In anticipation of the launch of our brand-new expedition ship National Geographic Quest, we're talking with staffers involved in the build give you a behind-the-scenes look and exciting new details. Read on to see how Ana Esteves, Manager of Hotel Services, is responsible for bringing National Geographic Quest to life.
What are you most excited about with the National Geographic Quest food and beverage program?
The most exciting part of the food and beverage program aboard the National Geographic Quest is the strong focus and emphasis on the core of our food program which highlights and features the regions where we will be traveling, while creating menus that are sustainable, local, and fresh. We have an amazing group of incredible energy and high caliber chefs, and we have been preparing menus, and testing out new recipes in a test kitchen in Seattle. The program is also moving towards a healthy, wholesome, and more holistic approach with natural juices program and foods high in nutrients.
We are very excited preparing our Alaska season, lining up suppliers and working with local vendors to really show off what is available in in Alaska during the summer, and early fall months. We are closely following the salmon runs and will be prepared to change the menus to get the seasonal species. The season will start with serving what will be available throughout the season like red and ivory king salmon, halibut, Pacific cod; sockeye salmon season starts mid-June so we will be serving our own ‘boat smoked’ Sockeye salmon candy.
In early August coho runs kick in and we will be purchasing those fresh from our local vendor in Petersburg. Dungeness crab feast will be an absolute celebration on board, served with drawn butter, fresh lemon, citrus coleslaw, slow roasted fall-off the-bone BBQ ribs, biscuits, charred corn on the cob, grilled nectarines, and blueberry cobbler. We will put up a party and will encourage our guest to enjoy, and eat as much steamed crab as they’d like while pairing it with seasonal Alaska brews with our new local beer flights paddles.Our bar program will also be seasonal, keeping of course the core items, but offering local spirits and making mixed drinks based on where we are.
How did your understanding of the guest experience go into planning the dining room?
The dining room will be an incredibly beautiful space with lots of natural light coming from the floor-to-ceiling windows on port, starboard, and aft of the dining room. Seating has been strategically planned to maximize seats against all windows, to give the guest a direct ocean and nature contact feel. Most tables can be accommodated as odd or even number seats to cater for our solo travelers, and our unassigned seating will give the guest the opportunity to share meals with the staff and or officers, to get to know them, and what they do better. Everything from napkins, table linens, to china, glass and flatware has been carefully chosen to give the dining a contemporary feel, that will bring brightness, and a very intimate feel to every meal period.
The buffet layout has been mapped out to have a better flow across all of the food areas to make a very efficient and open. We have broken the buffet offerings into a couple of individual stations for people to roam around and avoid the lines. We will be offering a ‘chef action station’ where our chef will be making omelet and eggs to order for breakfast or carving roast for lunch. This will give the guest immediate access and exposure to the chef to talk about our food program and our core values.
How was the galley designed?
The galley has been designed in a compact but super-efficient way with multipurpose counters and spaces. Galley operations will be in production almost 24 hours, as we are staggering our galley crew’s work times to be able to make most things from scratch. We are excited about some new roles in the galley, like the pastry chef, which together with the head chef will be producing most baked goods, desserts, and high tea items
How will the sundeck bar be utilized?
We want to use the sundeck bar as often as possible. The opportunity to do a couple of meals each voyage al fresco with the feel and breeze of the ocean—it’s a pretty incredible feeling! It adds an extra layer of excitement and exploration to be out on deck while crossing the Panama Canal, or seeing wildlife while enjoying breakfast. We also are planning on doing a couple of stargazing nights with after-dinner drinks and coffees.