Ancient ruins, iconic cities, and sandy beaches... reasons to visit the Mediterranean soon add up. Credit: Shutterstock

A taste of the Med

Author: Vicky Mayer

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On a memorable cruise aboard Enchanted Princess, Vicky Mayer enjoys a culinary journey she’ll remember forever

There is a tower of seafood in front of me. The fruit de la mar platter is piled high with crab legs, plump prawns and freshly shucked oysters. Close your eyes and you could be in the south of France.

But we’re nowhere near Marseille – instead, we’re sailing off the coast of Barcelona on the first night of our foodie-filled Mediterranean cruise onboard Enchanted Princess and gazing in awe at the very generous entrée at Princess’ head of culinary arts, Rudi Sodamin’s new fish restaurant The Catch by Rudi.

As the first Princess restaurant devoted to seafood, you’ll find plenty of fresh fish dishes on the menu The Daily Catch which features sustainable seafood from local ports of call. And whether you love shellfish, like to go classic with lobster or prefer sushi, there’s something for every fishy fan at this great restaurant.

I am on a seven-night cruise that even the most seasoned cruisers must dream of – the chance to sail leisurely around the Mediterranean on a sun-drenched ship, sampling some of the continent’s best cuisine. Add to that the chance to hit the shore to sample some great local fare too and you can see why this is no ordinary cruise holiday.

Enchanted Princess has capacity for 3,660 passengers. Credit: Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises have long been known for their great cuisine and after a very strict two-week pre cruise diet, I can’t wait to let my appetite loose.

Launched in 2021 and carrying up to 3,660 passengers, this mid-sized ship boasts 16 places to eat, from casual venues like the Salty Dog Grill and the World Fresh MarketPlace to speciality restaurants Sabatini’s, The Catch and Crown Grill. Guests can also enjoy the chance to drink at 18 different bars and enjoy a leisurely tea or coffee at three cafes.

There’s a wide range of cuisine on board for everyone, including a separate vegan menu, fresh sushi bar and even an Italian gelato bar, Gelateria, which serves mouth-watering ice creams and sorbets.

Princess Cruises understands all the fun of a foodie cruise – from trying a new dish or a tasty cocktail to dressing up for a gourmet dinner at one of their ships’ speciality restaurants. And with such a wide choice of cuisine on offer, every day is a food lover’s dream.

Over the course of the week, our tastebuds are given the ultimate workout from dawn till dusk. Highlights include expertly made coffees and fresh pastries for breakfast at the popular International Café plus some incredible meals at speciality restaurants Sabatini’s, The Crown Grill and The Catch By Rudi.

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Enjoying a four-course feast at Sabatini’s, I enjoy some of the best pasta dishes I have ever had at sea including a faultless mushroom risotto. Each course is teamed with some great wine-pairings from the knowledgeable sommelier and to finish, don’t miss the waistline-busting tiramisu.

More of steak fan? Then head to the Crown Grill where you’ll find every type of steak under the sun plus an impressive salt menu to accompany them. Add a generous slice of the restaurant’s signature key lime pie and you could be in the USA.

While you’ll need to pay $39 per person (excluding drinks) for dinner at one of the specialty restaurants, they are well worth the price, and if you choose to buy a Princess Premier Package ($80 a day per guest), you’ll be given two complimentary speciality dining meals per guest.

Sail away in style onboard Enchanted Princess. Credit: Princess Cruises

Meet you at O’Malleys…
It’s not just the food that’s fantastic on Enchanted Princess. On my cruise the popular O’Malleys Irish Pub on deck five is a great post dinner meet-up point with talented Irish bands playing tunes from contemporary Irish artists as well as some barnstorming traditional jigs.

Meanwhile at Take 5 on deck six, live jazz in a low-it room is the perfect accompaniment to a smoky Negroni, while you can’t beat a late-night Martini in Crooners Bar on deck six.

Shoreside Foodie Adventures
Mediterranean cuisine is known throughout the world for its diversity, taste and tradition so continuing the onboard foodie experience, it’s a pleasure to leave the ship and take a deep dive into the heart of this amazing region.

Our first port call is Gibraltar and instead of heading up the rock to see the local monkeys, we enjoy a leisurely lunch at a modern wine bar where each course is paired with local Spanish wines. It’s a great introduction to the area’s wide range of wines and a chance to enjoy some great tapas too.

Halfway through our cruise, we dock in Marseille and head inland to visit Le Moulin de la Coquille, a family-run olive farm in Provence where a great olive-oil tasting whets our appetite for a wonderful al fresco three-course lunch at a local restaurant. Foodie heaven indeed!

Escape to the rock with Princess Cruises. Credit: Shutterstock

Meanwhile, fans of Italian cuisine are in for a total treat on a port stop in Genoa, where you can by some of Italy’s best fresh pesto in the local delis. A quick coach transfer takes us to the buzzy town of Rapello and a meal I will remember forever. At

family-run restaurant Alfredo, the owner demonstrates the art of making the local delicacy, a flat focaccia (yes, really). Soft goats cheese is encased in layers of wafer-thin layers of filo pastry then baked in a high-heat oven. The result is a more'ish cheesy delight with the restaurant erupting in cries of ‘incredible’, ‘wow’ and ‘yum’. We are treated to two main course pastas that demonstrate the area’s famous pesto and there’s not a scrap of food left on anyone’s plates.

Saving the best for last….
Having enjoyed an amazing foodie journey, both on and off board the ship, I’m intrigued by my last dinner invite – to the exclusive 360: experience. The invite is mysterious – meet at 5pm on deck five for cocktails followed by dinner.

A smart female Maitre’ D greets us with a warm welcome and escorts us through the kitchen by the Catch restaurant to a large secret room where guests sit side by side at circular tables with a large space in the centre of the room.

As we sit down for dinner, the screens behind us explode with sound and colour as film star Brooke Shields appears with a fictional tale of her culinary journey around Europe.

What follows is an amazing immersive dinner where every course – from a Greek tzatziki and olive starter to a sublime Italian lemon pasta followed by a Spanish beef main course and an incredible French lavender and honey dessert – are accompanied by an incredible visual montage of the countries they originate in. The welcoming smell of lemon and lavender being blasted into the room further enhances the experience.

Genoa means 'La Superba' (the proud one). Credit: Shutterstock

Together, with my lucky fellow diners, two and a half hours later, I leave the room amazed and entranced by this unique experience. Think Heston Blumenthal at sea.

At the moment, an invite to 360: is only by special invite from the captain, but such is the success of this incredible gourmet experience, that there’s talk of it being rolled out on to the rest of the fleet.

Like Brooke, I’ve experienced an incredible taste journey around the Med, met some passionate cooks, oil producers and wine buffs along the way, and enjoyed some incredible meals on board Enchanted Princess.

This is a cruise to remember and though I lack the skills of the talented Princess chefs, I can’t wait to get busy in my own kitchen with fragrant pesto from Genoa and virgin olive oil from Provence.

A 11-day Grand Western Mediterranean cruise onboard Enchanted Princess from Barcelona to Rome (Civitavecchia), via Toulon/Provence, Genoa, Florence/Pisa, Kotor, Corfu, Sicily and Naples, departs November 12, 2023. Fares start from £799 per person (based on two people sharing an inside stateroom).

Be sure to enjoy some 'me time' in Enchanted Princess' spa. Credit: Princess Cruises

Number of passengers: 3,660 passengers
Number of crew: 1,346
Number of restaurants: 16
Number of pools: 4

Great for: A total foodie experience – on and off the ship
Don’t miss: Amazing sushi at Ocean Terrace and the chance to enjoy a sundowner at the Seaview bar
Best bar & restaurant: The atmosphere is electric at O’Malley’s Irish Pub on deck five and don’t miss the chance to enjoy the freshest fish at sea at The Catch by Rudi
Value for money: Add a Princess Plus ($60 a day per guest) or Princess Premier ($80 a day per guest) for some great extras including a generous drinks allowance, free Wifi, crew appreciation and much more.
Saving the planet: Your Princess Medallion is made from 100 percent reclaimed ocean plastic more
Star rating: 4.5/5

Enchanted Princess is a Royal-class cruise ship. Credit: Princess Cruises
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About Vicky Mayer

Vicky began her career working on young women’s magazines before moving on to TV and entertainment titles. Her passion, though, has always been travel, so as Editor of World of Cruising, she combines her love of magazines with the chance to shout about cruise holidays around the world.