Wednesday, June 23, 2010

5 Days of Indulgence - Monarch of the Seas

So, in my last post I mentioned I was going on vacation. Part of this vacation consisted of a visit to Universal Studios in Orlando and the rest was spent on a cruise to two islands in the Bahamas. More on Universal later, but first the cruise. We went from Port Canaveral, FL to Coco Cay to Nassau and then back to Port Canaveral. The route looked something like this:

View Royal Carribean Cruise in a larger map

Here is our boat on the right, docked in Nassau. Also in port was another Royal Caribbean ship, a Carnival ship and a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship.

Since this is a food blog, I won't bore you with the details of all the fun we had on wave runners in Coco Cay, or on the free beach in Nassau. I won't even mention all the time we spent in the casino or the great activities we participated in on the boat (and almost won). I'll just get straight to the food. I'll also apologize in advance because I have no pictures of the actual food for you to drool over. Everything moves so quickly in the Main Dining Room that you don't really have a chance to stop and reflect. That, and I was basically in a food coma the entire time.

First things first, let's start with the Windjammer. This is the buffet on the ship. I know it's super hard to keep buffet food tasting "hot out of the oven" and RC did a pretty good job of keeping everything tasty. There was a huge variety of food available every day for lunch until 2:30. You could really get anything you wanted - hamburgers, hot dogs, roast beef, potatoes, salad, pasta - you name it! They also had a variety of desserts that included chocolate cake with a mousse-like filling, brownies, and all sorts of cookies.

By far, the best lunch we had was on RC's private island of Coco cay. It was a huge barbecue complete with burgers, hot dogs, ribs, corn on the cob and mac and cheese. There was also salad available, but with everything I listed above, who really wants to waste valuable stomach space with that?

Main Dining Room
We had a late seating in the main dining room. Any of you who have cruised before know this means you won't eat until almost 9. Most days we stopped for a snack at Sbarro (pizza) to hold us over.

The first night was an Italian theme. You get a three course meal and can ask for more than one if you want it. I stuck with only three dishes though. I started off with the minestrone soup, then the Chicken Marsala and finished with angel food cake topped with fresh strawberries and grand marnier syrup. YUM! For the amount of people served in such a short amount of time, the food was impeccable. It came out hot and tasted like it was cooked to order. The chicken melted in my mouth and even though I wanted seconds and thirds of the expertly baked cake, I refrained. Before dessert, since it was Italian night, the waiters all serenaded us with an Italian love song. That was fun to watch.

The first night was also my brother's birthday. There was a minor snafu with the waiters and his birthday slice of cake didn't come out until we were almost ready to leave. Anyway, here is a picture of him as the waiters sing to him

I'm not sure what the theme of the next night was, but it was mostly fish and since I'm not a fan, I chose the prime rib off of the alternate menu. It was a little fatty, but still good. I just cut around the pieces that were a little too fatty for me. I didn't even need a steak knife to cut it.

On night three the theme was "International Cuisine" so I naturally gravitated towards the Italian. I went with a Caesar Salad, and the Eggplant Mozzarella Tower. This was basically slices of eggplant and Parmesan cheese fried into a delicious little patty, served with tomato sauce on the side. This was by far the best meal I had on the trip. I followed this up with Black Cherries in a cream sauce with vanilla ice cream.

On the last day we were at sea, so we were lucky enough to have lunch and dinner in the main dining room. I was glad of that because by day 4 I was really getting tired of the buffet.

For lunch, they put together a make your own salad bar where you picked the ingredients then one of the chefs tossed and chopped it for you. Think Saladworks but a thousand times tastier and with fresher ingredients. This was the highlight of my husband's eating experience because they had kalamata olives, which were never offered in the buffet salad bar. For our meals, I got pesto pasta and he got some sort of Japanese chicken skewers. I tasted his and it was delicious. The chicken was juicy and not dry like it can sometimes get on a skewer. My pasta was a little creamier than I like it, but it still tasted great.

Later than night we had our last dinner on the ship. I was sort of sad to leave behind all this incredible food. I had Caesar salad again for my appetizer and followed it by a Cheese and Tomato Calzone. For dessert, everyone at the table ordered the brownie sandwich. To say this was heaven would be an understatement. It was two brownies with a layer of chocolate mousse in the middle. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

Since this was the last night, the waiters put on a special show for us. Here's a few pictures of them as they paraded around the dining room singing.

After they were done, they asked us to dance to for them. That's when the music to the ever-popular Macarena started playing and we were asked to get up and dance. If you asked me what I expected out of this cruise, never would I have said "800 people doing the Macarena while eating dessert".

The only meal that left something to be desired was breakfast. The scrambled eggs were definitely powdered, as they didn't have the consistent that a real scrambled egg would have. The omelets were good, but the line was always pretty long to get one. I ended up eating a croissant and one of those single serve boxes of cereal without milk by the last day (the ship only had whole and skim and I prefer something in the middle).

Overall, the food on the ship was great. On our last afternoon on the ship, we took a tour of the galley and learned a lot about how they prepped the food. Approximately 800 guests are served at each dinner seating, which lasts only about an hour and a half. That fact alone amazed me. The executive chef then went on to tell us about the rest of his team. Every chef on the ship comes from a 5 star restaurant, and periodically chefs from around the world host training seminars for them so all the chefs stay up to date with the latest cooking techniques.

The galley was much smaller than I imagined, and it is quite an amazing feat to get all the food out in such a short amount of time. The pictures above basically show the whole thing. There is a salad and cold soups station, dessert station and hot foods station. On the wall behind where I was standing to take the picture is a small office for the executive chefs and a 42 inch screen that broadcasts to each chef what dishes need to be made.

If you haven't been on a cruise, I highly recommend you try one out - especially if you love food. It's a chance to try something new. The best part is that if you don't like it, they'll give you something else!


  1. I've been on this ship! :-) We went to Coco Cay, Nassau, and Key West a few years ago. It was so much fun!

  2. Looks like such a great trip!
    We went on a cruise for our honeymoon and the food was amazing. I want to go again!

  3. Wow this is awesome I love to know about it this is awesome post by the author.