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Cruise Diary Part 1: Wine & Dine Your Way Through the Med

Dutch TV celebrity and travel writer Charlotte Van Hoorn recently was back onboard, this time cruising aboard a segment of ms Prinsendam’s Grand Africa & Mediterranean Voyage.

She joined the ship from Barcelona, Spain, to Venice, Italy, and embarked on a culinary adventure throughout the voyage. Enjoy her account of her dining experiences.

During my cruise, my plan was to delve into the wine list as well as explore the island ports’ ancient cultures. I’m a wine enthusiast, not a critic. So this post is very focused on what wonderful dining experiences await. It is a trip within a voyage that I hope gives you some tips to make your own choices when next aboard.

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Setting Sail from Barcelona
By Captain’s log, we commenced our voyage from Barcelona at 10:34 p.m. This was an outstanding opportunity, leaving plenty of time for tapas tasting in the late afternoon after having settled into the stateroom. I had been excited to hear that Chef Daniel Moreno was the Pinnacle Grill chef because he had trained with the Adria brothers of El Bulli fame.

After going ashore, I returned to Prinsendam in time for dinner and to meet our new table companions. We were happy to be with a group of six who were aboard for the entire Grand Voyage. Our Australian companions had chosen the ship for its varied itinerary on three continents, the Americans because it would include a visit to Israel and the New Zealanders because of the intimate size of the ship itself. In particular they enjoyed all the specialty dinners planned.

So, pacing myself the first evening, Master Chef Rudi Sodamin’s recommendations fit the bill, spiced shrimp with cheesy grits, Caesar salad with freshly made dressing and an 8 oz New York strip. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing, but when it was cooked to perfection on the 1,600-degree clam shell grill, it spoiled me for ordering steak back home.

What a nice surprise to top off the evening with a bottle of Chef Rudi’s wine selection and a HAL 100 night voyage medal delivered to the cabin. That’s a ticket to more Mariner invites aboard. Yeah!

Sea Days are Filled with Culinary Adventures
Ah, a sea day, time to savor the shipboard experience. Finally time for a luncheon in the Pinnacle Grill, tastefully set for an afternoon meal. Sure it’s fun to haggle for trinkets and stuff ashore, but this trip is all about appreciating the fine dining and staff service, as well as the effort put into the cellar selection.

Today was doubly fun on the food front because of the wine tasting in the late afternoon. Cellar master Ron had organized a chocolate and wine pairing including: Domaine St. Michelle Brut, Washington; Franciscan Chardonnay, Calif.; Rosemount Shiraz, Australia; Red Guitar Tempranillo, Spain; and Graham’s “Six Grapes” Late Bottle Vintage, Portugal. This is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon sharing the time with new tablemates. And there is always something new to learn about appreciation of wine from these events.

The selection at the wine tasting event.

The selection at the wine tasting event.

Enjoy a Glass After a Long Day Ashore
Back aboard after a day touring Napoli, I earned a chance to reward myself with a Navigator’s Package choice chardonnay delivered to the stateroom. The Toasted Head California Chardonnay was so buttery, but still light enough to enjoy a glass by the pool. After a hot day trekking the ruins, just imagine how refreshing it was to imbibe a wine described as having the “flavors of pear, lemon, toasty coconut and hints of peach, pineapple and cinnamon.”

Leaving that bottle in the room, it was a treat to try another selection at dinner. The menu had on offer a rainbow trout with which I preferred the lighter Caliterra Chilean Chardonnay. Brighter with tropical flavor of guava and banana it was the perfect complement to the meal.

Further notes on the Navigator Package of wines that I had chosen:
The Ravenswood California Zinfandel had so much of a fruity flavor that it was almost sweet. However, it worked well with foods with a tomato base. One favorite of mine was the Diseno Malbec from Argentina. It is described on the wine list as having an explosive flavor with an earthy robust finish, and indeed it fulfilled its promise. Made it a great choice for the Sommelier package evening at Pinnacle Grill when I had ordered the bone-in rib eye and a peppercorn sauce. And the French Labroure’-Roi was enjoyable on another evening with its black cherry, raspberry and blueberry hints, everything a pinot should be with a fine finish.

The Mariner’s Champagne Brunch
Today was the Mariner’s Champagne Brunch. I almost have enough commemorative tiles to fit together. I was pleased to meet Marijke Adolfs, one of the international concierges who hosted our table. Pictured, too, is our friend from Frankfurt who obviously likes how HAL makes him feel like a king!

Clockwise from left: International Concierge Marijke Adolfs, the waiters in their tropical uniforms and a shipboard friend from Germany enjoy the luncheon.

Clockwise from left: International Concierge Marijke Adolfs, the waiters in their tropical uniforms and a shipboard friend from Germany enjoy the luncheon.

There were a number of toasts by the captain and others, but I declined more champagne, knowing that the Pinnacle Grill was serving the Polynesian “Tikopia” feast in the evening. The spring rolls were exquisite, but I have to admit to troubles describing Asian fusion. It was inventive and included coconut, tempura and dashes of fresh and tasty sauces throughout the muti-course presentation.

Thank goodness for the wine steward because new flavor sensations go beyond the presentation and I needed a suggestion from the Navigator Wine Series. In the end the full and zesty finish of the pineapple and grapefruit flavor underlying the Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand was an excellent idea. I was ready to hula right out of there!

Check back on the blog for Part 2 of Charlotte’s culinary adventures onboard her Prinsendam Grand Voyage.

2 Comments
  • Maria Rosa Zurita Matthiesen

    It’s a lovely blog ! So real ! It produced on me the same sensation I had during my cruise ! Congratulations Charlotte !

  • charlotte squarcy

    Thank you Maro’//////Keep watching for yourself soon at the Captain’s reception!

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