Eating is an important part of any cruise. If you want total comfort, total indulgence, and total bang for your buck on a cruise you have to eat well. Part of eating well, let’s be honest, is not following the crowd. On a cruise ship, this is difficult. You are stuck with a crowd on a giant floating city. The crowd typically has all the same options you do. The crowd is hungry and the crowd is on the same schedule as you, since no one is working late, and since eating is one of the few things that people plan around.

Eating is important. But so is eating well.

kitchen staff

The kitchen on board the Costa Luminosa. Or as I like to call it, “backstage.”

Some ships offer certain guests special culinary treatment. Onboard the Costa Luminosa from Costa Cruises, that special culinary treatment is part of the Samsara Spa. If you decided to stay in one of the Samsara Spa Cabins you get to eat at the Samsara Restaurant, which is a nice quiet break from the chaos and “wedding of the year” atmosphere of the main dining hall. The Samsara Restaurant offers multi-course meals that are somehow decadent and healthy, rich and nutritious. The menu says that the meals are low-calorie, low-salt, and low-fat, although you’d never really know it.

samsara lamb chops

Some unbelievably tasty, and healthy, lamb chops. One of my favorite meals of the cruise.

Not only is the food fantastic, but so is the service. I never saw the bottom of my wine glass while I was there, and it seemed that the whole team was mindful of our group and making sure everything was perfect. Later, I actually got to take a tour of the kitchen facilities given by the ship’s Executive Chef Manfred Jaud. Mr. Jaud was clearly proud of the tremendous operation he oversaw, which encompassed deck after deck of kitchens, an onsite bakery (yes, all the breads and pastries are fresh), and holding areas for fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish, all of which I was amazed to see was never frozen. Mr. Jaud was happy to explain everything while not being braggadocios in anyway. He had a sense of humor without going out of his way to be funny. In short, the man was a total pro.


Here I am admiring some of the many reminders to be excellent that were up all over the kitchen.

The Samsara restaurant offers international cuisine, fused with the Italian flare that permeates everything onboard the Costa Luminosa. While the menu is constantly changing, a recent sampling demonstrates the balance of taste and nutrition that makes the menu unique.

Appetizers include warm scallops and prawn terrine with crustacean sauce. There’s cream of pumpkin soup with amaretto and toasted almonds, as well as crispy saffron rice with chicken ragout for soup and pasta options. For main courses, there’s pan-fried fillet of turbot with lentils and vegetables, baked lamb chops with an herb crust accompanied by potatoes and artichokes, and white meat kebab with roast bell peppers and potato soufflé. For desert, there’s egg-nog parfait on a chocolate mirror.

Be healthy. It’s okay. Enjoy the decadent, delicious, healthiness.

My Western Mediterranean cruise aboard the Costa Luminosa was provided in collaboration with Costa Cruises and Newman PR. All opinions expressed above are my own. As of November, 2013, the Costa Luminosa is sailing around the Caribbean as explained by Chris Cruises.