Aussies don’t have to go afar these days to catch a cruise ship, many of the major lines are bringing their vessels to our shores that offer luxury amenities, exotic destinations and cuisine that is good, if not better than you find in restaurants at home.
Princess Cruises will station its 19-deck high, 3,000 passenger Emerald Princess here from November 15 offering a series of sailings around Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific.
I was lucky enough to get a taste of the ship on a recent trip to the Norwegian fjords, and I mean taste with a capital T.
It has thirteen dining venues, so many I couldn’t get to eat in all of them, but I did try.
Firstly, I made a bee line to SHARE, Curtis Stone’s new gourmet restaurant which has become a huge hit on other Princess liners.
Curtis hand-picked seven of his top chefs for this stylish eatery who turn out incredibly good cuisine including his favourite dish, Beef Cheek Pie which has been braised for eight hours. It’s a must, as is his lemon peel tart for desert that takes four days to prepare.
Delectable dishes served in SHARE
Diners share the delectable dishes at a communal table, the atmosphere is homey and fine wines from France, Italy, California and Australia make for a memorable dining experience.
There is a cover charge of $US39 (AU$50) a person, worth every penny.
At Michelangelo’s, the flambéed saltimbocca is the go-to dish, but I simply couldn’t resist ducking back another night to try the highly recommended roast veal rack followed up with a bittersweet chocolate mousse.
The cruise director pointed me in the direction of the Salty Dog Gastropub that serves small gourmet plates with craft beers, cocktails and wine. Pork cheeks, short ribs and tasty rib eye burgers will more than satisfy your food cravings.
Chefs prepare a flaming treat at your table
Fancy a wee dram? Head to the Wheelhouse Whiskey Bar and sip on fine American bourbons and whiskeys from around the world.
On deck 15, you’ll find the popular Horizon Court Buffet which has an amazing spread laid out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Seafood, steaks, pork spare ribs, pasta, roast chicken and lots more, and out by the pool there are free pizzas, so good they were judged Best Pizza at Sea by the leading US newspaper, USA Today.
There are two dress-up nights on a typical 7-night voyage, but a tux isn’t essential, suit and tie will suffice, the rest of the time is smart casual. Parents must also make sure their children behave and keep a close watch on them and not allow them to go near the railings without an adult.
Fun in the sun by the pool
If you want to escape the kids, there’s a child-free Sanctuary where you can chill out and be pampered by “Serenity Stewards”. And don’t miss a relaxing massage in the luxurious Lotus Spa.
Emerald Princess has four pools and you can also watch movies under the stars poolside on a giant TV screen.
You’ll love the entertainment onboard, especially Magic To Do, a brand new musical written especially for Princess Cruises by Stephen Schwartz who penned Wicked, Pippin and Godspell.
Staged in the ship’s 800-seat theatre, it’s a dazzling 55-minute high energy show, a cross between Broadway and Cirque du Soleil. Songs, illusions and a thrilling tightrope act will leave you shouting and clapping for more.
And, they’ve re-created The Voice TV show with its own production, The Voice of the Ocean, complete with the iconic red rotating “I Want You” chairs. Guests audition for the show and nine contestants are chosen with the audience voting for the winner.
Your order please sir?
The cabins are cosy. Mine was on deck 14, a balcony stateroom which was ideal for watching the spectacular misty fjords, snow-covered mountains, glaciers and little villages that line the shores.
I just loved my bed, a new luxury model designed by US sleep expert Dr Michael Breus, known as “The Sleep Doctor”.
Princess says the bed offers the most comfortable and rejuvenating sleep at sea complete with fine bed linens and King-sized down pillows.
Emerald Princess will sail on an 11-night cruise on January 21, 2017 from Sydney to New Caledonia and Vanuatu with fares from $1199 per person, twin share.
The elegant Piazza
All prices onboard will be in AU dollars.
To book call 13 24 88, or www.princess.com
Words and images by Barry Matheson
The writer was a guest of Princess Cruise.
Feature supplied by www.wtfmedia.com.au