On Royal Caribbean‘s Northern Europe cruise in the Baltic Sea, Steve and I booked in advance the ‘Ultimate Dining Package‘ and drinks package. We were so glad we did.
On day one, still in Stockholm, we dined at Giovanni’s Table. An Italian restaurant without Italian personnel but Marco from Switzerland was the best maitre d’.
I can best describe Giovanni’s Table as American Italian. The dishes are Italian for sure, but the service is an American style show. But I can already state Giovanni’s was our favourite restaurant on board. You have fine antipasti such as grilled scallops, the pasta plate – actually the first time it was risotto – came without asking, “to share” and you just can’t refuse a dessert cart, now can you?
We went twice.
Chef’s Table comes the closes to fine dining as we are used to in Belgium or France. The food is great, the dishes are well conceived and service is wonderfully slow. The dessert, as you can see on the video, was outrageous.
Chops Grille is the American steak house. Lots or loads of meat. Good service, very American indeed. We expected not being fans, but we liked it a lot. We also went twice.
Asian restaurant Izumi let us down. Firstly our Ultimate Dining Package was budgeted. We could spend 50 dollars which is enough but it felt petty. Also the overall experience wasn’t great.
Windjammer is the buffet restaurant. We had several breakfasts and lunches there. Obviously we overate ourselves each and every time. The variety of choice is topnotch. You can easily not eat the same dish twice.
Reflections serves breakfast and dinner. It seats 1,200 guests. Oh dear. The food was nice enough. But clapping, singing and waving napkins is not our cup of tea. We tried this main dining room once. Never again.
In our stateroom with balcony, room service for continental breakfast was included. We did that when sailing into Riga. Eating on your balcony while observing Latvia was an amazing experience.
Pepper mills and asparagus
I want to mention two things which was funny but sometimes made me cringe. Firstly: each and every meal, sometimes each dish, a waiter would come with this huge pepper mill for extra pepper. That gimmick gets boring and makes you wonder if someone at Royal Caribbean has a fallus fixation.
Secondly: we had asparagus as vegetable every day. Every day. So we has smelly number ones every day. Yup.
Many, many bars
There are many bars on board. The Schooner Bar, Vintages, The Safari Club, the Solarium Bar, the ever closed Sky Bar, the Crown And Castle Pub, Park Café etcetera.
With our drinks package we could order every drink up to $12. So we did. And the attendants want you to drink. “But sir, there’s no alcohol in that”, as a sentence we heard a few times. So you must drink booze. Booze! That was funny.
Also funny, perhaps odd, was that drinks were never twice the same. Now that is very un-American. It must be so confusing for them. We didn’t mind.
Overall we were pretty happy with the food and beverages. There are many options. We een didn’t try the Vortex discotheque or had a serious meal at Park Café. We didn’t bother trying out Rita’s Cantina.
What I really missed though, where local options. Is it that hard to have a local options. “Folks, we’re in Russia today, so try out the borsht”. Luckily we had some in Saint Petersburg. But it’s a missed opportunity.
Would I recommend the Ultimate Dining Package and the drinks package? Yes! It makes your trip even more carefree.