Sunday, November 21, 2010

2010 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise on the Seabourn Odyssey - A Sea Day and Some Thoughts About The Dining Expereiences

Oh, a day at sea. Time to relax. Well, sort of.

Sea days are a funny thing. You think you are going to have a lazy day…and then you find out your day has disappeared and all those things you were going to do to catch up (like write this blog) didn’t get done because there wasn’t enough time.

I chatted with some of my guests while my DW headed to the Spa for a hot stone massage. Other guests were so thrilled with the quality of the treatments they have been receiving in the Spa that they pretty much moved in there for the day. (Yes, Seabourn does listen to your comments about what needs to be improved.)

After that my DW and some friends relaxed by the pool, enjoying one of the round wicker lounges for two complete with strawberry daiquiris and some snacks from The Pool Grill.

Before you knew it…lunch time. Speaking of lunch, The Restaurant has been open for lunch and it really doesn’t seem to be utilized near enough to justify it being open. I think of it as being something akin to Baked Alaska and the Midnight Buffet: Things that were traditional cruise ship events that as society has changed and the diversity on the ships has increased…dramatically increased…have become less than passé; they have become pretty much irrelevant. The other day I observed only about 10 people dining there at lunch.

Yes, I know some people really enjoy the formal dining experience. But I also really enjoyed the very diverse and tasty themed lunches in The Colonnade. I also noticed that there was a fair amount of diversity in how The Colonnade was utilized by the guests. Some were very much “buffet style” while others were very much “sit down dining” style. Some were more causal than others in their dress. It is totally up to the guests.

Speaking of The Colonnade, much has been said by a few very poorly informed people that there is some sort of issue with the service in The Colonnade during peak breakfast and lunch times. Folks, I have been through this dining venue at many times and never…and I mean never…has someone not be able to obtain a nice table (inside or out – the weather has been incredibly good) for breakfast or lunch and I have never had  a significant service issue. (I have been asked for coffee or wine refills a bit too often and did have to wait about 15 minutes for my perfectly poached eggs one morning.) BTW, dinner service is equally as good as are table selections.

That evening was Formal Optional Night. We had a six course Chef’s menu which Chef Fritz said would be satisfying, but not overly filling. That it was. Hard to mess with perfection, so I will leave it there. On the issue of dress, there was most definitely a mix; tending to lean to the formal-sort of formal side of things. It blended just fine. For example, this trip I opted to forego the tuxedo. Our table of six had one gown (beautiful), one LBD (little black dress) and one cocktail dress along with one tux, one suit with a tuxedo shirt and one black cashmere sport jacket/dark grey trousers with a French cuffed shirt (me). It all blended nicely into an elegant table with the feel of richness, but not stuffiness.

BTW, I did observe men being asked to wear jackets in The Restaurant during Elegant Casual evenings. It was done quietly and with a loaner jacket being presented as an option so they would not have to return to their suites. It was not often that I observed it, but observe it I did. (I hate writing about dress codes, but I know it is of interest.)

The food coming out the galleys has been as good as it has ever been. Each evening there are usually two hot appetizers, two salads, two soups and five main courses from the evening’s unique menu plus similar dishes prepared in a “light” fashion plus an extensive range of always available options. So with more than half a dozen choices for each course, and the extremely high quality of the dishes, it is no wonder I have heard no complaints about the menu.

Since I am talking a lot about the cuisine, I will also note that I did dine in Restaurant 2 and found the menu to be totally different from my experiences on the Seabourn Sojourn, but equally as enjoyable. The menu did change about halfway through the cruise and while there is no ability to simply show up for a table, I have not heard of anyone not being able to obtain a reservation in the restaurant if they have a bit of flexibility.

Our cruise will intensify starting tomorrow as we starting hitting our stride with more special events and interesting ports.