Dining on the Sea Princess, what is cruise food really like? An in depth look at the food served on Princess Cruises' Sea Princess.
Be assured that when you head off on a cruising vacation that you are not going to go hungry. I discovered that dining on the Sea Princess could be an endless affair to satisfy endless tastebuds. It was quite possible to eat from the time you woke until the time your head hit the pillow again.
Thank goodness there is also a gym on board!
Most dining is included on the Sea Princess. There are a couple of exceptions, but basically you can forget about budgeting for food expenses once you are on board.
The choice is quite endless, casual dining in the Horizon Court, a pizza from Café Corniche, or you could go all out celebrity chef with Curtis Stone’s offerings in the Rigoletto and Traviata Dining Rooms.
What is dining on the Sea Princess like? Let’s have a closer look at all your options and what culinary delights await you on your next Princess cruise.
Our dining experience was during a 10 day cruise around Papua New Guinea. To read a day by day itinerary of where we visited and experience read my cruising with Princess Cruises to Papua New Guinea post.
Rigoletto & Traviata Dining Rooms
The Rigoletto and Traviata are identical dining rooms, which are the two main evening dining options. The Rigoletto is open for dinner only, but Traviata is also open for breakfast and lunch.
These dining rooms provide a more formal dining experience. You will be assigned one of two dining rooms for dinner. With is a specific dining time, table and waiters looking after you for the duration of their cruise. You may choose to eat there every night, or enjoy some of the other options offered.
There isn’t dedicated seating as per dinner, instead you will be show to a table by staff. Generally these are tables of four and up, but if you are a couple and wish to dine alone, then mention this to them and they will do their best to place you on a table of two.
It’s generally the same menu each day, but there are also a couple of specials of the day. The breakfast offerings are typical café/hotel fare. You will find old favourites like eggs Benedict and pancakes, as well as healthier options like fruit and bircher muesli. Freshly baked pastries are brought to the table for you to pick and choose from. Coffee and tea from pots are included, specialty beverages or coffee cost extra.
Like breakfast you will be shown to a table, either shared or just for your group. Traviata is the formal lunch offering on the cruise. It is totally up to you how big a lunch you would like. Feel free to just have a main, or you can have a starter, main and dessert. There are no rules, feel free to pick and choose from the menu as you wish.
Again there will be menu staples that stay the same during the cruise, but there will also be daily specials to change things up a little.
Rigoletto & Traviata Dinner
For the duration of your cruise you will be allocated one of the two dining rooms for dinner. You will have either an early or late dinner seating, as well as the same table each night. I found that having your “spot” and the same fantastic wait staff each evening gave a sense of belonging and familiarity. Each night you will be greeted like family as you make your way to your way to your table.
You are welcomed to eat as much or as little as you like. Every night could be a multi course affair of four to five dishes if you wished. Generally most opt for three courses.
There are a few staples on the menu that are there every night. This includes the Princess favourites which have been on the Princess Cruise menus over the years; classic Caesar salad, prawn cocktail, artisan cheese and chilled seasonal fruit plate.
The rather new and exciting menu staples are the Crafted by Curtis Stone dishes. Curtis Stone created a few dishes that appear on menu. When we dined these were; chicken & leek pot pie, roasted pork belly and veal osso bucco.
The rest of the menu changes nightly offering soups, salads, signature pasta dishes, mains, desserts, cheese and fruit.
Of course there are also the specialty nights in the dining room. Depending on the length of your cruise there will be at least one formal night. In addition to these there will be cuisine themed nights.
Where: Rigoletto Deck 5/Traviata Deck 6
When: Rigoletto dinner only/Traviata breakfast, lunch & dinner
Note: Quite a few of the ships in the Princess fleet offer anytime dining in their main dining rooms, this isn’t an option on the Sea Princess in Pacific waters.
Sterling Steakhouse (extra cost)
Sterling Steakhouse is the Sea Princess’ signature restaurant. During the day it doesn’t exist, but come evening part of Horizon Court is cornered off and transformed in to Sterling Steakhouse.
Bookings are essential, and there is a $25 cover charge per person, but I highly recommended dining there at least once during your voyage.
What will your extra $25 buy you? As the name suggests Sterling Steakhouse is all about beef, premium aged beef and other steakhouse favourites.
You don’t eat meat but are being dragged along by your meat eating? There are seafood and poultry options to choose from. If you are vegetarian you will probably want to give Sterling a miss. If you are vegetarian and you have to eat there due to a special occasion with your group, I am sure they will cater for you (talk to them at the time of booking to see what they can do for you). Otherwise your only option on the menu is a salad.
Other than that, carnivores rejoice! As you walk in to Sterling Steakhouse you will be greeted with a platter showcasing the cuts of beef on offer. It is as simple as choosing what you would like, how you would like it cooked, what sauce (if any) to have with it and select some side dishes. There are also starters and desserts on offer. If you don’t feel like beef there are also some stellar seafood offerings.
My suggestion is to eat a light lunch, as you will waddle out of there. They cook their beef to perfection and servings are generous.
Where: Deck 14
When: Dinner 6 – 10pm
Horizon Court is the Sea Princess’ buffet. It is self-service and you can sit wherever you like, including a small outdoor seating area on either side. Even though it is a rather large area, during peek times on sea days it can be a little bit of a search mission to find somewhere to sit.
The variety on offer is extensive, and you will find something to satisfy even the fussiest of eaters. There are both cold and hot dishes on offer, cereal, fresh fruit, cheeses, right through to pancakes, quiche, bacon and eggs.
Like breakfast a variety of dishes to choose from. Feel free to have a light option of salad or sandwich, or a heartier meal from the hot dish selections.
You will have themed nights to look forward to like Mexican and Indian. Again it is a buffet and self-service so you can pick and choose as you feel.
Where: Deck 14
When: Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Coffee available 24 hours
Cafe Corniche hold the title of best pizza on the sea, and a mighty fine pizza they do make. They have five pizzas that are permanently on the menu, plus a specialty pizza of the day. On top of this you can create your own pizza, order calzone or focaccia.
Pizza can be delivered to your cabin for and added fee of $3. You can order it and pick it up yourself at no charge.
Where: Deck 8
When: Lunch & Dinner
Self serve casual dining out by the pool on the Lido Deck. Here you will be able to make yourself a hamburger, hot dog or have a gourmet sausage on a roll.
Where: Deck 14
When: 11am – 8pm
New Zealand Natural Ice Cream Bar (extra cost)
Have a hankering for an ice cream cone, sundae or milk shake? The New Zealand Natural Ice Cream bar has you covered. Ice cream scoops and milk shakes start from $5 and sundaes start from $9.50.
When: 11am – 11pm
Feel that you may miss out on a decent cup of coffee while travelling the high seas? Don’t panic my caffeine addicted friends, Princess Cruises has you covered with a couple of cafes where the baristas know their stuff. There is also a coffee card on offer which will save you some money.
Amuleto Italian Café (extra cost)
Is located in Horizon Court and you will be able to pick up specialty coffees. These aren’t included in your cruise fee. But feel free to pick up a pastry or two from Horizon Court to enjoy with your coffee.
Where: Deck 14
When: Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner
La Patisserie (extra cost)
Besides Amuleto, La Patisserie is where you can also satisfy your coffee cravings. Both hot and iced coffees are on offer for an extra cost. You can also enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail (extra cost). There is a small selection of pastries and sandwiches on offer, which are self serve and free.
Where: Deck 5
When: 6am – 11pm
Sick of your fellow travellers? Needing some time out in your cabin? Just want to watch the ocean roll by from your balcony or stateroom window? Yes, you can have room service and most of it is included in your cruising fare.
In Your Cabin
Breakfast Room Service
Don’t feel like getting dressed for breakfast? That’s completely okay you can have breakfast delivered to your room for no extra cost. Simply fill out the Stateroom Breakfast card the night before and place it outside your cabin before heading to the land of nod. The menu resembles most hotel in room dining options, a choice of juice, beverages, fresh fruit, yoghurt, cold cereals, bread, pastries, egg & bacon muffin, and preserves.
Deluxe Breakfast for Two (extra cost)
You can also arrange a deluxe breakfast for two to enjoy in your stateroom. The cost is $45 for two people and the amount of food received would feed an army. There are oven fresh pastries, cold smoked salmon with dill cream cheese and toasted lemon brioche, a medley of fresh fruits and forest berries served with clover honey Chantilly cream and quiche Lorraine. As well as coffee, tea, juices and a half bottle of sparkling white wine.
Room Service Other Times
There is quite an extensive room service menu if you do wish to dine in your cabin. There is a choice of soups, salads, sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, lasagne and desserts as a sample included in your cruise fare.
Entertaining & Alcohol Room Service (extra cost)
You can arrange to have specialty entertaining food items delivered to your cabin at an arranged time. Before boarding the Sea Princes I organised some guacamole and corn chips to be delivered one afternoon so we could enjoy sailing through Milne Bay (PNG) from our balcony. For $8.50 we received an enormous serving for six. Other items can be ordered like canapés etc.
Beer, wine, spirits and soft drink can also be delivered to your cabin for an extra charge.
An important public announcement…. BE WISE SANITISE!
The above is Purell, he is your friend. You will find him outside the entrance to every dining venue on the Sea Princess, or on any of the other ships in the Princess Cruises fleet. Make use of Purell, get to know him well and sanitise your hands before entering the dining room.
Why? Because not all people's general hygiene levels aren't created equal.
I am sure that you wash you hands after you visit the bathroom and other key moments during your day, but sadly a lot of people don’t. Don’t look at using Purell to protect others against you, look at him as your protector against others. Mr Purell is part of cruising life for a reason, so embrace him.
As you can see you will definitely not go hungry when dining on the Sea Princess. The photos above are just the tip of the tip of the tip iceberg of the Sea Princess' food offerings. There are a great variety of options to suit your mood and hunger level.
What was my stand out dining on the Sea Princess experience? There were a couple, Sterling Steakhouse was definitely well worth the extra $25 for food and service. Formal nights in the Rigoletto Dining Room, and sipping sparkling white and eating guacamole on our balcony as we watched the world go by.
Food isn't the only aspect to a meal, the food on the Sea Princess is great, but it is the staff that made our many meals, meals to remember.
The above photos were taken during our 10 day cruise around Papua New Guinea. You can also read a day by day account of our Princess cruise experience.