|A taste of ... luxury on board Millennium|
|By Patricia Mack
"Is there anything special that you would like?"; Maria asked in her practiced English made lyrical by a distinct Polish accent. Our new cabin attendant promised that she would see to whatever we wished.
"Berries," I told her. "I love berries."
She smiled and nodded.
Little did I know how rare a treasure I had requested.
|On the menu...
Where to next ... a calendar of culinary events
Destination dining ... reviews of restaurants in notable locales.
A taste of ... flavors of the global table
Travel fare ... international recipes
Scrapbook... travelers share their culinary experiences
|The Millennium anchored off Santorini, Greece.|
|Berries are one of the most difficult foods to procure on a cruise ship. Highly perishable, supplies seasonal, and quality and quantity always unreliable from port to port, they are to be as prized as white truffles or Beluga caviar.
Yet every day during our voyage from Venice to Barcelona, Maria saw to it that I had a lovely little white crockery bowl of assorted red, black and blue berries. I happily devoured them each morning on our veranda overlooking the sea on Celebrity Cruises; Millennium, the opulent 91,000-ton ship that carries 1,950 passengers as it sails the Mediterranean, Baltic, and Caribbean Seas, as well as its trans-Atlantic crossings.
The berries were not the only culinary magic on board this ship.
From the moment we stepped on board Millennium, we had a taste of luxury, courtesy of a smartly dressed serving staff offering flutes of bubbling champagne from silver trays.
Although there is much to commend Millennium; with its polished granite, etched glass, wood and marble more suited to an opulent city hotel than a cruise ship; the food and drink are its riches.
From elegant haute cuisine to simple spa, from pizza to high tea, there are countless options. Some 380 of the 980 crewmembers work in Millennium restaurants and kitchens. To get an idea of the scale of cooking done here consider that daily the bakery produces 5,000 buns; 250 baguettes for each of the ship's two dinner seatings; and mountain of pizza dough, bread sticks, and sour dough rolls.
"Everything is made fresh," says executive chef Thomas Stellbrink.
|Making rolls in Millenium's galley.|
|Each port provides its specialties, Stellbrink says, in Athens, grated cheese; in Santorini, lamb, herbs, nettles.
"We can do anything on board but shop," Stellbrink says. That one limitation has implications. In addition to the rarity of berries, is the difficulty in finding and keeping seasonal tomatoes that are ripe and juicy. Instead, tomatoes are almost always canned. Some fish is brought on board fresh, but some are frozen.
These are minor limitations, considering the vast selection of food offerings at the ship's many and varied dining venues. The most important restaurant is the Metropolitan, the very elegant two-level dining room located in the stern. A two-deck-high glass window dominates the interior providing warm, natural light during daytime and a panoramic view of the ocean at dusk. The lido cafes are the setting for casual dining from 6:30 a.m. to half past midnight including lunch and breakfast buffets, pizza, sushi bar, afternoon tea and late night snacks
The rear section of the cafe area is called The Grill. It is the place for casual dinner, served a la carte. Reservations are required and dinner is served between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Poolside the fare is hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza. Some late nights, the pool area is the scene of a wild and wooly Sherbet Parade, offering frozen desserts, along with music and costumed characters.
|If you want to go...
For complete information on booking a Millennium or any Celebrity cruise, go to www.celebritycruises.com
|The crown jewel is the Olympic, a stunning specialty restaurant featuring the original Edwardian wood-carved paneling from the Olympic, sister ship of the Titanic. Service here is highly theatrical with strolling violinists, sommeliers, captains and waiters. Master chef Michel Roux designs the menu offerings. Roux is best known as the chef who catered Prince Charles and Diana's wedding reception. Fine wines match the cuisine, with some bottles priced upwards to $500.
More important than the taste of the food, which is quite fine, is a taste of the kind of luxury and resplendence that was once the hallmark of cruising in an era long gone by.
|The Olympic, Millenium's fine dining restaurant.|