As adventurous and charming downtown Toronto may be, a dynamic 180 in your environment is always refreshing – and I don’t mean by visiting the CN Tower! Why go up when you must come down? Instead, Mariposa Cruises took their guests above and beyond with their specialty Mardi Gras dinner cruise, cruising along Lake Ontario, leaving the city noise behind for a few hours.
A carnival whose roots lie in New Orleans, Louisiana, Mardi Gras strives for scrumptious cuisine, boundless bold colors, beads and feathers, dancing and parades and of course the presence of fine jazz music. It’s worth mentioning its three traditional colors are purple, green and gold. In reality, many of us cannot just travel to New Orleans for this experience, so why not bring a taste of Mardi Gras to the Toronto Harbour Bay?
Before the 6:30pm boarding, the Harbourfront area welcomed my boyfriend Simon and me with blue skies and a warm breeze. The event was held on Mariposa’s Showboat, a renovated ship with two decks.
Once on board and seated, we were greeted and welcomed by all Mariposa staff and had to notice our table’s chic décor that featured purple linen, green feathered fans, vivid scattered crystals and beautiful golden masquerade masks. Looking around, I noticed I wasn’t the only guest mesmerized by the set-up!
Before our dinner fiesta began, the DJ welcomed any song requests and encouraged us to bring our dancing feet upstairs anytime and enjoy the variety of hit music. At 7pm, the Showboat sailed its way into the waves of the Harbour Bay and our parade began.
Our server, Amanda, served our drinks promptly and we sipped our beers over the delighted atmosphere.
The menu was customized to a buffet, New Orleans style— including a variety of salads, Cajun rubbed AAA roast beef, Flat Ironed Blackened Chicken, Louisiana Style mussels and shrimps, and Creole rice—to name a few. The spiced aromas filled the room within seconds, and my appetite thrived. By 7:30pm, our tables were called to have a taste of the New Orleans cuisine.
The Spiked Macaroni Salad was light and balanced; its vegetables included celery, onions, and red peppers, complimented with lemon juice and Louisiana hot sauce. The staff hand carved the roast beef, and it was cooked to medium rare perfection. My personal favorite was the Creole rice; it was rich with its cayenne and black pepper seasoning, and the mixture of bell peppers, corn, celery and onion added a satisfying crunch. As for the mussels and shrimp, my boyfriend went for a third serving, and that says it all!
A gourmet dessert selection was offered around 9pm as the Toronto sun was setting. An abundant chocolate fondue fountain with fresh fruit, trays of cookies, mini chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, and two cakes were served along with a variety of teas and fresh coffee (decaffeinated included for the early birds!) Simon’s version of dessert was a double Wiser’s and coke, and the bartender didn’t miss a drop of Whisky.
As the Showboat made its way back to the dock, we decided to roam around the decks and check out the dance floor upstairs. The enthusiastic crowd and happy beats were the cherry on top. To ensure this Mardi Gras was unforgettable, Mariposa included a photo booth so you had a nice souvenir of the three hour getaway. We docked at 10pm, however we were not rushed to leave. The lavish Mardi Gras was a success, and I took Mardi Gras with me by wearing my masquerade mask. Oh yes, Mariposa did indeed let the good times roll!
About the Author:
Ivana is a student completing her Bachelor of Arts in French at the University of Guelph. Her passions range from fine wine, languages, and travelling