Good food is for many passengers one of the biggest reasons for going on a cruise, as well as one of the key attraction factors of shipping companies. Tallink Silja knows that and thus the main focus in the reform of Baltic Princess, which operates the Turku–Stockholm route, was on the ship’s restaurant world.
The biggest changes were implemented in the ship’s buffet restaurant which was also renamed Grande Buffet. The name is backed up by the completely redone restaurant premises. The changes have made the dining area lighter and more spacious and pleasant.
”The Grande Buffet concept is also visible in the new food lines. There are more food points and the kitchen staff serves the customers at many points. Chefs introduce different foods and answer the customers’ questions concerning, for example, ingredients and any special diets”, says Chef de Cuisine Riku Alho.
New foods invite to taste
The biggest advantage of Grande Buffet is diversity. Although shrimps and salmon are still passenger favourites, the menu has also undergone some changes.
”Different food trends and emerging customer groups maybe affect most the buffet menu of today. By customer demand we have more vegan and light alternatives, and the share of local food has also increased. We favour small local producers e.g. in acquiring Baltic herring and bakery products. Our product development has also allowed for the use of e.g. pike and common roach, which is a small element in our environmental work”, says Restaurant Manager Katri Hätönen.
Menu for a variety of passenger groups
Of the new passenger groups, the greatest challenge for the developers of the buffet menu is presented by Asian passengers. The significant increase in the number of Asian passengers requires foods adjusted to their taste.
”The increase in Asian passengers is exemplified by the fact that we have purchased rice cookers to prepare the rice to match their expectations. They also present their wishes on the spiciness – the hotter the better. One group even offered the spices they had with them to our kitchen”, Chef de Cuisine Riku Alho reminisces.
Other passengers also enjoy ethnic flavours. They can find e.g. Greek, Thai and Indian foods in Grande Buffet. Sushi is currently served on rice bed as a salad-like version developed by the kitchen of Baltic Princess.
Café was transformed into fashionable Fast Lane
In the reform of Baltic Princess, the second biggest change was implemented in the former café. The old one was torn down and replaced with a new, bistro-like trendy café. Fast Lane now also serves warm food portions prepared by chefs in the open kitchen. There is also a salad bar and a wide range of cafeteria products from shrimp sandwiches to sweet pastries.
”Fast Lane has quickly become popular among passengers who appreciate straightforward eating and tasty snacks. Thanks to rearrangement of food and drink pick-up points it’s easy to choose the products, and there are no queues. And what’s best, Fast Lane also serves night-time snacks. In practice, it’s open 24 hours a day”, Restaurant Manager Katri Hätönen reminds.
Pizzas, burgers and shellfish are rising in popularity
The passengers can also see the chefs at work in Italian restaurant Tavoláta and the meat specialist Grill House. Both are nice restaurants suited to the whole family with something for everyone.
“Tavoláta’s speciality is genuine Italian style pizza for which all main ingredients, including flour, is imported from Italy. The big hit in Grill House are hamburgers which go at a daily rate of up to 200”, Chef de Cuisine Riku Alho says,
The upgrade is topped by Happy Lobster whose concept was chosen the fish restaurant of the year in Helsinki in 2015. The restaurant’s flagship product is a really plentiful shellfish plate with half a lobster as well as various prawns and mussels. As the price of the grand portion is just half of the price on land, it has been very popular.