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About chicagopaul

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    Chicago, IL
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  1. Dry Cleaning. Edward dripped a good amount of syrup on a tie during Chic night. My tie. One of my favorite ties. So we sent it to the cleaners and it just returned back and they got it all out. They did a great job and I’m very happy to report it.
  2. Silent Disco was last night but none of our friends wanted to go. So we found ourselves in the casino again and Nina and myself at Single Deck Blackjack. It was a great night at the table. I’m finally back to even! We had a few great dealers and had a lot of fun. We then decided to of course visit Amitava at the casino bar and ask him to smoke us some whiskey because why not?! Unfortunately we drank a lot last might so even with the hour back we skipped breakfast this morning. It was a bit of a rough morning for us in the hangover department. On the bright side the seas have been very calm today. The weather is still cool and today there has been a dense fog most of the day. Our position from earlier today.
  3. After the show ended we said hello to our friends at the martini bar, had a quick drink then went off to dinner at Tuscan. This night we decided to bring the bottle of Hall 1873 to dinner (2014). We arrived at Tuscan at exactly 8:30. The manager greeted us warmly and we had a nice window table in the back. The restaurant was not very busy but it appeared all the tables by the window were full except the one reserved for us. The menu has not changed in Tuscan but I feel like some adjustments have been made to the recipes. Here is the menu for those of you who haven’t seen it or just need a refresher. We started with three appetizers. We had the Burrata, carpaccio, and the meatballs. The burrata was soft and creamy. The tomato you see in the photo is marinaded in a balsamic marinade of some sort and it’s really fantastic. It has a vinegar taste but when you bite into it the sweetness from the tomato itself balances out the flavors very nicely. The carpaccio was sliced very well and you’ll see what is like an olive spread on the two sides of the plate. The quality of the meat I thought was good and it could stand on its own. It didn’t need an overdressing of sauce. These are obviously the meatballs. These were the best I’ve had in Tuscan. Very moist, not overly packed. Well balanced on the seasoning and I think the sauce had changed! Last time I had this sauce I thought it was too sweet. Now there is more acidity and it’s a well executed sauce. For our entree we decided to both get the filet mignon along with a small order of carbonara, broccoli, and polenta fries. The filet was cooked a great medium rare and was seasoned well with extra pepper (per my request). The carbonara was tasty and not over salted. Polenta fries were well cooked with a nice exterior crust and soft inside. They are not too heavy and make a nice little side dish with the steak. The broccoli was cooked well but was a bit bitter, though to be expected with broccolini. For dessert we split the tiramisu and had a double espresso. The tiramisu was very creamy and tasty as always. It’s one of my favorite desserts on any ship. The wine paired very nicely with the steak. This wine has a bit more tannins than the vineyards “Kathryn Hall” cab but still a very smooth finish. Prices for the Hall 1873 are around $85 in store if my memory serves correct. The sommelier, Wily from Indonesia, gave us just as much attention as if we bought the wine from her. We actually started chatting about Cabernet and wines they have on the ship and on the Edge as she helped open the ship. She was very friendly and provided great service. Our waiter was Max from Ukraine. Very nice guy, quick service throughout the entire meal. It was a great balance of checking on our needs while also leaving us alone to enjoy our meal together. The manager made a couple of table touches and was always observing the restaurant. He was very cordial, asked us about our meal on the way out, shook our hands, etc. Overall we had an excellent and “very solid” experience in Tuscan. Speaking to other people we’ve been talking to, including a couple Zeniths, Everyone has been very happy with Tuscan this cruise. Edward forced me to take this photo. You can see the excitement in my eyes for this photo. I just wanted to eat! Haha
  4. Yesterday afternoon Edward watched one of the free movies that everyone is apparently now talking about, haha, while I did a little work and blogging at the casino bar in the afternoon. We headed to the martini bar early yesterday as we wanted to catch the 7pm show last night. We also decided to make last minute reservations for Tuscan. So at 6pm we headed down to deck 3 aft to Tuscan to see if we could make an 8:30 dinner reservation. We had no problem. We then went to the martini bar which, for the first time this cruise, was standing room only! Tada made us our regular drinks and we chatted with Tada a bit and people watched. We went to the show just before 7pm. The show was iBroadway which basically features songs and dance acts from broadway and west end. Usually I find the theater not overly crowded but last night it was packed! We had to go up to deck 5 to find seats and even that deck ended up filling up to standing room only. The show itself was well done and entertaining. Most people really seemed to enjoy it mainly because everyone knows the songs. I thought the Frankie Valley portion was done the best.
  5. No spa treatments for me. However one of our friends has had several. Here is his thoughts. He had a facial, 80 minutes that he said was probably the best facial he’s ever had. He went for a deep tissue massage that he said he was the WORST he’s ever had. He said the woman not only was barely giving any pressure but there were several times she stopped touching him for more than 5 minutes at a time. He spoke to the manager who apologized and invited him back for another deep tissue on the house. he requested Vitney (definitely spelled that wrong) and he said she was phenomenal and it was an amazing massage. Hot tubs have gotten a fair amount of use. I’ve heard some complaints about the hot tub on the retreat deck not staying cold enough. Staff says it’s turned up all the way but the wind is cooling down the water. I checked the water of the hot tub in the Solarium and it was hot. The air temp in the Solarium is not overly warm on this cruise. I’m used to it being very humid but this cruise it’s not at all. In some cases it actually feels a bit cool in there. We havent hit the spa cafe but I’ve been wanting one of their green smoothies so I’ll be sure to check it out and report.
  6. He seems very nice and I’ve really liked his explanations of everything on the cruise director channel. We saw the show last night and he gave a quick minute talk with info and kept it simple but with lots of enthusiasm but genuine, not faked. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to chat with him at some point. We brought the dry cleaning from home. We find traveling with the shirts in dry cleaning bags helps decrease wrinkles and keeps wrinkles off in the closet especially when you have to shove stuff in! Thanks for commenting that they’re neat! I almost wanted to color coordinate them before taking the picture but the martini bar was calling my name or else it would’ve looked even better. We have used the laundry serve on the ship for pressing and regular laundry. The shirts unfortunately don’t come back in bags. The Prime Rib was on the MDR menu that night. Our waiter for the night Owenn suggested it. So that means no problem ordering from the MDR in Blu, at least on the millennium.
  7. On the M Class the Persian gardens are center ship from what I can see so there isn’t a view like on the S Class so we haven’t visited them. But I’ll try to make a point of checking them out for the blog. One of our friends has used the spa and Persian gardens multiple times so I’ll ask him his thoughts. From his initial impressions he liked them though he said the rooms in the gardens were smaller than he expected. Yes! The WiFi has been working great this cruise. I was actually chatting with someone yesterday who said he’s had no problem logging into his work server each morning.
  8. Good Morning! I’ll start by answering your questions but first let’s post he daily. Today the sun was out early but we quickly traveled into fog. The temp on the TV says 45 degrees but I’m currently sitting at sunset and it definitely feels warmer than that.
  9. Mid Cruise Review Well, if we were to board the ship today it would be as if we are taking a 7 day cruise as we have 7 days to go! Today is our 6th straight sea day with two more sea days left before we reach our first port of Otaru in Japan. As we are just past the mid point in the cruise I want to take this time to do my mid cruise review and point out the positives and negatives of the cruise and give you my thoughts of what I’ve really enjoyed thus far. Cabin: Let me start with the cabin itself, Aqua Class room 9042. The renovation is very nice. I think it’s beautiful, timeless, and the room feels bright and spacious and this is coming from someone whose last cruise was in a Royal! The bathroom is very small however the design is functional and very aesthetically pleasing. Traditional storage in the bathroom (such as covered shelves or drawers) is non existent but the shelving that is there is ample at least for our needs. What we did this cruise was keep things such as first aid kit, stain remover, emergency medicine, etc. in our luggage and just put out the essentials. This makes it much easier to get ready and helps keep us tidy in the bathroom. The ventilation in the shower is excellent. Even after taking a long hot shower there is no issue with steaming up the mirror, at least not until you open the shower door! Our room attendant has been excellent. We rarely see him with the exception of the occasional hello, but that is exactly what you want from your room attendant. He knows our schedule and the room has been cleaned very well, laundry returned quickly, etc. Cabin Noise: We have had some bizarre noises but nothing intrusive. Occasionally we have heard what sounds like water running in the cabin. The cabin door doesn’t seal as well as they should or could, so with that being said we hear the ocean some which to me is a positive thing, I love that sound, but I realize it might not be for everyone. Occasionally we will hear what sounds like a rolling cart above our cabin. None of these we have found as major issues at all, but just want to point them out. Casino: This cruise we’ve spent a decent amount of time in the Casino given all the sea days and the fact that our friends on the ship are loving the casino. The majority of the casino staff have been excellent with a few dealers that are really very nice. The bartenders at the casino bar have been very quick and our favorite, Amitava, has been so very nice. Getting a drink at a table is extremely easy. The slots have been very tight on this cruise according to everyone we’ve talked to with the exception of one couple who put in $2 and won $800….twice! I don’t think many of the casino tournaments have been attended well. I know they’ve announced them in the casino but they’ve been pretty hard to hear. We were planning to play the blackjack tournaments but didn’t seem like they were well attended at all. Table play at night has been not to well attended though there is always one blackjack table full along with a couple poker tables. I haven’t seen anyone playing craps Entertainment: We haven’t gone to any of the shows but we have seen some of the live music and have gone up to Sky Lounge in the evenings. We’ve also watched some of the beyond the podium speakers on TV. The daily has been full of things to do. Lots of speakers throughout the sea days on a variety of topics from nature to the brain to celebrities, etc. Live music throughout the ship has been pretty plentiful including the live band in the foyer, to music at care Bacio, etc. There is daily trivia that our friends have been attending every day and they’re decently picky people so it must be run well. I’ll ask them for the specifics and report back. I know they’re enjoying the music trivia. Blu: We’ve been pretty happy overall with Blu and have little complaints. Yesterday was a bit of an off night with some peoples food not being too great (especially the meatloaf and meatloaf presentation) and then our entrees taking forever to arrive. However, in the whole scheme of things we’ve been very happy with Blu and have enjoyed almost every item we’ve ordered. breakfast has been great. This morning I had a very fluffy omelet. The manager and hostess continue to touch tables throughout the meal service. We also asked if one night we could have an Indian night in Blu and they said yes! We plan to do this the day after next so we will see how that goes. I look forward to letting you now how it all is! Bars: Getting service at the bars has been no problem at all. The bartenders have all been great. Not too many people have drink packages on this cruise so that is the reason its so easy to get a drink. With that being said the bartenders have been excellent at checking on us as we sit there and asking us if we need another. They’ve been great at remembering our friends drinks and their special little changes they like to make to drinks. The staff outside at the Sunset Bar (Oceanview Bar, but I’m still falling it Sunset Bar) have been very friendly even on the rocky windy days when I know that’s the last place they’d want to be. Reddy has been very friendly, Randy one of the bar servers even went to find us blankets one day when we were cold, Roger from Jamaica (another bar server) always says hello. Tada, Agus, Bagus, and Deni at the Martini bar have been great and very friendly. Amitava and Bagus at the Casino bar are great and Lionel, one of the bar servers, has been very friendly and we’ve had some great chats with him. Cafe Al Bacio: Cafe Bacio has been pretty crowded during the mornings and early afternoon but service has been pretty quick. Routinely sitting down at a table (when we can find one) we are served almost right away and the staff has been extremely friendly. Even one of the assistant bar managers was helping out when it was busy, clearing tables and taking our order. The small tables around the grand foyer on deck 5 at al bacio are a bit on the small side, but they’re more comfortable than they look. It does make for fun people watching too and we always run into someone we know and have a quick chat. Weather: We’ve had some rocky days. The past two we’ve specifically felt some good movement both side to side and up and down. It never bothered me but I know some people were not feeling too well. Some outside decks were closed and our balcony was getting hit with some sideways rain even though we have a decent overhang. After leaving Sitka the weather has been pretty coo. One day was quite chilly. Layers are needed! Today was not too bad and the sun has been back out most of the day thus far. Cruise Director / Activity Staff: I’ve seen Cruise Director Steve out and about a bit. I watch the cruise director channel in the morning and I’ve been really happy with the way he explains about things not just going on the day of but also about things going on in the coming days which is great for planning. The activity staff throughout the ship has been very upbeat and friendly, especially when they’re running things in the Sky Lounge. Sea Days: I know some of you have asked me how I’m enjoying all the sea days. I am loving them! Yes, things are getting a bit…monotonous but I’m loving every minute of it and doing my best to try not to take any of the day for granted. At any point if I find myself being bored, I need to understand I’m happy with the boredom. I like sitting at Cafe Bacio with Edward simply not talking and just staring out at sea or people watching. Sitting back and relaxing and watching the staff work around and sipping on some coffee or a drink is perfectly relaxing for me. Sitting here at the Casino bar typing this review for all of you is perfectly relaxing. So I think it is now time for me to go play a little blackjack. Keep the questions coming! We have a whole 7 days to go and I’m excited to share them with you and show you our viewpoint of Japan!
  10. We are looking at the Windy app now and it looks like a system might be running into Japan this upcoming weekend which I hope it doesn't since that can easily affect our flight back home. As much as I'd love to spend more time in Tokyo that is not how I want to do it! We're loving the cruise so far and really looking forward to Japan! LOL, I was excited for it too! But when I went to order it Owenn gave me a look and said, I think you should get the prime rib. That's all I needed to hear! Haha. I think the other day they had meatloaf in the MDR for lunch that people liked but clearly it was not what they were serving in Blu.
  11. We’ve been at the martini bar every evening before dinner but haven’t been there after dinner. Mainly because we’ve been in the casino either playing or at the casino bar and watching our friends play. Or the occasional night in Sky Lounge. The staff at Martini Bar has been very nice and knows our orders and most of everyone else’s too. Tada is the “Godfather” I guess you could say. He’s a very nice guy and can appear quiet but once he gets to know you he is much more out going. He does magic at the bar and actually good magic, not just silly stuff. I’ll try to video a few tricks for you. Here is a little flight he made for us. All of these came out of the same shaker! We do have video of it that I’ll post.
  12. Hey Norma! Steve is our cruise director. I can’t remember ever having him before. I’ll take a photo of him and post it.
  13. Last night was dinner in Blu. We ate again with our friends so we had a table for 7 and Owenn was our waiter. We started with the fish cakes, followed by the grilled octopus and then we had the prime rib from MDR. The fish cake was quite good. Not sure what type of fish was used but it was tasty, similar to a crab cake. The grilled octopus was good. Not chewy but was lacking the awesome char that our octopus had in Luminae. I really liked the prime rib. The cook point of medium rare was perfect and it was served hot. The horseradish sauce on the side was excellent, as were the mashed potatoes that came with it. The green beans were good but they were just simple green beans. Meatloaf was on the menu. I asked Owenn about it and he pushed me towards the prime rib. It was a good call. Our friend at the table got it and it was...interesting. It almost tasted like canned food and had an interesting presentation coming out in hockey puck like form almost as if it came out of a can. I tried it and while there was plenty of flavor it was an interesting flavor to say the least. The entree took a while to come out. I think the MDR May have been a bit backed up getting things plated and caused the delay. The apple pie for dessert from the regular menu was excellent and was a huge piece. Very tasty. Nice crust. For wine last night Edward and I had the Grgich Hills Cabernet. Don’t think this is available by the glass. Not sure what the upcharge is but we will see. We’ve basically left our wine choices in Melwin’s hands and have let him surprise us each night.
  14. Happy Sunday morning from Blu. As I wait for our food to come out I figured I should post the Daily since I keep posting them late. Here you go!
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