Jamie Oliver "Beyond Buzzed" to Launch First Restaurant on a Cruise Ship

April 29, 2014
Jamie Oliver & Brian Abel (7:00 a.m. EDT) -- Jamie Oliver said he was in shock -- "nice shock" -- when Royal Caribbean approached him to open a restaurant onboard its newest ships and said he had "never, ever dreamt of opening a restaurant on the high seas".

Oliver, speaking at an exclusive event at his newest restaurant in London's Piccadilly last night, will open two for-fee Jamie's Italian restaurants -- the first onboard Quantum of the Seas in October, followed by a second on sister ship Anthem of the Seas in 2015.

He added: "We are compromising none of our standards and none of our ethics -- what would be the point?"

He continued: "To be honest most potential partners are put off -- our list of demands and standards are so long and high. We have a list of what you can and can't buy -- it's quite hard to work with me!"

Oliver and his team is taking a hands-on approach to the whole project, overseeing the space, the staff training and the menus. Dishes will include seafood bucatini, crab spaghettini, and porchetta. The menus will be tweaked, but not significantly, when Quantum repositions to China in 2015.

Oliver's team is also liaising closely with farmers and fisherman in New Jersey -- the temporary home for Quantum before the ship moves to China -- to ensure all food onboard is ethically sourced.

Oliver said he was particularly impressed at the speed at which Royal Caribbean moved once he joined the team, saying he was "beyond buzzed up to have a partner that actually moves," and adding he was "deeply impressed with the Ninja abilities of the Royal Caribbean group".

Oliver also hopes to be onboard the debut sailing of Quantum of the Seas either from the shipyard in Germany to Southampton, or the two-day round trip from Southampton in October, before the ship repositions to Bayonne.

And he hopes to cook onboard one day: "One of the dreams would be to get cooking with kids onboard once I have earnt my stripes," he added.

Oliver has cruised before -- when he was a child on family holidays. He said he would love to get onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship one day with his four 'feral' children and hand them over to kids' club staff to take care of.

Brian Abel, Royal Caribbean's Vice President Food & Beverage, who was also present at the event, said Jamie Oliver's name originally came up when the line was looking for a chef that would be a good fit with the brand: "We met with Jamie and his team and we came away thinking: 'This looks like a really exciting partnership for both of us'."

Abel also said Royal Caribbean was also attracted to the one-time Naked Chef for his family image, which fits well with the line's image.

Jamie's Italian will be one of 18 restaurants onboard Quantum of the Seas, with 120 covers. It forms part of Royal Caribbean's new approach to cruise ship dining -- Dynamic Dining -- which does away with the traditional Main Dining Room.

--Adam Coulter, UK Editor