We went on A Culinary Immersion Experience on Golden Princess, a cruise ship which is part of the Princess Cruises‘, a cruise line, owned by Carnival Corporation. It is currently docked in Melbourne, Australia.If you think that I might have sung, 'The Loooooove Boat' on this culinary immersion day, read on.Click To Tweet
Many of you will know that Gordon and I have not been cruising before. Well, Gordon, has pre-me, but that doesn’t count. So for me, it was the first time I had even set foot on a cruise ship. Yes, I have friends who cruise, and have read about cruising, but for some reason, it has not been something that we have done ..together…as yet. When this opportunity came up, we accepted it for a number of reasons.
The assignment was a culinary immersion on board the Golden Princess.
Now you will know that we are fans of food and travel, as they are inextricably linked, and also that we rarely baulk at any opportunity to try a new and different experience.
These are the reasons why we happily accepted this assignment, from the Princess Cruise line.
1. I have never been on a cruise ship, and I was curious.
2. The Golden Princess was docked in Melbourne, a city I love
3. Norman Love is now providing an alternative to bacon and eggs for breakfast, and this alternative is chocolate and pastries, and a girl just can’t walk away from this, can she. (statement, not a question)
4. Curtis Stone had designed one of the menus. Curtis is an Australian chef. Curtis is from Melbourne, and Curtis is well respected and admired internationally, with good reason.
5. A behind the scenes tour of the galley, the kitchen and the epicenter of a cruise is an experience that we wanted to indulge in.
6. The chance to cook a dessert on board the Golden Princess, and to show off my culinary skills was a no brainer.
7. A spa treatment, which was included as part of the immersion experience… well, who would knock that back?
8. I was even more curious when I found out that Princess Cruises’ would be cruising to the Land of the Midnight Sun in 2017 when the Sea Princess embarks on the first-ever cruise from Australia to visit the Arctic Circle, so I wanted to test my sea legs.
Melbourne, Australia is one of the chicest and most beautiful cities in the world. Regular readers will know I love Sydney, but I love Melbourne too… a lot. It is the Aussie version of a European city, an Asian city, a uber chic city, but it is Australian and with that comes a cheekiness and the ability to go past the fine line.
Physically the city is stunning, and once again I was overwhelmed by the architecture of the city. The cafes, and the restaurants, and the street art and the culture make it the perfect destination for the Golden Princess to be based. The mega liner is based in Melbourne for her maiden Australian season from October 2015 to March 2016, so make sure to stay a few extra days before of after.
It was a perfect sunshine day when we headed to Port Melbourne to see this larger than life ship. Golden Princess has 1300 staterooms, with 55 per cent offering private balconies. It accommodates 2600 passengers. There are over a dozen different dining options, as well as four swimming pools, a large spa, and a child-free Sanctuary retreat. The ship was leaving for Tasmania that afternoon, but when we arrived passengers were already gathering, and it was a festive feel in the air.
A Chocolate Voyage of Discovery
We embarked, and went to one of the dining rooms, to be immersed in chocolate, by master chocolatier, Norman Love.Norman Love has a pedigree that is indicative of his expertise in anything related to chocolate.Click To Tweet He is a recognised master chocolatier, who worked at the Ritz Carlon for years, and whose skills and brand, have been so sought after, that he has opened 30 hotel and resort pastry kitchens in international and domestic locales such as Boston, Dubai and Bali.He has been featured in InStyle Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and O, the Oprah Magazine. He has serious street cred, and the Princess Cruise line recognized the need to bring to their passengers the elite and the different. Also, they know their passengers, and they know that their passengers love chocolate.
Princess Cruises have launched a themed cruise called, Indulge in Chocolate Journeys. Not surprisingly, it has been very well received by the chocolate-loving public. When you eschew bacon and eggs for breakfast, in favour of the Norman Love bacon chocolate, you will know that you have embarked on a unique Chocolate Voyage of Discovery, on the high seas. Chef Love has many unique creations, including his signature chocolate, Black, a collection of exquisite dark single-origin chocolate confections, made with cocoa beans from one of the world’s five premium growing regions, and coming in at a high cocoa mass, ranging from 88% to 68%.
We sampled some of his fabulous creations, served by very pleasant wait staff who did spoil us as I know they do all of their guests. I did start off with a savoury tart and went on to the Sea Salt Caramel Truffle dessert. This was so rich, and so decadent that it did stop me in my tracks. Suffice to say we were very amped up on the chocolate.
Exploring the Ship
Of course, it is big, and it does overwhelm as it meant to. The Golden Princess had a total make-over in 2014. I was particularly impressed by the many public spaces. We embarked at 10 am and got a good look around, and because the ship was sailing at 3.30pm, the real passengers didn’t embark until 11.30am.
When the passengers did embark, I was still very pleasantly surprised at the amount of space on the ship. There are all of the areas one would expect like swimming pools, bars, cafes, and one I didn’t expect – a basketball court.
Another pleasant surprise was the size of the rooms. The Suite staterooms have a sleeping area, ample storage, a living area with lounge, and TV with The Love Boat showing, which was so corny it was good, and it was hard not to sing “The Loooooove Boat”, or maybe I did. They also have a large picture window or a balcony, which is worth it. I didn’t get to meet Captain Stubing however.
Letting me Loose in the Galley of the Golden Princess
Our next port of call was the galley. I will not gloss over the fact that there has been a lot of press, and not good press, about different gastro outbreaks on board cruise ships. I went into the galley kitchen, one of many on the Golden Princess, with an eagle eye, looking for anything, which may seem a little dodgy. Before you go into any area of the ship, there are hand sanitizers, which make you feel like you are in intensive care at a hospital…and that is ok, that is exactly how it should be when there are so many people on a ship.
The galley was immaculate. The staff were all wearing gloves, but I did wonder why they didn’t take the extra step, given the negative press, by wearing face masks. I don’t think that any gastro outbreaks come from the food, or from the staff, by the way, but perhaps from other passengers. It is a mini city of 2,600 people in a small environment. Does everyone come on board with a clean bill of health? Does everyone declare if they are a little off colour? Does everyone play their part by using the hand sanitizers? Maybe not everyone takes the same care as the staff we observed. It is a shared responsibility to keep this mini city, cruise ship, in the best health possible.Click To Tweet
Our cooking class on our Culinary Immersion Experience on Golden Princess
The pastry chefs did let us loose making a Chocolate Raspberry Mousse with Vanilla Crème Brulee and Crunchy Shortbread. Much of it was done for us, and it was a matter of assembling it to emulate the chefs. If you would like the recipe, then just email me, as I did manage to get a copy of it.
Gordon’s dessert on the Golden Princess turned out perfectly while I was asked to put a plate over mine because it was “shameful”.
The Curtis Stone Lunch – “Crafted by Curtis.”
Curtis Stone is a Melbourne born and bred chef, who has achieved international fame and success. Many people consider he is a great chef, and he is, and many others think he is good looking as well. I suppose he is ok ☺ In Curtis Stone’s own immortal words,
When good food and travel brings people closer together, you experience the world in a whole new way. I hope you’ll enjoy my fresh new dishes, inspired by the rich flavours of my homeland – Australia. Chef Curtis Stone
And we did.
The Curtis Stone menu is available to cruise guests of an evening, but because we were spoiled we were able to try it at lunchtime.
I started with a prawn and avocado, followed by the Chicken and Leek Pot pie, with buttery flaky pastry, tarragon, and creamy gravy.
Gordon had the chorizo and .. actually he ate it too quickly for me to photograph it, and followed this with the signature Roasted Pork Belly, with homemade applesauce, crispy roasted potatoes, sautéed spinach. I only just got a photo.
The Spa Treatment
Visiting Lotus Spa is nearly the perfect end to the day. We had been offered a menu of treatments earlier. I had chosen the back, shoulder, and neck massage, which was one of the best I have had. I felt totally relaxed .. momentarily. Unfortunately, the masseuse did the hard sell for the products, and it did ruin the relaxed way I had been feeling. In fairness, Gordon did not get the hard sell, but another of the guests did. I know people are trying to get a commission, but there is a subtle suggestion, and there is just plain hard selling that borders on total irritation.
Our Verdict on our Culinary Immersion Experience on Golden Princess
We were sorely tempted to become stowaways on “The Loooooove Boat “, actually known as the Golden Princess, a luxury cruise liner. It would be easy to eat Norman Love chocolates and pastries, to enjoy the Crafted by Curtis menu, and other menu’s offered throughout the ship. It would be easy to unpack once only, and to partake in the activities offered on board the ship, and only the one’s we wanted to. But, they kicked us off in the nicest possible way. Maybe one day, we may just go on a cruise.
Thank you to Princess Cruises, Fuel Communications and the iconic Italian restaurant Il Bacaro for feeding us the night before; and to the Adina Apartments for the lovely apartment. You all know we had fun.
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