Dear Reader, I have to make a bit of a confession of a fear of mine. Do you know how people find ocean views quite soothing? I’m afraid I’m a little of the opposite and have a fear of open water. So cruises and things like that have really sort of passed me by. I know people that are addicted to cruising and I get it. I understand the idea of being able to visit lots of countries without having to unpack your bag is appealing to me too. But this is somewhat tempered by my image of food served on cruises-I’d imagine that it’s sort of like eating buffet food a lot of the time. P&O’s Executive Chef Ian Summers tells us that people on cruises often eat up to a whopping twenty two plates of food a person a day.
The image of a buffet on water is something that some cruise lines are aware of and it is now common to have restaurants by celebrity chefs as an upgradable option on cruises with each of these restaurants having a surcharge. To dine at Ocean Grill, acclaimed chef Marco Pierre White’s restaurant on the P&O Aracadia, it costs £12.75 or around $19AUD/$19USD while dining at Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill is around $40AUD/$40USD per person. The restaurants are relatively quite small, Marco’s fits around 80-90 diners over the course of one evening. It is one of the 29 restaurants and franchises that he is involved with around the world and they have opened six Marco Pierre White restaurants on P&O’s seven ships.
Marco is contracted to travel with the ships thirty days out of the year and this is mainly around the British or European areas. But in this case, whilst the galleys for the other restaurants prepare food in lots of thirty to handle the crowds, the kitchen for Ocean Grill is a smaller affair, around 80 square metres where all of the food is prepared to order. There was an attempt to open the Ocean Grill for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner but passengers preferred the idea of having something familiar at breakfast (and apparently, they need to stock certain English breakfast cereals and brands of British tea or there may be a mini riot! ).
The kitchen for Ocean Grill
Tonight, the Arcadia is docked at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal and we hand over our driver’s licenses to security to board the ship (I guess in case we decide to stow away!). The Arcadia is on a 100 day world cruise and is an adult’s only cruise. Because P&O is a British cruise line and starts at Southampton the passengers are generally older and British. The Ocean Grill’s cuisine is in classic grill style with British classics like lamb rack and trifle and reflects the clientele. The decor is still very much in the vein of a cruise ship although Marco had a say in the decor of The White Room on the Ventura as that was a newly built ship. However, he chooses cutlery, glassware and tableware across all of the restaurants.
The rolls were very light, almost like airline bread, and served with unsalted butter.
Crayfish cocktail with home made Marie Rose dressing and wholemeal bread