Chef Emeril Lagasse has 11 restaurants across the country, but they all have one thing in common: They’re on land. Well, that’s about to change, as Carnival Cruise Line has announced that when its latest ship launches in summer 2020, it’ll be home to his first-ever restaurant at sea, called Emeril’s Bistro 1396. The ship, appropriately enough, will be named Mardi Gras.
Translating those classic dishes to a cruise ship format has been a challenge, but not one as large as Lagasse expected. “Working with Carnival has been great, because they’re of the mindset that maybe it’s not been done before, but why not? Let’s do it,” Lagasse said. “There aren’t limitations these days. There’s no reason why we can’t have Berkshire pork. You want hamachi crudo? We’ll figure it out. The Carnival team thinks outside the box.”
The spacious restaurant (which is named after the ship’s hull number at the shipyard at which it’s currently being built) will be the centerpiece of an area of the ship to be called the French Quarter, which will also boast live jazz and cocktails. It’s one of six “zones” on board, which will also include an atrium dubbed Grand Central, the Italian-themed La Piazza, Summer Landing (which will be home to a Guy Fieri restaurant), the poolside Lido, and The Ultimate Playground. The ship will also be home to the first roller coaster at sea.
The menu will be chock-full of Lagasse standards and longtime favorites, including his signature barbecue shrimp, gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, muffaletta sandwiches, oysters Rockefeller, po’boys (for which a special humidity-controlled oven is being constructed to make sure the bread is just right), shrimp and grits, bananas Foster, and banana cream pie. There will also be an oyster bar (something not usually found on cruise ships), and New Orleans-inspired specialty cocktails will also be on offer.
“The core menu will be the classics,” Lagasse said during a special press lunch to announce the partnership. “Breakfast will have New Orleans flavors, and lunch and dinner will have a lot of small plates encouraging that New Orleans experience of breaking bread with friends.”
“This isn’t just an endorsement deal; I’m not just putting my name on it,” Lagasse continued. “It has to have meaning and soul and depth. We’re setting the bar higher here. We’re going to knock it out of the park.”
Mardi Gras is slated to launch on August 31, 2020, and in October will begin offering seven-day cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida to the Caribbean, one of the best places for a wintertime cruise.