Fiji Princess Dining
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the airy dining saloon decorated with colorful wall art and small birds of paradise centerpieces. Open seating at rectangular tables of 4, 8 and 12 fosters a nice camaraderie among guests.
Luke, the ship's Yasawa-born head chef, excels at fresh seafood such as travely and walu, as well as Fijian dishes. Among these are the popular kokoda -- also known as coconut ceviche -- fresh raw fish marinated in lemon or lime juice with onions, tomatoes and fresh coconut cream; palusami, meat wrapped in taro leaves and cooked in sweet coconut cream; and miti, a fish sauce made with lemon juice, coconut cream, chili and onion.
On the breakfast buffet from 7:30 to 9 a.m. are hot dishes like bacon, sausage, pancakes and spaghetti on toast -- the latter being popular with the New Zealanders. Guests help themselves to coffee, tea, ice water and juice. We especially enjoyed the egg station for made-to-order omelettes and the daily fresh fruit platter with ripe pineapple, papaya and watermelon. I must confess I was disappointed mid-cruise when the galley ran out of my favorite breakfast fare -- passion fruit and mango yogurt.
A buffet lunch served from 1 to 2:30 p.m. features dishes like beef stroganoff, penne pasta, seafood pasta, cold chicken, burgers, marlin ravioli, smoked walu, eggplant and salads. Our most memorable midday meal was a beach barbeque of chicken and fresh fish.
With the exception of the served captain's dinner on the first night (salad, lobster bisque and fresh fish), dinner from 7:30 to 9 p.m. is buffet style with themes -- like carvery, curry, and South Pacific nights. Dishes include lamb curry, spicy chicken, mussels, oysters, prawns, pan fried fish in Cajun spices, baked potato and pumpkin. Coconut tart and apple pie a la mode were the star desserts.
Our favorite dinner was a traditional Fijian feast or magiti served on the beach under the stars. Earlier in the day, the crew went onshore to heat up stones in a deep pit, called a lovo. Into the pit they later placed chicken, leg of lamb, leg of pork, a reef fish, yam and taro all wrapped in banana leaves and covered the delicacies with palm fronds and sand to keep the heat intact. After two hours, the food was tender, smoky flavored and delicious.
Honeymooners can enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner served on a private deck ($97). One newlywed from Auckland called the filet mignon, tempura prawns, salmon ravioli, fruit and cheese platter, chocolate mousse and wine "amazing -- like a really good restaurant." (There's also champagne breakfast in bed followed by his and hers massages and a gourmet champagne picnic on a secluded beach.)
The bar serves beer ($4.25 to $5.25), specialty drinks ($10), mixed drinks ($6.50 for premium and $5 for local spirits) and wine ($5.25 to $5.85 a glass). The appealing wine list focuses on some 18 vintages from Australia and New Zealand. By-the-bottle prices range from a Lindemann's Chardonnay for $22 to Tyrell's Shiraz/Cabernet for $61 to Laurent Perrier NV Brut for $67.
For vegetarians and passengers wishing for healthy fare, there are fresh fruit and yogurt each morning at breakfast, as well as fresh fish and seafood, pasta and vegetables like cassava (tapioca root), kumala (sweet potato), yams, and eggplant on most lunch and dinner buffets.
Each day, a member of the crew walks up and down the halls announcing "Morning tea is ready!" At another nice ritual -- at 6:30 each evening -- guests gather in the lounge bar for cocktails and snacks like chili prawn on cucumber rings, curry puffs, vegetarian spring rolls with sweet chili sauce, and calamari with tartar sauce. The bartender's more unusual concoctions include a Reef Walk (Midori, white rum, pawpaw, lemon and orange juice) and Yasawa Sunset (dark rum, Kahlua, cream, orange juice and grenadine).