Have you ever wanted to learn how the chefs on Carnival Cruise Line makes those delicious chocolate melting cakes firsthand? At Carnival Kitchen, you can make one yourself at a cake workshop, or check out any one of a variety of interactive culinary classes -- from how to cook a multicourse Indian feast to pizza-making and ice cream-blending.
Cooking classes at Carnival Kitchen demystify baking, dough tossing and even creating a soup-to-nuts dinner in a relaxed, fun atmosphere. Themed classes include Pasta Master, Pizza Master, Sushi 101, Cake Workshop, Cupcake Academy, Pit Grill and Smoke, and Morning Hustle (breakfast foods), to name just a few.
On a weeklong sailing, about 16 classes are offered, accommodating up to 18 guests each. Classes are held throughout the day, plus each evening a special two-hour class is held that results in a full meal that can be enjoyed for dinner after the class is over. Participants must be 12 years of age or older.
Carnival Kitchen classes are held in a dedicated space (on Carnival Panorama it's located midship on Deck 4). The room includes a long table with eye-catching red chairs, while the kitchen space has dedicated workstations (two stations to a row) with everything you'll need for your class as well as a sink, fridge and utensil drawer.
The instructor stands at the front of the space and cooks along with you, but tablets on each workstation list ingredients and livestream what the instructor is doing so you don't miss a beat. There are also other culinary staff on hand walking around to jump in and assist you at any point.
If you are making something that requires baking or additional time, your goodies will be delivered to you upon completion to enjoy later. Branded spatulas are given out at the end of the class to bring home as a souvenir, and emails are taken for anyone interested in getting the recipes -- none were printed.
Reservations can be made onboard through the steakhouse (extension #1178). Our advice is to book well in advance (before boarding, if possible). Classes were nearly sold out by our second day onboard.
We participated in the Masala Tiger class on the third night of our cruise. We arrived early, and after checking in, sat at the long dining table and had a glass of water while we waited for the class to start (you are allowed to bring in outside drinks if you wish).
Especially when classes are full, a lottery system is used to pick workstations. After washing your hands and getting settled, you are issued Carnival Kitchen aprons (you can't keep yours, but you can buy one after the class if you want).
Our chef gave a brief introduction, explaining that we would be cooking actual dishes from his native home in southern India. The personal touch made the meal special, as the menu clearly consisted of beloved local dishes that our chef was familiar with. As one couple noted, they weren't the standard butter chicken or tikka masala meals that you might find in an average land-based Indian restaurant. Even those of us who enjoyed Indian food discovered new plates.
In just under two hours we managed to cook seven dishes -- to our surprise -- which included matar pulao, a vegetable rice; a cabbage dish; baked yogurt chicken; a delicious shrimp in sauce; a type of lentil soup called dal shorba; samosas; and semiya payasam, a sweet pudding dessert with coconut milk.
Steps including frying the samosas and baking the chicken were left to our Carnival Kitchen assistants but were finished by the time we were ready to have our meal. Once we sat to taste the fruits of our labor, more dishes were served family-style, so we could all try something else if we wanted (or if dishes didn't turn out exactly how they were supposed to). One glass of wine is included at the meal.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Carnival Kitchen, and knowing we basically cooked everything ourselves was rewarding and made it one of the best meals of the cruise.
Our one gripe is that we feel it would be helpful to not only have the ingredients listed on the tablets, but the steps to follow along in case a family or group falls behind with the process. We also thought it was a bit odd that despite paper advertisements being handed out left and right daily all cruise long, we were told that recipe cards were not printed "due to environmental practices." The reasoning felt a bit inconsistent and having the recipes on hand to bring home and recreate would have been a nice gesture after making so many new and interesting dishes.
Classes that include dinner and a drink (like Masala Tiger, Orient Unknown, El Fuego and Elegant Affair) run $60 per person plus an 18 percent gratuity. All other classes cost $30 per person plus an 18 percent gratuity.
Carnival Kitchen is available on Carnival Panorama.