Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dining on the Ship

There are two main options for most meals:  a buffet and a sit-down dining room. The buffet has multiple stations, including salads, pasta, stir-fry, Indian, Mexican, and BBQ. The variety is almost overwhelming. There are also many options there for breakfast.

We usually choose to go to the main dining room for a sit-down served breakfast. There aren’t quite as many options, but it is very good. I’ve enjoyed the apple cider oatmeal which includes chopped apples. At lunch we have been eating in the buffet. When the ship is in port, the dining room isn’t open for lunch.

Traditional cruising generally has had two main seatings in the dining room for dinner — early at 6:00 and late at 8:30. This time we have had “Select” dining, which allows us to go anytime between 6:00 and 9:00. We have been going about 6:20 to avoid the crowds. On the second night, we were seated at a table for two overlooking the lower dining floor. We liked it and asked for it the next night. By now, after being on the ship for a week, the woman (Diana) who assigns tables for Select dining knows our room number, the table we like, and even our names, and she automatically gives us our favorite table without us asking. Our waiter is Hector (Philippines) and assistant waiter Olimpiu (Romania). Our wine steward is a young woman, Andrea, from Serbia. The crew is from all over, with Asia and Eastern Europe being the primary areas.

We are presented with a menu of three or four appetizers, two soups, two or three salads, and about five or six entrees. Each night the menu is different, but for those who are more traditional, there are a few things that are always available including shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, chicken, salmon, or steak. There is a generous bread basket and three choices of spreads — butter, herbed cream cheese, or hummus. It is all too much, of course, and I find I can barely manage a salad and an entree. I’ve even passed on dessert a few times, when there hasn’t been something I was in desperate need of (such as chocolate).

Bananas Foster

Chicken Chiquita

Veal Medallions

I mentioned earlier that there is a nice warm swimming pool in the solarium that I like to exercise in. Walking in water is a good thing for my legs, which badly need strengthening. We are crossing the Tasman Sea from New Zealand to Tasmania, and it is generally a fairly wild crossing. We have been very fortunate that the two days have been quite mild. The first day the ship was moving more than I realized. When I went to the solarium, the water was sloshing from back to front in large waves. A few people were in it, enjoying diving into the waves. But it wasn’t a good situation for my type of exercise! The second day the weather was colder, but the sea much calmer and I had a good workout in the water.

Here's a picture of the center atrium of the ship, taken from Deck 12 and looking down to Deck 3. There are 8 glass-sided elevators both fore and aft on the ship. This is the aft location, which our room is near.

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