Thursday, October 16, 2008

Alaska Cruise Pt. 1: Dinner at Sea

For those who didn't know, I was gone for a bit, whisked away on a cruise to Alaska, to celebrate my Grandparents 61st (!!) anniversary. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you are probably aware of my weariness towards cruises and food, but I admit this cruise really surprised me, in overall quality and enjoyment factor. This cruise line was Princess, and we were on their ship, the Princess Dawn.

I won't really go into the buffet (I mean, it's a buffet...food is put out and you get what you want - note on that, the older folks were REALLY AGGRESSIVE with the tongs), but I'm going to highlight most of the dinners we had in the dining room. We had a set time to eat, at 5:30pm, at the same table, with the same waitstaff. We were at the "kids" table (me and the cousins, with Owen and Leah), and were served separately from the main table, with my parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles. Dining attire was usually "dressy casual", basically as long as you weren't wearing shorts, torn up jeans and cutoff shirts, you were ok.
Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
What was always set out was a breadbasket, with delicious crispy on the outside, soft on the inside rolls. These were the most consistently good thing on the cruise, always fresh, always delicious.
Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
Here's another overexposed shot - there were wheat, white, seeded, sesame...you get the picture. But again, all of them - great.
Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
And what to go with these fresh rolls? Butter, of course - butter shaped to look like little flowers. I don't want to think how many of these I had during the cruise.
Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
Owen's choice of appetizer was an order of their spring rolls. Pretty okay, probably the best version of Chinese food I had on the cruise. The insides were just veggies, mostly cabbage, as I remember. What I don't remember is what that sauce tasted like. Maybe I didn't have any.
Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
No forgetting the sauce in this dish - this is an order of their shrimp cocktail, which was available at every dinner meal in the dining room. The shrimps themselves were okay, a good size, cold, didn't taste too much like iodine - but the ketchupy cocktail sauce will forever be imprinted in my memory. Not spicy at all, more like thick ketchup, this was always liberally doused over 5 or 6 shrimps. Pretty decent though, and always something to fall back on if nothing else looked good for appetizers.
Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
Entranced by its' name and wanting to try everything, I ordered an Epicurean Cold Water Lobster and Seafood Terrine - "A Delicious Blend of Lobster Meat, Shrimp and Rockfish, Accompanied by a Garden Green Bouquet". This was gross, actually. It was like cold bad fish paste, whipped to a disgusting texture, embedded with seafood bits. It's like the fruit cake of weird fish dishes. Fail.
Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
This was one of their salads of the night - Watercress, shredded carrots and Hearts of iceberg lettuce - thousand island dressing. Snore. Iceberg lettuce is kinda boring to me. By the way, all these dressings tasted THE SAME. They might have had different colors, but they all had the same creamy weird nondescript taste.

Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
The caesar salad was a choice you could get at any dinner, same as the shrimp cocktail above. Owen seemed to like this most every night but I don't think it was that spectactular. Dressing wasn't particularly caesar tasting, and the parmesan cheese wasn't very pungent. Eh.

Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
Our server Emma recommended this: the Crockpot with Cajun Spiced Shrimp - White Fish, Mussels, and Shrimp in a Spicy Tomato Sauce under fluffy pastry. A few of us got this, and what we felt was that this was more like an appetizer course than a real main course. Not to say that this wasn't good - it was pretty decent, actually. The stew part of it was nice and spicy, the seafood was all very decent on the inside. The biggest "eh" part of this dish was the puff pastry top, which was only partly cooked and almost raw after scraping off a small layer of the part that had been brushed with egg whites. Broccoli was okay, carrots were overcooked.

Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
Here's a closeup of the seafood on the inside - mussels, mmm. Shrimp...mmm.
Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
What we ended up doing was ordering a plate of the Nebraska Prime Rib with Creamed Horseradish - "Roasted Premium Beef with String Beans and a Baked Idaho Potato" - to share between a few of us. This was probably the best job they did the whole cruise, when it came to them giving us the doneness of meat. The meat was ACTUALLY medium rare, instead of well done. However, it was very unseasoned, and needed a good sprinkling of salt for every bite. The baked potato was good, I didn't eat any of the corn as it looked overcooked and mushy.


Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
Then came dessert, which was Charisse's and Owen's favorite course. Charisse got the Princess Dream cake - shaped like a heart, chocolate mousse cakey kind of stuff. This was an option you could get every night. It seemed ok? I had a small taste but I'm not really a sugar fan.
Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
This was Justin's apple streudel slice with some vanilla sauce. I tried a little of this as well, I liked the apples in it.
Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
Chocolate cake something. I'm sure they had a fancy name for it but let's call a spade a spade - chocolate cake.
Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
This was my profiteroles. Puff shells with cream inside, surrounding a fruit tart of sorts, drizzled with chocolate sauce. The fruit was all great, as was all of the fruit on the ship - I don't know how they managed to pick out the ripest, sweetest and freshest fruit to offer at each meal on this ship but I was super impressed with that. Back to this dessert - the best thing was the fruit, I mostly left the rest of it on the plate.
Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
Sorbet. I forgot what flavor it is but most of the sorbets ordered on the cruise were pretty decent, and I think they made them on the ship, so that's pretty amazing!
Alaskan Cruise - Dawn Princess - Grandparents 61st Anniversary
This is the chocolate mousse with crunched up pistachio crumbled over it. I think this is the sugar free option for desserts. I remember trying it but I don't remember it tasting extremely great. Probably the sugar free part of it made it not so delicious.

Part two, soon to follow...


2 comments:

bricogirl said...

Wow, that is one very thorough review of the food on the cruise. Anyone who's thinking of taking it should definitely have a look through. Can't say it wanted me to hop on board - except for the fruit part. If anyone's interested in making there own, here's my Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe.

heysandra said...

Thanks for the link to your recipe bricogirl! I might end up using it soon, although I think I'm afraid of baking until the weather gets cooler (LA never seems to be able to decide whether or not it's fall yet.) There were actually decent meals...sometimes...but again, everything was so much better than when we went on that last cruise.