The Jewel in P&O's dining crown - The Pantry
When P&O announced the scrapping of buffets to embark on a "Food Revolution", there was a huge reaction online within the cruising community. Well, the revolution is literally months away with Pacific Jewel offering "The Pantry" when she departs from Brisbane in June 2015.
It's quite a coup for P&O Australia cruises as they take a unique approach to dining. The buffet is a traditional stalwart of holidays on the ocean wave, but the cruise giant obviously believes that a selection of more contemporary, stylish eateries is the way forward, perhaps trying to shake the 'old-fashioned' tag that cruising still carries and is constantly working to eradicate.
What is The Pantry?
The idea is to create a food-court style of dining with eight outlets and a bar. Décor is also a priority, as P&O aim for a dining experience like no other with a particular emphasis on fun and fresh food. All of these outlets, except the Grill, are inclusive in the cruise ticket, so no extra charge. Here's exactly what The Pantry will offer:
Hook's Fish & Chips: Reasonably self-explanatory, P&O are marketing Hook's with "The catch of the day, every day!" The fare will include crispy battered fish, alongside specials such as salt & pepper squid, lemon & herb calamari rings and crumbed scallops. With its white, nautical-style presentation, Hook is likely to be a big hit, and you can't go far wrong with fish and chips.
Kettle & Bun: A slightly unusual name, here you will find freshly baked bread housing a selection of sandwiches with soups and salads. P&O encourage you to 'mix and match' your combo, while the Salad Bar will also have 'bespoke creations' for dinner. Appealing mostly to those with a smaller appetite or perhaps customers seeking more of a snack, will that aroma of bread emanating from the oven attract the punters?
Curry House: 'Keep Calm and Curry On' is the catchy P&O tagline for the Curry House, described as a smorgasbord of classic curry flavours and authentic dishes. You can also expect plenty of breads, chutneys, raitas and pickles. If the seas get a bit choppy, will you fancy a curry?
Mexicana: The spicy theme continues, with tacos galore - soft or hard shell. Home-made salsas take pride of place, as well as pickles, guacamole and chilli.
Fat Cow carvery: Meat lovers will have a field day at Fat Cow, with 'more meat than you can imagine'. The finest cuts include a secret recipe for roast chicken, gorgeous legs of lamb, cured hams, roast pork racks and beef scotch fillets. With local produce, rustic sides and plenty of condiments, a trip to the gym could be in order if you over-indulge on roast dinners! Another likely favourite with the local Australian cruise traveller.
Stix: While the name doesn't give much away, it refers to Far-Eastern fare and P&O's take on 'chopsticks'. Here you can enjoy stir-fries, noodles, soups and the line's own Laksa. More spicy options, illustrating the variety of cuisine onboard.
Sugar Bar: Difficult not to indulge here, thanks to cakes, pastries and individual gourmet desserts. Handmade and delectably presented, the little ones may be bugging you too much for a return visit. For mum and dad, a drinks bar will have wine and beer or a barista-made coffee.
The Grill: Small, nominal charges will apply at The Grill. Previously available on-board, it's had a makeover, specialising in gourmet beef and pulled pork. Hot dogs, pizzas, meat pies and nachos are still on the menu.
Aria and Eden next on the list
While scrapping the buffet was obviously a gamble for P&O, Senior Vice President Sture Myrmell is confident the move will be a success.
"This is relaxed dining at its best. Not only will the food be sensational, we think our guests are going to love the décor and vibe of The Pantry. It's really going to be the perfect spot for a casual meal at sea."
That décor includes wooden floors, large rugs and Moroccan-style tiles and panelled walls. The plants and vases will continue the relaxed, contemporary theme as P&O set out their stall for 21st century cruising.
Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden will have The Pantry when they join the fleet in November 2015. They have both had dry docks in recent months. However, these two ships will also include the Pan-Asian cuisine of the Dragon Lady Restaurant and Angelo's Italian Restaurant, named after Angelo Frontoni. All of those details were announced last year. Read all about it here at cruisesalefinder.com.au.
We want your feedback
So, The Pantry is coming, but what do you think of P&O scrapping buffets for an 'international market place' of fresh food outlets? Which eatery is most appealing and are you excited about getting onboard Pacific Jewel? Or does it make Jewel more attractive as a cruise ship? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, or check out our Cruise Sale Finder Facebook page here.