Venchi Specialty Coffees
* These are an extra charge. Its based on weight, but I would say it averaged out to $1.50-$2 per chocolate. Not cheap. BUT we were on vacation and that's when we tend to splurge!
Sunkissed Adventures Family Travel Blog
This is where I am going to get excited! The Seaside had tons of delicious snack options around. I am still dreaming about some of these things that I indulged in last week. Most of the treats are Venchi brand and chocolate. SO if chocolate is not your thing, you can skim this post. If you're from or have visited; Chicago, New York, or Boston, you may have heard of them. Venchi was founded in Italy in 1878 and more likely to be found in Europe!
Let's start with my favorite item from the week. My Venchi crepe. The crepes are located in the South Beach pool area on deck 7, aft. This particular Venchi shop had the crepes and gelato. Sadly, I only ventured off to this place on the second to last night. Had I found it earlier in the week I probably would have packed on a few extra pounds. This crepe was delicious! I ordered one with just gianduja (think of Italian Nutella). I had planned to go back and order one with bananas the following night but never got around to it. They are custom made, fresh for you each time one is ordered. It was delightful. Mine had cooled a bit before ate it. We walked to the main Venchi shop so that my friend and my husband could get their specialty coffees. It was room temperature, but still amazing. I would imagine one that was still warm would be heavenly.
Venchi Specialty Coffees
The main Venchi shop, on deck six just beyond the main atrium, is where it's at. They make everything from specialty coffees, specialty liquor drinks, and more. All involving CHOCOLATE! I'm fairly certain that we went here every single night of the cruise after dinner. The drinks were delicious. From thick, I mean seriously thick, bordering on pudding, creamy hot chocolate. Marocchino Specials, Chocolate Martinis. And more. However, the service at this location was not good. They made many mistakes and then when asked to be corrected, many guests were argued with. By the manager to boot. Not only did we experience this, but my friends did one of my neighbors who also sailed and other random guests that I witnessed. Yikes! That being said. It didn't keep me away. I still went back every day. Keep in mind that these drinks are extra charges unless you have coffee vouchers or the Premium add on drink package.
AKA The Chocolate & Gelato place. Same location as the coffee bar. They have a case full of freshly made chocolate treats. Sorry I didn't take a close up. I enjoyed the dark chocolate bricks with hazelnuts inside. My husband liked the milk chocolate version. My five-year-old, he liked the Tiramisu chocolates. My one year old had his first taste of chocolate on this trip. Not sure how much he consumed because it was all over him at one point. We reloaded our chocolate stash daily. We'd eat what we bought; then I'd go for a chocolate run during nap time. My family would wake up happy with fresh chocolates awaiting them. I was way more interested in the chocolates than the Gelato. For some reason, I am not a big gelato fan. I love ice cream, but gelato just doesn't hit the spot for me. It was good gelato, and my friend and her son had it daily. They loved it. Each location varied in the flavors that they carried, so sometimes you had to gelato hop around the ship to find the specialty flavors.
* These are an extra charge. Its based on weight, but I would say it averaged out to $1.50-$2 per chocolate. Not cheap. BUT we were on vacation and that's when we tend to splurge!
I will discuss the dining venues we went to here. This will not include the yummy, scrumptious crepes, gelato, and chocolate. That will come later!
The Seaside is unique in that it has TWO buffets. The smaller, family friendly one, is Biscayne Bay Buffet on deck 16. The larger, more robust, location was the Marketplace on deck 8. We ate all of our breakfasts, 6/7 lunches, and 1 dinner at the buffets. There are times that half of the Marketplace buffet is closed at night and used as a Main Dining Room with table service. We usually chose the closer buffet- except breakfasts were always at Marketplace for us due to wider variety.
Main Dining Room
This is one of the hits and misses of the cruise- food is subjective. The food itself was good. I consider myself a picky eater and found at least 1-2 entrees each night that satisfied my liking. There was only ONE dish that did not taste right, and that was the French Onion Soup. It was missing something, and I could not pin point it. There were a lot of misses on the desserts too. Their features Brownie stack was dry and lacked a good chocolate flavor. It also changed nightly. By the end of the week it was missing the brownie portion and only had mousse on top. haha Thankfully we waltzed on over the Venchi after dinner, daily, and loaded up on gelato, chocolates, and more!
We requested early dining and were assigned 7:45 pm in the Ipanema dining room. We went to the Maitre D on the first day to request to be moved. 7:45 pm is too late for us to eat with young kids. There were many other people waiting to request the same thing. The couple we traveled with was able to get us accommodated at the 5:30/6pm time. Yay, great relief! Night one we had an amazing waiter who anticipated our every need and brought the boys food and desserts that kept them behaving. Nights 2-5 we had a waiter who needed more training. Night 6, the guy was on top of things, and the Maitre D even brought the boys dinners out quickly for us. Night 7, we were squeezed in last minute, and the guy was in a rush. So not our best dining "experience" on a cruise by far.
Butcher's Cut Steakhouse
My husband and I had lunch at the steakhouse on a sea day. The food was delicious and flavorful. They offer two types of butter, one smoked and another sweet with spices. With the yummy butters, you're also given a soft cloth basket of bread. Four large breadstick style and one sweet biscuit. Those were pretty good, but I would have liked a soft bread to better spread my yummy butter!
We both had the Smoked Tomato Soup. It came with a small grilled cheese for dipping. We both also had the Filet and a side of Smoked Mashed Potatoes. The steaks are served with four sauces: chimichurri, bearnaise, peppercorn, and something with mushrooms. I blocked the last one out because I don't do mushrooms ;)
Overall it was a fabulous meal. Relaxing. Service was great. I highly recommend it!
Before going on this cruise we had decided we were going to skip the Main Dining Room completely. This was new to us. We always did MDR and in recent years My Time Dining. We chose MTD when making the booking but knew we would not be showing up. What I was not aware of was that the buffet does not open for dinner until 6:30pm. I found that to be a bit late for casual dining. I understand that the buffet is not nearly as busy as the dining room or specialty restaurants. We waited it out anyway. We killed time by playing with sugar packets in the covered outdoor section of the Windjammer. Don’t worry we kept those sugar packets to use daily for entertainment.
The Windjammer staff greets you as they open the doors. I noticed that they were very adamant about using sanitizer. The hostess watched each person come in and if they did not sanitize, she would approach them with a bottle of it and tell them again. We decided to choose a table all the way to the left by the “Suite” reserved section of the buffet. No we didn’t go in there, we just sat near it. Over the course we of the week we saw, maybe, two people go in the suite room.
I was really impressed with the spread. We had tried eating at the buffet for dinner on Carnival and it was very limited, ¾ of their buffet was closed at night. Not on Royal Caribbean (another reason why we like RC as our preferred line). Every night there was a pizza station where you could make your own. A stir fry station, which I have to say, was MUCH better than the one offered on Carnival. It didn’t have that yucky fried oil taste to it. There was actual flavor and a larger variety of veggies to add. One section always had a theme, Greek, Italian, Indian, Caribbean, etc. It changed each night. Then there was a carving station with meat and a daily fish. French fries, mashed potatoes, gravy, steamed veggies, and twice-baked potatoes were available every night as well. There were a few other items that I don’t remember that were always there as well. As far as desserts go, there were fruit, cheeses, cookies, cakes, warm treats (bread pudding), and a sundae bar every night!
The Carnival buffet varies greatly between lunch and dinner. During lunch time they offer many different options:
Dinner hour was different, the front section of the buffet did not serve food, but was open for seating. If you intend to eat at the buffet for dinner you'll need to travel to the back section where they will have 3-4 options that might include a couple of items from the Main Dining Room.
Guy's Burger Joint
Found pool side and open daily until 6pm. Serving up some of the tastiest burgers I've ever had! You grab your burger at the counter, then head over the the topping bar to decorate it how you want! The fries are pretty darn good too. The napkins look like rags from a car garage.
Blue Iguana Cantina
Found pool side and open daily for breakfast and lunch. In the morning they make made-to-order breakfast burritos with all types of fillings. We enjoyed this breakfast because it changed it up a bit from the same old stuff. They also served arepas! For lunch they have burritos and tacos, also made-to-order.
Fat Jimmy's C-Side BBQ
Located on Deck 5-Promenade. This venue is only open during sea days. They had pork, chicken, and sausage along with beans, potato salad, corn bread, grilled vegetables, and more. I was warned that there would be a long wait, but it wasn't terrible. Ten minutes at the most! Click HERE to view the menu.
Main Dining Rooms- Blush & Sapphire
The main dining rooms are both open for dinner each night. We were assigned the Blush, the first photo below, second level. All of the food was very good. They are still using what many refer to as the "old menus" which I like. We tried the "new menus" back in December and were less than impressed. Blush is located at the aft (back) of the ship, whereas Sapphire is located mid-ship right off the atrium. Both are on decks 3 & 4. Guests are assigned to a specific dining room for dinner. Click HERE for a sample from one evening's offerings.
Located on deck 5 in Ocean Plaza (mid-ship). For lunch they offer salads and soups. At dinner time they have samples from the specialty restaurants. A nice way to sample some yummy food before making a reservation for the extra cost restaurants.
Cucina del Capitano
Located on deck, just above the Lido Buffet. They offer a complimentary pasta bar at lunch. At lunch they also offer lasagna and salads as well. All pasta dishes are made to order. Dinner is $15 per person and includes a more extensive menu. We enjoyed a delicious lunch there one day. The pasta and sauces were fabulous! I'm Italian and I approve ;) Click HERE to view the menu.
Red Frog Pub
Located on deck 5, Promenade. This venue offers pub/ bar food for a small cost ($) and has an extensive bar offering of beers and mixed drinks. Indoor and outdoor seating available. Games do not have a cost. We saw many people playing with the corn hole game after dinner each night. On a few nights there was live music inside. Click HERE to view the menu.
Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse
Located on deck 5, aft. This steak house has a $35 per person fee. It serves up a variety of steak seafood, and other gourmet entrees. It always receives wonderful reviews. We didn't personally eat here on this trip, but we would consider it in the future. Click HERE to view the menu.
Yes, that's a 14 month old climbing over the side of the pack n play. I am going to have my hands full!! I have since enrolled him in the Little Gym (a gymnastics type class for young toddlers).
Upon our arrival in the dining room they had the high chair all set for us. Fruit came within a minute of being seated. We were one of two tables there for majority of the time. The other table of guests was toward the front of the dining room and they had an infant with them.
My son devoured his spaghetti this evening along with a side of mixed veggies. If anyone is interested in HOW I got my little guy to eat a variety of foods- I want to give credit to something called Baby Led Weaning. Essentially skipping "baby food" and giving him table food from 6 months on. We would cut it up small. He became used to eating what we ate for dinner. He doesn't have a picky palate. He does have some sensory issues with certain textures like chicken, but the doctor said it's completely normal in children of this age and he'll grow out of it!
We saw the Majesty pull in to Nassau during dinner. This told me that they missed Coco Cay because they weren't due to Nassau until the following morning. After dinner we didn't do much of anything. We put my son to sleep around 8pm after playing with bubbles on the balcony.
We woke up to a beautiful day. Sun was shining and Coco Cay was outside my balcony!
It's too bad because that's all we got to see of it on this trip. I was really hoping that we'd be able to go. I wanted my son to be able to play on the beach and in the water. The captain said that the tenders were unable to safely get in and out of the small harbor where they get you on to the island. He let everyone know that NCL also chose to skip Great Stirrup Cay due to the same reason. (FYI- Coco Cay's real name is Little Stirrup Cay and the two islands are next to each other. You can usually see the other cruise line's ships while on either island)
So we decided to take it easy onboard. We started our morning at Park Cafe, yum yum! We ordered our food and sat at a table. There were no high chairs in Park Cafe so we attempted to let my son sit in the regular chair with a close eye on him. One of the crew members came over with a container of fruit and gave it to my son. The same crew member then came back over and made a bib. Then he came over with a paper hat for him to wear. Well, my son wasn't having any of that! It was a kind gesture though.
I said it before and I will say it again. The crew on this ship went above and beyond to keep my little guy happy. You could tell they were genuinely delighted to entertain him and be around him.
I had an "English Muffin Panini" AKA Egg McMuffin. I also tried the breakfast burrito. Both were delicious. I went back for another burrito once I had finished my first serving.
So the evening that is spent in Nassau is also formal night. I think that's an interesting choice. Many people are off the ship exploring Nassau and skip the dining room on this night. It was more empty than the first night. We were okay with this. Again, we chose an early meal time so that if we had a problem with my son it wouldn't effect very many people.
So Connor wanted to wear his Nautical Tie this evening. Here he is playing on the balcony before dinner. it may be hard to tell but there are anchors on his tie.
We were standing at the entrance of the dining room when our asst waiter saw us. He immediately sprung in to action. By the time we made our way to our seats there was a high chair and fruit waiting for Connor. We were very happy that they did this because it allowed us to look over the menu and wait for our meals without having to fuss with my son.
Again, we weren't impressed with the menu options. I don't remember what we had at all and I didn't take a picture of our food. Our waiter played with the little guy while we had our appetizers.. He pretended to share some of the fruit with my son and then played peek-a-boo. There were no other people in his section so it wasn't a big deal that he spent so much time at our table.
My son had the "catch of the day" off of the kids menu. It was salmon. The portion was an adult portion. He obviously didn't eat it all, but he enjoyed what he did eat. He also ate the broccoli and carrots. I am thankful that my son isn't picky!
I always choose to do My Time Dining. I find that we can get in and out quickly. We are not a fan of long drawn out meals. So I made 5:30pm reservations for the three of us. I was nervous that my son would be cranky having to sit through a meal on a cruise at this age.
We made our way to the dining room and were the second people seated. The first people were a couple with a baby as well. As soon as we approached the table our wait staff greeted us then went to get a high chair. They were back in under a minute. One had the high chair, another had a bowl of fruit! They gave the bowl of fruit to my son as soon as we sat down.
What a great idea. They know how to keep kids busy and prevent a fuss!
My mother and I studied the menu and found close to nothing we wanted. The last time I sailed on Royal Caribbean was when I was 6 months pregnant on the Liberty in November of 2012. This was just before the menus began to change. I really enjoyed the old menus. I felt like there was a good variety of choices and there was something I would be excited for each night (Sopa de Tortilla, warm chocolate cake, Indian dishes, etc). Now I struggled to find something to eat on most nights of this cruise. I found that 50% of the menu was seafood, which I don't eat. The only chicken dish was the same one each night, marinated grilled chicken breast. Cold soups (blegh, they all taste like applesauce!) The pasta almost always had seafood in it unless I wanted regular spaghetti, and so on. I know a lot of people like the new menu, but I don't which is disappointing because we love to cruise on Royal. The lack of chocolate or decadent desserts was also very disappointing.
One thing I do like is having the bread on the table. No more tracking down the waiter for more. Although I'd like more savory bites to be included. My mom let me have hers so I could have two each night
My son on the other hand devoured his spaghetti with meat sauce!
We were in and out of dinner in about an hour. Our waiter and his assistant were very nice. They kept my son busy by playing peek a boo with him, feeding him, etc. The dining room was slow this early which was to our benefit. I was so fearful of dinner and it turned out to be painless! On our way out we asked the hostess to make sure we could be seated with the same waiters for the rest of the cruise.
After taking care of those few things we went to the spa to reserve massages. I quickly called up the nursery and reserved the times we'd be in the spa. I wanted to be sure that someone else didn't snatch up those time slots. They follow US standards in that the ratio is 4 children to 1 adult.
We wanted to avoid the Windjammer on day one. I know how hectic it can be. We decided to eat at Park Cafe. We really enjoyed it on both Oasis and Allure. I was so happy that we could get the same yummy foods on our short weekend cruise! It was never busy, but there was always a stream of people getting food from the cafe all weekend long.
We asked the staff there if it was okay to keep my son with us while eating in there. They had no problem with it as long as we kept him within the Cafe area. They didn't have a highchair, but it was fine. My son sat on my mom's lap and scarfed on fruit, pasta salad, and bread.
Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced that O'Sheehans is going fleetwide! They are going to add it to each of their ships due to it's popularity on the Epic & Breakaway. So you might be asking, what's O'Sheehans??? Well it's a pub with yummy food, bowling, an arcade, and bar.
Back in 2012, Matt and I spent a lot of time there when we were on the Norwegian Epic. We would stop in for a snack, meal, game, etc. It was a nice open space that also overlooked the big screen. The menu had a lot of options, such as wings (my favorite), pot pie, fish n chips, and of course the ice cream brownie (Matt's favorite). We could stop in and grab something to eat without feeling like we needed to dress for dinner or venture all the way up to the buffet.
So what it comes down to is that Longboards and Blue Lagoon on other ships will be transformed in to O'Sheehans. It truly is something nice to look forward to on NCL ships. I hope that if you're sailing on an NCL ship, give it a try.
Hi! I am Nicole Perry, owner of Sunkissed Adventures.