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Inside the tricked-out cooking classroom on Carnival’s new ship  

Jan. 05, 2020
5 min read
Inside the tricked-out cooking classroom on Carnival’s new ship  
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Is cruise giant Carnival going upmarket?

You might think so after a peek at the low-cost cruise operator’s latest shipboard attraction, a high-end cooking classroom of the sort that's typically only found on the fanciest cruise vessels.

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Dubbed Carnival Kitchen and located on Carnival’s just-unveiled Carnival Panorama, the space offers nine state-of-the-art, marbled granite cooking stations for two; a tricked-out instructor’s station; a cooking show-like closet filled with cooking gadgets; and a dedicated dining area.

(Photo by Gene Sloan/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Gene Sloan/The Points Guy)

As I saw during a preview of the Los Angeles area-based vessel in advance of its first weekly sailing to Mexico, Carnival Kitchen is a serious cooking venue. Sitting in on the very first class to be held in the room — a lesson in baking apple pie — I watched as an instructor and several assistants took participants on a hands-on, hour-long journey through every step of the pie-making process from hand-making a crust to cooking the filling.

In a high-tech touch, the instructor’s station was covered by a camera that projected what she was doing onto iPad-size screens at every participant’s cooking station. Each station had all the ingredients and cooking accoutrements needed for the pie-making project, and every participant made his or her very own pie as the hour went on, ending with a finished (though not yet baked) product.

(Photo by Gene Sloan/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Gene Sloan/The Points Guy)

While making an apple pie isn’t the most complex of culinary tasks, this was a surprisingly sophisticated and enriching experience for a Carnival ship. Carnival is, after all, the line that has made its name with such fun-focused frivolity as poolside hairy chest contests.

Related: How to plan a cruise with points and miles

Speaking with me after a ribbon cutting for the room, Carnival president Christine Duffy said the concept was directly driven by interest from customers. The line had offered some cooking classes in the past using existing space in onboard steakhouses that turned out to be a hit, she said. Plus, Carnival always is getting requests from customers for the recipes for its onboard dishes.

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“It’s due to popular demand,” Duffy said. “We have such amazing talent in our culinary team … [so] we said, let’s just create a dedicated space where people can actually come cook themselves and have a great experience with their family or whoever they’re traveling with.”

Located on one of the main interior decks of Carnival Panorama, between the ship’s casino and comedy lounge, Carnival Kitchen will be home to more than a dozen distinct classes where you can learn to make such classic Carnival main restaurant dishes as the perfectly gooey-on-the-inside Warm Chocolate Melting Cake that has become legend among Carnival fans and the saffron risotto served in Carnival’s Cucina del Capitano Italian restaurants.

There also will be courses in sushi rolling and pizza making, in addition to pie baking. Classes will last one to two hours and cost between $30 and $59 per person.

Carnival Kitchen’s dining area will be used in the evenings for demonstration classes that include a themed dinner. This effectively gives Carnival Panorama one more restaurant than exists on two earlier ships in the same Vista Class series — and a very exclusive and intimate one at that. As with regular classes during the day, the evening class-and-dinner experience will be limited to 18 people at a time.

Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line.
Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line.

Duffy said Carnival’s next ship, Mardi Gras, will have an even bigger cooking classroom. Mardi Gras is due to debut in August 2020.

While several lines have offered cooking demonstrations on ships for years, upscale cruise operator Oceania Cruises generally gets the credit for unveiling the first truly hands-on, custom-built cooking classrooms at sea. Both the line’s 1,250-passenger Marina and sister ship Riviera, unveiled in 2011 and 2012, respectively, debuted with a 12-station Culinary Center.

Other lines that have since added multi-station cooking classrooms on ships include luxury operators Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

The debut of Carnival Kitchen is just one element of a bigger focus on culinary offerings at Carnival as it prepares to unveil Mardi Gras, the first of a new series of Carnival ships that will be significantly bigger than the line’s current vessels. Carnival has partnered with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse to develop a New Orleans-themed Creole eatery for the ship, called Emeril’s Bistro 1396. The line also has been expanding its offerings of restaurants designed in partnership with The Food Network’s Guy Fieri. Both Lagasse and Fieri were at the Carnival Kitchen ribbon cutting.

Related: The best credit cards for booking cruises

Christened last month in Long Beach, California, by Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna White, Carnival Panorama is the first new Carnival ship to be based on the West Coast in two decades. It's now sailing weekly voyages to the Mexican Riviera out of Long Beach that feature stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Fares start at $474 per person, based on double occupancy.

Featured image by Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line.

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  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023