The trio of main dining rooms on Star Princess delivered.
There are three matching “main” dining rooms on Star Princess on decks 5 and 6 aft, each providing an identical setting, ambience, kitchen and menu. Only the fresco backdrops seemed to change from one to the next (and even these were so generic in style we weren’t even sure about that). Guests booking the traditional dining plan—with seatings at 5:30 and 7:45 p.m. nightly—had dinner in the Amalfi Dining Room each evening; those choosing the Anytime Dining plan ate in the Capri and Portofino dining rooms. We tried all three and found the service to be consistently friendly and upbeat, and our special requests were easily accommodated.
A small vase of fresh flowers was on every table and every dinner started with basket of nicely varied breads.
At one meal our waitress recommended the skillet fried halibut with Swiss chard—the fish wasn’t skillet fried (more like poached), but the mild taste of the fish was nicely contrasted against the bitter and sweet of chard and tomato-cumin sauce, with a bushel of green beans on the side. We also liked the pan-fried rockfish served on a decadent potato and leek casserole. Among the appetizers we enjoyed the tasty quiche with crabmeat, a perfect pie slice against a red pepper salsa. But we ordered the salad of butter lettuce, endive, radicchio and arugula and found it suffered from fairly tired greens, awash in too much dressing.
The heralded Alaskan dinner was surprising in that the state’s star item—fresh summer salmon—was a no-show (though it was offered at lunch). But we enjoyed every item we tried, including the warm crab and artichoke dip, flush with flavor (though the menu promised bagel chips, and a few slices of the day’s bread had to suffice). The Alaskan seafood soup was silky, though the chowder was not quite as advertised—the menu promised white fish, shrimp, and mussels but we only tasted the fish. The soup was tasty, but the dominant flavors were of potato and celery—seafood seemed to be an afterthought. But the entrée was right on: cured smoked pork loin sitting on a bed of sauerkraut with a couple small potatoes alongside diced carrots. Our waitress spooned applesauce on the side and we were quite happy.
Most desserts were good, including bananas Foster flambé; the bowl wasn’t aflame when it came to our table, but still redolent with sweet caramel and orange flavor. There was a delightful tapioca pudding that with lots of almond flavor (only flaw: the biscotti that accompanied had been perched atop the dish ahead of time, meaning one half of the small cookie was almost soggy). One dessert was a letdown: We ordered the “artisan” cheese plate, which was comprised of a cluster of grapes, three undistinguished (non-artisan) cheeses and three plastic wrapped packets of Ritz crackers—tacky.
On sea days lunch was served, and ours started well with a “maccheroni alla Chitarra” with lamb ragout and bell pepper, more like a linguine noodle, cooked al dente with a healthy layer of a gently sweet red sauce. Our seared salmon salad entrée was unimpressive—fresh silver salmon fillets, still warm, blanketing an uninteresting salad with a creamy dressing. Other lunch offerings included grilled tilapia tacos, turkey scaloppini, and a beef pot pie, along with
Breakfasts were just fine if traditional in scope. There was a selection of cold cereals and hot oatmeal, a bagel with salmon and cream cheese, egg dishes, fruit plates, compotes, baked goods and griddle items (the blueberry pancakes were tasty). Two specials each morning included a daily egg dish—an Alaska scrambler one morning, eggs Florentine another.
The ship’s standard wine list was available, and cocktails from the standard drink menu could be ordered.
The Capri dining room was open each evening from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.; those on the Anytime Dining plan could also eat at Portofino from 7:45 to 10 p.m. Those on the Traditional Dining Plan were seated at 5:30 (Portofino and Amalfi) or 7:45 p.m. (Amalfi only).
Portofino was open for breakfast daily from 7 to 9 a.m. Lunch was served at Portofino on sea days from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m., and afternoon tea daily from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
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