MKR X ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES
It’s no secret that I love cruising and spending time by the ocean. My obvious love of food, sunshine, travel and quiet time goes hand-in-hand with my appreciation for cruising. So any chance I get to sail away, I take it. When Royal Caribbean together with My Kitchen Rules invited me along to a foodie experience aboard Legend of the Seas, I answered with a hearty, yes. It was the first time I was to experience being aboard a cruise ship during the cooler months in the southern hemisphere, and in this girl's life, a few days with no cellular reception is sometimes a blessing. This particular experience gave 10 lucky people the chance to a win a cruise and take part in an exclusive My Kitchen Rules dining experience with this year’s MKR Grand Finalists, Will & Steve and Jac & Shaz complete with cocktail party and a specially crafted menu by the MKR chefs. Of course, in true Royal Caribbean Style, there was plenty of other bits and pieces that made it super easy to fill my few days on board Legend of the Seas.
Kicking off… We sailed away from Sydney celebrating at a private deck party. The view was incredible. The city sky was aglow with tones of electric blue and stormy grey. Drinks were flowing and canapés kept coming, but we had to watch ourselves – dinner was to be served at Chops Grille – and I had only ever hear amazing things about this on board dining experience. So of course, I saved some room. The meal was wonderful. A standout was the fried goats cheese appetiser served over a fresh salad dressed with a sweet and tangy vinaigrette. The three-course meal was served with abundant sides to complement our steak and lobster. Then came a selection of specialty desserts, including red velvet cake, cheesecake smothered with berry compote, and molten chocolate lava cake. We were all too full ta enjoy a full dessert, but still gave it a go anyway and shared them among the table.
When I retreated to my room for the night, I thought I’d get some writing done… then I realised had I accidentally forgotten to pack my lap top charger and converter plug – super silly of me because all Royal Caribbean liners are fitted with American outlets. Coincidence? Probably not. Instead of working that night, I wandered to the Library on board and found myself a book that I committed to finishing during the two days on board.
The next day…
After breakfast, we enjoyed a tour of the galley where all of the food aboard is prepared. The magnitude of that operation always astounds me. This was the second time I had been on a galley tour aboard a Royal Caribbean ship and once again, my favourite section was the bakery. A head baker and his team bake fresh breads and pastry from scratch every single day. My kryptonite: the brown seeded roll with a sprinkling of cheese on top, served warm with butter at dinner.
After the Galley tour I had some time to pass, and considering working was not an option, I picked up my book from my room and went on a self guided tour of the ship. The 70,000 tonne ship underwent an extensive $50 million revitalisation in 2013, and now boasts new facilities that guests won’t find onboard any other cruise ship sailing from Brisbane. Like Rhapsody of the Seas, Legend has a central Atrium that makes for a perfect meeting place. This particular one is fitted with an acrobatic aerial show. Then there’s the rock climbing wall, a mini-golf course, an indoor swimming pool, and a nursery. As far as being a foodies paradise, Legend of the Seas features six dining spaces including specialty options: Izumi Japanese, Chops Grille steakhouse and the exclusive Chef’s Table private dining room – until this cruise, I had only experienced two. Other onboard features include a stunning two-deck grand dining room, an 800-seat theatre with Broadway-style shows, a beauty salon and a shopping arcade, and my favourite, the Vitality Spa & Fitness centre.
After spending the afternoon doing nothing but reading, drinking coffee and taking in the fresh ocean breeze, I headed back to my room to get ready for the main event, the MKR dining experience at the exclusive Chef’s Table private dining room. In an intimate setting, I joined a small group of food and travel writers for a 3 course My Kitchen Rules inspired menu. Entrée was confit of Atlantic salmon with pea puree, poached lobster tail and shellfish oil. The main course was confit duck leg with honeyed beetroot and compressed watermelon. Then the sweet stuff, peaches and cream; roasted peaches with crème fraiche ice cream and fennel biscuits. We enjoyed our meals with wine and heard from the contestants about what it was like to take part in the show. They shared insights on what they plan to do next, but for now, it seems like both couples are just enjoying the wave. Will and Steve share a great dynamic. They balance each other out beautifully, and it was easy to see how their energy won them the show. I have no doubt that success awaits both couples, now that they’re planning for a culinary future.
Some me time…
Later that evening, I booked myself in for a massage at the Vitality Spa – an absolute must for anyone planning to take a cruise with Royal Caribbean. The Vitality brand is exclusive to the Royal Caribbean brand, and was created to be all-encompassing wellness experience. In fact, with all the dining options on board, certain menu items are marked with the vitality symbol that indicates the meal is low in fats and sugars. The Daily Compass (which is the on board newsletter) also features various wellness activities you can take part in that steer away from the stereotypical overindulgence that comes with cruising. I absolutely love this feature on board Royal Caribbean ships – it makes it so easy to make healthier decisions while on board.
While enjoying my massage experience, the therapist used what felt like a dry brush on my skin. When I asked what she used that felt like a swift sweep over my back, she explained the benefit of dry brushing, and I’ve been doing it ever since! These therapists are among some of the most knowledgeable in the world – just imagine the types of people they consult with – the different skin types and conditions that they are fully qualified to deal with. My massage was the perfect way to get settled in for the night… and the late night room service call was quite the treat too. Salad and fries in bed never tasted so good. It inspired me to order some breakfast to the room for the next morning. So before I slept, I placed my order on the door handle and slept easy knowing I’d have coffee, fruit, toast and cereal delivered to my door.
Legend of the Seas will be Royal Caribbean’s first ever ship to be home-ported in Queensland when she arrives in Brisbane in December 2015.
Viola Doyle of Project Sweet Stuff enjoyed this experience as a guest of Royal Caribbean