Monday, 12 October 2015

Life as a Cruiser

Delicious grilled halibut with polenta was one of the dinners I ate
This blog post was originally written on October 8 but being published now. Thanks for reading!

Today we spent the day at sea and are on our way to Boston. Last night the ship was rolling over the waves and I got a bit seasick! I felt as if I was carsick and tried to get to bed as early as I could to sleep it off.

We went about our day and my brother and sister-in-law took in a tour of the galley kitchens. An interesting fact is that the Queen Mary 2's kitchen staff prepare 15,000 meals a day.

Marinated Peking duck was a bit of East-Meets-West
For breakfast we usually grab something to eat at the buffet area called King's Court, and there's everything from fried eggs to oatmeal, fresh fruit, pancakes and sausages, muesli, yogurt, and today I even saw congee, though it was plain.

In the evenings we dress up for dinner to eat at Britannia Restaurant, where we are served a more formal meal. While the presentation of the dishes isn't exactly refined, churning out thousands of dishes around the same time isn't an easy feat either.

Already missing the fluffy scrumptious scones at afternoon tea
For the most part the food has been fantastic. The salads have always been fresh and crisp, mains are a good portion and on the whole delicious. I particularly liked the vegetable and cashew korma I had last night with popadums.

However, tonight we were disappointed by the grilled lobster tail. We had assumed the crustaceans were ferried on board yesterday from Sydney, Nova Scotia, but we were wrong. Our waiter told us the lobsters had been put in storage at the beginning of the trip and only now were cooked.

That explains why the lobster tails hardly tasted fresh and were soft in texture. While it is understandable the kitchen wanted to save the lobsters for a particularly formal occasion, freshness is of the essence when it comes to seafood and should have been consumed as quickly as possible.

The Indian vegetarian cashew korma was a winner
A good way to make up for it would be to use the shells to make bisque the next day so we wonder if that will happen tomorrow.

I have mostly avoided dessert, though the soufflĂ© with vanilla sauce was pretty good, fluffy and light – not bad again considering hundreds of these are being served around the same time.

This afternoon the Queens Room held not only the traditional afternoon tea but also the tea dance and so it was packed by the time my mom and I arrived after watching a one-hour condensed version of Romeo and Juliet.

Desserts anyone? In the Queens Room
Many people were on the dance floor, while others sat back to enjoy the proceedings. We had to share a table, and sat with a couple from Toronto but were originally from Hong Kong.

I tried to make conversation with them, asking if they were enjoying the cruise. The wife immediately replied that this one wasn't as good as Celebrity Cruises because the ships were newer and the food tasted better.

This made conversation awkward as we thought it was pretty good (again considering how big the ship is), but she and later her husband chimed in that this cruise was more British, meaning it was more formal at dinner, how the ship was old (2004?!) and how it catered more to elderly people.

Um, yes… the vast majority of cruisers are elderly people, and Cunard is known for its Britishness – to separate itself from other cruise companies. Even more so, the Queen Mary 2 is large enough that it doesn't feel crowded which is no easy feat.

The one bad meal -- not fresh lobster tail (right) with shrimp
My mom later told me that cruises on Celebrity are very expensive, practically double the cost of ones on Cunard. So of course if you pay more you get better service…

The wife sat there, her arms folded, as if nothing was good enough for her. She didn't even eat anything, nor did they want to dance. So why be there?

Even though they immigrated to Toronto, they are still very much like Hong Kong people – ones who think they are too good for anything and deserve even more.

Who do these people think they are?

Feting some of the chefs who cook 15,000 meals every day
One wonders where this superior attitude comes from – is it insecurity from being ruled by the British, and now under the Chinese? What about being a bit more appreciative of the most basic things, starting with good health?

Perhaps then Hong Kong people wouldn't be so miserable? While having high standards as a customer challenges the hospitality industry in a good way, never being satisfied seems too extreme…

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