Cruise Food

Thirty-seven years
ago, Doug and I took a honeymoon cruise from NY harbor to beautiful Bermuda. We
were told by well-traveled family members that the food onboard is delicious,
and constantly available. That wasn’t the case on our trip. In addition, the
ship’s stabilizers weren’t quite up to snuff. Suffice to say, the cruise didn’t
leave a very good impression in our minds.
Friends who are avid
cruisers, mentioned to us last month that they were taking a cruise from Fort
Lauderdale to Mexico, and that we should give cruising another try. They
assured us that that ships and the cuisine have improved tremendously since our
earlier trip.
Doug and I took the
leap and signed up for the same cruise as our friends, and are we glad we did!
We sailed on the Caribbean Princess to Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico.
We could write endless
about the experience, which was overwhelmingly positive, but we’ll stick to the food for now.
It
was truly awesome, in a number of ways.
With more than 3,000
passengers and about 1,100 crew to feed, the ship’s dining operation produced
12,000 meals daily plus a seemingly endless array of snacks and deserts. And
if we just couldn’t wait for the next meal, we didn’t have to. We could graze the buffet, order a
hot-pressed sandwich or stroll over to an on-deck pizza stand for a hot slice
straight from the oven.

Succulent Cioppino on board the Caribbean Princess
The food was uniformly
good-to-excellent, with just two disappointments. The first was that getting meat
cooked as ordered turned out to be hit or miss. Most attempts were either
underdone or overdone. Yet somehow the seafood was always succulent (including
fork-tender calamari) and the pasta perfectly al dente.
We got a special treat
midway through the cruise when the head chef hosted a culinary demonstration
and answered questions about the floating feast that he has overseen for more
than 30 years. We were most impressed to learn that nearly everything was made
onboard from scratch, including the soup stock and ice cream.
To top it off, we
toured one of the ship’s seven galleys and were happy to see that every surface
gleamed.
Our shore excursion time
was limited, so we used it to observe local culture and tour magnificent Mayan ruins. Along the way, we watched plenty of hungry fellow tourists flocking to
familiar restaurant logos, such as Hooters and the Hard Rock Café.
Awesome shrimp fajitas at El Coctelito, in Cozumel, Mexico

We passed them all and
ate our one on-shore meal in Cozumel at El Coctelito, an open-air sports bar of
sorts on the waterfront. It sure wasn’t fancy: No roof, no walls, no booths.
Just plastic patio furniture, palm trees and a limitless view of crystal blue
water.

The food was fabulous,
including great, green mounds of butter-smooth guacamole that the chef mashed
by hand as we watched. And those fat, juicy shrimp! Wonderful.
Sadly, there was
indeed a second dining disappointment during our nearly week-long cruise:
Nothing Armenian or Middle Eastern showed up on any menu. Despite that, we both
showed admirable discipline in not skipping any meals. It was the least we could
do for our readers.
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