Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Celebrity Equinox - Asian Flair Onboard and On Shore

We dined at Silk Harvest, the Celebrity Equinox’s Asian specialty restaurant. I was quite pleased, though it hardly compares to Murano. The space is, frankly, elegant and the touches from the tables to the dinnerware is beautiful. The service, from waiter to wine, was very good as well.


The menu allows you to mix Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai dishes as you wish, in small plates and large. They adjust the size of the portions based upon what you order. Some of the dishes were excellent and others were just OK. Nothing was bad. Spring rolls had excellent flavor and ingredients but were a bit greasy. Various sushi rolls were excellent. Phad Thai was toned down, but good. A spicy curry duck was a bit tough, but with nice flavor. Wonton soup with a seafood wanton excellent. You get the idea. (One small miss: Disposable wooden chopsticks.)

What jumped to my mind was the old Lattitudes restaurant on Regent Seven Seas that was always a disappointment and a frustration. It is gone, so I will not dwell on it. However, it is of worthy note that Celebrity has truly executed in a premium brand that which Regent, which markets itself as luxury, simply could not hold a candle to. That is a compliment to Celebrity.

As another travel story, our pre-booked taxi for our trip from Kusadasi to Sirince, Turkey was a “no show”. Rather than being a frustration, the head taxi dispatcher called him (since he was not answering my calls) and let him have it. Then he “told” the other taxi drivers that one of them would be taking me and my family to Sirince at the price I was quoted. (I was quoted 46€, but the going rate at the pier was 150€…so negotiating down to that price was never going to happen.)

For those of you afraid of what Turkey is like or believe it to be a dangerous or unfriendly place for Americans, take note: The way this Turk stepped up, and protected me as an honored guest, is what Turkey and its people is really all about.

Our driver was a gem. He and my wife (who speaks Turkish) talked for the entire 30 minute ride there and the 30 minutes back. He was willing to take us anywhere for the same price. So if you need a driver in Kusadasi, I know the man!

In Sirince we walked, tasted some of the local wines, bought some hand embroidered linen and candy and then had pretty much a Turkish feast in a great restaurant near the top of the hill, Ocak Basi. In September while hosting my Seabourn Food & Wine Cruise we ate in another restaurant out of town after the owner/chef gave us some lessons in Turkish cooking. Here, we just ate and drank local wine. Kofte (like spicy hamburgers with yogurt), cicek (yogurt with garlic and dill), manti (Turkish mini-ravioli in a yogurt and tomato sauce), green peppers stuff with feta cheese and tomato), etc. OK, the wine wasn’t great, but it all just felt right…with incredible views of the farmed hills and mountain homes.

Back on the ship, the size and passenger mix came into play again…to my disappointment. Trying to get into a whirlpool with my daughter at 6 pm was a challenge (eventually accomplished in the Solarium area) and then my DW’s efforts to enjoy the sailaway sunset with a light dinner at the Sunset Bar on the stern of the ship was frustrated by an unruly and loud British group. While these sorts of things can happen on any cruise line, they do happen more often when on a ship with 2,800+ passengers vs. 208 guests.

We were to dine in the Tuscan Grille Steakhouse tonight. However, our plans have changed. We have been invited to dine with the Captain.