About us: The wife and I are in our early 50’s, as well as the couple that traveled with us. DW and I have been on 8+ cruises and have cruised with RCL, Celebrity, Carnival, and NCL. Our favorite is Celebrity because we like the little details, great service, and the food. This weekend cruise was just too good to pass up with the great sale price that we got online.
Embarkation Day: We felt that with gas prices being lower and the hassles of flying we would drive to Port Canaveral from just north of Atlanta, where we live. We left around 5:15 am with the temperature around 29 chilly degrees. Making only one stop we pulled into Terminal 10 at 1:15 pm and were on the ship by 1:30 pm. Self-parking was prepaid and was $45 for this 3 night cruise. As platinum members we had priority embarkation and there was no one in that line. The other lines had about 50 people in them and we noticed that they were on the ship a few minutes after us, so it was moving very fast. Easiest embarkation experience I have ever experienced. We dropped off our carry-on luggage and headed to the Wind Jammer for lunch. I like the layout of the WJ café and while there were a lot of people it moved quickly. Hot food was hot and cold food was cold. It was buffet food but was nicely presented and very tasty. There were service people going around bringing you a drink (tea, lemonade, water, coffee) as well as bar people for those that wanted to start the cruise off right, lol. Alcoholic drinks were on the expensive side I thought but hey we were on vacation. Highballs were 5.25 plus 15%, drinks of the day and specialty drinks 8.25 plus 15% and up best deal was the bucket of beer, basically 5 for the price of 4, I think. After a quick muster drill we perched ourselves up in the Viking Crown Lounge for sail away and had a great view of the ship and surrounding areas. A great area without the crowds and all of the crazy stuff going on around the pool. BTW, the temperature was a nice 70 degrees as we pulled out of port
On the ship: We booked an interior stateroom on deck 4 (4025). It was located forward and in the center. The rooms are small (120 sq ft) but very functional, plenty of storage, and very comfortable beds. I am a big guy and had plenty of room in the bathroom and really didn’t have a problem with the infamous shower curtain. We brought with us a large heavy clip to anchor the shower curtain at the bottom and this kept it from moving around and the floor dry. The only thing we did not like about this room was that the TV was over the head of the bed and was impossible to watch when lying in bed before going to sleep. No big deal though. There was a small stain on the rug about the size of a golf ball but the rest of the room was in good shape. Bathroom was very clean and no noticeable mold or mildew. The ship was very clean and someone was always polishing or cleaning something. The only complaint I had was that the carpets down the halls on each floor were completely stained on one side. It looked as if there was a flood or something on one side of the hall. I got over it and enjoyed my cruise but I overheard others talking about it all weekend and how it ruined their cruise….please!
Public areas were very nice and we never felt that the ship was booked with all 2500+ passengers onboard. Again, you could find some frayed fabric on chairs if you looked closely but for a ship in service since 1991 and over 5000 different people every week in it’s halls the ship looked great!
Casino: I don’t smoke but I have no problem with people that do and abide by the rules. This is the first casino that did not smell entirely of smoke. I only played 20.00 at the blackjack table (10.00 min) after just two hands I walked away with additional 60.00. 10.00 of that was from 5.00 match play coupons from the C&A pack.
Food: We had late seating in Claudes MDR table 156 with Angie from South Africa and Jay from the Philippines as our asst. waiter. They were both great and worked well together. Angie said it was her first time as a waiter but we couldn’t tell. BTW, we did not like the table as it was near a service area and was on the noisy side when the asst waiters would begin clearing tables between courses. We thought portion sizes were just right, especially if you ordered two starters. The only disappointment was the Lobster Bisque (which I had been forewarned) and the Shrimp Scampi. Standouts were, the pasta dishes, Lamb Shank, Escargot, Duck, and most of the desserts. We usually ordered what we wanted and then a separate entrée for the table, just to taste. Dinner was at 8:30 and we were usually out of there by 10:15. Here are the menus from the main dining room for this 3 night cruise:
Night One: Feast of Nations / Casual
Fired Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Creamy hummus and toasted pita paired with tangy red pepper Shrimp Cocktail Served chilled with spicy sweet Royal cocktail sauce Spinach Dip Warm and creamy, this spinach dip is comfort food at its best. Served with crispy tortilla chips Roasted Pumpkin and Apple Soup Pumpkins natural sweetness is balanced with crisp apples. Crème fraiche and fried sage add a savory touch Onion Soup Caramelized onions are simmered in rich beef broth. Full of flavor each serving is finished with a Gruyere toast Chilled Forest Berries and Buttermilk Soup A unique combination of sweet, fresh berries blended with tart buttermilk Caesar Salad for the Table Crisp romaine lettuce and crunchy jumbo croutons, sprinkled with Parmesan shavings and served family style
Smoked Salmon Pasta Earthy sautéed mushrooms, crushed tomatoes and cream complement the flavors of smoked salmon and Grey Goose vodka Conchiglie with Mariana Sauce Fragrant sauce of tomatoes, onion, garlic, simmered and tossed with al dente pasta Mahi Mahi Tempura Lightly battered and fried, with housemade sweet-and-sour sauce and stir-fried vegetables Fillet of Atlantic Salmon Broiled fish fillet served with Chef’s choice of vegetables Roasted Turkey Served with apple bread dressing, rich pan gravy, a mound of creamy mashed potatoes and tart cranberry sauce Chicken Breast with Seasonal Herbs Grilled breast of chicken perfumed with rosemary served with assorted vegetables Grilled NY Strip Steak Juicy steak with decadent Béarnaise sauce, crispy potato wedges and sautéed zucchini Black Angus Top Sirloin Grilled to order, topped with herb butter and served with garden vegetables Risotto Primavera Creamy risotto flavored with a hint of saffron and garnished with freshly grilled vegetables Rice Biryani Delicately flavored with saffron and spices, served with pappadams and tangy raita
Brownie Madness A dollop of bittersweet chocolate mousse perched atop a chocolate brownie and drizzled with semi sweet chocolate sauce Key Lime Pie Tangy creamy custard with the distinctive flavor of key lime nestled in a flaky pie crust Banana and Crunchy Nut Parfait Creamy frozen banana custard in layers of luscious whipped cream finished with caramel fudge sauce, almonds and macadamia nuts Low-fat Strawberry Shortcake Light buttermilk pound cake layered with glazed, sliced strawberries Sugar-free Key Lime Pie Tangy sugar-free Key lime custard in a flaky pie crust, served with marinated berries
Night Two: Captain's Gala
Orange Carpaccio thinly sliced citrus complemented by the sweet sharpness of red onion, the salty bit of feta cheese and tangy cumin-mint yogurt Shrimp Cocktail Royal Chilled shrimp served with Royal cocktail sauce Escargots Bourguignonne Tender snails, drenched in melted garlic herb butter and baked to perfection Lobster Bisque Rosy colored and laced with cognac and whipped cream, this is a classic fare Oxtail Broth Rich beef broth scented with aged sherry, served with a crispy cheese twist Chilled Golden Pear Delicately sweet, this chilled soup serves as a canvas for the dark red of the dried cranberry garnish Caesar Salad Simple and classic; crisp romaine lettuce with shaved parmesan and herbed croutons
Truffled Wild Mushroom Linguini Alfredo White truffle oil enhances the earthiness of the wild mushrooms in the creamy pasta dish Linguini with Mariana Sauce (v) Fragrant sauce of tomatoes, onion and garlic, simmered and tossed with al dente pasta Golden Sea Bass (Fresh Alaskan Steelhead Trout replaced the Sea Bass on some ships)Pan-seared and served on a mound of creamy black olive polenta, and accompanied by Spanish sofrito and fried capers Roasted Duck A black currant sauce and sweet red cabbage complement the richness of the duck, while golden brown croquette potatoes add texture Chicken Breast with Seasonal Herbs Grilled breast of chicken perfumed with rosemary served with assorted vegetables Filet of Beef Piquant green peppercorn sauce is the perfect partner to this tender cut of beef. Served with a mound of creamy whipped potatoes and meaty sautéed crimini mushrooms Black Angus Top Sirloin Grilled to order, topped with herb butter and served with garden vegetables Eggplant Mozzarella Tower Thick sautéed slices of eggplant, drizzled with balsamic glaze, surrounded by chunky plum tomato sauce Mashed potatoes, baked potato, rice and vegetable of the day (available every night)
Grand Marnier Soufflé with each bite this warm delicacy melts on the tongue to release a hint of slightly bittersweet orange liqueur Double Strawberry Cheesecake creamy cheesecake laced with a strawberry swirl, Add a dollop of whipped cream, a spoonful of strawberry compote and enjoy! Cherries Jubilee warmed, dark red cherries laced with Kirsch, Generously ladled over vanilla ice cream Low-fat Double Strawberry Cheesecake Low fat cheesecake laced with a strawberry swirl, Add a spoonful of strawberry compote and enjoy! Sugar-free Coconut Vanilla Layer Cake a Tahitian vanilla mousse rests between layers of moist cake, Toasted coconut adds a bit of crunch
Night Three: Venetian Feast
Caprese Salad Creamy fresh mozzarella and sun-ripened tomatoes, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil; simple, yet perfect Antipasti Cured Italian ham, seasonal melon, grilled vegetables, marinated portabella mushrooms, and baked caramelized garlic Scallop Risotto Delicate sea scallops enhanced by the charred sweetness of corn, served over a creamy mascarpone risotto Minestrone A hearty tomato soup, filled with vegetables and pasta, sprinkled with Pecorino Romano cheese Strawberry Bisque Perfectly chilled soup garnished with a sprig of fragrant mint Insalata Mista Mixed greens, zucchini, red bell peppers, and black olives - Ranch, Thousand Island, Italian, Blue cheese, Honey mustard or Caesar dressing Caesar Salad Simple and classic; crisp romaine lettuce with shaved parmesan and herbed croutons
Rigatoni Pasta Spicy chorizo sausage, colorful bell peppers, grilled corn, olive oil and basil lend a Southwestern twist to this dish Rigatoni with Marinara sauce Fragrant sauce of tomatoes, onion and garlic simmered and tossed with al dente pasta Garlic Tiger Shrimp Reminiscent of classic shrimp scampi; sautéed in garlic herb butter and accompanied by seasonal vegetables Chicken Marsala Sautéed chicken scallopine nestled in Marsala mushroom sauce, served with buttery mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables Chicken Breast with Seasonal Herbs Grilled breast of chicken perfumed with rosemary served with assorted vegetables Lamb Shank with Rosemary Succulent lamb shank flavored with a hint of rosemary and served with oven roasted vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes Black Angus Top Sirloin Grilled to order, topped with herb butter and served with garden vegetables *Kaju Paneer Dhansak Paneer, fenugreek, tarka dal and pineapple curry served with fragrant basmati rice, pappadams and tangy raita
Warm Chocolate Cake Warm chocolate cake complemented by milk chocolate sauce and sweet roasted pears Raspberry Panna Cotta full of raspberry flavor, this light Italian dessert is served on a crunchy almond butter cookie Tiramisu This creamy dessert combines the best of several worlds: mascarpone, espresso, Kahlua Low-fat Angel Food Cake Light as a feather, with Grand Marnier-marinated strawberries Sugar-free Chocolate Mint Cake Layers of moist chocolate sponge cake and silky sugar-free chocolate mint mousse We had breakfast in the MDR each day and never had a problem getting what we ordered the way we ordered, i.e., eggs over easy with crisp bacon and double toasted English muffin. I did hear some people complaining about not being able to get crisp hash browns, over medium eggs, etc. We at lunch in the WJ and there was always a choice that we enjoyed. We did not use room service so I did not get to try the Chorizo dip I heard great things about. As a side note I had lost about 20 pounds since Jan 1st and was determined not to gain any weight on the cruise and make good choices. I did pretty well by only gaining a pound so I was happy. Now just 50 pound to go!
Entertainment: Cruise Director was great but I cannot remember his name, sorry. There was live music throughout the ship in different venues and all very good and no complaints. The Sound of Music Theater featured a comic on the first night. His name was Miguel Washington and he was funny. We did not attend his adult show later in the week, though. The singers and dancers provided a “taste” of their finale show, You Can’t Stop the Beat, for the last night and they had some sound problems and we almost did not go to see them on the final night but I am glad that we did as it was a good show with a few standout numbers. The second night featured a comic/magician. His name was Levent and he had some good stuff also. Some of it was pretty lame but then he would make up for it with something WOW. The Love and Marriage show had the usual funny results and the older couple was a hoot. We enjoy trivia and out of the 5 games we attended we won 3 and came in 2nd on the other two. Prizes were the usual RCL logo items; key chains, luggage tags, caps, and shoulder bags. We liked the shoulder bags.
Crown and Anchor: As platinum members we were afforded the short line for embarkation and a private area for departure that offered coffee and Danish and disembarkation when we were ready. The booklet coupons we used were the free drink, casino match play, half price coffee and ice cream, and discount on merchandise in the shops. I spoke with the Loyalty Ambassador about not getting another cap but he said that is all he had on this cruise. He said that they are planning on allowing you to request either of the three items they currently offer but not to hole my breath, hey at least he was honest.
Ports of Call: Nassau was Nassau. I had a meeting at Atlantis and visited the Straw Market afterward. DW did’t get off the ship. Coco Cay: very pretty, water was very cool. We had beautiful weather with not a cloud in sight and a nice 75 degrees. BBQ lunch (just Kay) and walked the nature trail then went back to the ship
Disembarkation: Our friends had yellow 2 tags with a 7:30 departure. We ate and early breakfast in the MDR and left a little late for their group. We walked off the ship at 7:45, breezed through customs and was in the car before 8:AM and home by PM.
Closing thoughts (Finally): We loved out trip. Service was some of the best we have ever had, smoothest sailing with barely any motion noticed at all, good to very good food, and a comfortable stateroom. What more could you ask for. We will do CL again.