One of my favorite things to do is go on a cruise vacation. Everything about going on a cruise seems to be enjoyable; the typically warm weather, beautiful destinations, and exemplary service. My favorite part of cruising though, is the food and drink!
Stacey and the RCCL Liberty of the Seas
Recently, to celebrate my 40th birthday, my wife Stacey and I enjoyed a cruise on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Liberty of the Seas, sailing out of Port Galveston, Texas. I have only ever cruised with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the food on my previous cruises. This sixth cruise was no exception.
The Windjammer Buffet
For some reason, a cruise tradition developed for me that involves food immediately upon boarding a cruise ship. Typically, Stacey and I board for a cruise early enough to grab lunch, but too early to go to our room or for cruise related events to have started. One place on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that is bound to be open and ready to serve guests for lunch on the first day of the cruise is each ships' Windjammer Buffet! And my traditional first cruise meal? A cheeseburger, beef hot dog, and cheese fries. Let the gluttony begin!
My traditional first cruise meal; cheeseburger, beef hot dog, and cheese fries!
My horribly unhealthy breakfast mashup.
The Windjammer Buffet is where Stacey and I prefer to take our breakfast and lunch breaks while on ship during a cruise. The variety of food offered at the Windjammer is absolutely mind blowing! Usually, for lunch every day, options include typical American fair (burgers, roasts, etc.), Asian (stir-fries, sushi, etc.), and Indian (chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken, etc.). There is also a section of the buffet that is given over to a theme of the day; for lunch we saw Asian, Caribbean, English, North American, and South American choices on the buffet on different days. While we didn't take dinners in the Windjammer, we did tour it after dinner on a couple of evenings, and the selections of entries, sides, and deserts were overwhelming! Stacey particularly fell in love with the Chocolate Buffet.
The best part of the daily cruise experience is dinner in the main dinning room! On the Liberty of the Seas, the main dining room consists of three levels; Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and Botticelli, all offering a fine dining experience with personalized service. There are three options to choose when scheduling dinner service at the main dining; early dinner, late dinner, and "My Time Dining". Stacey and I prefer the early dinner seating, at 5:30 PM. This allows us to enjoy a nice dinner service with plenty of time afterwards to grab a drink before attending one of the nightly shows on board.
The beauty of main dining dining is the combination of the personalized service, the variety of the menu, and the quality of the dishes. With a set time for dinner, we are assigned to a set table with a waiter and an assistant waiter, overseen by a section maître d’. The wait service is great, with the waiters learning your preferences such as your preferred dinner rolls and what libations you love. When you sit down and your vodka tonic with green olives is waiting for you, you just kind of feel special. And the best part (and worst part); you can order as much as you want. This is great because sometimes, when you're reading the menu, too many of the choices sound so good, especially with the appetizers. And no matter what, or how many appetizers I end up trying, I always have a Caesar salad with my meal. Ugh. The food came out pretty quickly after being ordered, and I often got too excited and dug right in without taking pictures, like of one of my favorite appetizers; Beef Carpaccio with Arugula. On a cruise, a three course meal quickly turns into a six to twelve course meal!
Classic French Onion Soup
Asian Style Pork Tacos
The food in main dining on this cruise was particularly good. We had two nights with prime rib on the menu; one of those prime rib nights also had a lobster dish on the menu as well. So I ended up having three lobster tails with one of my prime rib dinners! I tried lamb shank for the first time ever and I loved it too. The best meal on this cruise was served on the last night; the retro classic, Steak Diane.
Roasted Pork Shank
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Curry Dish of the Day
Battered Cod with Curry Sauce
Braised Beef Short-Rib
Roasted Lamb Shank
After dinner came desert. I have to admit that at this point of the meal, on almost every night of the cruise, I had very little interest in desert as I was way too full. But the deserts were very good, and paired well with the espressos that I ordered to be able to give myself a little kick to knock me out of the food coma I inevitably felt myself falling into after each night of gluttonous dining. It is amazing to me that all of this dining is included with your basic cruise fare.
And as a final note, I feel it is important to mention the Deluxe Beverage Package. The Deluxe Beverage Package is not included in the price of a cruise fare, but it has become one of the important parts of my cruise experience. The price of the Deluxe Beverage Package varies by the cruise, and on this particular cruise it was roughly $48 a day. Challenge excepted!
Drinking at a responsible pace, I'd typically start with a couple of Bloody Marys in the morning (sometimes extra spicy and with bacon from the Windjammer added!). Then, at sometime in the morning, while hanging out on the pool deck reading, I'd switch over to Piña Coladas with Kraken rum or Mojitos until it was time to go to lunch. On a good day I'd have a couple of more drinks on the pool deck before heading to my stateroom for a little nap before it was time to get ready for dinner. On the way to dinner, Stacey and I would sometimes stop for a drink, and I'd switch it up again, changing to vodka (Van Gogh) and tonic with green olives, and I'd stay with that all though dinner and the rest of the evening, with an occasional Mojito, until it was time to collapse into bed, exhausted from a full day of eating and drinking!