When we last left our heroes, they were enjoying a lunch of such proportion and variety they had trouble choosing what to eat!
(Okay, not really. But there were a lot of choices!)
- You can bring food almost anywhere on the ship to eat; poolside, your cabin,the top deck.
- If you do bring food outside the enclosed dining watch out for seagulls! The beggars will steal right off your plate if they get the chance.
- If you have food sensitivities, let the maitre’d know; they will arrange food free of whatever you react to.
- APPRECIATE THE CREW.
- If there are special activities and areas on the ship for kids, take advantage of them so that you the parents can have worry-free fun too.
- Look at the world outside the ship as well as what’s inside.
And here’s the story:
I had a lovely salad, cheese, I drooled over Ted’s juicy roast beef (I had missed seeing the rotisserie on my first review of the food offerings – half the restaurants were on the pool side of the Lido deck, and the other half in the dining area) so went to snag some of my own, and for dessert? A piece of moist apple crumb cake with crunchy, sugary chase-every-last-nibble-down crisp on top, and a fruit cup with chunks of candied orange in the center and a dollop of melt-in-your-mouth cream frosting on top. Leanne and Don were done with their lunch already, so I had to leave my desserts under Jerry’s care for a bit. (Two VERY impressive side notes – One, Jerry didn’t touch my treats while I was away. Two, the service was fast. Unattended plates were cleared very quickly.)
Now, something I didn’t know until the last day of the cruise is Tip #1 – you can fill a plate and bring it almost anywhere to eat on board ship; your cabin, poolside, the mini-golf course, the forward deck! I would caution you, however, with Tip #2 – if you want to eat outside to enjoy sun and breeze, either bring your drink with you or station someone to wave off the seagulls! They’re bold little rotters who will land right on your table and eat off your plate if you let them! I kid you not; we saw it happen – not in time to do anything, since we were inside and the gulls were already deep into someone’s salad before we noticed, unfortunately. If you’ve ever watched the Pixar movie Finding Nemo, gulls really do behave like “rats with wings” like Nigel said. (I’ll have to ask Lee if he got a picture.)
Don, Leanne and I went to see if the maitre’d of the formal dining room. There’s almost always food available, but breakfast and supper can be more formal – and I would really encourage taking advantage of that!
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We went in search of the maitre’d because I’m allergic to onions, and both Leanne and Don are sensitive to gluten. I was amazed and a bit… hm… chagrined; I’d been assuming I would operate as normal, which is to say I’d either stick with buffet-style meals or ask the server what was safe for me to eat and then stick with that one meal the entire time. It reduces the scope of the experience, sure, but it’s a lot more agreeable than being sick on onions for four days. Trouble is, I really dislike being a guest in a place where the host(s) has to make allowances for me. On the other hand, if they’re willing to cater to the allergy…
The maitre’d was… surprising. Concerned, adamant that I would not come into contact with onions during my time on the Imagination, and so very helpful. She explained that the day’s meal was already prepared – steaks, for example, were already marinating – so I would have to pick something and then she could tell me if it had onions or not. She walked me through the menu, and wrote all my choices down to be given to the staffpeople who were assigned to table 387, and assured me over and over that I would be perfectly safe. Each night, I would be given a menu and I would choose my next day’s meal so it could be prepared onion-free.
So, Tip #3 – if you have any food sensitivities, stop by the formal restaurant, talk to the maitre’d, and arrange your meals. On Carnival at least, they will bend over backwards to keep you safe while ensuring you have the full range of experiences available.
And that brings up something else. There are a few crew areas, where the staff can be themselves, not having to worry about being constantly cheerful, helpful, accommodating. But while they’re among the guests, they are wearing their professional faces. They clean your rooms, make your beds, fix your food, clear and wash your dishes, give you directions, polish the brass bannisters and vacuum the elevator landings and hallways. Yes, their job is to make sure you are having a good time. Yes, they are being paid to do so. APPRECIATE THEM. Seriously. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and for god’s sake smile at them. Not because treating them kindly will get you better treatment; they are already working hard and dealing with people that just can’t be pleased no matter what they do or say. Appreciate them because they are doing a difficult job, they are doing it well, and they still find time and energy enough to smile and make every passenger feel special.
So. Don, Leanne and I returned to the dining area on the Lido deck (they really do call it that – even on the maps! Apparently ‘lido‘ is the Italian word for beach, and gradually the term began to refer to any outdoor swimming area, including the ones on cruise ships) and I retrieved my treats. Then Leanne wanted to make sure and show us the “Serentity” area – a deck on the absolute aft of the ship dedicated to adults only. Two hot tubs, sun bathing chairs, access to the bar for those who drink…
Carnival has special areas for kidlets, grouped by age. I don’t have any personal experience with that, but Leanne and Don do. Their kids had a blast, and Don and Leanne were able to enjoy themselves fully, knowing that their sons and daughters were safe and having fun. Tip #5 – If you have children, TAKE ADVANTAGE of the kids’ programs on board ship.
Oh, and Tip #6 – EXPLORE!! You would not believe what designers have packed into these floating cities! A casino, lounges, performance stages, an outdoor jogging track, minigolf, a spa and a full gym!
And they have tours.
You’re still going to get lost. Occasionally. I was on board four days, got to know the place fairly well, and I still had trouble finding the Spirit Dining Room.
Last bit of advice of the day, Tip #7 – look around occasionally. It’s going to be tempting to focus solely on what’s aboard the ship. Go out on deck, look out portholes. You might see something amazing.