[box_light] Why I Have Rated Independence of the Seas A “Best Cruise”[/box_light]
I personally love to cruise because I find it so relaxing and at the same time exciting. There are so many activities and lots of entertainment going on every minute of every day. The food is really secondary to me and I never eat much during the day, but usually let myself go at night, which is not a good thing to keep ones weight in check. However, I found the food better then I had imagined. Feeding over 5,000 people on a ship, three meals, snacks, and also running the specialty restaurants including Johnny Rockets is not an easy task, but somehow, they seem to pull it off each day.
The executive chef Kennith Johanson took us on the tour of their galley. I could understand after the tour, how they were able to accomplish this Herculean task each day. We enjoyed our dinner at Chops, their optional dining restaurant and steak house. The cost is only $30 per person to dine there and well worth the extra cost when they delivered my 10 ounce perfectly cooked filet mignon, my wife’s huge T-Bone steak and a ton of side dishes.
We also dined one night at Portofino which they bill as an authentic Italian restaurant. From their menu selections and the food we ate, that was not the case.Their menu included marinated Tuna steak, skewer of Maine lobster, scallops and salmon, roasted lamp ch0ps, grilled T-bone steak, Beef tenderloin and thinly sliced veal wrapped in sage and prosciutto. Hey guys, how about a nice bowl of linguine with white clam sauce or Fruto De Mar
Portofino was only $20 per person, but there were none of the traditional Italian dishes offered, not even a bowl of pasta with white clam sauce. Coming from New York and New Jersey, and visiting Italy a number of times over the years, this food was more continental then Italian. I understand that when they “refresh” the ship in May 2013, they will be changing the name and the menu of Portofino and it will become a true Italian Restaurant.
We dined three of the 6 nights in the Romeo and Juliet Dining Room. It is huge, luxurious and our waiter Joao (pronounced Joe) was wonderful. The broiled sea bass on the first night was really quite good. The steaks and lobster tails, also very nice indeed and the breads were always my weakness on a cruise. As you have seen in the video, they bake 24 hours a day and the pastries and breads are always fresh and tasty. So working on this cruise, didn’t give me an opportunity to sit down for regular meals and I found myself hitting Sorrento’s Pizzaria during the days for a couple of slices of pizza in between my interviews.
Remember, you will never, ever go hungry on this ship. Snacks galore all day long and into the evening. Room Service is included too.
I like desserts and for lunch, when I had lunch at the Windjammer, I would have something light to eat. I would then grab some great cookies and some fresh fruit to keep me going. Now here is an important tip about eating on this ship. Lose a few pounds before you get on the ship. You know you will be relaxing once on board and eating three or four or five times each day. Then when you get home, gradually get back to your former weight. I didn’t get on the scale for a week after my return 🙂
The Accommodations and Staff
Our stateroom on the Independence of the Seas was quite nice when we got on board, but I really wanted to film one of the junior suites or executive suites if possible. I was told that once they sailed and did a final guest count they would let me know if one was available. At 7 PM on our first day of the cruise, Ingrid called with news that a junior suite was available. Apparently, the passengers assigned for that suite didn’t show. Probably bad for them, but good for us. The junior suite was very similar to the stateroom with balcony that we had, but larger and a bathtub/shower in the bathroom instead of a stall shower. I had more room to spread out all of my equipment and prepare for each days shooting.
The housekeeping is superb and our cabin steward was so accommodating. When we got back to our cabin after dinner on our first night, I had seen that all the clothing I left all over the room, was neatly folded and put on our sofa for me to put away in the closet. Over the next few days we received dozens of complimentary chocolate dipped strawberries delivered to our room each day.
When we toured the galley with the executive chef, he showed us how they make these trays of dipped strawberries. We saw them also making the strawberries to look like a strawberry tree. I mentioned to chef Kenneth that I had received the plates of strawberries every day, but never got the tree. I was actually joking with him, but that night room service delivered a tree to our stateroom, compliments of the executive chef.
Joff Eaton their cruise director, is amazing and one of the best cruise directors I have seen or worked with over the years. He is simply great at what he does. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to record the shows and share them with you because of copyrights and other restrictions, but watch some of the clips I did get while Joff talks about his role on this ship and watch for some of the photos I was able to take in their fantastic Alhambra Theater. It seats close over 1400 passengers and is simply a beautiful theater as you can see in our video.
As you have heard every guest I interviewed or spoke to raved about the staff. As you saw in the video, most have been with Royal Caribbean for many years, there must be a good reason they have stayed. Whenever I see a large turnover of staff at any company, I know that something has to be wrong at the top of the company. Well something is very right at RCL.