Category Archives: Dining

Lost treasures: The 3 well-missed cruise ship events

Every cruise vacation comes with forever cherished memories. Here, travel writer David Kriso enjoys his time on the flow rider on board the Oasis of The Seas.

No one can say that cruising is no fun. Everyone who comes home from their cruise vacation always have plenty to share. They brag about who stuffed themselves, who won the jackpot in bingo, who won big in the casino, and who spent the most in duty-free shopping. The list goes on and on. In the years past, things have changed. Cruise ships have evolved. New on board experiences have been added. Unfortunately, there are some on board experiences which have long disappeared. It’s these kinds of events which longtime cruisers remember to this very day. Many avid cruisers speak highly of them, and reminisce about the level of excitement drawn by them. Here’s the top three missed cruise ship events. They’re gone, but not forgotten.

Paired with the belly-flop competition, the Mr. Sexy Legs competition was a favorite poolside event for all ladies on board.

3. Mr. Sexy Legs Competition: Everyone’s heard the expression, “What happens on board, stays on board!”. There are so many fun poolside events held on board cruise ships. There’s bar games, swimming pool volleyball tournaments, and the belly-flop competition. The Mr. Sexy Legs competition is the one event which many young cruisers miss very much. The Mr. Sexy Legs competition was one of the most anticipated events on board ship. It was the second most favorite to the belly-flop competition. It was one competition which signaled to all ladies on board to get their cameras rolling. How did the competition go? Eight contestants danced before a panel of female judges (who are guests). They were allowed to make body contact, make crazy gestures, and so on. There was never any nudity. Third place was awarded to Mr. Chicken Legs. Second place was awarded to Mr. Hairy Legs. Then, there was first place-self-explanatory. To all men on board, anyone being crowned Mr. Sexy Legs was a happening. Not long ago, the event was done away with. Well, so we think! On most cruise lines, it’s been combined with “The World’s Sexiest Man” competition. If anyone’s ever participated in this competition, they should without-a-doubt savor the moment.

Without the cruise director and the staff, no cruise vacation would be possible. Here, the cruise staff performs the legendary show, “Fountains”.

2. Fountains: On every cruise, guests love a good show. Who doesn’t? There are headliner shows, special guest comedians, and Broadway musicals. There was one show which guests got a huge laugh out of. It was the show that starred the cruise director and his/her staff. It was called “Fountains”. How did “Fountains” go? “Fountains” would to start out very quiet, with the music starting. Depending which cruise line “Fountains” was featured on, the stage effects were always unpredictable, and gave the show that guessing feeling. Then, the performers processed on to the stage, wearing togas and laurel wreathes. Each performer carried a metal jug of water. Often times, the show was set to the music of Enya. How appropriate, no?

In “Fountains”, there was never enough anticipation. The guests laughed non-stop.

In “Fountains” the action would continue to build. The audience’s anticipation also began to build. Each of the performers would start drinking the water and filling up their mouths. Like fountains, they started squirting each other and the cruise director. Each and every time, the performers would get into different formations on stage. Just like those fancy fountains in a city park, they drank more water and squirted each other on cue. It was too funny. No one knew who was going to squirt who next, and how, and in what manner? “Fountains” was like a fountain in a European city impersonated by circus clowns. This iconic show sadly disappeared from the cruise ship stage. It wasn’t disliked by anyone. Unfortunately, it was discontinued for sanitary reasons. If anyone has seen this show before, let the memory live on forever.

Surrounded by so much mouth-watering food at all angles, the midnight buffet was the holiest of events on board.

1. The midnight buffet: Everyone has been on a cruise and heard the funny question, “What time is the midnight buffet”? That question still lives on to this day. The midnight buffet was once the most anticipated event on any cruise ship. Everyone looked forward to it. Dinner in the main dining room was never enough. The midnight buffet was looked to by guests as being the holiest of holidays on board. There were dazzling ice sculptures, handcrafted fruit platters, all-you-can-eat shrimp, all-you-can-eat crab legs, all-you-can-eat cold cuts, all-you-can-eat grilled meats, and best of all…all-you-can-eat dessert. One can imagine how much food anyone can consume in one night. One can imagine why they would hold a belly-flop competition on board. Unfortunately, the midnight buffet was done away with. Any food not consumed (meat, fruits, vegetables, etc), had to be disposed of. Nothing is saved on board a cruise ship. If a major buffet event is held, it would be some major event such as a wedding or a ship’s inaugural celebration. If anyone’s ever been to the midnight buffet before, he/she should savor the memory, and the mouth-watering aftertaste. Long live the taste buds!

Despite the popularity of the “Mr. Sexy Legs” competition, it was no match for the belly-flop competition.

Every cruise vacation has plenty to talk and brag about. Every cruise vacation features great shows, fun contests on the open decks, and exciting evening events. Everyone has something fun and amazing to talk about when they return home from their cruise. However, there are a handful of great on board events which avid cruisers will truly miss. They were events which they often looked forward to, and events they were always anticipating the moment they stepped on board. Guests would even ask the cruise staff when those events will be taking place. “Mr. Sexy Legs”, “Fountains”, and the midnight buffet will be sorely missed. They were the events that got the crowd going. As we all know, times do change. Things happen for a reason. “Mr. Sexy Legs”, “Fountains”, and the midnight buffet are gone, but will never be forgotten. If any cruisers out there have footage of these events on their cruise DVD, they should play them on repeat. It’s too easy to believe when they say “Great moments last forever”.

Royal Caribbean dining: A “Dynamic” change finally in place

At 167,000 tons, Royal Caribbean's Quantum of The Seas is the world's first ever smart ship. Her sister ship, Anthem of The Seas, is due to launch this Spring from Southampton, England.

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of The Seas is currently sailing from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, NJ. Her sister ship, Anthem of The Seas, is due to launch this Spring from Southampton, England, and will be coming to Bayonne in November 2015.

For those who have sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of The Seas, the reaction to the Dynamic Dining concept has been negative beyond one’s imagination. Dynamic Dining is the brand new dining concept introduced on the Quantum class. Instead of a main dining room, passengers get to eat in one of four themed dining rooms. The four restaurants are the American Icon Grill, CHIC, Silk, and The Grande. The Grande is the dining room requiring formal attire. What has the passengers unimpressed is the need to make reservations for each of the four dining rooms. There have been long lines, with angry and impatient passengers added on top of it. For much of the inaugural season, Dynamic Dining has been Royal Caribbean’s biggest disappointment. Finally, Royal Caribbean has made a change. It is a change that will finally calm passengers’ agitation for good.

Aside from the newly improved Dynamic Dining, Anthem of The Seas will feature the well-famed North Star.

Aside from the newly improved Dynamic Dining, Anthem of The Seas will feature the well-famed North Star.

What is this new change? It is a change that will finally calm all of the upset stomachs. Fingers crossed! First off, passengers must purge the reservation matter from their memory. That format is no more. If anyone has sailed on Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean is implementing the rotational dining format into Dynamic Dining, to give passengers a more desirable dining experience. Passengers will have the same waiter and same assistant waiter. The waiter and assistant waiter will follow the passengers from one dining room to the other all throughout the cruise. In addition, passengers can choose their dining time just as they are used to on other ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Passengers are entitled to having a choice of where they wish to eat. With this change to Dynamic Dining, passengers can have the pleasure of enjoying their meals at ease, not in a tirade.

There’s still a big question asked. What if a passenger doesn’t want to eat at Silk or at The Grande? Not everyone likes Asian or dressing up in a suit or tuxedo. Passengers can still enjoy a complimentary dinner at Devinly Decadence. Devinly Decadence is located on Deck 14 forward, near the Solarium. If Devinly Decadence doesn’t spark a passenger’s interest, there are plenty of specialty restaurants to choose from. The specialty restaurants on board the Quantum class are the award-winning Chops Grille, Michael’s Genuine Pub, Jaime’s Italian, and Wonderland. Each of the four specialty restaurants await the taste buds of the more spontaneous passengers. If none of those restaurants please their fancy, the Windjammer Marketplace is the perfect place of choice. The Windjammer Marketplace is Royal Caribbean’s on board buffet, located on Deck 14. The Windjammer Marketplace, without a doubt, serves up the best breakfast and lunch daily. Further, the Windjammer Marketplace serves up some of the most satisfying dinner meals on the high seas.

Author David Kriso, and his family enjoying dinner at CHIC on Deck 3.

Author David Kriso, and his family enjoying dinner at CHIC on Deck 3.

The newly improved Dynamic Dining is not set to debut until this spring. The Quantum of The Seas will be repositioning to Shanghai, China in early May. This spring in Southampton, England, the soon-to-be-launched Anthem of The Seas will feature the newly changed dining concept. Dynamic Dining is being given a much needed second chance. Starting November 2015, Anthem of The Seas will be sailing out of Bayonne, NJ. Passengers from all over the United States will be looking forward to enjoying their cruise and their dining experience in a well-deserved manner. Instead of waiting in line, passengers can enjoy a gourmet meal with a dining concept that is “in line” with their desires.

 

 

 

Quantum cruising: Royal Caribbean’s greatest leap yet

At 167,000 tons, Royal Caribbean's Quantum of The Seas is the world's first ever smart ship.

At 167,000 tons, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of The Seas is the world’s first ever smart ship.

For more than 40 years, Royal Caribbean International has had the pleasure of WOWing millions of cruise passengers. From its top-notch on board service, to its world class on board cuisine, Royal Caribbean has provided that unforgettable experience for all to treasure. From belly-flop competitions, to on board ice rinks, to having an aqua show at sea, Royal Caribbean has been exceeding the expectations of cruise passengers from around the world. This year, Royal Caribbean has pushed the envelope even further. The newly christened Quantum of The Seas has taken Royal Caribbean to unprecedented heights. Sailing out of Bayonne, NJ, the Quantum of The Seas is a ship not to be missed out on. What makes this ship and the new experiences she provides so special? Here are five key reasons why.

The Next Gen Embarkation system allows passengers to skip the check-in counter, except for ticketing and on board charge matters.

The Next Gen Embarkation system allows passengers to skip the check-in counter, except for ticketing and on board charge matters.

5) Brand new check-in system: Unlike the rest of the other ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, the Quantum of The Seas features a brand new passenger check-in process. New ship, new check-in system! Why not? Royal Caribbean’s “Next Gen Embark” system is a check-in system which will WOW cruise passengers inside and out. It is designed to get passengers from the curbside to the ship in ten minutes or less. When the passengers arrive at the cruise terminal door, they are met by a mobile check-in agent. Each of the check-in agents, inside or outside the terminal building, carry a wireless tablet computer. The passengers each have their own individual Set Sail cruise ticket. With a wireless scanner, the mobile agent scans the bar code on the Set Sail ticket. The Set Sail ticket contains the passenger’s security photo (uploaded prior to sailing), passport information, on board charge, and personal information. As the passengers are checked in, their Set Sails are marked with a green stamp. That green stamp indicates that they are embarked and cleared to board the ship without waiting on that long switchback line. The check-in counter is only for those passengers who have no Set Sail ticket, need to change their on board charge information, and so forth. No lines, no problem!

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The Quantum of The Seas’s signature feature North Star reaches skyward. Passengers are treated to a breathtaking vista of the ship and the ocean.

4) New on board features: The Quantum of The Seas, unlike the other ships in Royal Caribbean’s world class fleet, has some new bells and whistles which will definitely WOW cruise passengers across the board. The Quantum of The Seas features the largest recreation complex at sea called Sea Plex. It features roller skating, bumper cars, a floating DJ booth, and space for various on board events. The Quantum of The Seas also features a simulated skydiving attraction known as Ripcord by I-Fly. Further, the ship features virtual balconies. Video footage of the ocean outside is piped in and displayed on an LED screen, so passengers no longer have to fall in love with a wall view. Last, but not least, the Quantum of The Seas features the North Star. It is an observation arm that lifts passengers in a glass bubble three hundred feet above the ship. There, passengers get a view of the ocean like no other. It sure pays to see how Royal Caribbean goes the extra mile to WOW its passengers.

3) New WOWs in entertainment: Aside from the DreamWorks movie experience and other notable forms of entertainment, Royal Caribbean has added another Broadway show to its repertoire. Aboard the Quantum of The Seas, the hit Broadway musical “Mama Mia!” is featured. Also aboard the Quantum of The Seas, is a brand new bar called the “Bionic Bar”. This is a bar which will WOW passengers without any doubt. Not only is “The Bionic Bar” a bar, it is a bar and a form of entertainment all in one. Right before the passengers’ eyes, robotic arms prepare their drinks. With extreme precision, they prepare the passengers’ drinks to order. It’s more than just a Martini, it’s entertainment! It is a public place on board that cannot be missed.

Upon disembarking from their cruise, passengers can use the Royal IQ app on their smart devices to track the location of their luggage.

Upon disembarking from their cruise, passengers can use the Royal IQ app on their smart devices to track the location of their luggage.

2) She’s a smart ship! In the 21st century, our world has become far smaller than before. Things have become simpler and more advanced. With Royal Caribbean, cruising has become a “smarter” experience. The Quantum of The Seas is the world’s first ever smart ship. Much of the ship’s on board environment is highly interactive. All throughout the ship, passengers have access to WiFi everywhere on board. They can access their email at home as well. With their iPods, iPads, smart phones, and tablets, passengers can download Royal Caribbean’s “Royal IQ” app. The app allows passengers to manage their dining times, entertainment, and shore excursion bookings. Also, the Royal IQ app allows passengers to easily track the location of their luggage on embarkation and disembarkation day. That way, there will be no need to go on a never-ending scavenger hunt for luggage at any time. It’s a rather “smart” way to cruise, agree?

1) New on board dining experiences: Unlike Norwegian Cruise Line’s Freestyle Dining and Disney Cruise Line’s Rotational Dining, Royal Caribbean has added a little twist to its on board dining environment. Royal Caribbean has introduced a new and unique dining concept called Dynamic Dining. Dynamic Dining is the newest brand of dining for all cruise passengers to enjoy. Instead of having a main dining room, the Quantum of The Seas features a variety of themed dining rooms. Each dining room serves a unique style of food and flavors. Passengers can enjoy a variety of dining rooms such as the American Icon Grill, Jaime’s Italian, Chic, and Wonderland. Passengers with suite cabins are invited to eat in a special dining room called Coastal Kitchen. Formal dining is still available on board the Quantum of The Seas. For passengers who still wish to experience a formal atmosphere, The Grande is the dining room of choice. All of these themed dining rooms await the taste buds of millions of cruise passengers from around the world.

Royal Caribbean International, without a doubt, is a world class cruise line with great on board features and experiences. Every ship features a unique flavor and atmosphere for cruise passengers to enjoy. The Quantum of The Seas, along with her two upcoming sister ships, Anthem and Ovation of The Seas, provide a brand new and boundary-shattering experience for cruise passengers all around the world to behold. From roller skating, to bumper cars, to smart technology, to an all new WOW-inspiring dining atmosphere, the people at Royal Caribbean International have once again outdone themselves. Passengers, without a doubt, have greater and more dynamic on board experiences to savor in the future. Cruising is has truly taken an unprecedented “leap” in the travel industry. With so many new features, Royal Caribbean gives passengers the opportunity to ride the waves to the future. Royal Caribbean has changed cruising forever. The Quantum of The Seas, without a doubt, changes everything.

Cruise Dining: Options Galore On The Menu

Royal Caribbean Chocolate layer cake

Chocolate layer cake, one of the signature desserts aboard Royal Caribbean.

As many know, cruising is one of the greatest ways to see the world.  Whether it’s visiting the ports of the Mediterranean, the colorful shores of the Caribbean, the majestic sights of Alaska, or the romantic shores of Hawaii, there’s so much to see and do.  On board ship, dining adds a whole other “taste” to any cruise vacation.  Whichever cruise line travelers choose to with, they’re exposed to new things and a whole other realm to explore.  Whether they’re in for family dining or sharing a table with eight to ten of their fellow guests, dining makes any cruise experience memorable.  Further, any on board dining experience allows passengers to expand their comfort zones and look forward to exploring even greater opportunities.  Whichever cruise anyone has returned home from, and experienced on board dining, they will be left wanting to sail into the unknown again and again.

Every cruise line offers a wide array of on board dining experiences.  There’s traditional dining and visiting specialty restaurants, which passengers can choose their dining time.  The flexibility is endless.  The one cruise line which has really outdone itself is Royal Caribbean.  They have added new dining experiences for guests to experiment.  Wherever in the world they wish to sail to, the options are plentiful.  Royal Caribbean has its traditional time, which passengers are given the early or later seating.  Guests are given flexibility with the “My Time” dining experience.  Guests are given a choice of a table for two or a table to share.  Royal Caribbean features a wide array of specialty restaurants on its ships, including Portofino, Chops Grille, 150 Central Park, Seafood Shack, and Giovanni’s Table.

For those who enjoy intimate cruising, Celebrity provides passengers with on board dining experiences they’ll never forget.  There’s the main dining room where they share a table with fellow passengers, along with a menu featuring a world of choices.  Celebrity also features speciality dining venues such as Qsine, Blu, Tuscan Grille, and The Lawn Club Grill.  Qsine features a “uniquely unordinary” approach to dining.  Blu is an Aqua Class restaurant where the dining experience unfolds like a rose, petal by petal.  The Tuscan Grille is an Italian steakhouse with a nouveau twist.  It’s traditional Italian dining, united with added contemporary influences, and the cuisine served in abundance.  At the Lawn Club Grill, passengers are treated with the joys of interactive outdoor grilling with ocean views in an open-air setting.

Like Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, Princess provides guests with great dining experiences, too.  Princess features the traditional dining which guests can share tables with six to twelve people.  Guests have the option of “Anytime” dining, which they can pick an eating time between 5:30pm and 10pm.  Princess is also well-known for its wide variety of speciality restaurants.  The speciality restaurants on board Princess’s ships are Sabatini’s, Crown Grill, Sterling Steakhouse, and Bayou Café & Steakhouse.  Sabatini’s is a sit-down Italian restaurant, featuring an array of antipastos, signature pastas, authentic Italian specialities, and irresistible desserts.  Crown Grill features an open theatre-style kitchen where the chefs prepare fresh seafood including lobster, scallops, clams, and cook-to-order steaks.  Sterling Steakhouse is a traditional New York style steakhouse, with a touch of Princess flavor.  Passengers can choose their steak from a presentation tray and watch their selection be prepared and cooked to perfection.  The steaks come from the Sterling Silver brand, which are hand cut and expertly aged for their incredible flavor.

One of the newest additions to Princess’s speciality dining experiences is the Bayou Café & Steakhouse.  With its spicy mixture of French, Spanish and African influences, New Orleans cuisine is one of the oldest culture-driven cooking styles in American history.  At the Bayou Café & Steakhouse, passengers enjoy traditional Cajun-and Creole-influenced dishes such as peel-and-eat shrimp, gumbos, jambalaya, and crawfish.  To top any meal, a host of fun drink selections quickly takes them down to the “Big Easy”.  It is one of the many inviting dining experiences for first-time and avid cruisers to enjoy.

Norwegian Cruise Line, known for its Freestyle concept, offers open dining times and speciality restaurants on board all of its ships.  In the Freestyle concept, the guests are given much more latitude in their dining experience, so they can enjoy all there is to do and see throughout their cruise.  Norwegian provides its passengers with a traditional dining room experience with open dining times.  Aside from the main dining rooms, Norwegian’s ships feature speciality restaurants such as La Cucina, Cagney’s Steakhouse, Tapanyaki Japanese Steakhouse, Orchid Garden Asian Fusion, and Le Bistro.  Note: Those who plan to sail on Norwegian must reserve their specialty dining times before cruising or as soon as they board the ship.  All throughout Norwegian’s ships, a network of digital screens show the dining time availability in all restaurants.  Some passengers feel better searching for any restaurant with a dining time that they’re content with. Many guests prefer the traditional route.  After all, they are on vacation.

The one cruise line which has revolutionalized on board dining is Disney Cruise Line.  Disney Cruise Line features a concept blended with the traditional style of on board dining.  Disney features the new and innovative “rotational dining”.  In rotational dining, guests rotate through three restaurants, and get the same server every night.  Aside from rotational dining, Disney provides adult exclusive dining.  The two adults-only restaurants are Palo and Remy.  Palo is located onboard all four of Disney’s ships; Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy.  Palo features northern Italian cuisine and occasionally serves brunch on select cruises.  Remy is featured on board the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.  Remy is known for serving up the finest in French-inspired cuisine.  However passengers wish to enjoy their Disney cruise, the waiting staff allows them to “be their guest” so to make their dining experience as magical as they possibly dreamed.

Cruising is definitely the best kind of vacation experience anyone can ever enjoy.  Aside from  fun activities and shows, exciting shore excursions, and never-ending duty-free shopping opportunities, the cruise lines constantly “wow” their guests with the one experience they’ll never forget; dining.  Whether enjoying a traditional dining experience or experiencing an intimate dinner in a speciality setting, cruise ships of today have it all.  From steak, to seafood, Italian and French cuisine, and health-inspired cooking, cruise passengers have so much to look forward to.  Whenever the next cruise will be, passengers should consider eating at a speciality restaurant they have never tried.  There’s no harm in trying something new.  Passengers might want to try out “My Time” or “Anytime” dining and meeting fellow passengers each night.  For those who like being adventurous, rotational dining is a great experience to try out.  No matter what the preference are or wherever the cruising bug takes them, there will always be plenty of great options on the menu.