We are normally Royal Caribbean cruisers, but on this cruise we were invited, all expenses paid by Park West Galleries. This provided us with an excellent opportunity to experience another line without the expense of doing so. The only stipulation was that we attend the exclusive art auction, a total of 5 on at sea days, which offered original artwork. They did a spectacular job of wining and dining us for the entire cruise. Three artists were present during the cruise so we got to know them and were offered exclusive options on their artwork. On each auction day there was a preview in which we were offered coffee, OJ, finger sandwiches, horderves and open bar. We would look at what was available to us for purchase and would decide if we wanted pieces to go up for bid or not. No real pressure,only art appreciation. The actual action would last for approximately 1 1/2 hours and then we were on our way. Almost every evening, all but 3, we met at a private party cocktail hour from 6:30 to 8:00 and then went to the dining room to our private area where the wining,
dining and entertaining continued.
It is understood that when ever you sail the Atlantic in the winter months you have to expect rough waters. The first day at sea was almost a u-tube moment with the entire pastry/bread section flying off the shelves. Along with the stories about bottles of liquor flying off the shelves in the ship's store. When we went to the ship's store there was duct tape everywhere. In the private art auction the waiters were running the grab the large urns of coffee and juice in order to prevent them from falling off the table and artwork went flying off the easels.
The Thermal Suite was very nice indeed. Sometimes it was crowded but for the most part there was plenty of room in the therapy tubs, steam rooms, saunas and loungers. About the third day there, as my wife and I were leaving for lunch one of the patrons of the thermal suite came running to the main desk yelling that there was a man in the locker room who had a seizure and was turning blue. Since there were all women present I went back into the locker room only to find another man trying to sit the blue faced gentleman up in one of the lounge chairs. I immediately dropped him down and asked if anyone knew CPR only to get a bunch of horrified looks. I had not had any training in over 10 years so I started applying compressions to his heart. After a minute my wife and other females were also in the room and thank god Jen had recently seen the report on ABC News about the three compressions with a rest. So she started to apply that procedure and then I took over for her and all the while any SPA girl who got in the way was virtually useless. At least by the time we got done he was pink in the face and gasping by the time the medical team showed up. The amazing thing was that NO ONE ON THAT SPA STAFF KNEW CPR!
Dining: The food at the Garden Cafe never changed. If you like hot dogs, hamburgers and french fries then this is your type of place. We expect the menu to vary from meal to meal and day to day. The entire cruise the food at lunch and dinner did not change. We found ourselves eating a lot of rotisserie chicken. The food in the dining room was alright. We found the selections to be limited. On Royal Caribbean you are offered 5 appetizers, 2/3 salad selections and 5/6 entrees and then after the meal you order dessert, 5/6 selections and coffee or tea. On NCL you order everything all at once and good luck on getting coffee with your dessert. We found the wait staff to be cold and impersonal. You got more interaction out of the bar staff than you did out of your waiter.
Cagney's Steakhouse: Save your money and go to the dining room. Crab cakes were inedible. Oysters Rockefeller were raw and lukewarm all at the same time. Lobster Bisque was this scorched cream broth that didn't even resemble Bisque and the Clam chowder was made with the same stock as the Lobster Bisque with some canned clams and potatoes dumped in it. I have eaten at the specialty restaurants on Royal Caribbean and those meals were definitely worth the extra money you were paying. This restaurant was robbing you of the "specialty dining" experience.
Tequila Tapas: Well worth the extra $10 charge per person. They started out with giving you a sample of a Strawberry Margarita, which was a very successful come on because we bought two. Appetizers were very good and the Salsa was tasty. We were allowed to order as much different foods as we wanted and we were pleasantly surprised with our dining experience.
La Cucina: Another specialty restaurant that has missed the mark. People we are cooking Italian food here. If you don't know how, then get some lessons or find someone who knows how. Everything was a little off, something missing or not done right.How do you screw up chicken parmesan??