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Feast for the senses

Inside Princess Cruises’ 360 immersive dining experience as it opens to all guests

Princess Cruises 360 immersive dining experience is set to open to more guests from mid-October after previously being only a suite benefit, Sailawaze got a taste of what passengers are in for.

Words by Marc Shoffman

It feels like we have discovered a secret portal under the sea as two violinists on the Enchanted Princess in Barcelona escort us musically from deck five through the Catch specialty fish restaurant to a hidden emerald-lit room.

This is the unique dining setting for the Princess Cruises 360: An Extraordinary Experience – an interactive seven-course meal that entertains more than just our tastebuds.

We have already been made to feel like VIPs thanks to professional pictures and cocktails, and my 360 experience Princess Cruises guests and I are then each shown to a set seat to ensure various dietary requirements are duly catered for.

Suddenly the LED walls light up with projected pictures and our theatrical host Magdalena, as if by magic, reaches into one image of a journal in a frame that begins an adventure for all our senses around the Mediterranean.

What to expect from Princess Cruise 360: An Extraordinary Experience

Let's feast

Which ships have the 360 Princess Cruises experience?

The Princess Cruises 360 experience is only available on Discovery Princess and Enchanted Princess.

A spokesperson said this experience won’t be replicated on others but she hinted that the new Sun Princess may have its own special offering.

How do you get invited onto Princess Cruises’ 360 experience?

Since its launch in November 2022, the 360 experience has only been available to suite guests.

There is no extra charge for suite guests and you can book the Princess Cruise 360 experience in advance or onboard through your personal concierge.

Other passengers on Discovery and Enchanted have so far been able to book a slot if they reserve a future cruise suite on a non-cancelable rate.

However, all non-suite guests on Discovery and Enchanted ships will be able to book the 360 experience for $149 per person from mid-October so now everyone can get a chance to experience it. Note, this will be subject to availability.

There are two sittings per day for dinner at 5.30pm and 7.30pm (arriving 15 minutes before for photos and cocktails) with space for 20 people each time. The 360 experience lasts for 90 minutes.

What is the Princess Cruises 360 experience?

Dining has become about more than just the food on many cruise ships; Princess Cruises 360 takes immersive dining to a new level, taking us around southern Europe without leaving our seats.

We follow a cruise passenger – played by Brooke Shields – on a Princess balcony keeping a diary of her trip around the Mediterranean.

Diners are not just viewers though, we are very much participants over seven courses, meeting farmers, food producers and family businesses behind the dishes and wines on the video wall along the way.

Sight and sound are major themes, with the interactive images projected onto our table changing and moving depending on the destination.

It is hard not to clap as Zorba the Greek plays on our first virtual stop in Greece. Plates drop from the video wall onto our places and we are encouraged to bang on the table to smash them – as is custom for tourists in Greece.

Our table turns from oak to stone as we visit Pompeii in Italy and virtual buffalo graze on our plates from a friendly finger tap. A salsa dancer waves her fan on our table in Spain, lemons spin on the Amalfi Coast and a trip to lavender fields in France turns our plates into honeycomb, complete with buzzing bees, that becomes honey as we press it with no risk of getting stung. Our noses are even catered for as corresponding scents fill the room with each new scene!

All this serves to boost our tastebuds and educates us about the individuals and ingredients of each Mediterranean region.

We meet Greek olive farmers as we tuck into tzatziki, olives and mini pitta breads, and a truffle hunter with his dog in Spain as we enjoy a rich and tasty steak in truffle sauce.

In virtual Italy, the fruity peach of a glass of Lacryma Christi, a white wine grown on the slopes of Vesuvius, blends well with a delicious tomato and buffalo mozzarella.

Diners are treated to a local family recipe for lemon spaghetti on the Amalfi Coast – it might sound sour but is surprisingly refreshing and complements the thick pasta.

We also enjoyed the exclusive red wine ElixSea Lega Sea, aged for six months on the seabed in Costa Brava. Its berry flavor and subtle spice was a nice accompaniment to the charcuterie board or cauliflower steak for vegetarians.

Our culinary journey is then rounded off with a (thankfully!) light and flavoursome lavender mousse in France, aaand…digest.

There is a sense of emotion as we sip champagne at the end and images taken of us earlier appear on the wall. Magdalena reports that guests often leave in tears. Perhaps it’s the stories of the family businesses and food producers or just the wine, but this is a rewarding culinary journey for our stomachs and a cultural journey for the soul.

Published 10.02.23