Last week we featured Romance at Sea: Last-Minute U.K. Valentine's Deals that offered possibilities for the romantically inclined to cruise over Valentine's Day. This week we wanted to know: what will those bargain hounds, and all other amorists, find if they're onboard for the fateful day?
And even if you're not cruising, perhaps you can get inspired to create your own romantic getaway at home. Top chefs and bartenders from cruise and ferry lines worldwide have created culinary and cocktail recipes for the Bacardi Cruise Competition -- recreate them at home for your sweetie, and then vote for your favorites (winners will receive special Cruise Critic Cruisers'
Here's how you can celebrate Valentine's Day onboard -- and though the actual date is Thursday, February 14, that doesn't mean you're limited to just that day. You can enjoy a whole holiday's worth of romance. And if you're not out at sea just now -- you can still plan ahead for next year's Valentine's....
Norwegian Cruise Line
Where to celebrate: The fleet's Le Bistro, its intimate and cozy French restaurant, will offer a special menu for romance on February 14. Diners will receive a complimentary welcome glass of bubbly. There's a six-course Valentine's Day menu filled with the obvious French cuisine. Delights include lobster and scallop martini, and lobster and fillet of Atlantic salmon in shrimp crust. Make sure to save room for dessert, where you can choose from strawberry and chocolate layered creme brulee and/or cheesecake St. Valentine.
What else: Throughout all cruises that occur over Valentine's, there will be holiday-themed cocktails, such as the chocolate covered strawberry martini. This will be available on all ships including Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Spirit and Norwegian Star.
Best Place to Pop a Question: May sound a bit obvious, but your cabin could be a possibility, as the crew places a flower on each woman's pillow during turndown service, and roses will be displayed around the ship upon embarkation.
Where to Celebrate: On the ultra-casual Ocean Village and Ocean Village Two there will be no fuss over the holiday, but don't let that hold you back. For a special dinner, celebrity chef James Martin has just the ticket for you: his Bistro restaurant onboard both ships. Tempt your taste buds with a mixed menu that includes Salmon terrine; fillet of beef with taleggio cheese and bacon rosti; and all things chocolatey for desert.
What else: The ships are in the Caribbean this winter -- and as Ocean Village tends to like the action-packed excursions when in port -- try your hand at some activites.
Best Place to Pop a Question: Why not take a kayak out along Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman with your other half and ask them for your hand (may be best to leave the ring onboard for this one!)?
Where to celebrate: P&O Cruises celebrity chef Gary Rhodes has added his personal touch by creating a special Valentine's Day menu for couples dining at Arcadian Rhodes (his restaurant on Arcadia) and Oriana Rhodes (on Oriana in case you hadn't guessed). Dishes on the menu include asparagus, smoked salmon terrine, roast fillet of beef and Bailey's creme brulee.
What else: Both Arcadia and Oriana will be in faraway locations to help set the ambiance for the night -- Arcadia will be in the Grand Cayman islands and Oriana will be in Shanghai on its world cruise.
Best Place to Pop a Question: How about the highest point of the ship, the Orchid Bar up on the Sky Deck?
Where to celebrate: With a number of sailings over Valentine's Day, MSC Cruises has a special "Romance at Dawn" package for couples to remember that special moment and celebrate sunrise with a deluxe champagne breakfast.
What else: Specifically for newlyweds but also apt for couples is the Sweet Honeymoon Package, a special treat of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries served directly to the cabin. This offer is available across the fleet.
Best Place to Pop a Question: Why not organise a candle lit dinner at one of MSC's Italian restaurants?
Where to celebrate: Princess is promoting something really special if you want to propose -- Movies Under the Stars big-screen proposal. Qualifier alert: Movies Under the Stars is only available on Emerald Princess, Crown Princess, Grand Princess and Sea Princess (otherwise, book a table for two at Princess' ultra romantic Sabatini's trattoria).
What else: The package includes a secret session with a videographer to create the onscreen proposal, a DVD and photos of the special moment, as well as champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, breakfast and dinner for two, a couple's massage plus $100 credit for a Wedding at Sea package (if you come back for another cruise to celebrate the festivities). The package costs $695.
Best Place to Pop a Question: This one surely has got to be under stars (with the screen of course)?
Where to celebrate: Okay, so Thomson Cruises, which admittedly falls in the value price category rather than luxury, is not the most extravagant line for romance -- but you can still celebrate. Thomson is marking February 14 by decorating one of the entertainment venues onboard each of its ships.
What else: Thomson is offering special game shows and cabarets themed to fit Valentine's Day. You can take part in the fun onboard all of its ships.
Best Place to Pop a Question: If you are on Thomson Celebration why not make it a night to remember with a meal at new celebrity Chef Aldo Zilli's restaurant.
Royal Caribbean International
Where to celebrate: Royal Caribbean is offering a number of activities onboard its ships for both lovers and singles. Events include a "Romancing Under the Stars Party," a "Love Trivia" game and Love Song Karaoke for those that wish to dedicate a number to a partner. Not to forget those that are without a partner, there will be special singles activities and a secret admirer party.
What else: Youngsters in love won't miss out either as there is a teen Valentine's Day dance and theme night. All of the fun can be had on all Royal Caribbean ships.
Best Place to Pop a Question: How does up a climbing wall sound? Could be a romantic gesture, no? If not try Royal Caribbean's mojito bar -- it's terribly romantic. We also love the Schooner Bar -- ask the piano player to perform a torch song ("My Funny Valentine," perhaps?).