Thousands of Arizonans cruise every year. According to AAA, cruise booking continues to grow for sailings in 2023 and 2024, with departures out of western ports increasing. So-Cal ports of Los Angeles and San Diego are particularly popular cruise departure destinations for those traveling from the Valley of the Sun.
Cruise lines such as Cunard, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Silversea and others sail out of the Los Angeles World Cruise Center, heading to such favorite destinations as Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska.
“Cruising was a popular vacation for many prior to the pandemic and seems to be gaining renewed popularity as ships return to sailing,” says a spokesperson for AAA. “Cruising has so much to offer, from great dining, spas, activities and excursions, and more — something for everyone.”
The latest must-try experience comes from Princess Cruises and is available to suite guests onboard the Discovery Princess, which sails out of Los Angeles.
“360: An Extraordinary Experience” is a multisensory immersive dining adventure that takes guests on a virtual trip through the Mediterranean — without leaving the ship. With two seatings nightly, 20 guests each are transported to the hilltops of Santorini, the Amalfi Coast, Barcelona and Provence while they enjoy an intimate multicourse meal that tantalizes the tastebuds and entertains the senses.
The 90-minute journey begins when guest enter the cloaked circular venue. LED walls surround two arced tables. Here, they meet “Bethany,” voiced by actress Brooke Shields, who guides them through her travel journal. Film, animation, music and storytelling introduce diners to the scenery at each destination as well as to local artisans, purveyors and culinary methods. Personalized touches, visual surprises and interactive elements abound.
Each locale is brought to life through a seven-course gourmet meal, complete with wine pairings. For example, while visiting with olive growers in Greece, diners are treated to a plate of small bites: petite rounds of pita, Kalamata olives, olive oil and tzatziki, followed by a tender tendril of octopus. Spaghetti al limone complements storytelling from lemon farmers in the Amalfi Coast. In Spain, diners are introduced to ElixSea, a winery that ages its bottles in the sea; they then sample the vintage as they feast on charcuterie.
The foods are procured from each featured region, and the service is impeccable, with one server for every two diners. At the end of the journey, guests receive a limited “360” Princess medallion, which is available only to those who participated in the experience.
“360 is a fusion of master storytelling, world-class cuisine, visual entertainment and groundbreaking technology that manifests in what can only be described as an Extraordinary Experience,” says John Padgett, president of Princess Cruises, in a statement. “360 is a remarkable adventure that immerses our guests into the compelling cultures and flavors of the Mediterranean in a 90-minute celebration of the senses.”
360: An Extraordinary Experience is available now onboard the Discovery Princess and will debut on Enchanted Princess sailings out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in January 2023.