Sailing the High Seas Is an Epicurean Rendezvous


This is definitely not your Grandmothers cruise ship of yesteryear. Fifty years ago cruising was quite a different experience than the mega-industry it has evolved into today. In those days, it was not uncommon to pack a large steamer trunk full of evening gowns and formal attire. For those traveling in First Class, dining was always a gala extravagant event where tuxedos and glittery gowns filled the elegant dining room and receiving an invitation to dine at the Captain’s table was a coveted honor. Options for dining were limited to the First-Class dining room and the standard cafeteria-style tourist-class dining room, while traveling for weeks through the Panama Canal to South America, Transatlantic to Europe or to ports through Asia.

Ruby Princess – Princess Cruises

Though formal dining at the Captain’s table is still offered on select cruises, it is not nearly as common with the dining diversity now offered on today’s “supersized-liners.” You will find the cruising dining atmosphere to offer a vast variety of dining options from the super casual to elegant Celebrity Chef style cuisine and everything in between.

NVL Publisher, Kari Ruel and I were invited to join the Princess Cruise Lines 2nd Annual Culinary Cruise aboard the Ruby Princess. Jill Whelan, who played Captain Stubing’s daughter – Vicki aboard the “Love Boat” for nearly a decade, served as Princess Cruise Lines Celebrity Ambassador during the cruise and was very involved in many of the culinary events offered during the 4 days aboard the Ruby Princess, which included celebrating her birthday.

The Ruby Princess offers 882 passenger cabins, 4 pools, 7 spas, 7 lounges, an expansive theatre for musicals and shows, luxurious Lotus Spa and fitness area, duty-free shops and a plethora of other passenger amenities. The expansion of their onboard dining offerings was truly impressive. In addition to their three elegant grand dining rooms, they also serve up a variety of dining options for every palate. The most recent additions to the Princess Cruise Line specialty restaurant portfolio added last year are the two celebrity chef venues – Curtis Stone’s SHARE and The Salty Dog Gastropub featuring the cuisine of Ernesto Uchima.

Curtis Stone’s SHARE is his first restaurant at sea with Princess Cruise Lines. SHARE offers an exclusive dining experience with a menu of signature dishes created for sharing in an atmosphere designed for enjoying the company of others and creating memories. The menu presents such signature dishes as a Charcuterie starter course; Butter Poached Lobster with Caramelized Endive; Cooked Duck Leg with Fennel; Fresh Tagliatelle with Roasted Alaskan Crabs with sides like Melted Leeks and desserts of Dark Chocolate Cremeux with toasted Hazelnut Feuilletine and Burnt Vanilla Ice Cream.

Lobster at Share

Ernesto Burger GastroPub

The Salty Dog’s “piece de resistance” is the award-winning “Ernesto Burger” from Chef Ernesto Uchimira, who was recently awarded “Chef of the Year” from LA Magazine. This amazing burger presents a rib eye and short rib beef patty, grilled pork belly, caramelized kimchi, beer battered jalapeno, charred onion aioli, topped with cave-aged gruyere cheese, all making my taste buds scream for more.  The Salty Dog also offers a gastropub menu featuring new twists on classic pub food in a casually elegant inviting atmosphere of which we sampled many of them.

Another savory treat onboard the Ruby Princess is partaking in the exclusive “Chef’s Table” experience. For the cruising gourmands, this is an absolute must. It is limited to a small group at the Chef’s Table usually no more than ten, so be sure to book this well in advance when you board. Your multi-course journey created by the Ruby’s head chef is not offered anywhere else on the ship. You will begin with a private tour of the galley while it is in full swing, with champagne and appetizers such as foie gras terrine and asparagus risotto with lobster. Your specially crafted dinner follows at an intimate dining table elegantly set in one of the signature main dining rooms, where you will receive a personal handwritten menu unique to your special dining experience. Chef personally comes to the table before each course to speak to the table about the next course. Each dining guest receives a photo of the group and an autographed copy of the Princess cookbook, Courses, A Culinary Journey.

Though the “Culinary Cruise” event is only offered annually in the month of September, this 4-day Cruise Itinerary to Santa Barbara and Ensenada is offered with 6 upcoming available dates slated so for through March and fares starting at only $299 per person. Also offered are a variety of excursions in both ports of Santa Barbara and Ensenada that will expand your epicurean adventure such as wine tasting and gourmet picnic lunches. With the vast variety of dining options aboard the ship and the many options offered in the ports of Santa Barbara and Ensenada, you are surely to make this your own culinary delight.

Our West Coast Get-a-way Cruise Details

Day One:

  • Board the Ruby Princes at San Pedro Ship Terminal – Noon

  • Lunch in the DaVinci Dining Room 1pm

  • Passenger Safety Drill – 3:15

  • Set Sail out to Sea 4pm

  • Cocktails Adagio – Deck 16

  • Dinner at the Salty Dog Gastro Pub – Deck 7

Day Two (At Sea):

  • Celebrity Chef Cooking Demonstration 10:45 presented by Los Angeles celebrity chefs: Joel Miller – Executive Chef at The Wallace and Ted Hopson – Executive Chef/Owner of The Bellwether.

  • Lunch on Deck with Music and Entertainment – Noon

  • Massage in the Lotus Spa 1:00

  • Maître d’ Wine Tasting in the Michelangelo Dining Room 2:45 Deck 5

  • Champagne Waterfall Midship 6:45p Deck 5

  • Dinner at SHARE by Curtis Stone

Day Three – Santa Barbara:

  • Vigorous Walk around the Promenade Deck – 10,000 Steps

  • Meet In Theatre to head out to Bus for Winery Tour and Picnic

  • Two Wineries: Buttonwood in Solvang and Sunstone in Santa Ynez

  • Return to Ship 4:30

  • Dinner: “Chef’s Table” Experience – 7:30

Day Four – Ensenada:

  • Breakfast in the DaVinci Dining Room 8:30

  • Disembark for Shore Excursion Various Local Dining haunts in Ensenada with a bit of wine tasting

  • Q&A panel with Celebrity Chefs, Joel Miller and Ted Hopson in the Explorer Lounge

  • Farewell Cocktails in the Adagio Deck 16 7:30

  • Farwell Dinner in the Crown Grill – Deck 7:  8pm (also Jill’s Birthday Celebration)

  • Balloon Drop 10pm Piazza Deck 5 Mid-ship

Day 5

  • Arrive Los Angeles – San Pedro Cruise Ship Terminal

  • Disembark: 10:00

  • Bus to LAX

 Bon Voyage!!! Happy Cruising!!!