There is a specialty program offered by some cruise lines called the “Chefs Table”. It has an extra cost of typically about $100 per person and is limited to 12 people. Most cruises don’t offer it all, and the ones who do usually only do it one night for a typical 7 night cruise. Leslie and I had done it twice before, first on an NCL Cruise from Boston to New Orleans, and second on a Princess Cruise around the South American horn from Santiago to Buenos Aires. The first time was particularity memorable. It was with our buddies Dominic and Rich and during the dinner I proposed to Leslie even though we had been married for 28 years at the time. I had never formally proposed before and this turned into a very special time for us. We also met new friends at the table who we hung out with for the rest of the cruise.
Basically this is a special multi course meal prepared by the Executive Chef, and presided over by him and the Head Maitre’D. In the case of Princess they also include a private kitchen tour and special appetizers in the actual kitchen. Then you are marched up to a reserved area in one of the dining rooms for 5 or 6 more courses, plus wine paired with each course. We tried to sign up right when we got on the cruise ship but were told it was all full. Leslie used her persuasive magic to get a table for us and some of our friends anyway. So filled with only our friends we had the Chefs Table during one of the sea days while crossing the Atlantic.
Most of our group really enjoyed the entire evening, and the kitchen tour plus those appetizers were particularly good. But the main course was lamb which neither me or Leslie liked. The Maitre ‘D, who was Portuguese, was funny and did a great job. The Executive Chef was Australian (hence the lamb he said), and while he certainly tried hard his humor was forced and the food was not as good as we have had previously. Of course most of our other friends who were there just loved the whole thing so maybe I am out of line. In any case I certainly recommend doing it at least once if you never have before.