There can’t be many dinners where arriving guests are personally escorted to their tables by serenading violinists and finish the evening to a quirky backdrop of Champagne bottles dancing exuberantly to French Can-Can music. 

If this all sounds rather mystifying, you need to take a seat at Princess Cruises’ new dining extravaganza called, appropriately enough, 360: An Extraordinary Experience which debuted last year on Enchanted Princess and is now offered on Discovery Princess too. 

Billed as an immersive culinary journey, this is a novel take on bringing the Mediterranean’s classic flavours to life by serving a multi-sensory seven-course feast that encompasses the sights, sounds and even scents of some of the region’s most classic dishes. 

It starts in showstopping style as our group is led by violinists past a welcoming line-up of staff into the purpose-built circular restaurant which takes just 20 guests at two semi-circular tables on either side. 

Lively host Magdalena starts proceedings with a flourish as the giant LED walls burst into life with mesmerising animations and films, while special effect projections transform our table tops into a visual feast that complements the story-telling. 

Our journey starts with footage of Princess passenger Bethany – who some may recognise as American actress Brooke Shields – who brings her Mediterranean travels to life through her personal journal. 

For the next 90 minutes or so she acts as our guide, taking us across the Continent and introducing us to the destinations and the people behind the famous specialities. 

We start in Greece, where the unmistakeable lilt of bouzouki music and appearance of two street musicians on screen is replaced by the sight and sound of falling plates with broken shards projected on to the table in front of us. 

Bethany then introduces us Tassos, an olive oil producer from the Peloponnese who explains his craft, and, right on cue, waiters appear with our first dish – a mezze selection of flatbreads with tzatziki, olives and olive oil.  

The craggy cliffs of Santorini loom up next as local fishermen tell us about the island’s fishing heritage and, in perfect time, we are served a plate of grilled octopus. 

We then move to Italy’s Neapolitan Riviera and as the screens depict the winding roads of this precipitous coastline, our table transforms into cobbles and a small cartoon scooter appears and weaves through a tunnel. 

There’s talk of buffalo mozzarella and then, as lemons are mentioned, a subtle citrus scent fills the air and our waiter Ferdie appears with a beautifully-tangy lemon pasta – which is my favourite dish. 

So our journey continues as we tick off places and specialities, learning more about them as we taste each delicious course. Everything is perfectly synchronised, with Magdalena acting like a ringmaster, skilfully commanding proceedings and adding extra explanations as waiters file through in perfect time. 

We plunge to the ocean depths enroute to Spanish Catalonia as Bethany reveals the unusual red wine we are about to be served, called ElixSea, which is aged beneath the waves on the ocean floor for six months. 

As if to prove it, sommeliers appear with suitably aged looking bottles that are brought around for us to examine and photograph before its silky, fruity contents are poured out. 

Spain conjures up the spirit of Barcelona and its markets and our table is suddenly transformed into a mass of fruit and vegetables with shiny red apples, succulent pineapples and juicy mangoes. 

We meet flower farmer Javier who explains how he produces edible blooms, then we hear from a truffle hunter and a charcuterie shop owner and this prompts the arrival of a charcuterie plate and then beef tenderloin complete with truffle butter. 

The music changes to the rustic Gallic notes of an accordion as we move to the lavender fields of Provence, with hints of their aromatic scent in the air. There’s a sound of buzzing and I realise that our table has morphed into honeycomb and is covered with hundreds of swarming bees. 

Thankfully there’s no need to get alarmed as this is the latest piece of technological trickery that signals the arrival of lavender honey mousse dessert. 

Of course, we cannot visit France without paying tribute to, arguably, it’s most famous export, and the tempo rises as bottles of Champagne dance across the screens and waiters appear with glasses of bubbly, marking a fitting finale for this epicurean tour de force. 

It’s a wonderful climax that leaves us on a high – and has apparently even reduced some guests to tears. 

Until now, 360 has only been available to suite guests on a complimentary basis, but now it is being opened up to all passengers for $149pp (though suite guests still enjoy it for free), ensuring that everyone can enjoy this innovative taste of the Mediterranean. 

Discover your Princess Cruises itinerary today or speak to our expert concierge to find out more and start planning your perfect cruise holiday on 0808 278 3940. 

Sara Macefield
Sara Macefield is an award-winning travel journalist of more than 20 years standing, and has spent the last decade writing about the cruise industry – exploring the world's oceans and rivers on ships of all sizes. Having notched up more than 100 cruises, her most memorable trips have been to Alaska with its superb wildlife, and sailing along Burma’s remote Chindwin River to villages far off the tourist track. She writes regularly for The Times and Daily Telegraph and has written for the Daily Mail, The Guardian, Daily Express and Woman & Home Magazine.

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