Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oasis Maiden Voyage-Post 2

I must confess we’re home now busily catching up with work and reclaiming our lives after such an extended absence, and I’m just now getting around to the rest of our Oasis reviews.  I promised Lisa Bauer, VP of Hotel Operations, a link to this blog, and it's coming today, Lisa (shown in the photo with Ben and Kiki Wright, our captain's wife)!

First, a quick note about the new onboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Compass format. Included is The Planner, perforated pages listing daily activities by morning, afternoon, and evening. Very handy to carry around with you, since goodness knows the list is long.

I must say a few words about the onboard artwork. The overall theme of The Wonder of Our World is exemplified on each deck by sub-themes like Waves of Sand, Blossoms, Frozen World, Masters of Flight Sea of Wonder, Branching Out, Creatures of the Land, Terra Firma, and World with a View. Various artists employed their own medium, whether oil, photography, or mixed media, etc., to capture a piece of the wonders around us. And remember the view finders I mentioned in an earlier post? Some 40 of these “Small Wonder” view finders can be found around the ship, affording great scavenger hunt possibilities for kids. As a matter of fact, on the morning I was walking from deck to deck seeking out this artwork and taking notes, I was asked by a passenger if I was actually in the midst of a scavenger hunt! Diamond and Diamond Plus passengers onboard were treated to a book about the shipboard art, as well as a cookbook, and I look forward to finding time to browse through both.

Since I mentioned cookbook, I’ll stick with the food theme now. I think the only entré I could fault was the “pork medallions” dish that was undercooked and looked less like medallions than pork tenderloin sections. A seafood dish proved a most worthy substitute, though, and other meals in the main dining room were quite tasty. Even the Windjammer Market Place kicked up the selections a notch by offering more healthy choices, lots of pre-peeled boiled shrimp (to Ben’s delight), and nice salads and soups. Another plus is the additional space around the food islands, making navigation much easier and lines shorter. Sorrento’s Pizza on the Royal Promenade, the Promenade Café, and the Park Café in Central Park became favorite gathering places for quick bites. We especially enjoyed grabbing breakfast (fruit cups, egg sandwiches, create-your-own-bagels, and breads) in Park Café and sitting out in the Park under the live trees to eat. Unique atmosphere at sea!

As for alternative extra-charge dining venues, we ate at Johnny Rockets (gotta indulge now and then), Seafood Shack (excellent appetizers and soups, but some of the fried fish was too greasy for us), Solarium Bistro, and 150 Central Park.

In more than 50 cruises, we have never experienced a meal as delicious as the upscale, six-course menu in 150 Central Park. Chef Kerriann Von Raesfeld from California, is the first female American to earn the prestigious title, “Best Young Cook in the World.” She also led Team USA to win first place overall and gold medals at the Scothot Competition in Scotland and was part of Team USA’s apprentice team at the Culinary Olympics held in Germany. Bottom line, this young woman knows how to cook! From the Cream of Sunchoke soup to her signature Banana Split, our meal was out of this world. Okay, so I didn’t care for the beet ice cream, but Ben loved it. Well worth the $35 per person fee, although we passed on the upscale, high-priced wines. (Prices per bottle range from $55 to over $4000.) Christmas is coming, you know….

We never made it to Vintages, a lovely wine and tapas bar that looks very appealing, or to Chops Grille. By the way, there is a small Vitality Café in the two-level spa complex offering complimentary wraps, yogurt cups, and breads, along with specialty teas and coffees at nominal fees. It was there that I discovered the best home-style, cake-like granola bar I’ve ever put in my mouth.

Looks like it’ll take one more post for the entertainment and ports of call. Coming soon.

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