14 August 2010

Carnival Fantasy - Food

Carnival Cruise Lines prides itself on providing dining experiences every hour of the day. There are buffets and traditional sit-down service for all three meals on most ships and in the wee hours of the morning you can get pizza up on deck and sandwiches via room service. Since we all know that my cooking is sub par, you can imagine that I look forward to eating someone else's food for a change. This time around, though, I was less than impressed.

Part of the problem is that the entire cruise line has a standard menu, almost like going to a McDonald's or an Applebee's restaurant. This makes it easy to tell when the dishes aren't cooked the same. Many dishes arrived at the table cold or, in the case of the chilled soups, not cold enough. Simple dishes like baked chicken and grilled chicken breast were overcooked. I ended up eating steak three nights in a row because it was the only dish the chef seemed to get right.

Another big problem was the water. Common advice here in NC is that if you are vacationing at a SC beach, you should bring your own water. I don't know much about how ships load up with water, but if they filled up in SC it might explain why the water on the Fantasy tasted funky. It affected the taste of all the drinks. There were two incidents that made it obvious that the company knew the water tasted bad. When we first checked in, the room steward told us that we wouldn't be able to get water anywhere on ship so we would probably want to buy the bottled water in the mini-bar. I just nodded but didn't understand what he meant. Later at dinner, all the waiters were offering bottled water immediately to the tables (for a charge, of course) rather than pouring water from pitchers. You had to press them to get them to give you the free water, but once you tasted it you knew why they didn't want to give it to you. Blech!

Lest I sound like a Dani Downer, there were a few bright spots in my culinary experience on the Fantasy. The Warm Chocolate Melting Cake, a Carnival menu classic, was delicious. I got a NY strip loin sandwich with brie on a baguette from room service that was better than anything I had in any of my dining room meals. The redskin mashed potatoes from the buffet were heavenly and I wish I had put more than a tablespoon of them on my plate. On our other cruises, we had this kind of experience every time we put our forks to our mouths. The Fantasy just didn't live up to Carnival's usual level of excellence.
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