I had the bright idea of booking a dinner cruise for my wife and I the night before our first wedding anniversary.
Remind me not to do anything like that again.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review. I purchased the tickets for the dinner cruise via Groupon.
We boarded the Starlight Sapphire Dining Yacht 6:30pm on Saturday and pulled away from the dock a little after 7pm. The top floor of the cruise was occupied by a wedding that I immediately felt bad for. I think in the future, it would be in the best interest of EVERYONE involved if weddings were planned to occupy the entire boat and not just one floor. On a boat, there is nowhere to go. People from the first floor wanted to explore the boat but were promptly denied access (which yes, this is clearly a safety hazard).
It was a great night for a boat cruise, but no one told the kitchen that.
Let me start off by saying that yes, this is the same yacht that hit one of the bayway bridges during Hurricane Irma. I was so concerned about this that I ended up calling them multiple times to verify that the boat had been completely fixed. On the way to the water, I actually called Mama D for a "just in case we die, can you take care of River and Kitty" kind of conversation.
My concern and apprehension ended up being not completely unnecessary. Midway through our second course, we were alerted that we would be returning to the dock because there was a malfunction with the water pump. This water pump issue also meant that the on board bathrooms were in-operational for the duration.
So that was fun.
Now down to the food:
The food is certainly made in a banquet style setting: Mostly pre-made dishes that have been reheated on board. Normally I don't have any issues with this style of service. Maybe it was the broken water pump that threw the kitchen off. Either way, the food left a lot to be desired.
Our appetizer was a "culinary treat from our Executive Chef" and was honestly the best part of my meal. The sampler plate had a shrimp cocktail, spanicopita, oyster, and a taco meat style cracker.
If my meal could have ended there, I would have been pleased. Our salads were generic Ceaser salads with a Kraft or Paul Newman dressing and a burnt piece of melted cheese. There was a lot left to be desired from that but moving on.
For our main course, my wife ordered the Chateaubriand while I ordered the Chicken Sapphire.
My wife had this to say about the Chateaubriand: "The roast beef part of the Chateaubriand was good. The mashed potatoes were a bit bland. Whatever that sauce was (it's a Bernaise) was pretty good and it had a little bit of a kick to it. The asparagus was overcooked."
As far as the Chicken Sapphire goes… well, to put it as nicely as possible, it was an insult to the entire Italian culture. I have never, in my life, sent anything back to the kitchen and I was scared to tell the waitress that it was awful because I don't ever want to be that guy. I did end up sending it back (read: my wife said something to our waitress) and it was taken off the bill. That much I appreciated.
Our dessert was an apple crisp with canned apples and store bought whip cream, which was just sad and depressing by that point. Like, it's heavy cream and vanilla flavoring in a CO2 canister, then shake. It's not hard to make fresh whipped cream, you guys. It's really not.
I want to mention that the front of the house staff was excellent. Our waitress and the bartender have their customer service routine down to a science. They made the experience easier, but also harder to be as blunt as I'm being about the food being awful.
I'm honestly not sure I'd recommend having a dinner cruise with Starlight until their kitchen issues, water pumps, and the like are addressed.