What sets a cruise ship apart? Unique spaces
Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas passengers can stop and smell the flowers. Both ships have an open-air Central Park neighborhood on Deck 8. (oasisoftheseas.com / January 23, 2012)
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These spaces exemplify the lyrics of the Dean Martin song, "Memories are made of this," and you can find them in the following ships, arranged alphabetically by cruise line:
Celebrity Cruises -- Aficionados of the sea and of grilled foods they can prepare themselves may wish to check out The Lawn Club Grill on the Celebrity Silhouette (the new Celebrity Reflection debuting in 2012 will have this restaurant as well). Located within The Lawn Club, Celebrity's signature space on its Solstice-Class ships (the first park with real grass at sea) this interactive restaurant on Deck 15 is a 56-seat dining option overlooking the lawn and the sea. It features stainless steel grills, large ovens and a custom pizza-making table. An alternative restaurant, passengers have the opportunity to grill their choice of high-quality meats including a New York strip steak, filet mignon, veal or lamb chops, salmon and more, alongside Celebrity chefs, or have their selection grilled to order, and enjoy their dinner alfresco afterwards. There is a social element - socializing with chefs and other passengers while grilling and preparing a pizza. Guests can wash their dinners down with sangria, beer and wines. A surcharge of $40 per person applies to dining at The Lawn Club Grill (alcoholic beverages are extra). Visit www.celebritycruises.com.
Disney Cruise Line -- Disney introduced the first water coaster at sea, the Aquaduck on the Disney Dream (will also be on the Disney Fantasy when she debuts in 2012). It sends riders on a thrilling, 765-foot-long, four-deck-high flume ride with drops, twists, uphill acceleration, turns - and a swing out loop that propels guests on inflatable rafts sliding 13 feet over the side of the ship in a transparent tube for a look at the sea - a whopping 150 feet below. Visit www.disneycruise.com.
Holland America Line -- The Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine Magazine on Holland America ships is a hands-on cooking experience with the line's master chefs or culinary guests. The Culinary Arts Center is a theater-style venue with a state-of-the-art kitchen with multiple large plasma television screens for cooking demonstrations, hands-on cooking classes, food-and-wine pairing seminars and wine tastings. Focus is often on the culinary traditions and dishes of destinations on the cruise itinerary. Book signings, Q&A sessions and market tours are offered at select ports. Visit www.hollandamerica.com.
Oceania Cruises -- The Bon Appetit Culinary Center on the Marima (will also be onboard the Riviera when she debuts in 2012) boasts 24 workstations outfitted with induction cooking tops, sinks and utensils for hands-on workshops. Among the workshop offerings are a la carte classes on breakfast dishes, Greek specialties, chocolate desserts and flavors from the sea. Bon Appetit, in partnership with the cruise line, selects a roster of chefs to lead the workshops. Visit www.oceaniacruises.com.
Royal Caribbean International -- Cruising is about stopping to smell the flowers, and on this line's Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas passengers can literally do that. Both ships have an open-air Central Park neighborhood on Deck 8, with lush natural greenery including "living walls" with climbing bleeding heart vines interspersed with other vines. In all, there are more than 12,000 trees and plants in this tropical garden at sea, a landscaping specialist and three horticulturists to care for such eye-pleasing greenery as ficus and olive trees and ornamentals, like anthuriums, white jasmine vines, ixhoras and krotons. Complimentary guided tours with the landscaping specialist are offered and this pleasant enclave, that spans the length of a football field, is fitted with trellises, benches and chess and backgammon tables and it offers restaurants with indoor/outdoor seating. Birds sometimes drop in at the ports of call and often stay for a while - or even a few days - adding their own songs to the piped-in chirping bird daytime sounds (at night cricket sounds add to the park ambience).
Silversea Cruises -- The Hot Rock Grill introduced with the Silver Spirit in 2009 and rolled out to other Silversea ships due to its popularity, is a casual alfresco restaurant, on Deck 10, overlooking the pool and whirlpools and the sea. Wait staff brings chips, salsa, guacamole and bread and a singer and keyboard player entertains while guests sip complimentary wines (and the meal itself is included in the price of passage). After a green salad, diners can have their choice of such steakhouse fare as filet mignon, pork chops, salmon, king prawns and more - but what makes the meal more memorable is that guests cook it at their table themselves on a hot volcanic plate, while being fanned by ocean breezes. Baked potato and grilled vegetable skewers accompany the entrée. For a sweet finishing touch warm apple pie with vanilla sauce and vanilla ice cream is among dessert choices. The Hot Rock Grill is on all Silversea ships except for the Silver Cloud as of December 2011, and it is not planned for the Silver Explorer, the line's expedition vessel. Visit www.silversea.com.