Today marks the seventh day that we have been on board and this morning we sit ya Cafe al Bacio having our morning coffee and watching the ocean sail by.
We had a couple of days docked in Thailand and are now on our way to Ho Chi Minh for a day on the Vietnam leg of the cruise. So far we have chosen to get off the ship in Thailand just once for a day exploring Pattaya and it was nice to spend a day exploring somewhere in Thailand that we had not been before but on reflection it was not really a great place to visit. It had all the requisite things for a beach destination – sun, beach, restaurants, shopping, markets and dining but it was like visiting a shabbier version of Phuket.
The good thing about it was that it was just 30 minutes from the ship and so it was easy to get too and from. After the usual shopping, some great Thai food, a massage and a manicure and pedicure we had spent a full day experiencing Pattaya and then we headed back on board.
Before that we had experienced a range of great things on board, there is always something to do and take part in on the ship and there are a range of great speciality restaurants that offer some nice dining alternatives and some great food. We had pre purchased a 5 dinner package with three nights in the Olympic restaurant and then two dinners at QSine. so far we have done one night at each and have our second night at the Olympic tonight.
Olympic is a traditional French full service restaurant that harks back to a past era of fine dining and service with table flambé and pate, Dover sole, lobster, crepe Suzette that all add to a delightful night for dinner.
QSine is another thing all together, best described as a trip around the world degustation style with a menu that offers dishes from 20 different countries all served in small taster sizes and served in very unusual styles such as boxes, racks, trays and other fun ways that all add to the delight and theatricality of the food. Added to this is the quirky furniture and the fact that the menu is presented on iPads and one person at your table then coordinates the menu and presents it to your waiter when ordering.
It is suggested that you do seven or eight dishes each time you eat there and we had seven over the course of our first meal there and followed it up with dessert. The food was stunning and ranged from curries from India, shish kebabs from Persia, slider hamburgers of wagyu beef from the US, lava crab and seafood served chilled and served with a range of different vodkas as part of the sauce which was delicious.
We all agreed that every dish we ordered was exceptional and there was not one dish we did not all like. We each of course had our favourites and look forward to returning for our second dinner to work our way through more of the menu. Of course desert was another great treat and like the rest of the meal you are encouraged to share but we all opted for individual dishes here and the menu for this course is served on a rubiks like cube.
Again each dish is imaginatively served and presented with style and flair. It all added to a great night of dining.
We have also done a champagne tasting on board and learnt all about process, grape varietals and the differences in styles which was a great way to spend an afternoon whilst sipping each of the sparkling a and champagnes that were being discussed.
The larger group that we are travelling with are all great and each night we have found ourselves taking over the martini bar for cocktails before we head to dinner. This is a great way to catch up and continue to foster the friendships that have been blooming since the first night that we came on board and met the Pied Piper travellers.
As we did not head to Bangkok, (after having been so many times the three hour drive was not an option for us) it was great to hear the myriad of tales from those that did go in and how much they enjoyed it. For all the political unrest none of our group saw or had to deal with any of it in their travels around the Thai capital.
There is a standard booking in the main dining room each night for us at tables with the other Pied Piper travellers and adds to the camaraderie that has been developing. Dining here lasts a couple of hours each night and they have a main menu and then every day a page of chefs specials that add to it and last night included grand mariner soufflé which was just divine.
You might think that this trio has been all about food and that might be true to a point but we have been balancing that out by hitting the gym every day and also spending time winding down and really relaxing, but saying that we have signed up to do a private cooking class at the Olympic this morning which should be great fun!
Next up morning tea and the cooking class, pool time, gym, reading and then dinner at the Olympic again tonight before we land in Vietnam in the morning…so more to come!