Food, it’s the one of the main enjoyments of cruising. Sure there’s the fact that you unpack once and visit many destinations, but food is one of the many highlights people choose to cruise. As you know its been something I’ve been enjoying of late after cruising on the Sea Princess and Golden Princess. I recently toured Royal Caribbean Cruises ship Explorer of the Seas and although I was only on board for a couple of hours, I was treated to a 3 course lunch in the main dining room and yes, the food was delicious.
Being a guest of the cruise line for the day, xI boarded via the crew entry after several security checks. This is where the 1,185 crew enter their ship to look after the 4,290 guests the she can hold, thats 1 crew member for just over every 3 passengers.
If you find yourself lost on this mammoth 138,000 tonne ship, and surprisingly none of the crew are around you can find directions by using one of the interactive deck plans found throughout the ship and follow the highlighted route to where you want to go (or be)
The atrium is amazing! It stretched up to 11 of the 15 decks and is truly an amazing first impression of the ship.
Equally impressive and something I was simply amazed by is The Promenade. Like a fancy pants Westfield on water, the swishy shops and takeaways is a pleasant way to browse your way from one end of the ship to the other. If shopping isn’t your thing and you’re up for something more adventurous, try the flow rider surf simulator, rock climbing wall or take part in a game of mini golf.
Then there is the ice skating rink. After a hot days sightseeing or snorkelling the islands of the South Pacific what a better way to cool off then go ice skating or or watch an ice skating show. Yes thats right, Explorer of the Seas has its own ice skating rink! While ice skating might seem novel to us sun beaten Australians, I imagine to those in the Northern Hemisphere an ice skating rink is as common to them as a cricket pitch is to us. There are also shows shown on the rink, but with limited seats its a good idea to obtain the free tickets as soon as you board the ship. There are other evening activities such as shows in the Palace theatre or bar hopping between one of the 15 bars or lounges.
If trying your hand with lady luck is your thing, there is a large casino with everything a casino could have to entice you to part with your money including hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of coins and gems (faux? I am sure).
Whether its a show or a flutter you enjoy, one thing everyone on board will partake in (and hopefully enjoy) is the food. I passed through the Windjammer Marketplace (a.k.a buffet) and although I wanted to grab a plate and start filling it with an array of food from several world cuisines, I stopped myself as I was next going to head to the main dining restaurant, The Sapphire Room.
Another impressive room on board is the 3 level Sapphire Dining Room located aft gave a feeling of grandeur and felt spacious.
My lovely waitress, Mary, hailed from the Philippines and was delight to chat to. She told me that she joined the cruise line a few years ago with a couple of friends on one of the smaller ships and would see her friends most days. These days on this much larger ship, she can go three or four days without even bumping into them!
As we perused the menu’s for todays 3 course a-la-carte lunch, we were offered drinks and I partook in a white wine. Wines from the US have come a long way in the past few years and this riesling from the cooler climes of Washington state was not a bad drop.
For my entree I opted for the Shrimp Cocktail Royal which, a take on an Aussie Classic, the Prawn Cocktail. The shrimp (or prawns as we know them Down Under) were juicy and plump with just the right amount of the rich and tangy royal sauce…. As with most shrimp/prawn dishes, I only wished there were more.
The other entree option was the Insalata Caprese which the lady seated next to me claimed was delightful. I must admit it looked fresh and I was interested in the basil pesto drizzle which, I figure would enlighten the mellow flavours of the mozzarella and tomato.
My main, the Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon served atop braised lentils with tender green beans, sweat snow peas and verjus buerre blanc was simple yet amazing. The salmon was slightly overcooked but still moist, the beans and snow peas crisp and the lentils (which I don’t really care for) added a certain completeness when tasted with the star of the dish the verjus buerre blanc.
One other person ordered the Beef Stroganoff served with beetroot julienne, steamed rice and sour cream. While tasty, his comment was that it tasted a little more pan-Asian rather than a truly European dish.
Although my picture of the Apple Pie a-la-mode makes it look like congealed gravy on fries, it was actually quite a nice end to our lunch on board.
After lour delicious lunch, giving us an insight to the standard of food on board, we went for a walk around on deck. Such a beautiful ship, so much space, I think I may find myself on a Royal Caribbean cruise sometime soon!
FreakyFlier toured as a guest of Royal Caribbean Cruises but all opinions remain his own.