Well I’d bet that title got your attention 😉
You see, so much happens on sea days that I have no clue what to title the posts! But the wine tasting was the only money I spent onboard this entire cruise, so I felt like that was significant enough to warrant a title. Plus it was actually a great foray into the wonderful world of wine.
And since I could find literally no information on whether or not the Princess Fine Wine Tasting was worth it before attending, this post will include a recap of what it’s like. Check that out at the “princess fine wine tasting” heading!
Sea Day Breakfast
I realize I’ve started a kind of routine for breakfast- I head down to the Concerto dining room, ask for a seat by the window, ask for some coffee, OJ, and papaya, and peruse the menu in absolute bliss.
The Majestic Princess ship’s dining room breakfast has a bunch of continental and hot options available every day, plus two specials. Today’s breakfast special was huevos rancheros, a classic sea day menu item.
I ordered, and was very happy with it overall: the eggs were cooked and SEASONED really well (I always cook my eggs with tons of spices at home) and the salsa was freshly made. The tortilla was a little stale but that’s not a huge issue with me.
Making Enemies at the Effy Store (jk I’m being dramatic)
There wasn’t a ton going on at this point in the morning, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to the “ab blast workout” at the ship’s gym.
So I found myself back at the Effy diamond store for their “diamonds for breakfast” event. While I pretended to look at jewelry, I scored 2 free mimosas.
I know that the Effy people probably hate me for pulling this little champagne charade twice, and they are completely justified in doing so. However, I KNOW that I’m not the only one who pulls this kind of scammish behavior at these type of events.
Plus they’re pulling scams of their own! I heard the lady in charge tell people “if you see something you like, just buy it before someone else does!!!”. Classic time-sensitivity pressuring sales tactic.
Lighthearted Culinary Demonstration
Next was the event I have been the most excited for since I got my Princess Patter last night!
The “lighthearted culinary demonstration” is a comedy and cooking show hosted by both the director of culinary arts and the head chef.
The gist is that they show us how they cook their excellent dishes on the ship, while giving cooking advice and making a sort of comedy sketch out of the whole thing.
The two were delightful, and in addition to being excellent chefs (as gathered from my experience with the food thus far) their jokes all landed. The show was also interspersed with helpful facts for cooking. I learned that freezing a cheese grater keeps the cheese from sticking to the inside, don’t add Parmesan to pesto or it will brown, add an ice cube when blending pesto together so the basil stays nice and fresh.
What’s more, all of the dishes they prepared were set to be served at the buffet, so we could try for ourselves! So of course at lunch I had to try their seafood carpaccio, I couldn’t resist after watching it be made. Good golly it was so good. I don’t know how I can go back to normal life after this!
Ice Carving deja vu
After lunch, I went to go watch the ice carving demonstration for a minute, but it was too cold and windy outside to really enjoy being out there.
The sculptor is the same guy who led the fruit and veggie carving demonstration, talk about multi-talented!
The finished sculpture was the head of a Native American chief. For some reason, this is the same sculpture that every cruise ship ice-carver carves. and so I wonder if they all attend the same class? I swear, this is the third time I’ve seen someone carve this exact sculpture! Deja vuuuuuuuuu.
Art Auction shenanigans!!!
After attending a couple of events at the art galleries, I was excited to see how art auctions work but had no intention to bid or buy anything.
The free champagne is also enticing.
So I sat down and got comfy.
Once I heard a starting bid at $74,000 I literally could not run out the door fast enough.
It was definitely an overreaction, but I had this irrational fear that I was going to accidentally bid on something that would demolish my credit score and my future.
I went to the check-in counter and begged them to ensure that no one made a bid using my room number. She was definitely confused but assured me I wasn’t going to accidentally buy any high end art.
After that self-created drama, it was time for a much more relaxing activity. Roll out the sea crafts!
Today’s craft was an actual craft, not coloring like last time. Yay for the lead artist feeling better and yay for crafting! Today’s craft involved making a cross-stitch heart necklace.
I have never done a cross stitch in my life (did girl scouts fail me?). So some of the other ladies at the craft table helped me thread my needle and get started on my heart pendant.
I tried to follow the directions!
I really did!
But I couldn’t make any sense of it and went rogue. Unsurprisingly, the finished product does not look great. On the bright side, I can confidently say that no one is going to be confusing my pendant for theirs.
The Princess Fine Wine Tasting experience
Okay I caved.
I know it has an extra cost, but I haven’t spent any money on board thus far to save for this, and I think that learning how to both drink and fully appreciate individual wines will be like an investment!
In my mind, this is worth it because it will allow me to get more out of the “wine drinking experiences” I’ll have in the future, and especially tomorrow in Santa Barbara. Or maybe I’m just kidding myself and want an excuse to drink. We shall see!
Upon arriving, you’re seated at a table with 6 huge wine glasses, and a plate of canapés for each, plus a couple slices of cheese, and a bottle of water (probably to ‘cleanse the pallet’).
One fine wine was poured at a time. We started with white wines. First the sommelier told us to hold the wineglass up to the light, notice the color. White wines can range from a nearly-clear ‘pale straw’ to a darker yellow ‘golden’ color. I’m a little confused because isn’t straw a gold color? Ah well, I don’t make the rules.
Reds range from ruby red to a nearly black, completely impervious-to-light color. He told us that white wines will actually darken with age, while red wines will lighten with age.
Next we were told to swirl the wine, looking closely at the glass. Oftentimes, we’d see a gravity-defying ring of wine forming halfway up the glass, then trickling down in a formation called “legs” or “tears”. Apparently, this has to do with surface tension and evaporation in the alcohol. More pronounced tears usually mean that the wine has a “fuller body” or that they have a higher alcohol content.
The next step is to sniff the wine to identify the ‘nose’. This is what you see people do in TV shows, where they swirl the wine, which I’m told is to “aerate it” and then tilt the glass at about a 45 degree angle to get a nice good sniff.
This actually does work because I used to sniff from the top of the glass, but tilting it to the side actually did help me to smell it better somehow. Nevertheless, like in France, I did manage to get every single nose-test incorrect unless I guessed something really generic like “fruit” or “flowers”. Still, I like to think that as I sniff each wine and reinforce it by being told the correct note, I’ll eventually be able to match the correct notes. Combined with tomorrows practice, I’ll hopefully get REALLY good at this.
After sniffing comes the even more fun part- sipping for the ‘notes’! Unlike the last step, I am very good at this step. The sipping part, not the identifying notes part. When you take that first sip, you’re supposed to kind of swish it around to make sure it hits every region of your tongue. Then you write down the ‘palate’ of the wine. Like the sniffing part, you have a little wine journal to guess the notes before the sommelier gave us the answers.
Next is a super fun part I previously had no experience with. Each glass of wine had a canape (aka a little bite-sized snack) specifically paired to draw out new flavors in the wine. We are told to take a bit of canape, then immediately drink another sip of wine to see how the pairing develops the wine’s taste.
It is super cool to see the differences in the taste once you add food into the equation. Now I understand why waiters at fancy restaurants will recommend a specific wine paring with each dish. And the canapes, although a little weird (tuna mousse?!?) were also delicious.
Then we were allowed to talk amongst ourselves and finish the glass, writing down the wine’s ‘finish’. I think this is a fancy way of saying ‘aftertaste’.
After that is was rinse (with water) and repeat for each of the 6 wines. I’ll include my notes as well as some fun wine facts here:
- Nicolas Feuillattee, Brut Reserve, Champagne, FR
appearance: buttery yellow,
big small bubbles
nose: bright citrus, soft buttery, yeast
palate: lemony acid, light body
pairing: salmon + caviar canape (yum)
2. Cloudy Bay, Suavignon Blanc, Marlborogh, NZ
appearance: very pale, straw yellow
nose: lime, lemon, passionfruit, orchard blossom
palate: heavy body, acidic
finish: tangy, sweet
pairing: cream cheese canape
3. Shafer Red Shoulder, Ranch Chardonnay, California, US
appearance: yellow/gold, pronounced legs
nose: citrus zest, spicy
palate: melon, pepper, apricot
finish: buttery, tart
pairing: shrimp canape
4. Masi Campofiorin, Veneto, IT
appearance: darkest red, no light passes through!
nose: musty, spicy, red fruit
palate: fruity, woody
pairing: tuna mousse canape
fun fact: this is a super-tuscan wine, which means its grapes are double fermented, giving it that ‘musty’ smell. I know that ‘musty’ doesn’t sound great but the wine tasted good!
5. CARO, Mendoza, AR
appearance: medium ruby, slow tears
nose: very sweet, chocolatey?, bright and fruity, a little peppery
palate: full body, sharp tannin, medium-heavy acid
finish: acidic fruit
pairing: cream cheese mousse canape
6. Caymus Cabernet Suavignon, California, USA
appearance: little/no tears, deep ruby
nose: sweet fruit, dark fruit
palate: no notes, too tipsy?
finish: no notes, probably tipsy
pairing: swiss, gouda, cheddar cheese
Then I discovered the Hollywood Conservatory
After the wine tasting, I wrote in my travel notes “got drunk” but I think that’s a little stretch. I think I got sufficiently tipsy, but was still able to logic out that the next best course of action was a snack. So I got some veal pasta from Alfredo’s and set to wandering the ship in search of areas I haven’t seen.
While walking the halls, the solitude started to get to me. I started to think about how short life is and wondering how people process old age. This is very strange considering I am not an existential person. Like, not at all. I pride myself on not thinking very deeply at all, so this was just as shocking as it was depressing. I took this as a sign it was time to just relax.
Luckily, it was about then that I discovered the Hollywood Conservatory, a sort of garden-themed indoor lounge at the front of the ship. This place is absolutely fabulous. It’s got topiaries and oddly enough, musical instruments like xylophones and drums to goof around with.
And at the very front of the ship are tons of seats from loungers, to couches, to day beds sitting right in front of these huge, floor to ceiling windows where you can watch the ocean from the comfort of the indoors. It’s actually one of the only ways to enjoy front of the ship on the Majestic Princess, and almost no one seems to know about this area! I spent a long time napping in front of the ocean and it made my mood so much better.
There’s also an indoor pool and bar in the conservatory, so I went back to the room to change into my swimsuit so I could have an ice water and unwind in the hot tub. Now THAT’S how I like to relax on a sea day 🙂
The theme of dinner in the Allegro dining room was ‘Italian Night’, and the whole menu was fabulous. Fettuccini alfredo, peach Bellini soup, grilled rockfish, and a trio of mini desserts made for an absolutely perfect dinner. I finished everything except the desserts (too full!) it was so tasty.
Magic Show (but kind of not)!
The show in the Princess Theater tonight was not really a “magic show” per se. It was more like a multi-talented performance from Naathan Phan, a magician-comedian-impressionist who’s been featured in tons of magic and talent competition shows.
He started out with some classic magic tricks, like changing his outfit in less than a second and doing a couple of ~is this your card~ tricks. He also told us about his childhood as a Vietnamese immigrant raised in Scotland and showed us how he became an impressionist. He also combined the two by using his “internal lie detector” to correctly guess which character an audience member was thinking of, and then did the impression of mickey mouse perfectly! He also kept us laughing the whole time, it was just a really fun show to watch.
He’s much more humble and self aware than the comedian. I really like him! He’s so pleasant and you can tell he loves performing and the people he performs for.
Princess Cruise Lines, if you’re reading this, give this guy a raise because he deserves it!
Preparing for tomorrow
I am so excited for Santa Barbara, and so its time to tuck in so I’ll be ready to explore a new port tomorrow.
The boat is SO rocky though! As I’m sitting here typing, the bed is shaking!! Not swaying, its actually vibrating like I’m on one of those massage chairs at the mall.
I’ve had to take down all the hangers in my closet and make sure all the doors are closed because they were banging around, but hopefully it’ll be a restful night. It has been so far, so I’m not too worried.
See ya tomorrow!