(Editor’s note: This post is an updated version of the original published on October 13, 2016. Princess replaced Chef’s Table By Curtis Stone with his other onboard restaurant, SHARE.)
There’s nothing like a little healthy competition – even if both parties would shrug off the suggestion it exists. Hotels have battled for the best chef and restaurant hoping to elevate your experience and to carve out a delicious niche for themselves since the beginning of time. With the popularity of the Food Network and its charismatic celebrity chefs exploding over the last decade or so, it’s no wonder that cruise lines, the floating resorts that they are, would eventually join the game.
Partnering with a celebrity chef surely adds credibility to your brand, and let’s face it, a comforting face offering comfort food when you’re away from home is that perfect little bit of familiarity that goes a long way. After all, they say that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and clearly, both Carnival Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises would agree.
Chef Guy Fieri
It was Carnival who got the ball rolling, adding the tattooed, bleached-blond Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives wackiness of Guy Fieri to their line of ‘Fun Ships’ in 2011. Guy’s Burger Joint was a perfect match with Carnival’s young and fun disposition and became an instant hit. Over the past five years, the laid-back burger shack has been rolled out on nine Carnival ships, including Carnival Breeze, Conquest, Freedom, Glory, Liberty, Pride, Sunshine, Triumph and Vista.
Guy’s signature made-to-order burger creations and hand-cut fries have become an onboard lunch staple and all fare at the restaurant is included in the price of your cruise. Wrap your hands around the Plain Jane, the hearty Pig Patty or the messy Chilius Maximus and top it off with S.M.C. (Super Melty Cheese), a Rojo Ring (Crispy Spicy Onion Ring) or Guy’s Jacked-up Secret Mayo, the infamous Donkey Sauce, and you can see and taste the appeal.
On the Carnival Magic, Guy features his latest creation for the cruise line, Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse, a happening open-air spot dishing out authentic ‘real-deal barbecue, his way’. It’s the evolution of Guy’s Burger Joint, serving up bigtime flavour, with mouth-watering cuts of meat like his Championship Pork Butt, Smoked Round of Beef, Blue Ribbon Chicken and Smoked Andouille Sausage. Slathered in Guy’s signature BBQ sauces and paired with delectable sides like Mac Daddy Mac n’ Cheese, Scratch-made Slaw and Old Skool Potato Salad, it’s a proper backyard cook-out at sea. Humbly, the lunch-only spot is also included in your cruise fare.
Chef Curtis Stone
Not to be outdone, Princess Cruises followed suit earlier this year, partnering with Food Network’s handsome Aussie superstar, Chef Curtis Stone. The result is SHARE, an elegant, inviting restaurant dedicated to fresh culinary experiences that bring people together. Found aboard the Emerald, Ruby and Sun Princess ships, the sleek, modern speciality restaurant couldn’t be more different from Guy’s relaxed offerings for Carnival.
At a $39USD per person surcharge, SHARE aims higher, but then again, so does Princess in general. You won’t find burgers and Donkey Sauce here. Instead, Roasted Alaskan King Crab Tagliatelle, an Iberian Ham, Salami Finocchiona and Chicken Liver Parfait Charcuterie Platter and a Turnip Shrimp Salad make the cut – and those are just the appetizers!
Stunning mains include a Butter Poached Lobster, a Twice Cooked Duck and a Beef Cheek Pie with Porcini Mushrooms in a Buttery Pastry. Along with the dessert menu, a selection of speciality cheeses highlight typical Princess ports-of-call; like the Bethmale from France, served with honeycomb and baguette or Italian Pantaleo, on a black pepper cracker with pear ‘mostarda’. Even California’s Shaft Blue, alongside crab apples and chestnut crackers, sounds exotic.
For a more intimate dining experience, opt for Chef’s Table by Curtis Stone, available on Ruby and Emerald Princess ships. Designed by Stone himself, guests are invited on an enriching tour of the galley, complete with Champagne and hors d’oeuvres. Afterwards, guests are led through the dining room for a multi-course meal prepared by the Executive Chef on board.
In the main dining room, Crafted by Curtis menu items are available fleetwide, at no extra charge.
And there you have it – Guy Fieri vs Curtis Stone. Each a perfect pairing with the cruise line floating their menus. It’s the down-home fun of Carnival, brought to life by Guy, and the refined elegance of Princess sprinkled with a touch of Curtis.
The battle is on, my hungry friends. Cruise on!