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Royal Caribbean Review – Part two

February 2, 2011

Last week I gave you a glimpse of our Royal Caribbean cruising experience, with a rather heavy focus on the dining experience – hence the title Food at your fingertips.  There truly is food EVERYWHERE, which is why I had to split the review in two.   I reviewed most of my indulgences in the previous post and promised I would come back with what dinner brings on this monstrosity of a ship. 

So here we go.     

Majority of our dinners were enjoyed in the dining hall, and most of those dinners ranged from average to good.   Royal Caribbean redeemed themselves during our last meal – ending the vacation on an above-average note.  We sampled virtually everything on the menu – it was our last meal and we were going to do it right. 

Let’s start with the appetizers.  It’s rare that I get the opportunity to eat escargot, so I wasn’t about to turn down these meaty morsels swimming in butter.   It was the right decision.   A little bread would be perfect for soaking up any butter and cheese (I resisted the temptation to save room for what was next).

Escargot

The grilled seafood skewer also caught my eye so I tacked it on to my appetizer order.  Sadly, it didn’t live up to expectations and the fish was overcooked.  My decision to alter the meal and omit the sauce may have made all the difference…or not.   The potato pancake wasn’t all that memorable.   And don’t the two lonely carrots seem out-of-place? 

Seafood Skewer

Then came our main dishes.  Once again, I was torn.  Being our last dinner, it was imperative that I walk out of the dining room smiling and feeling satiated.  I figured that the more I ordered the better my odds were, so I chose three menu items. 

My first choice was the duck which was accompanied by braised cabbage, snow peas and potato fingers (think mozzarella sticks but replace the mozza with mashed potatoes, then downgrade the tastiness).   The duck wasn’t too bad at all.  This is coming from some one who has duck no more than twice a year, so don’t go booking your next cruise based on this part of the review.

Duck in gravy

I also noticed gnocchi (pronounced “nnn-yo-key“) on the menu which is the ultimate pasta in my mind.   It’s also a risky choice when coming from an Italian background with two nonnas (grandmas) who make the best gnocchi from scratch.  I took a chance and was mildly satisfied.  The creamy sauce was this dish’s better half.  The pasta itself reminded me of the frozen, super dense variety you can find at your nearest grocery store.  Having said that, it fulfilled my carb cravings…but I’m still suffering from gnocchi withdrawal. 

Gnocchi in a gorgonzola sauce with ham

Why stop there?  I love a good steak but it’s rare that I make it at home (no pun intended…rare, ha!).   Once we own a barbecue, that will change.  For now, I rely on dinners like this to get a little red meat and vitamin B12.  Had I been more proactive, I would have done away with the sauce to save the green beans from swimming in the yellow stuff.  I missed this in the ordering process, and was stuck with the creamy sauce (again).  I made it through half the steak which is a good sign.  It amazes me that they can deliver the quality given that the chefs are cooking for over 1000 people. 

Steak with green beans and stuffed tomato

After eating the above three entrees and two appetizers, I was still hungry so I ordered my fourth main – the calzone.   Kidding!  That makes me nauseous just thinking about it.   The calzone was part of Keith’s meal and if I recall, he polished off. 

Calzone

He also had the grilled chicken (for the second night in a row) but it was nothing you couldn’t easily make at home.  It was a basic dish, but Keith is a simple guy when it comes to food (which my life much easier).

Grilled chicken

Dinner is done and dessert is here.  Yes, we found room for the sweet stuff.  This Sugar-Free Cheesecake was one of the best desserts we had over seven days (aside from the brownies).  It was the taste more than the sugar-free quality that appealed to me (I prefer the real stuff).  Sugar-free or not, dessert is dessert and should be consumed in limited quantities.  I DID NOT live by this rule from January 9th to the 16th.  

My girlfriend Miki followed the waiter’s advice and went for the Key Lime Pie (no photo here).  I stole a few bites and was blown away.  A-MAZ-ING.  I would have ordered this as well but I was worried about what people would think after seeing me cycle through 6 dishes in an hour.   Good thing Miki has the will power and resisted the temptation to eat the whole thing – it meant more for me!

Sugar-free cheesecake

Believe it or not, the dinner ends here.  This is when we rolled ourselves out of the dining room and up to the sports court to work off our meal.

I did a lot of talking over these last two posts.  So let me summarize my experience here. 

  • Food – it is good, just not consistently of 5-star quality (however I may be pickier than the average person).  The service on the other hand is top notch.  Combine the two and you have yourself a great dining experience.  
  • Decent workout space – some ships put this gym to shame, but it did the trick for myself (I made it in on 4 days for a workout).  See photos below.
  • Must-see entertainment – I expected the shows would be similar to an all-inclusive resort, with bad dancing and singing.  However, Royal Caribbean goes above and beyond with their evening entertainment (comedians, games shows, musical performances, etc).  I looked forward to the shows every night.
  • Livable state rooms – they may be a little dated but they are cozy, comfortable and serve their purpose (for sleeping).  The shower on the other hand might be considered a little snug to some.  Reasonable though, given that we are floating in the ocean. 
  • Endless activities – you will never find yourself twiddling your thumbs on a cruise of this size.  There’s always something to do.  We went rock climbing, played basketball and mini golf, sampled drinks at the variety of bars, watched karaoke, tried our luck at the casino, etc.  There’s also an ice rink for those who miss the Canadian winter weather (not us). 
  • Caribbean ports – we had a busy itinerary with stops in Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Martin, St. Croix and San Juan.  The major downside is that you are only docked for 8 hours or so, which doesn’t allow time for exploring the islands as a whole.  If you pick the right excursions however, you can get a flavour for what each place offers and decide if you wish to go back.  It’s like a buffet…you try a little bit of each item, then go back for a larger helping of the ones you love (except you may have to wait a year or two to do so). 

Royal Caribbean gym - Adventure of the SeasRoyal Caribbean gym - Adventure of the Seas

All in all, a trip worth doing.  All aboard!

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