Cruising Day 13 – At sea on the way to Key West

6 March 2015

The day started off with a phone call from the front desk. The Captain had gotten my suggestion to go to Key West Friday night. He said it’s not possible to stay overnight at the Key West Cruise Port. The cruise ships block the sunset for the residents. A very interesting answer.

I spent most of the morning reading in the Crow’s nest. I’ve read 6 books so far and I’m about 1/2 way through the current one, I should have it done tonight. Without the constant siren song of the internet I actually have the ability to concentrate.

At noon there was an Ice Sculpture demo up on the Lido deck by the pool. They start with a 4′x2′x3′ block of clear ice.

The sculptor starts with a short handled hoe and removes big chunks of ice. He works very fast. Once he has it roughed out then he uses smaller axes, chisels, and saws. It took him under 10 minutes to create a very nice swan. The final step is to rinse it with water to do the final smoothing of the edges.

I had wondered what happens when some nog the ice comes off when it’s not supposed to. He just puts it back in position and pushes hard on it for about 15 seconds. That refreezes the piece in place. Science in action!

Next stop was the cooking demo, he made stuffed chicken breast and a lobster soup. The demo was pretty good, there wasn’t anything hard about either dish. The ship has copies of the recipe available for u to take home. They also brought out small samples of the chicken dish to try, it was very good.

I also learned about the soup kettles with the spouts we had seen at “The Pinnacle” . They put the soup in them before service starts. As they need them they throw them onto a burner to heat. Since the kettle is heavy metal it heats fast and keeps the heat. That’s how they are able to deliver boiling soup at the table.

A quick ride to the top of the boat to the Crow’s Nest to see a towel folding demo. Two of the staff made a number of the animals that are cruise line staples. There are four different standard bodies that they start with. All of the animals can be made with any size towel. They make the animals in under a minute, if they take any longer the they fall behind on the rooms. Each steward is responsible for about 15 rooms worth of animals.

Two nights ago Island Magic musicians performed their steel pan show of “Show Tunes to Classical Music. Today they did a show of Caribbean classics with some contemporary songs (Wonderful World, some Beatles songs, etc.) The audience sang along to John Denver’s “Country Road” and they closed with Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane”. I liked the show, but it clearly plays to a older crowd.

Today is another formal night, so I put on my formal polo shirt and we headed to the the Pinnacle Bar for their “sample and savor” option. Tonight was a really nice Pino noir from Australia. The savor snack were crab cake appetizers. They had been rolled in panko crumbs before cooking.

Dinner was at Tamarind the Asian Fusion Restaurant at the top of the ship. We had a great window looking southwest for the sunset. There were a few clouds so it wasn’t as great as it could have been.

The diner silver was very elegant. All of the handles were about 8″ long. They also had metal chopsticks with grooves at the food end to make it easier to pick food up.

The menu is huge, three soups, 6 appetizers, about 18 different rolls to start. The main section of the menu is broken down into 4 groups: Fire – spicy dishes, Wood – dishes from the land, Water – fish and sea food and Metal – dishes with special cooking methods.

Susan started with a special wonton soup. They were bigger than normal and had different fillings. She liked the miso broth they were served in.

Mine was two giant prawns, that had the heads removed and cooked in a tempura batter. It came with a salad that had ginger and lime as the dressing. It was very bright and refreshing. Sorry about the picture of just the tails, I got carried away.

Next for Susan was potstickers three ways, pork, lobster and duck. I think they were good, she didn’t offer to share. I had braised beef short ribs in 5 spice powder sauce. Loved it, would eat that again given a chance.

Susan chose from Wood, she had a wasabi encrusted filet with onion rings and rice. The wasabi added a lot of flavor, but after a few bites it became pretty hot.

I had scallops and shrimp, but rather than being on a plate they were served in a broth with some bok choy. The broth had a very light fish flavor and a touch of ginger. It was a great paring to the delicate flavors of the scallop and shrimp. When the waitress explained the disk I though at worst it could be a seafood soup. With the huge scallops and shrimp it was much more.

Dessert was a chocolate mousse with a hint of tamarind flavor in a chocolate shell. Susan has three flavors of sorbet, one was wasabi. It was very different.

From Tamarind we split up, Susan went to the theater to get us seats for “Garageband”. I went to the main dining room to see if I could get a piece of the rhubarb tart to go. Yep! Covered in plastic!! and with silver!!!

Swing by the room, drop off the tart, refill Susan’s wine and on the way by the sports bar order a drink for me. Drop off Susan’s wine, and nook at the theater, remember that I needed something in the cabin, walk back, pick it up, go past the bar, grab my now made drink and slide into my seat with 90 seconds to go. So it’s taken me 12 days to get the full layout of the ship in my brain, but I know have the shortest routes memorized.

Tonights show was “Garageband” by the ships talent. It was pretty good, 60′s, 70′s and 80′ car music (lots and lots of Beach Boy songs). It was fun, lots of action, songs, dancing. A huge overload of props, I can see why the cast talks about all the storage being full of “Garageband” stuff.

The show was packed, it was good that Susan got down early to get seats.

Tonight’s towel is a swan. It’s very elegant propped up by the pillows.