Recently I have had the absolute pleasure of experiencing my first cruise… Now normally this is something I have shunned. Fear of dealing with drunk guys, loud families and ball room dancing pensioners had kept me away. I’ve heard cruising often described as “the elite of white trash on the seas”…
The above said, I spoke with friends recently who had their world turned around with a successful and fun cruise. This got me into research mode…
So yes, there are some liners that are trashier than others… I was advised that Royal Caribbean was one of the more classy lines. With a little research I was booked into a 3 day sampler cruise from Sydney on Explorer Of The Seas. I was able to get a great deal on an Owners Suite: my private oasis from the great unwashed who seemed to be giving their “all you can consume” drink cards a less than subtle nudge.
One of the advantages of booking a suite on Explorer Of The Seas is Chops Grill. For breakfast and lunch this is your private dining room. It’s amazingly sound proofed from the “Windjammer Cafe” (Explorer Of The Sea’s massive buffet) that it’s directly next to.
Upon entering the restaurant it is serene, moderately quiet, and free of the crazy hub-bub of drunk guys in bad wigs (seriously!!) bumping their way to unlimited carved roast and mashed potatoes next door.
Breakfast is a choice of a modest buffet or off the menu.
My partner and I opted for the Eggs Benedict and Salmon Omelet.
For me the eggs Benedict were ok but nothing to get excited about. The hollandaise wasn’t the best however the eggs were cooked to perfection with a slightly runny yolk. The spinach was good however the hash browns were undercooked. I added some turkey sausages that were pretty dry.
My partner reported the omelette was adequate however a bit dry. I agreed as well as the flavor being quite salty.
That said the fruit, tea and ambiance was great.
For lunch the options are to order from the menu or to slip into the next door Windjammer buffet grab a feed and come back to enjoy it in the much quieter space of the restaurant. We opted for the latter with no dramas.
Come dinner time you can sit down to an exclusive, electronic candle lit dinner with the speciality of steak.
As a starter we decided to share the scallops as a entree.
The scallops where huge! Pan fried they were still delightfully moist and easy to cut. The combination of bacon, onion and apple was tasty and complemented the scallops well.
For mains we opted for the petite filet mignon and the short rib of beef.
The steak came out medium as had been requested. It was quite tender and was enjoyable.
The beef short rib I feel was a little overcooked. Much of the fat that makes short rib so tasty had been rendered away leaving the meat a little dry and stringy. The sauce did however help hold in moisture and it complemented the meat well.
Sides included creamed corn, garlic mash and sautéed mushrooms. I liked the corn. The mash could have had a little more butter. The mushrooms were just a tad undercooked.
Overall impression was that this restaurant is a great space. It’s cozy, intimate and a perfect complement to the luxury side of Explorer Of The Seas.
The food was good, certainly of a higher standard than the main restaurant and it’s buffet neighbor. I imagine that this is expected given there is an additional cover charge to eat here at dinner and lunch.
Perhaps it was the fact this was my first dinner on a cruise ship I had pitched my hopes a little too high? Overall a good experience however I feel the kitchen was not quite to the standard I came to expect from other reviews.
I’d say I’ll be back, and with the right cruise I would however let’s just say I know some kick ass places for steak here in Melbourne.
Keep an eye out for my other reviews of the food on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer Of The Seas.
Giovanni’s Table: Family Style Italian
The Main Dining Room
Owners Suite Room Service