Stern's Guide to the Greatest Resorts of the World, Stern's Guide to the Cruise Vacation, Stern's Guide to European Riverboats and Hotel Barges, and The Indispensable Guide to Foreign Words and Phrases--by Steven B. Stern (Sponsored by Stern's Travel Guides, Ltd.)
We had been invited by the President and Sr. VP of Marketing of Celebration Cruise Line to dine at the Cove restaurant in order to experience their new menu and decor. It had been four years since we sailed on the ship; however, we did remember that dining was the ship's strong suit.
Since its entry into the Florida cruise market, the Bahamas Celebration filled a niche that was previously not available to economy travelers seeking a full cruise experience at the lowest prices. Granted, in spite of numerous renovations, this is still an older ship, and the accommodations are modest. However, we found dining in the various venues and the entertainment superior to many ships in higher market categories. This is the cruise for families, couples and singles who are looking for a true bargain, real value for their vacation dollars. With a choice between two nights( with the entire day in-between spent in the Bahamas), or four nights( including two days in a premium Bahaman hotel), travelers could not duplicate the vacation at the prices offered.
Back to our meal at the Cove. We had been challenged by the company officers and the food and beverage manager to compare the meal to specialty restaurants on other ships. First, I must note that this is a truly elegant dining room, one of the most sensually pleasing we have found on any ship. For this occasion, the chef had prepared a tasting menu.
The amuse bouche was a delicate bite of Ahi Tuna Tartar with sesame oil and chive marinade. The array of starters included a dish labeled Lobster-Avocado-Tini ( lobster meat and avocado in a spicy honey citrus dressing), an Angus Beef Carpaccio, warm Goat Cheese Crepes, Escargots Bourguignon, and Lump Crab Cake.
This was followed by Maine Lobster Bisque with lobster meat imbedded, topped with cream, and an arugula salad with baked goat cheese.
It was impossible to sample all of the main courses Instead we were offered a choice of two. The possibilities included four generous cuts of steaks (ranging from 7 to 16 ounces with a choice of various sauces) , New Zealand Rack of Lamb, broiled Maine Lobster Tail, grilled Pacific Corvina, pan seared Chilean Sea Bass and Duck Breast a L'orange. Creamed spinach, crispy onion rings, asparagus, macaroni and cheese and four varieties of potatoes were available as side dishes.
We were then treated to a dessert sampling of warm chocolate lava cake, Grand Marnier Creme Brule, a trio of sorbets and crepes with vanilla ice cream, strawberries, pinot noir sauce, and creme chantilly. After our specialty coffees an impressive cheese selection was displayed for those who could still breathe.
The wine list included a variety of ostly medium-priced vintages by the bottle, half-bottle or glass.
The surcharge to passengers to dine at the Cove is $30.
An equally impressive Champagne breakfast is served at the Cove in the mornings. The surcharge to passengers to dine at the Cover for dinner is $30 and for a Champagne breakfast $15.
Another interesting venue is The Rock Grill where for a surcharge of $25 the guests are given their own personal grill on which to prepare a variety of meats, seafood, fowl and fish offerings. Diners have a choice of appetizers, salads, two entrees, dessert, side dishes and Asian dipping sauces.
Non-charge venues include an Italian Trattoria, an attractive dining room with a Continental menu, and a three-meal a day buffet restaurant. The room service menu is a la carte.
Everything considered, a cruise on the Bahama Celebration is a real bargain. For gourmets, gourmands and those who just like to eat, the dining experiences are justification enough to choose this ship.
By Steven B. Stern
author of Stern's Guide to the Cruise Vacation and Stern's Guide to European Riverboats and Hotel Barges.
Our dinner with the President, Sr. VP of Marketing and F&B manager