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INSIDER DINING GUIDE TO
With commentary from Executive Chef Guido Jendryztko and Maitre D'Hotel Lugi Pascale
Richard H. Wagner
Ocean Princess has two specialty restaurants. Both are located on Deck 10 - - Sabatini's on the port side and the Sterling Steakhouse on the starboard side.
“They give people another option. Let's say people have a special event they want to celebrate like an anniversary. 'I want to enjoy this with my wife. I want this in a nice, quiet area with nobody else.' For this, it is really nice to have a facility onboard like Sabatini's or the Steakhouse where you can enjoy [such events] with really nice, good food.”
Only one specialty restaurant is open each evening. Thus, on certain nights during the cruise, Sabatini's will be open and on the other nights, the Sterling Steakhouse will be open.
Sabatini's is Italian fine dining. It is not a pizzeria. Set in a light colored room with a classical freeze running around the interior walls. It offers multi-course meals featuring upscale Italian cuisine.
“Our products that we are use there come from Italy. So it is not that we have products that we sell as Italian products. No. We use the Italian product. It is really a good product with very good food.”
“They cook everything fresh. It is cooked ala minute there, by order.”
For many years, Sabatini's followed a traditional Italian model where the guest was automatically presented with numerous courses. Now, guests select which courses to have. As a result, it is now up to the guest to decide how much food to eat and how long the dinner will take.
“There were comments that there was too much food at Sabatini's. Too many courses, people wanted to go to the show. They were eating there too long, sitting there forever. We have taken care of that. We have adjusted the menu so that passengers who want to see the show or some other event on the ship will not have to miss something.”
The Sterling Steakhouse is decorated like an upscale steakhouse with dark wood paneling. Its menu is similar to the larger Crown Grill steakhouses on Princess' Crown class ships.
“It is a high quality of premium meats that we do not serve anywhere else, only served in the Steakhouse,” the Chef noted.
The service in the Steakhouse is first class, the Maitre d' commented. “It is like any restaurant or steakhouse shoreside.”
For example, the Chef added, “If you are a meat lover and you go in a steakhouse, you want to know where the meat is from. You want to know where the lamb is coming from. The people upstairs are specially trained to be knowledgeable about these kind of questions and to ensure that they know what wine can be served with this what kind of meat to make it more special.”
There are cover charges for both restaurants.
In addition to the restaurants, Ocean Princess offers several dining events.
The Chef's Table is a multi-course feast and wine pairing. It is a gourmet event that allows the chef and his staff to go all out. It is limited to a small number of guests and is offered once or twice a cruise.
“The history of the Chef's Table is that we were doing it for our top management. They were coming onboard from Los Angles and we were cooking for them. And we got the idea, 'Why are we not doing this for our passengers?'
It begins with a visit to the ship's galley where the guests can observe he evening meal being prepared. The participants “really [get to] understand about cooking and about how the kitchen operates because they are in the middle of the kitchen and can see how it works.”
Then the guests travel upstairs to one of the two specialty restaurants. “We have a really nice, beautiful table for them and do cooking in front of them to make them really feel special.”
“The menu we do only for the Chef's Table. Every time we create something new to make it special.”
There is a cover charge for the Chef's Table, which includes the wine.
On sea days, the Ocean Princess has a British Pub Lunch. Guests are seated in the Sterling Steakhouse and can order pub food favorites off a short menu. They can also order drinks. There is no charge for the food but usual bar prices apply for the drinks.
“Sea days are busy days for our passengers - - they want to have the bingo, they want to go to the show, they want to have the navigational information, they want to have the bridge club. To give them the facility to do all this we have the pub lunch. It is faster food service. [The guests can have, for example] a nice glass of beer and just fish and chips. It is just something fast.”
Guests in the upper levels of Princess Cruises' loyalty program are invited to gather in one of the specialty restaurants at five on most afternoons for a social hour. A changing array of complimentary appetizers highlight these gatherings. “We want to let people feel who travel a lot of times with Princess Cruises know we really appreciate their choice all the time of Princess Cruises.”
For those guests who want to celebrate a special occasion in private, Ocean Princess offers “Ultimate Balcony Dining.” Here, the meal is served in the guest's stateroom. “We have lobster, lobster and beef - - Surf and Turf - - we have whatever you want. This is a package for when you want [dinner] to be really enjoyable on your balcony or in your room. We provide this to make sure that it happens.”
The ship also offers regular room service. “Many lines do not do room service anymore. We are traditional and we like to have it. Our guests like to be served.”
Cruise ship dining - - Princess Cruises - - Ocean Princess - - Dining Guide - - page 2