One of the perks of being a return customer on Holland America is an invitation to the Mariner's lunch. Normally, lunch service is not available in the main dining room. However, for one day only, this lunch serves to honor their most loyal guests. Well this was only our second Holland America cruise (not really our age group), so there were many others who were much more "loyal". No matter, we merely enjoyed having a nice meal in the main dining room over the hustle and bustle of the buffet.
The menu for the Mariner lunch was pretty simple with 2 choices for appetizer, 3 choices for entree and one dessert. To begin, I tried the New England Corn Chowder which was creamy, yet not heavy. It wasn’t particularly smooth, but that was fine due to the corn. It was sweet with a balancing amount of saltiness from the bacon. The other choice of appetizer was the Quebecois Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Beets and Honey Crisp Apples. The beets were tender with a bite while very Earthy. The cheese was gamy and impactful with a rich creaminess. The shaved prosciutto on the side added a saltiness to the otherwise sweet dish.
For my main, I had the Herb Crusted Strip Loin of Beef with red wine jus. The slices of beef were super tender while still retaining an appealing meat texture. The jus was tasty with an appetizing rich flavour but I wish there was more of it. The sauteed forest mushrooms were beautifully Earthy with deep umaminess. The other meat entree choice was the Baked Maple Glazed Arctic Char which was a little overdone, but good otherwise. It was mildly seasoned where the sweetness of the maple was restrained. The skin was somewhat crispy, but it probably soften on its way to our table (these are prepared in mass quantities, so they may not be served hot off the grill).
For dessert, we all had the Butterscotch Bake Well Tart with mixed berries which was very rich and buttery. It wasn’t too sweet (despite the presence of Vermont maple syrup), but the whole thing was not my cup of tea due to the heaviness. Well there you have it, our second ever Mariner's Lunch. As you can clearly see, it wasn't anything particularly mind-blowing and the choices were limited. Yet at the same time, it was nice to have a relaxed meal that recognized cruise line loyalty complete with complimentary champagne and a small gift at the end (HAL coasters).