Cruising like Norwegians!

Cruising like Norwegians!

This month, my husband turned 30! And much to his dismay! In fact, he was dreading the day about a couple of months before itself! And it was my earnest desire to distract such sentiments and resulting thoughts in my husband’s mind with a memorable celebration! So some weeks ago, we gave much thought on how to celebrate. My husband is an ardent rocker and we always wanted to attend the concert of some music great. We also wanted to have a cruise experience, which was incidentally one of the listings in my bucket of things to do! My wonderful husband, who is blessed with the knack of fishing out extravagant deals for money’s worth, looked online and found a good offer for ‘a cruise to nowhere’ by the Norwegian Cruise Line. We decided on going for the cruise a week prior to his birthday, so as to have our friends over to celebrate the official day.

My husband and I believed that this cruise, like all our other outings and trips, was going to be phenomenal. And that belief was spot-on! The cruise absolutely lived up to our expectations. We were excited to cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway, which apparently is the fifth largest cruise ship in the world! My husband, whose childlike reactions I find so adorable, kept exclaiming “Just look at how big she is!!” No pun intended! He was talking about the cruise ship!

My husband has an OCD with time! So he and I reached the venue for boarding the ship about two hours before! But I’m now used to going to places insanely early with my husband. So while we waited, we both shared a hot dog from the Sabrett kiosk, for health sakes and to have space in our tummies for all the food that was coming up in the cruise. Hot dogs sure are fast-comfort-food!

It’s an understatement when I say that I have a sweet tooth. So my husband, very sweetly, ordered a plate of chocolate covered strawberries, to be delivered to our room in the ship. As we saw and entered our room for the first time after the checking in and boarding procedures, the scouting around brought me to much excitement when I saw this wonderful plate! Oh, God bless the person who made chocolate!

Our first dining experience was at ‘Taste’. Here we ordered an appetizer of calamari and for main course, broiled chicken leg with vegetables and a burger with pulled pork and curly fries. The calamari was very much average. The chicken was cooked well and the dish as a whole was alright. Not great, but just about alright. The burger with the pulled pork and curly fries was relatively better, but not very great either. A mediocre-tasting lunch!

Later that evening though, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our very first Teppenyaki experience! It was dynamic and highly entertaining, courtesy the wonderful chef who cooked for us that evening.  In the middle of all his ninja tricks, he would sing. For instance, at one point, he made eggs to spin on the hot grill and then he started singing “You spin my head right round, right round, when you go down, when you go down, down”!! Of course, all of us seated around him, that was a group of about 15 individuals, needed no cue to join him and start singing! The 3-course meal began with miso soup, edamame and a seaweed salad with ginger dressing as appetizers. The soup was refreshing and wonderfully warm! The edamame seemed a bit tough to chew on. A teeny bit tough! And the salad came in a small but delightful portion. So far, so good! Earlier that evening, the waitress had all of our orders jotted down for the main course and dessert. The chef began to cook rice for all of us. And it’s amazing how simply, he transformed regular boiled rice into something that made my taste buds leap with joy! The rice was laden with a strong taste of garlic. Ah, garlic! One ingredient that I don’t mind having plenty of in my food! And the combination of the scrambled eggs and veggies! All of it, made the rice sensational. But that was just the beginning. There was more to come! Next, the chef made our orders – chicken yakiudon for me, which is simply hibachi chicken with udon noodles. And for my husband, the Shogun, which is a Teppenyaki combination of steak and chicken breast. At the end of the meal, my husband was almost horrified that I finished my entire bowl of rice and entire plate of noodles!! Nothing was spared! Needless to say, I absolutely LOVED my main course! I tasted a little bit from my husband’s plate and found his main course to be quite good. Then out came the beautifully adorned, displays of dessert. We had green tea cake with cashew nut brittle and fresh fruit sashimi with mango and coconut sauces. I was more fond of the amusing fruit sashimi. Each sauce was lovely in all its creamy textured sweetness! But the green tea cake was just about nice. All in all, the Teppenyaki first was truly a delight. I am a fan of the skilled chefs and I see myself going for another round of the Teppenyaki experience…

Next morning, we had the complimentary, buffet-style breakfast at the Garden Café, where we had an assortment of the continental regulars. Notable items from the buffet were the pancakes with banana and maple sauce, smoked salmon and the chunky pork sausages, which reminded me of the sausages my father would buy from Spinneys back in Oman. This was over 15 years ago!

In the afternoon, on the same day, my husband and I had a vigorous session of salsa dance tutoring. The hour-long class really worked up our appetites and so we headed to a complimentary lunch at the Irish bar and grill, O’Sheehan’s. We had chicken wings for starters, which didn’t leave much of an impression. I’m fond of wings which are spiced well and are succulent, but these wings seemed fried and heavily coated with sauce, which seemed like an overdose! Rather, an overkill! Our main course orders were chicken pot pie and the traditional meat loaf with mushroom gravy, potato mash and veggies. I was not very fond of the chicken pot pie but the meat loaf seemed alright and well-flavoured..

In the evening, after being greatly entertained by the comedy of Second City and the stunning performances by the cast of the broadway show, Rock of Ages, my husband and I had yet another complimentary meal for dinner, at the Manhattan Room. The ambience here seemed rather upscale, as compared to that of the other dining spots we visited earlier on the cruise. We were first served a bread basket, in which there was a certain kind of bread, that had the texture and look of the wholemeal kind, but what made it special was the inclusion of raisins. We started off with a bowl of chorizo as appetizer, which was nice. Our main courses were bone in pork loin and broiled salmon fillet with a creamy sauce. The pork was nice, with a slight tinge of dryness. Yet, I would give it a generous 8/10. The salmon was nice. But..with three-fourth of the salmon eaten, I found the taste a little too overwhelming for my taste buds. Not that the salmon fillet was too much of a size. It seemed appropriate. But the dish altogether seemed very one-dimensional and I found myself wanting to distract my palate with something new and interesting! Well, at the end of the meal, my husband and I felt very full and to a certain extent, satisfied!

Our last day on the cruise. My husband and I rushed for breakfast that morning, as the disembarkation procedures were already underway and everyone was expected to be off the ship by noon. So we went into the Savor restaurant at 8:30ish. For the first time, I tried prune juice! My husband was not fond of it at all, while I found a certain richness to the drink. We ate sausages, kipper and oh, cute little dollar pancakes! They were truly adorable! And that was a sweet ending to our maiden cruise..

The disembarkation process was a breeze, after which my husband and I sped off in a good ol’ NYC yellow taxi, to take us back to home sweet home…

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