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Once again we've cruised 3 out of the 5 and we reluctantly gave it to Celebrity. They were well ahead of HAL and Princess until our last cruise, which was for New Years on the Zenith. The dining room food on the Zenith was not up to par with our other Celebrity cruises, but overall they still nudged out HAL, in our opinion.
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We were just on Celebrity, the final week of Michel Roux affiliation (we were told). The food was really very good, especially in the specialty restaurant. I cannot say the service was as good as it could have been, we had a maitre d' who did and said some things we felt were not appropriate at all, but that's another story.
The buffet food was not exactly memorable, and the room servcie was limited, but the dining room food was very good, especially the lobster which was better than Silversea's .
I have not been on Princess in quite awhile. I used to like their food, which I considered simple and a little unexciting, but prepared well and predictably consistent in quality.
Lately, I have seen a lot of not so wonderful reviews about Princess and I start to wonder.
I have always liked Holland America buffets a LOT. But the dining room food and service I found to be slow and the food sometimes cold.
You can tell when a ship caters to an older clientele - they like different food. More sauces, not as spicy, lots of heavy creams and dressings. Not exactly my taste. I like it simple in preparation, but zesty with spice and lots of varying texture.
Celebrity wins "hands down" for the best food. Chef Michael Roux's menus are like dining out in a four or five star or even a Zagat "highly recommended" restaurant. We have cruised on two of Celebrity's ships, one, the Infinity, had a supurb separate reataurant called, Michael's. Eating at Michael's really added to the enjoyment of our cruise to the inside passage of Alaska.
I was on the Century cruise with you, too, Paul. Muranos was outstanding (for an extra charge) and ate there 3 of the 5 nights. The other 2 nights were just average - or below in the dining room and the service was only so-so.
Think Princess definitely beats Celebrity in the regular dining room ... and Sterling Steak House is on a par with Muranos.
I cruise the Emerald Princess, Eastern Caribbean on April 16, 2012
Since shifting to Celebrity from Princess nearly four years ago, I have no complaint with the quality of Celebrity's cuisine. Nonetheless, I think that the quality of cuisine on Princess was every bit as good and the menus were superior. Celebrity's menus are great for those who love French cuisine, but grow old very quickly for the rest of us. Princess's menus, with clear themes on the "casual" evening, provide a much better variety of styles of cuisine.
Of course, the Celebrity affiliation with Michel Roux is officially over now after some 15 years. I would expect their cuisine to change soon.
It makes you wonder why a cruise line would change one of the things that is actually "working" on board, but maybe Mr Roux was getting more credit, or money, than CXC felt comfortable with? plus, I wonder how many of those Michel Roux stoves they sold from the gift shop? In other words, the marketing of his name was starting to get out of hand, though it was a successful branding effort and you can't argue with success.
I have no other premium lines to compare it with so I have to say Celebrity.
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While I voted that overall Celebrity has the best food I have to say that I have seen a gradual decline in dining room, food quality on Celebrity and Princess and Holland America's food was bland, but well presented.
I believe that there is more to food than just presentation. Although it is a major factor you can only put so much lipstick on the pig before someone knows they aren't eating fillet mignon.
I also believe that any first year culinary student or even line cook can prepare a prime or fairly high quality piece of beef and have someone be pleased with it. It is when someone orders, duck, veal, quail, venison, rabbit, fish, or other dish; that is where the true ability of the staff shines through. This is where you separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of quality of staff, ingredients, presentations and menu diversity.
What I have seen is that while Celebrity continues to "try" to keep this diversity, however they are falling flat in delivering in the quality of their ingredients and their ability to prepare it and present it in a consistent manner in the main dining rooms. This was evident on the Century cruise and our last Millennium cruise in late 2004. They also have slipped significantly in their dessert and pastries, especially in the dining room. I was surprised that the buffet desserts were more enjoyable. The dining room desserts were boring and had dropped in quality and freshness. A creme brule that was nothing more than a custard with a caramelized topping. To top it off the custard was curdled. Also, Celebrity has began using a "Whip-it" type of stabilizer for their whipped cream, giving it an oily texture. Make you cream fresh, and top your desserts as you need them you won't have to use it on your pastries.
To achieve this you have to move to the alternative dining of the Olympic or Murano's and this is where Celebrity excels at service. There is none better at sea. At the Olympic the food was cooked to perfection and while Murano's the service was wonderful and I literally made a "pig", without lipstick, out of myself on the cheese cart, the steak was very good but not the greatest. That doesn't mean I wouldn't order it again.
I do have to cut Celebrity some slack but I am being harsh on them because I did hold them in very high regard and now see that their standards have slipped and it really concerns me.
I do have to agree that the Sterling Steakhouses that are on the Dawn class ships were one of the highlights of our cruises on the Dawn and Ocean Princess. The steak was the best steak I have had at sea.
I only have one HAL cruise under my belt and while the food was well presented I have to say it was the most bland, dining room, food I have had while on a ship. I couldn't wait to get the salt and pepper. I spoke to the Executive Chef about it, especially in regard to the seasoning in their lamb and he was a bit taken back but did admit that they don't like to over season because of the wide range of tastes on the ship and if he was going to eat it he would season it a bit more. Gee: Don't you think someone with a palet would take the initiative.
The Pinnacle Grill was a nice diversion but completely unworthy of its $30 price tag. We were lucky that it was experimenting with new menus in preparation of the new menu that was recently introduced so I was able to have seared Ahi and my wife had a Fillet mignon. Both were good but far from great and the service was much better in the dining room. On the entire ship this was the worst service we experience. One cruise cannot be a judgment of an entire line's food so this should be taken with multiple grains of salt.
The last trend that I seem to have noticed, on all lines I have sailed, is that in the last seven years, they are moving people in the direction of alternative dining. The once phenomenal, grade A - to B+, meal that one had in the main dining room is now being replaced by a ,grade B to B-, meal and if one wants that grade A meal you have to pay extra for it and go to alternative dining. There is nothing wrong with that but perhaps we are witnessing an evolution or change to something along the line of Star Cruises, in which you start with a base fare and cabin and if you want better you pay for it as you go. You want a better meal, you pay for it. You want a better show, you pay for it, you want a better seat in the theater, you pay for it. It's just a thought.
Mike (If I want a better thought; Do I pay for it?)
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My vote goes to HAL. I have only been on two cruises; one with HAL and one with Princess. In my opinion (and I'm not a gourmet by any stretch of the imagination) the lines were comparable in the dining room and I thoroughly enjoyed all DR meals on both cruises.
The difference that gave HAL the edge was the food in the Lido Buffet. Although HAL had its moments when buffet food had been sitting under the heat lamps a little too long, I found the selection better, the quality better, and the whole experience more enjoyable on HAL.
I can't compare to Celebrity, because I haven't sailed with them, YET!
We've had good food on each of these lines and we've had bad food on each of these lines, as well as a lot of so-so food as well.
I think certain chefs do a great job (sometimes) but I can't think of a consistantly great record in the food category for any of the cruise lines. People rave about Celebrity but our last three celebrity cruises on the Constellation, Zenith, & Mercury were all three only so-so in the food department.
This is a side note but my funniest memory of food on a cruise was our Christmas Day tour to Magdelena Island (to see the penguins) on the Celebrity Zenith South America sailing. The provided lunch was an unopened can of tuna with no can opener, a paper cup full of still-frozen Birdseye mixed vegetables, and a zip-lock sandwhich bag full of fruit cake crumbs. The crumbs were crumbled & recycled from the fruit cake which had been on the previous night's supper dessert menu, which was of course Christmas Eve. (OOOOOOPs, I forgot the free bottle of water, shame on me!)
What a laugh! Maybe they thought we needed the crumbs to feed the penguins??? They might have liked the tuna but we had no opener.
If, as you say, you did a "cold turkey" switch from Princess to Celebrity four years ago, your Princess "data set" is not up-to-date.
Originally Posted by You
I say this simply because we've been on both lines multiple times in the last couple years, and while the food on both is delcining, in our opinion the decline on Princess is steeper.
I'm hearing very mixed comments about food on recent Princess cruises. I have heard a few folks say that Princess's cuisine has declined sharply and other folks say that Princess's food is still outstanding. Thus, I'm wondering if there's an issue of consistency from ship to ship.
In any case, I still think that Princess has a better variety of menus than Celebrity. AFAIK, Princess's menus have not changed significantly even ig some of the items are not of the quality that I would like.