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Princess Cruises’ Ultimate Balcony Dinner
The Ultimate Fine Dining Experience

By Kay Harwell Fernandez

Caught in a fierce storm while driving down to Fort Lauderdale, we arrived at Port Everglades nearly an hour later than anticipated. So, my husband Joe and I expected long lines to board the Caribbean Princess. Parking was a cinch, and the weather finally cleared. Good signs. After scurrying across the street, we found the embarkation process to be absolutely seamless—no lines, no glitches, friendly staff. From the get-go, the Caribbean Princess impressed us.

Hors d’oeuvres are just a start

The ship's Personal Choice and Anytime Dining particularly appealed to us. Personal Choice took on a whole new dimension when we discovered The Ultimate Balcony Dinner. Our anniversary seemed the perfect evening to treat ourselves. After a quick phone call, our Ultimate Balcony Dinner was all arranged.

Near our requested time of 7 p.m. (just in case we went to the late show), our server Ignacio and his assistant arrived to set up the table. A cheerful spring bouquet complemented the crisp, white linens.

For the four-course meal, we had a choice of broiled tail of cold water lobster, grilled filet of beef tenderloin Diane, or surf and turf. Both of us opted for the surf and turf. Since we prefer wine to champagne, we asked to switch. The food and beverage manager was so accommodating that he ordered red wine for Joe, and white for me. What a pleasure to be taken care of so well.

Surf & Turf at Sea

For starters, Ignacio brought in an amazing assortment of hors d’oeuvres followed by a Pacific blue crab cake baked in a puff pastry crown. Every time he served us, he discreetly left the cabin. His timing was impeccable. And he always seemed to know when we needed refills on water and wine.

Next up, we devoured a yummy salad of marinated chevre and mesclun field greens topped with pears, walnuts and aged balsamic vinaigrette. I think I could have stopped eating then. But, the main course was too tempting. With generous, mouthwatering portions of filet and lobster balanced with rissole potatoes and a vegetable bouquet, I did the unthinkable—I left food on my plate.

Sated, we took time to bask in our sail away from one of the most stunning harbors in St. Thomas. We delighted in the seemingly made-to-order weather. After a lovely sunset, the stars twinkled, the sea breeze was balmy, and we passed the Queen Mary 2 as we went back to sea.

Princess’ Extraordinary Quartet Mousseline

Dessert was aptly named Princess’ Extraordinary Quartet Mousseline. We tasted delectable, delicate mounds of dark, Swiss, milk and white chocolate mousse. After coffee, we thought we'd sit back, chat about our sumptuous feast and inhale the fresh, salty air. However, Princess had another idea. We were surprised with a luscious amaretto cream anniversary cake. We had just crossed the threshold to one of our best cruises yet.

While this was an anniversary to remember, we wouldn't hesitate to arrange another balcony dinner onboard Princess whether it's a special occasion or not. Although the ship harbors three thousand passengers, we felt like we were the only couple onboard.

If you prefer a leisurely morning, then opt for the Champagne Breakfast for Two on your balcony. You'll relish the warm basket of homemade pastries; smoked Copper River salmon with lingonberry cream cheese and toasted lemon brioche; medley of fresh fruit and forest berries accompanied by a citrus chantilly crème; bacon and onion quiche Lorraine topped with tomato and fontina cheese gratin; and a half bottle of chilled French champagne.

Freelance travel writer Kay Harwell Fernandez writes about cruises, cuisine, and travel-related art, culture and history. 
All photos Copyright © Kay Harwell Fernandez

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