Keeping up with an expanding cruise market, Royal Caribbean International recently introduced its newest ship, Anthem of the Seas. This Quantum-class behemoth caters to what seems like every different type of market: children, millennials, and multi-generational families. While the ship offers everything from bumper cars to Broadway-quality entertainment, along with adventure seeking activities like I-Fly, its food and beverage program is crafted to please virtually any palette – a truly exemplary offering in the cruise industry.
This ship, similar to its sister ship Quantum of the Seas, offers what the cruise line calls “Dynamic Dining” that has done away with the traditional dining room dinner guests enjoy at the same table every night. While aboard Anthem, guests have the option to tailor their dining experience to whatever they would like by dining in a plethora of the ship’s specialty restaurants. Furthermore, these restaurants also offer specific cuisines and specialty menu items that are based upon seasonal ingredient availability, provided to guests for an additional cost.
While aboard the Anthem of the Seas, I sampled a white truffle tasting menu at the Chef’s Table inside Chops Grille. The fresh white truffles flown in from Alba, Italy, were the stars of the show. Dishes included a creamy cauliflower soup with pancetta, mascarpone cheese with sage croutons, and the Wagyu New York strip loin with creamy polenta, porcini mushrooms, and rapini topped with Barolo au jus.
Each dish incorporated the white truffles (which for four pieces cost the cruise line 20,000 euros (over $21,500)) to maximize the experience for myself and my dining companions. Our gourmet experience with wine pairings also showcased the broad range of international wines that the ship offers. We sampled everything from Pinot Noir from Oregon to a full bodied red from Tuscany to Inniskillin, as well as a popular Canadian ice wine.
Other notable culinary options include Jamie’s Italian, by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, that specializes in fresh Italian salumi and high-quality cheeses. This is often a coveted reservation to acquire while on board, and Royal does offer the flexibility to either book your dining reservations prior to your sail or during the cruise itself. Wonderland restaurant, which has brought molecular gastronomy to the masses, is another unique dining experience not to be missed.
For those who crave craft cocktails and cuisine that is well-done yet simplistically delivered, the go-to place is Michael’s Genuine Pub, a concept created by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz. The master mixologists and staff behind the bar are extremely knowledgeable, stocking some of the finest liquor brands in the world. The best cocktail I had onboard was the Old Pal — a playful riff on an Old Fashioned made with Campari, Basil Hayden bourbon, Dolin Dry vermouth, and Carpano Antica. The bar snacks are also worth ordering, consisting of dishes like deviled eggs with smoked paprika and chives, thick-cut potato chips with pan-fried onion dip, and slow-roasted pork sliders with pickled onions and parsley sauce.
While guests may want to indulge on a vacation, some might be interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle no matter the location – this is where the establishment Devinly Decadence comes in to play. This restaurant, run by Devin Alexander, the best-selling author of eight cookbooks and chef on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, offers a menu of dishes all under 500 calories that can help maintain one’s weight while out at sea.
No matter which road you decide to go down, this cruise ship offers something all palettes will find enticing. For passengers who are true culinary devotees, seek out the specialty dining options and unique food experiences on this unique journey.