Part of the fun of going on a cruise ship has to be the food. From all-you-can-eat buffets to late-night dessert tables to ice cream on the pool deck, there's always something to be eaten. For diners that prefer a more intimate and exclusive dining, however, Carnival Cruise Line offers the ultimate foodie experience.
Each night, The Chef's Table invites up to 14 guests for dinner to enjoy a nine-course meal served directly by the chef. They call it "an extraordinary gastromical experience like no other," and after getting the chance to dine at The Chef's Table on a Carnival cruise ourselves, we have to say we agree.
Here's a look at our experience
The meal started out in the galley with a champagne toast and a few hors d'oeuvres like a sesame olive sponge with passion fruit and eggplant-dusted candy floss. Executive Chef Joaquim Moterio explained each dish to the group and exactly how to eat it. Looking around, it was cool to watch the rest of the kitchen calmly race to prepare food for the other guests on board.
Next, we were taken to a private dining room. Chef Joaquim informed us that no one, not even staff, is allowed to enter the room when it's not being used for a meal.
The first dish set in front of us was duck that had been dried for eight days made with a North African spice and served with a plum shaved like an architectural flower and parsnip puree. The dish was finished off with duck jus and a butter and wine emulsion.
Next, the chef stood at the end of the table and lightly smoked a cut of lamb wrapped with chicken skin and spinach. The presentation was almost magical as he lifted the smoke-filled cloche and the smell of hickory filled the room. The rest of the plate was made up of pickled radish, lamb pastrami, a lamb neck croquette and provolone made into little spheres, like a cheese caviar.
The Chef's Table menu changes a few times a year, or each time a new ship is set to sail. However, other dishes on our tasting included surf and turf, sea bass, lamb, veal and dessert. For dessert, we had a plate made up of a melt-in-your-mouth burnt custard tart, almond chocolate with caramel brownie and raspberry licorice with elderflower caviar. The overall experience felt special and the food was impeccable.
Where the experience is offered
The Chef's Table is available throughout Carnival Cruise Line's entire fleet, but may vary depend on which ship you're sailing on. Carnival Dream, Carnival Magic, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista offer the enhanced experience we partook in with premium wines, visiting the galley and more personalized interaction with the chef like the culinary demonstrations.
Who can visit The Chef's Table
All guests traveling on a Carnival cruise ship have the option to pre-schedule the experience before boarding, with prices ranging between $75 to $95 per person, depending on the ship. It's a great deal, considering tasting menus on land can go for as much as $500 per person.
For anyone who has a deep interest in food or enjoys a fine dining experience, The Chef's Table on Carnival Cruise Line is something you have to experience.