Earlier this month Carnival Spirit left her dry dock in Singapore after undergoing a $44 million dollar refurbishment, which included the addition of 7 new restaurant and bars. I hopped on board the ship this weekend when she arrived in Brisbane and did my best to sample as many of them as possible as we sailed back to Sydney.
Guy’s Burger Joint
Top of my list of the new restaurants to try was Guy Fieri’s burger joint. Guy (of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives fame) has created a menu of 5 American-style burgers for Carnival Spirit, which includes the Pig Patty (a burger stuffed full of bacon), which I couldn’t resist trying. With gooey melted cheese, juicy meat and a bouncy bun, the burger was as good as I hoped, but it tasted all the better for being able to consume it at sea.
Guy’s Burger Joint also includes an option created just for the Aussies – the Boomerang Burger, which comes with the Aussie’s beloved beetroot, and Donkey Sauce made from tomato relish and aioli. Over at the Toppings Bar you can customise your own creation by adding more salad, gherkin, caramelised onions or mushrooms.
Opening hours: 12pm – 6pm
Location: Lido, 9 mid
Bonsai Sushi caught our eye during our cruise on the Spirit’s sister ship Carnival Legend but we never had a chance to try it. So on this trip we stopped by for an extended lunch to try everything we’d missed out on.
One of the things I immediately loved about Bonsai Sushi is the attention to detail. Everything from the tiny bonsai table settings to the food ordering has been thought through. You place your order as you would in a restaurant in Asia by ticking the items you want on a list. Be warned though, the portions here are cruise-ship generous so don’t go ticking too many boxes!
The food presentation is incredible too, with Miso Soup poured in front of you and the option to order a selection of sushi, rolls and salad served on a wooden ship. Everything we tried (and we tried a lot!) tasted great. You must try the Wagyu Kakuni, Tempura Roll and shrimp Sashimi, and pair it with a Japanese beer, of course.
Opening hours: 5pm – 12am
Located: Promenade, 2 mid
Price: Extra but very reasonable – $8 for a 8 piece Tempura Roll, $19 for the whole ship! View the whole menu here.
Opposite Guy’s American burger joint on the Lido Deck is a colourful new Mexican corner. The BlueIguana Cantina serves a range of tacos and burritos with your choice of spicy (or not so) toppings. The décor of the cantina is as fresh and vibrant as the menu but the thing you need to know is that this place is open at breakfast too. Head over from 7.30 to grab yourself a breakfast burrito and start the day the Mexican way! We were so full after the Chef’s Table experience (see below) that we couldn’t possibly try one ourselves but the guests were raving about them. (See also I Ate My Way Thru’s Instagram for pics.)
Opening hours: 7.30 – 10.30 and 12.00 – 2.30
Location: Lido, 9 mid
The Chef’s Table dining experience is something guests can do on average once per cruise and if you love your food I recommend you get it booked. Starting with champagne in the lobby and an introduction to the chef, the night involves an incredible 7-course degustation dinner, plus canapés and a galley tour.
On our first cruise I kept wandering how they managed to feed so many people so well every night so the Chef’s Table was my chance to find out. Chef took us behind the scenes to see how the main kitchen operates and explained how he orders the food supplies based on the profile (age, nationality, sex etc.) of his guests.
Fun fact: during an average week on board the Carnival Spirit guests will consume 250kg of prime rib, 3300 racks of lamb (more if they’re Aussie!) and 28860 eggs. At dinner the F&B Department serve 7,200 plates per seating, which means a plate leaves the galley every ½ second.
Needless to say the kitchen operates like a well-oiled machine!
Whilst sharing these facts Executive Chef Soumen Banerjee blew us away with morsels of intricately crafted canapés, including Mango Spheres, Beef Carpaccio on air pillows and Chocolate Bacon. And this was just a warm up act for the main menu which was served in a private dining room.
The complimentary wine was free-flowing as we worked our way through outstanding courses of Beef Blanket, Duck Textures, Barramundi and Wagyu, to name a few.
Dessert was a beautiful plate of Sea Salt Praline Chocolate, Raspberry Mojito, Sweet Lime Cake, Apricot Vanilla Gel and Citrus Cream. I didn’t think I’d be able to fit any of it in and yet somehow I found myself licking the plate clean!
Opening hours: usually held just once per cruise so enquire when you board
Price: $75 per person
I couldn’t fit another thing in during my 1.5 days on Carnival Spirit but there is a total of 25 bars, lounges and dining options on board the ship including; the Nouveau Steakhouse, Empire Dining, Playa Grill, Fountain Café, Cherry On Top sweet shop, Alchemy cocktail bar, Red Frog pub and (soon) Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ.
For more information and bookings see a travel agent, contact Carnival Cruise Line on 13 31 94, or visit www.carnival.com.au.
I was hosted by Carnival Cruises for the purposes of this review. All opinions remain my own.
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