship’s interiors are enough to boost spirits. The 110,000-ton, 2,974-passenger vessel features design themes which celebrate the work of talented craftsmen from the mediums of ironworking, wood carving and stone cutting to jewelry making, pottery and photography.

But there’s more than just design elements to stir the soul at sea aboard Liberty. Much more.

A sports park features nine-hole mini-golf, there’s ping pong, basketball and volleyball courts and a jogging track (to put the size of Liberty in perspective, nine laps around the track equals one mile). A golf professional is onboard to host both lessons and trips to the links in Mexico (Cozumel), Grand Cayman and Jamaica (Ocho Rios).

Want more? There’s a casino, shops, tattoo booth, cigar lounge and an Internet café with private workstations featuring flat-screen monitors, along with Wi-Fi access available in virtually all public rooms and areas. Passengers can also make and receive cell phone calls whether the ship is at sea or in port.

Non-stop daily activities also include everything from bingo and hairy chest competitions to karaoke, art auctions, trivia competitions and a plethora of games, events, and seminars.

Need a breather? There’s always a deck chair available to enjoy the Caribbean sun as this seven-night voyage also includes three days at sea. Liberty also features a massive, 270-square-foot Seaside Theater which hovers over the Lido Deck. Look for concerts, movies and, as was the case departing Cozumel last night, live Monday Night Football before a packed at-sea audience.

Culinary choices aboard Liberty abound. Two main dining rooms (Silver and Golden) are complemented by Harry’s Steakhouse, a reservations-only, $30 per person specialty restaurant.

Emile’s is the Lido/poolside venue plus Liberty offers a Mexican burrito station, a Mongolian Wok (the busiest venue bar none featuring beef, chicken, shrimp, pork or salmon, choice of noodles and fresh vegetables); fish ‘n chips counter, poolside grill, deli, dessert station, 24/7 pizzeria and ice cream, and room service.

When calling it a day — or night — passengers return to their respective suites and a restful sleep on a “Carnival Comfort Bed” complete with plush mattresses, luxurious duvets, comfortable pillows and high-quality sheets and linens.

Passengers can also slip into terrycloth bathrobes when retiring for the night as they reach (sans TV remote control) for the Carnival newsletter featuring a detailed list of tomorrow’s events and activities.

Later this week: We’ll delve deeper into the culinary component of a Carnival Liberty cruise.

Follow us onboard Carnival Liberty this week

miami departure, dec. 5, 2009 (2)

Officers stood watch on the bridge of Carnival Liberty as she departed Miami, Saturday. The 2,974-passenger ship, trailing fleet-mate Carnival Destiny, has just begun a seven-night Western Caribbean voyage to Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard and will be posting dispatches from the ship this week.

Photo by Michael Coleman

Onboard: Eurodam offers palate pleasing culinary fare

An all-female Asian team of servers greets passengers in Tamarind, Holland America’s superb Pan-Asian themed restaurant aboard the 2,104-passenger Eurodam.
An all-female Asian team of servers greets passengers in Tamarind, Holland America’s superb Pan-Asian themed restaurant aboard the 2,104-passenger Eurodam.

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Holland America’s Eurodam as she sails an Eastern Caribbean itinerary this week. Here’s his latest dispatch:

HALF MOON CAY, Bahamas, Dec. 4, 2009 — Here on this sun-drenched oasis where Carib Indians used to smoke meat over open flames centuries ago, cruise ship passengers aboard Holland America’s Eurodam ponder their evening’s gourmet culinary choices.

The ship features a two-level main dining room (Rembrandt); there’s a casual eatery to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner (Lido); a pool grill (Terrace); and of course a pizza venue aptly named Slice.

But, as guests splash in these turquoise waters, thoughts move to Eurodam’s superb, reservations-only specialty restaurants where Pan Asian, Pacific Northwest and Italian offerings abound.

Tamarind, with seating for just 144 patrons, features Asian-inspired entrees from sea bass with a hoisin-lime glaze to steamed shrimp and scallops with garlic, ginger and chili. The wasabi soy-crusted beef tenderloin is not to be missed. The all-female Asian team of servers may also offer Rijsttafel, a Dutch adaptation of the traditional Indonesia dinner of rice accompanied by more than a dozen, often spicy, side dishes. Meals are just $15 per person. The venue is open for complimentary lunch – look for dim sum, an assortment of classic Asian dumplings, and accompanying fusion sauces for dipping.

Excellent fare and service with a smile are Pinnacle Grill staples.
Excellent fare and service with a smile are Pinnacle Grill staples.
Pinnacle Grill is without question one of cruise travel’s most beautifully-appointed alternative dining venues. Featuring Pacific Northwest specialties (Holland America’s ancestry dates back to Rotterdam in 1873 but corporate headquarters are now in Seattle) look for select cuts of Sterling Silver beef plus seafood appetizers and entrees. Select wines from the Pacific Northwest are a nice accompaniment. Distinctive Bvlgari china, Frette linens and elegant Riedel stemware add to the experience. Meals are $20 per person.

Canaletto, meanwhile, comes to life for dinner when a section of the Lido restaurant is transformed each evening into an Italian venue. It’s casual and walk-ups are accepted although reservations for the 72-seat locale are encouraged. The family-style menu features traditional Italian favorites daily with entrees rotating nightly.

In the main dining venue, Rembrandt, Eurodam features what Holland America dubs “As You Wish Dining’’. Passengers may choose either traditional pre-set seating and dining times, they can make specific reservations daily, or they may simply walk into the venue anytime during dining hours.

Rembrandt features regional favorites, vegetarian and healthy lifestyle options plus a daily alternatives menu which includes fish, chicken or sirloin steak. Look for Rosenthal china, starched linens, silver service and fresh flowers in the venue, daily.

Rounding out Eurodam’s culinary journey is a late-night feast in Lido, evenings, after 11. Complimentary room service is available 24/7.

Sushi is prepared fresh daily by chefs in Tamarind, a 144-seat venue.
Sushi is prepared fresh daily by chefs in Tamarind, a 144-seat venue.

Photos by Michael Coleman

Onboard: Eurodam sparkles under Caribbean sun

The 2,104-passenger Eurodam, the newest vessel in Holland America’s 14-ship fleet, docked Monday on Grand Turk in the Turks & Caicos. She’s in the midst of a 7-night itinerary and will call on San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, later in the week. Photo by Michael Coleman
The 2,104-passenger Eurodam, the newest vessel in Holland America’s 14-ship fleet, docked Monday on Grand Turk in the Turks & Caicos. She’s in the midst of a 7-night itinerary and will call on San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, later in the week. Photo by Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Holland America’s Eurodam as she sails an Eastern Caribbean itinerary this week. Here’s his latest dispatch:

GRAND TURK ISLAND, Turks & Caicos, Nov. 30, 2009 — The question facing passengers during a seven-night Caribbean cruise this week aboard Holland America’s Eurodam isn’t what to do onboard but whether there’s enough time to enjoy all that’s being offered.

The 2,104-passenger, 86,000-ton ship features a host of events and activities in some 31 public rooms.

Highlights include demonstrations in the Culinary Arts Center, presented by “Food & Wine Magazine”; health, fitness and wellness opportunities in the ship’s Greenhouse Spa and Salon; and Digital Workshops, daily, where passengers learn the nuances of personal web page design, photography, computer safety and maintenance.

Holland America has been making its name the past couple of years tied to an ambitious, hands-on passenger approach to culinary education. Eurodam has its own dedicated space, a theater-style venue on Deck 3 which features an elaborate show kitchen complete with large plasma video screens and a display counter where guests participate in cooking demos, culinary classes and one-on-one learning. Top chefs, leading cook book authors and wine experts lead the charge.

The spa, meanwhile, offers a range of services and treatments complete with a gymnasium featuring both aerobic and strength training equipment. Eurodam features 46 “spa’’ suites, located close to the facility.

The ship features self-guided i-Pod tours where guests learn more than just how to get around. Tours feature details about Eurodam’s multi-million dollar art collection.

There’s a screening room showing feature films — odd these days at sea aboard modern vessels but an extremely nice touch — plus an Internet café (Explorations on Deck 11), a casino, shops and art gallery.

Eurodam features two pools — Lido surrounded by cabanas for rent and Sea View, an adults-only retreat on Deck 9 aft.

On the entertainment side look for a piano bar, string quartet, and two bands: The Neptunes and Marisha & The HALCats plus the ship’s singers and dancers performing nightly on the main stage.

Look also for bridge play, afternoon tea, volleyball and basketball games on the Sports Court, Pilates, cycling, Wii games and trivia contests. Eurodam also features a port shopping ambassador who hosts seminars and guides passengers on their port quests to find the best trinket or diamond.

There are nine bars/lounges onboard plus seven restaurants where everything from burgers to gourmet offerings are on tap.

Still trying to decide what to do? Let’s not forget Eurodam’s varied port calls featuring tours and beach offerings under the Caribbean’s warm sun.

Later this week: The culinary choices aboard Eurodam abound, from Pan-Asian to Pacific Northwest specialties. We’ll take a closer look in the day’s ahead.

Follow us onboard Holland America’s Eurodam

eurodam
Passengers enjoy a bird’s eye view from Holland America’s Eurodam, Saturday at sunset, as the ship departed Fort Lauderdale. Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas is in the background. The 2,104-passenger Eurodam has just begun a seven-night Caribbean voyage to Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard and will be posting dispatches from the ship this week.
Photo by Michael Coleman

Onboard: Pampered Regatta guests primed for trans-Atlantic crossing

The 684-passenger Oceania Regatta departs Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, Wednesday en route across the Atlantic Ocean to Miami. Photo by Michael Coleman
The 684-passenger Oceania Regatta departs Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, Wednesday en route across the Atlantic Ocean to Miami. Photo by Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Oceania Regatta this week as she makes her way from Europe to North America. Here’s the first in a series of dispatches.

FUNCHAL, Madeira, Nov. 18, 2009 — Guests aboard the 684-passenger Oceania Regatta left this dramatic, sun-drenched Portuguese island outpost today primed to begin a Trans-Atlantic voyage to Miami.

Few cruise travelers, even in this modern era, ever get a chance to enjoy such a feat. Fewer still are afforded the opportunity on such an elegant vessel.

Guests aboard the 30,277-ton Regatta, this week and next, will accomplish both all the while enjoying the ship’s relaxed, country club ambiance. She will now spend the next six nights at sea en route to the pink-sand shores of Bermuda.

Since departing Barcelona, Saturday, guests have been busy exploring the ship’s nine-passenger decks, sizing up its nine bars/lounges or participating in a host of daily activities.

There are four gourmet restaurants onboard — Polo Grill (steak house), Toscana (Italian), Tapas on the Terrace and Grand Dining Room – under the culinary auspices of famed French chef Jacques Pepin. Each is outstanding.

The ship also features a Canyon Ranch Spa, complete with salon, gym and weight room. The pool deck includes a pool, two whirlpools, a grill and the ship’s guiltiest of pleasures: a milkshake station.

Also onboard: a casino, boutiques, library and Internet center. In-suite movies and DVDs are complimentary.

Regatta’s parent, Oceania Cruises, touts itself as a “premium’’ cruise line — a step or two above mass market and one below luxury — but it’s abundantly clear to all onboard that Regatta easily could give a host of luxury lines a run for their money . . . Trans-Atlantic crossing or otherwise.

Later this week: A closer look at Pepin’s mouth-watering cuisine.