When you hear ‘cruise’ you might think sun, fun and new destinations. Oh, I think of that too. Don’t get me wrong. But I have to admit something to you. When I first found out I would be sailing to Cozumel aboard Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas my brain said “Unlimited food!” Yes, it’s true. I was giddy about buffets. But, in my defense, cruise dining isn’t your normal fare.
Normally, if you’d like French for lunch and Asian for dinner, you’d need to get in your car and drive to two separate destinations. Or, have you ever wanted a hamburger and a strawberry daquiri at the same time? Too much trouble! Yes, I know you could make a bunch of different things at home. I’m talking about the stress free, ready when you are way to eat. Well, Royal Caribbean has you covered.
Liberty of the Seas offers 14 different ways to fill your tummy:
* – main dining rooms, scheduled seating $ – additional cost
- Botticelli *
- Michelangelo *
- Rembrandt *
- Windjammer Café
- Chops Grille $
- Portofino $
- Johnny Rockets $
- Café Promenade
- Ben & Jerry’s® $
- Cupcake Cupboard $
- Self serve ice cream carts
- Smoothie / Juice bar $
We were given a behind the scenes look at the vast galley that creates all of the hearty dishes served to over 6,000 hungry people. I was amazed at how immaculate the kitchens were. It was as if they were brand new, never used. The staff was also more than happy to pause from their tasks of cutting fresh veggies and fruits to smile and welcome us.
Everything is made fresh aboard the ship. Even if you are dining in a smaller cafe the main galley has most likely prepared your meal and sent it up fresh and hot. Preparation for each main dining meal begins hours before, with careful consideration taken for quantities so that nothing is ever wasted or stored for reuse. Your meal was made for you, not left over from earlier in the day.
Main Dining Rooms
The main dining is a set menu selection each day and separated into three levels: Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt. Your dining level and table is assigned to you and listed on your SeaPass. Your seating will remain the same for your entire cruise, allowing you to chat with other people sharing your table and make new friends in no time. Dinner is served for two seating times: 6:30 pm or 8:30 pm. You can also have breakfast or lunch served in the Rembrandt dining level.
Each day’s menu has a condensed selection, yet offers enough variety for varied tastes. The staff were extremely courteous and the waiter for my table greeted me by name after just one meal. I truly felt like a queen being served at court.
My only issue with the main dining hall was the bar drink service. There seemed to be, for our seating time at least, only one bartender. He was also responsible for coming around to the tables for drink orders and then delivering them. It generally took 20+ minutes from the time you ordered until the drink was presented. I was surprised they did not have any waitstaff specifically designated to the drink service so that the bar tender could stay at the bar and drinks could be delivered more quickly.
What Should I Wear To Dinner?
It depends on the type of dinner. Our Liberty cruise had 3 casual dinners and 1 formal Captain’s dinner.
For the casual dinners it seems the only definite rules were no shorts, swimsuits, t-shirt tank tops, ripped jeans etc. You can still wear jeans, but they should be well cut and dark dyed, paired with a nice blouse and flats or sandals. You can also wear a summer dress or slacks.
For the Captain’s dinner it was a formal affair. Though you may see people in tuxedos and gowns, it’s not required. However, a cocktail dress is most common, followed by a dressy pants suit.
One of my favorite additional fee restaurants is Portofino. Italian food is served in an airy cafe atmosphere, set against floor to ceiling windows to watch the ocean as you eat. It’s a wonderful spot for lunch especially since the area is light and open.
Seating only 100 people, Portofino offers an intimate setting where you never wait more than a moment for waitstaff. The menu was preset for our gathering and offered a nice selection of fish, beef and vegetarian dishes
Dessert was definitely the highlight of the meal. The chocolate cherry cake was so moist it melted in your mouth and the kirsch cream topping was amazing. I had never heard of kirsch cream before and found out that it is a German fruit brandy (kirsch) whipped with sugar. Delicious!
Windjammer – Casual Dining
As varied and plentiful as the specialty dining is, you’ll still want to make good use of the Windjammer casual dining buffets. Serving for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Windjammer is divided into several areas, all creating a circular path around the center of the dining area. You can start at any spot and work your way around so you don’t miss a thing.
Each lunch and dinner buffet offers a variety of food styles such as pasta dishes, bagels and deli meats, fresh cut prime rib, vegetarian, seafood and more. You also have Jade – an Asian fusion buffet complete with sushi, soups and noodle dishes.
For breakfast, no matter if you eat hearty or just snack, you’ll find plenty to choose from. They served everything from made to order omelettes, sausage and pancakes to fresh Greek yogurt, fruit and Muesli. (Tip: their muffins are to die for and they don’t freeze the butter! Oh happy day when I can spread a pat of butter without it destroying my toast.)
And, by the way, don’t pretend you’re going to diet if you cruise. It’s not going to happen. These meringues with fruit and chocolate were my favorite and I looked for them each night. They were the size of baseballs and tasted like a cloud from heaven…. if only I could make them myself. On second thought….maybe it’s good I can’t make them at home.
One of my favorite experiences on the Liberty of the Seas was dining in my stateroom. At least once a day I would sit out on my balcony with a snack so I could just relax, check emails and take in the view.
Dining in-room is extremely easy since you can take your meal from any dining area or restaurant any where you would like. It only takes a few minutes to get to any dining location, grab your plate and then escape back to your room to open your balcony door and kick up your feet while you enjoy.
My favorite drink? The piña coladas, hands down. I lost track of how many virgin coladas I drank (I had a drink package…hello!) but I’m sure I had at least 5 each day. I was also introduced to a “Miami Vice” which is half piña colada and half strawberry daiquiri. Oh my goodness.
Oh…and room service until midnight is complementary.
Dining Surprise: Sorrento’s
One spot that surprised me was Sorrento’s. Serving pizza, pasta,salads and light dessert, this 1950’s Little Italy style cafe on the Royal Promenade may be small, but it packs a big flavor punch.
I’d heard other cruisers talking about getting pizza on our first day and found myself thinking, “You’re on a cruise ship. Why on earth would you eat pizza?” Then one afternoon I was starving and needed to grab something quick. The main dining areas were closed to prepare for dinner so I dashed to Sorrento’s for something to take back to my room.
It was……wonderful. I don’t know what secret ingredient they put in their pizza crust, but it was delicious. Crunchy, light and not greasy at all. Not smothered in sauce and just the right amount of cheese – I was sorry I had only asked for two pieces. It went perfectly with my Caramel Frappe from the Cafe Promenade.
I have to admit, when I got home I really missed being able to just slide into my flip flops and hop on an elevator to eat and drink whatever I wanted. There is something liberating, and stress reducing, about not having to worry about where, when and how much your next travel meal will be.
Stay tuned for my next segment about Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas. I’ll be giving you a sneak peek at the Cupcake Cupboard and sharing their recipe for a crazy cupcake treat!