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Old 11-19-2011, 12:43 PM   #316
sperkins921
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While you were away and recovering (glad to see you're feeling better btw) I went off to read some of your other trip reports. I noticed the year you did the Magic Halloween cruise, you made shirts for the family.

Were those just transfers or something else? And if they were transfers, which did you use- because those look like they held up well and that's one of the bigger complaints I've come across with using transfers is that they don't/didn't hold up well.

Also, on that thread you show all the magnets you did for door decoration- did you use printable magnets, or did you use printer sticker paper that then stuck onto the magnets? I can't remember if you said or not- since I read the posts over the course of a few days.

Thanks!!
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Old 11-19-2011, 03:24 PM   #317
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OK, you've had a day... new update, new update, new update!!!!

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Old 11-21-2011, 02:15 PM   #318
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I would have loved to have seen the ice show on explorer- but no one wanted to leave the pool and go with me, lol! Very special that you got to push the button-

This ship looks like soooo much fun! And that hot dog bar... That would be a great place to hang out! Who doesn't love tube food?

Sorry I've been MIA lately, but I am all caught up now, Sista! Oh- and I just LOVE Sav's pj tank!
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Old 11-22-2011, 03:18 PM   #319
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Not going MIA on you guys promise! In between prepping for Turkey Day and costume sewing (Nutcracker closing in) and Christmas shopping and laundry, and all kinds of other things I am working on a new update. I've also been trying to close out my other one on CC for a while and that last segment I've been writing for over 4 days 20 pages in word and 96 photos and I'm not done yet! Ack!

So hang in there!!
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Old 11-22-2011, 10:48 PM   #320
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Smile AND I THOUGHT I WAS BAd.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by nenner1 View Post
Not going MIA on you guys promise! In between prepping for Turkey Day and costume sewing (Nutcracker closing in) and Christmas shopping and laundry, and all kinds of other things I am working on a new update. I've also been trying to close out my other one on CC for a while and that last segment I've been writing for over 4 days 20 pages in word and 96 photos and I'm not done yet! Ack!

So hang in there!!


when it came to trip reportin'



20 pages?? &





happy Turkey day!!





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Old 11-23-2011, 09:15 AM   #321
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Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Jen!!!! May you all be stylin in your "eatin pants"
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Old 11-24-2011, 06:32 AM   #322
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Happy Thanksgiving to my amazingly patient wonderful readers in the US! I can promise you one thing...there will not be an update today, sorry! And probably not tomorrow since I will be up for the next 26 hours straight.

But I have the next part ready all I have to do is upload the videos! Hope those of you celebrating have an amazing holiday and enjoy!

And yes Kara, I will be sportin' my nice a size too big eatin' shorts thank you very much!

And anyone in the St. Pete FL area at 2 AM with very strong coffee please drop by the post office? Thanks!
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:26 AM   #323
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You Keep the Tour Groups, We'll Have the Steak!

After the show, we stopped upstairs in the [promenade for some (more) Sorrento’s pizza for the kids.









Sorrento's is the Counter Service Pizza joint onboard. It is located in the Royal Promenade and is open from morning to the wee hours of the night- so it's a perfect place for those late night munchies. And to stuff the kids' faces whenever they get cranky. It is the equivalent of Pinnochio's on DCL except it is not on the pool deck.

The pizza is pretty equivalent too. We all like it. It's your basic pizza, it tastes pretty good IMO. But remember I'm from Florida so our standards aren't high down here. LOL!


They have a make-your-own pizza bar where you can pick the toppings, but we were always pretty content with the offerings they had already prepared. Our kids’ tastes don’t go much beyond the standard cheese & pepperoni, but Brendan had a couple of pieces of Chicken and Potato Pizza and really liked it a lot. (Chicken and Potato? Strange combination!)









Terrific service too- this staff member in particular was so friendly!



A stop by Promenade Café was also necessary for dessert- cookies! Brownies! Cinnamon Rolls!

Promenade Cafe is the little sandwich, coffee, and pastry shop. It is pretty much open 24 hours. They claim it closes at like 3 AM but the early bird mall walkers are up not long after that so it pretty much never sleeps. Not that I would know, because on cruises I never have trouble sleeping.

Both Promenade Cafe and Sorrentos are free and included so we ate to our hearts desire!





Dinner!





The Bridge Report. Really loved Capt. Zini’s video report from the bridge each day. But what we did miss so much on this ship is the channel on TV that shows the path the ship has taken and the current location and speed. Allure doesn’t have that. Since that info is covered in the Bridge report they don't have both, but we personally like following the course, so we were bummed about that.




After the kids were done eating, it was back to Adventure Ocean for them, as Ron and I had dinner reservations tonight at Samba Grill!





Samba Grill is a Brazilian Churrascaria onboard. Similar to restaurants like Texas De Brazil or Boizao on land, it is a Specialty Restaurant and carries a fee of $25 per person. Originally exclusively on Allure- due to it's popularity it is now being added to other ships in the fleet and you can now also find it on Radiance of the Seas.


Our reservation was fairly early- 7 PM. We had read that Samba Grill- which is actually located in a transformed Solarium Bistro can be very warm in the early evening due to its location in the glass walled solarium. I will say it was quite warm. Not as bad as we expected at first, but it seemed to get warmer and warmer as the night went by. Samba’s suggested dress is Smart Casual, so do keep the higher temperature in mind and dress as comfortably as you can. By the end of the meal we were flushed and sweaty. But then that might have been due to the drinks…..haha!

The Solarium Bistro transforms into Samba!



Of note also is that although Samba is a specialty restaurant, they do not have an age restriction. So children are welcomed, and although the crowd the evening we were there was mostly adults there were a few kids around here and there- even one in a high chair. (Yes, you still have to pay the $25 fee for children- even for babies that don't eat). If we had known for sure that we would have gotten the half price deal (info to come), we would have brought the kids along as well. But in the end they had fun in the clubs and we had fun at a nice dinner to ourselves which we get - like never- so it was all good.


We arrived right on time for our reservation and upon checking in to the podium, Ron inquired about the 2-for-1 special. We had read in a review on Cruise Critic a few weeks prior that on one cruise Samba Grill was offered at a reduced cost for 2 for 1! Since meals there are normally $25/pp, this brought the cost down to $12.50/pp. What a deal! This price is really a steal for this meal, but we had not seen the special advertised on our TV so we did not know if they were offering it on our cruise. Much to our delight the hostess said they were indeed offering the special. We had prepaid for our reservation, so she had to give us a refund and then re-charge us the half price rate, which she did and brought our new receipt to our table within minutes! Wonderful!

Now, I’m not positive they had actually advertised the special, or maybe it was because of the special, but Samba was quite busy! Busier than I expected, anyway, and it would get even busier as the evening progressed. The ambiance was lovely. We had not yet been inside Solarium Bistro but thought it was quite a pretty restaurant space. I don’t have great photos of the interior because I didn’t want to turn on my flash and blast everybody but this is a general overview:



The subtle lighting and tabletop flameless candles really added to the serene atmosphere. There was a little “creek” with tiny waterfalls running right by our table, which I loved!



It all sounds so tranquil to look at the photos and hear it described, but in actuality the atmosphere was festive. The music- Brazilian Samba, of course- was upbeat, rhythmic, and LOUD! Very loud. Too loud, actually at first. When we arrived the Brazilian dancer was performing, and the music is much louder while she is dancing. At first I wondered if it would remain at that decibel level the entire meal, Ron and I could hardly hear each other, even from across our tiny table. But yes, when the dance performance is finished, the music returns to a background volume, which I much preferred.

About the dancer though, she and her costumes were quite gorgeous. I know Savannah would have appreciated her outfit! LOL! And man that girl can DANCE! She danced, and danced, and DANCED for long periods, at a frantic pace that made me sweat bullets just watching! And she was in impossible looking 5 inch stilettos! Impressive without a doubt!



Here is a video of the dancing!



We had been seated at a nice two-top table in the center aisle of the restaurant. We were greeted, our drink orders were taken and we were given a bread basket of these tiny buttery rolls. These were sooo delicious. They were still so soft and doughy inside, but quite crispy outside. Yum!





The view right outside our table:

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Old 11-28-2011, 09:44 AM   #324
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You Keep the Tour Groups, We'll Have the Steak! (Part 2)

At Samba grill- like most of the Brazilian Steakhouse chains, there is an indicator on your table that tells the servers when you are ready for more meat, and when you do not want any more meat. At Samba, there is a light on your tabletop. It is clear, or neutral when you have not begun your main course yet (i.e. when you are eating from the Salad Bar), green when you are ready for more meat, and red when you want to stop. There is a little switch on it to push to change colors. A great system!



While we were waiting for our drinks, the dancer stopped by. She asked if either of us wanted to learn the Samba! Actually if I had been less hot and in more comfortable shoes, I might have gone for it, but I declined. She did pose for a picture though! Some tables did take her up on the lessons, just a short little combination of footwork – she spent about 5 minutes per table teaching it. A nice touch!



Our drinks came out shortly. They did have iced tea here- (I expected they would, as the Solarium Bistro does also by day). We also both ordered a Caipirinha- which is the Brazilian National Drink, made of limes, sugar, and sugarcane rum. We had never had them before but were trying to be authentic with our experience. I expected it to be quite sweet, but on the contrary it was tangy, sour and quite boozy. Neither of us cared much for it, but we drank it anyway.



Our server- who actually turned out to be our assistant server/our “Gaucho” explained to us the process and invited us to visit the salad bar. Oh, that salad bar! Do your best not to fill up at it, because so much more is awaiting you, but it is really an amazing selection:

Bread & Cheese:



Salad:



Deli Meats:



Salmon on the left and the delicious little Garlic Toasts on the right (served with olive and mushroom tapenades).



Seafood:





Desserts:



My appetizer plate. Ron warned me not to fill up on “that stuff” and I scoffed.

(Yeah, he was totally right!!!)



After we finished our appetizer plates, we turned the green light on and the carnivore feast began!



First out came the sauces, seen in the picture below on the left. The top (green) one was Chimichurri which had a savory herb pesto type flavor, the middle coarse Sea Salt, and the bottom (red) one was Tomatilla (rich tomatoey flavor). These could be used with any of the meats you wished, but our Gaucho was sure to suggest which sauces properly complemented each of the meat options.



In the center of this picture you can see a plate of grilled veggies which consisted of corn, onion, squash, eggplant, and of course- the ever present RCCL halved tomatoes (EVERYWHERE!) LOL!



Also brought out was a serving of fries and fried plantains to share. Frankly we didn’t waste much time or belly space on the veggies or starches…because….

Here comes the meat!!!



This first cut of meat was the Picanha. This is top sirloin and is billed as Samba Grill’s signature cut of meat. I did think it was delicious. It was juicy and quite flavorful. Our Gaucho paid close attention to how we liked our meat (Ron Med to Med-Rare and me Med-Well), and he would always bring out a skewer with meat that had one side uncut so I could have the outside cut of meat, and one side cut closer down for Ron to also have it cooked to his preference. Great service!

Be sure to have your little tongs ready and grab the piece of meat before it falls to the plate. I let my first few cuts fall before I realized I was supposed to be all up in there with my tongs.

Tongs, don’t be shy!





More, please!

The next cut was Fraldinha, which is bottom sirloin. This was delicious as well, but we both preferred the Picanha that came before it.
Next up is the Frango, tender wrapped chicken breast in bacon. To die for!



I was ALREADY getting so full! We are not even halfway done, here folks!!!



Here comes the Cordeiro (Lamb Chops) I passed this up since I was closing in on my limit, but Ron had two of these and said they were fantastic!!!

Next out was the Beef Tenderloin. Along with the Frango (chicken), this was my favorite. So tender I could cut it with my spoon, smooth, creamy texture, just enough spice encrusting it. It literally melted in my mouth. If I wasn’t already SO FULL I would have had more..And MORE!

At this point my Red light was permanently on. I could take no more. Our table light stayed green for Ron though, since there were several more types of meat to sample!

Next came the Costelo, fall off the bone, juicy beef ribs. Ron thought these were spectacular. I love ribs, but not enough to split my stomach in two so I didn’t try them.

Following the ribs was the Alcarta- more top sirloin. Ron said it tasted much like the rest of the sirloin. He wanted more lamb & ribs, LOL!

Then out came the Lombo: Parmesan cheese and herb crusted pork loin. I’m sorry I was too bloated to even pick up the camera at this point! Haha! Ron said it was good!

Did you think we were finally done?? Of COURSE not, silly! Finally the Linguigo- Brazilian style cured pork sausage came to our table.

(Will it stop now? I surrender already!!!)

But no, our beloved skewer brandishing Gaucho wanted to know if there were any particular cuts of meat we’d like more of (and to gently chide us to leave room for dessert. Hey dude, thanks, but it’s a little too late for that now!) Ron did take a little more of his three favorites: the lamb, ribs, and tenderloin.



Please no more!

Dessert selections were soon presented to us. There was a flan (a lot of flan on this boat. And tomatoes!), a Passion fruit Mango mousse (if I recall correctly) and a Chocolate Torte. We were brought one of each, which was more than enough. I didn’t even try the flan, which Ron said tasted better than the one the evening before at Rita’s. The passion fruit mousse was good, but after one bite we saved the rest for later. The only dessert item we really dug into was the chocolate torte- which was delicious. It was such a shame I was too full to eat more than a bite or two.



We were also offered an after dinner shot (at an extra cost, I think $5) called a “Make Me Happy”. It had a chocolate/caramel/ Kahlua flavor and was quite good.



I was beginning to think that they would have to roll us out of this restaurant like Violet Beauregard after she turned into the blueberry in Willy Wonka, but somehow we managed to make it out under our own power. What a fantastic meal! Completely worth the $25 cover in our opinion and a steal at the discounted price of $12.50 each that we paid. Absolutely outstanding!!

Up Next: The Stuff We Did, and the Stuff We Didn't
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:57 AM   #325
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You. Are. Making. Me. Sooooo. Hungry!!!!! That chicken looks incredible and the ribs sounded incredible!!!! OMG!!!!! If I had a drooling smiley, I would insert it here......
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Old 11-28-2011, 11:26 AM   #326
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Samba Grill... OH MY! Mouth-watering update
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Old 11-28-2011, 11:36 AM   #327
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Jen, I feel stuffed just looking at your pictures! Wow -- talk about lots and lots of food opportunities at that Samba place !!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-28-2011, 04:48 PM   #328
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Wow! Samba looks incredible!!! Will they give you just a bite size portion of all those meats???

Oh yeah...had forgot to ask earlier...does Allure have the yummy English Toffee cookies? They normally have them at Sorrento or one of the bakery cafes. I ate probably equivalent to my weight of those things on the Monarch last January.
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Old 11-28-2011, 06:31 PM   #329
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Hey Jen & Ron!

We returned Saturday on our Thanksgiving Oasis cruise. The info you provided was great. We used your extremely useful tips all week.

At the Captain's talk he said since the Oasis first sailed almost 2 years ago, both the Oasis and the Allure have sailed full each Saturday and Sunday! That is a lot of people on these 2 huge ships!

And yes, we were on the Oasis that had a norovirus outbreak. Here is the story from the Fort Lauderdale newspaper: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/loc...,7772492.story

Just a few random thoughts:

Amy Fickert was the cruise director. Never did figure out what the "big surprise" was the last night. I think it would have been better to have the characters appear on an upper area so everyone could see them, instead of in front of the mob scene down on the floor.

After watching sailaways for months on the port webcam, I was disappointed that our sailaway was late and we missed it because we had 6:00 traditional dining. There were about 6 ships in port but they all sailed one after the other - we did not sail until after 6:00 in the dark. And due to weather conditions thru the weak several Aqua shows and Splish Splash show had to be cancelled. But, we loved the ice skating show and saw it 3 times. Comedy show was good, too. The Motown singers were good as was Hairspray.

We were on deck 8, inside cabin 8141 - great cabin attendant and great location. Loved being on the Central Park deck. We took a tour of Central Park where they told all about the trees, plants and living wall. We also took the art tour and that was very interesting.

We only did the free food options and I would say it was so-so, nothing outstanding or to rave about. Just about everything offered in the MDR was also on the buffet. I thought surf and turf was steak and lobster but on this ship it was 3 garlicky shirimp and steak covered in a sauce. Lobster was offered another night. I was disappointed in the desserts - even the cookies did not seem fresh nor did the free donuts. We did get a great table for 2 that was by ourselves and on the railing. The Starbucks just opened on the Oasis and as ya'll reported, they do accept Starbuck's gift cards for payment, with the tip automatically added in.

We both had massages at the same time on our St. Martin day. They offer port spa specials that include a free glass of champagne. After the massage, the masseuse asked if I wanted champagne or water and of course I said champagne. She came back with water saying they were out of champagne. Huh? Ok. My dh was told the same thing but he kept saying it was included and pushed for it. They said they would have to go get more (hello...! yes, go get more!) and the whole thing put a damper on the massage as they made me feel like we were trying to get a darn glass of free champagne out of them. And, they really should get thicker robes. As I read on another thread on CC, you really can see thru the robes and have to wait in a public area!!! And of course, the tip was automatically added in, so what is the reason for them to do an extra good job? Dh and I had the same spa special but his included a head and neck massage that I did not get.

The ship is amazing and we are glad we did it. We thought we would book the Allure next, but once is enough on this size ship for us.

We parked in the RCCL port lot and rolled our luggage on. It is only dh and myself and we each had 1 rolling suitcase and 1 carry-on. I had read somewhere, seems if you have 2 rolling suitcases you have to wait in a huge line for the elevator. They want you to have 1 hand free to use the escalator, so that worked out for us. Great tip, there! One final irk.... seems our car has an ant infestation, inside and out, since parking there!

Can't wait to find out if Mickey or Shrek wins in your report. I know which one wins in our book!

Hope you don't mind me crashing in on your report. Thanks again for all of your help.
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Last edited by lucas; 11-29-2011 at 06:03 AM.
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Old 11-28-2011, 07:34 PM   #330
podsnel
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WOW!! Samba looked EXCELLENT!! Way to go Ron- Pods will be proud to hear you ate all that MEAT! We go to Brazilian Steakhouses with Evie & Tom- and the boys can ALWAYS out-eat the girls...I always like the sirloin & ribeye the best...and the chicken hearts the least! I can't even IMAGINE how fat I would get on a cruise with one of those!

You are giving such amazing detail of your cruise- mine is like "We ate a sandwich then sat by the pool". Way to go, girlfriend!! I feel like I was on the ship with you!!
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