The ship's two main restaurants serve up traditional five-course evening meals. Princess offers set seating at 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. in the Bordeaux dining room -- this is what we opted for -- and flexible, eat-when-you-want anytime dining in the Provence dining room. Coral Princess is pushing its anytime dining plan for people who want more flexibility in their schedules than traditional fixed seating allows. It probably doesn't work well for large groups who wish to share their meals together (which we were), but otherwise, it's a terrific option. Basically, you can dine in the Bordeaux dining room anytime between 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., depending on availability. Or you can always make a reservation. The menus are the same in both venues.
And those menus did not disappoint. Among our favorites: Executive Chef Martial Diffor's own fettuccine alfredo, twin broiled lobster tail, beef wellington and deep-sea cod in a coriander butter sauce. All meals are cooked to order.
Tip: Take the galley tour to fully appreciate the production involved here.
Menus in the main restaurants also include vegetarian choices as well as innovative Lotus Spa dishes, which offer healthier options like chilled yogurt and tamarind soup sprinkled with grated lemon zest, filet of baby turbot with a fennel pernod sauce and a tropical fruit smoothie flavored with lime.
Passengers who wish for more formal daytime fare can also choose sit-down service for breakfast and lunch in the Bordeaux dining room.
Coral Princess also offers plenty of other fine dining choices, which we sampled as well.
Not to be missed: Sabatini's, with a $25 cover charge, is a culinary standout with its varied menu of outstanding Italian favorites. Appetizer choices include porcini mushroom in extra virgin olive oil and fresh tarragon; steamed black mussels with garlic, fennel and saffron; and breaded fried delicate soft Italian cheese in a Mediterranean olive tapenade. Also on the menu are four types of pizza, salad or soup, pasta and "Secondi Piatti," ranging from langoustines with lime and cilantro to shallot-crusted veal chops and desserts guaranteed to tempt the most dedicated dieter. Our three-hour meal elevated the dining experience to "event" status.
The Bayou Cafe and Steakhouse, a New Orleans-themed restaurant, serves up gumbo, jambalaya and shrimp creole, along with premium steaks. It has a $20 cover. The Bayou, which has live music, takes itself less seriously than Sabatini's and has a kicky ambience. Several New Orleans specialties on the menu include smothered gator ribs, oysters Bienville, Toulouse chicken and chorizo jambalaya, a mixed Cajun grill and -- as the final piece in this wonderful gourmet puzzle -- desserts that include buttermilk bread pudding with pistachio caramel sauce, fried yellow peach pie with cranberry relish and banana whiskey pound cake with a honey orange glaze.
Horizon Court, a buffet with menus that change daily, has terrific -- almost overwhelming -- choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On any given day, the impressive fruit and veggie salad bars offer a nice respite from the vast array of hot choices. One evening buffet featured duck l'orange, roast beef, sea scallops, turbot and coq au vin. Remarkably, breakfast never got tiring. Who knew you could prepare eggs so many different ways? Lemonade and iced tea are offered throughout the day in Horizon Court.
Horizon is on the Lido Deck, sharing space with the two big swimming pools, and there's no problem enjoying your meal from a deck chair. Also near the pools are a hamburger and hot dog grill, a pizzeria and an ice cream bar serving complimentary soft-serve ice cream. Hard ice cream is available on the dessert menus during lunch and dinner in the dining room, at no additional charge.
Of course, there's also enhanced 24-hour room service. The all-day room service menu features salads, sandwiches and pasta. Passengers in suites can enjoy a full-service breakfast, while a continental breakfast is offered in the other staterooms. Another option, for verandah level (and up) passengers, is the lobster balcony dinner, priced at $100 per couple. An elegant Champagne Breakfast, served in all category staterooms, is $32 per couple.