A lovely Chef’s Table experience with a strange discussion, Christmas in the Caribbean, non-human passengers in Central Park

Merry Christmas!! It is just past noon on December 25. We’re cruising in a leisurely manner towards Cozumel, Mexico. The temperature is in the low eighties, with brilliant blue skies. Can’t tell you about the seas right now because we’re sitting in Central Park but are moving in a little while to the pool deck.

Last night’s dinner was excellent. There were 12 of us total for the chef’s table, including one of the officers and his wife. The venue was located on deck 12 aft in an alcove above the concierge lounge. This is in the same cross-ship structure that has the Dazzle lounge a few decks below. We had personalized name tags and a program showing the menu and the seating arrangements complete with everyone’s name. The first course included poached salmon and a small piece of lobster on a fennel, watercress and pea salad. It was accompanied by a Cline Viognier from California. Our wine sommelier was very generous with the pours, which was hazardous to the well-being of a young Brazilian lady who was the paramour (is that still a recognized word?) of a much older gentleman from Miami. Before each course, we learned about the wine and the chef de cuisine also talked (at length) about how he made the selections. The second course was a duo of soups in demitasse cups, accompanied by a yummy little duck slider sandwich on freshly made brioche. The soups were a duck consomm√© (meh) and a creamy celeriac root concoction that was quite delicious. The wine with this course was a Pinot Noir from Oregon. The third course had seared diver scallops and a delicious Schramsberg brut sparkling wine. Finally, the main course arrived (we had been there almost two hours at this point), a lovely plate of roasted veal medallions and delectable little potato “plugs”, accompanied by a bold red blend (heavy on the Malbec) from Argentina. The final course was a nougat concoction with a dessert wine (not sure what kind because I was getting a bit numb at this point). We also had trays of chocolate covered strawberries, fresh berries and other little sweets. Oh, and we had delicious breads with the dinner. Although I still think “Remy” on Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy has the best tasting menu on the high seas, we thought this experience rivaled La Reserve on Oceania’s Marina. At the end of the meal, we received a copy of the RCI cookbook from their specialty restaurants. Glad we didn’t buy one at Chops Grille from our pushy waiter on Sunday.

Unfortunately, our table mates were a bit of a mixed bag. The young officer and his wife were quite nice. He is the safety officer on board Oasis and is from Sweden. His wife is from Florida and worked at RCI before he did and even helped on the transfers of Oasis and Allure from Finland to Ft. Lauderdale. They have an 11-month-old son (jokingly said to be the boyfriend of the Captain’s infant daughter) . The older guy from Miami and his very young Brazilian girlfriend seemed rather absorbed in each other. I was sitting next to a couple from New Jersey and, at first, I had fairly innocuous conversations with her (hubby at the end of the table said very little during the dinner). There was another quiet young couple from New Zealand next to Steve and the group was rounded out with a British couple around our age that lives in Miami. Towards the end of dinner, I’m not sure what happened but the woman from New Jersey had to suddenly express some fairly obnoxious political and religious opinions, first asking “what is wrong with the people in Colorado and their damn guns?”. Her hubby chimed in and we were both taken aback at the tone of the conversation. We ended up in a lengthy discussion that got a little heated at times, not something we really wanted to do. I really don’t want to go into details, but suffice to say this woman who self-identified as a devout Catholic and Reaganite Republican and her hubby who loudly proclaimed he was a capitalist, had opinions that were completely opposite of those alleged claims and they talked the progressive mantra like something right out of the editorial pages of the NY Times or from the “lean forward” cretins on MSNBC. I wish the conversation had never started (we didn’t initiate it – discussing politics and religion with strangers is on my list of bad things to do, even though I have strongly held beliefs. Conservatives are usually reticent on sharing their opinions because the various “hater” cards are played within minutes if you say you want limited government or support the Second Amendment or don’t agree with amnesty or don’t care for unlimited abortion on demand or would prefer marriage to be more traditional in nature – that last one is getting close to being declared official hate speech in this country, sadly). The staff finally kicked us out of the place around 11:30 pm and we parted ways with Mr. And Mrs. Opinion. If Mrs. Opinion was a practicing Catholic, she certainly ignores the Church dogma and official Vatican positions on various things, even with some of the confused meanderings of Pope Francis. Not sure we’ll be seeking them out for drinks.

We slept in this morning and decided to have breakfast at the Park Cafe in Central Park and hang out here for a while. This area is a paradise! I was startled to see some birds and one of the staff informed me that there are also a few lizards in the park to keep insects away that somehow find their way in when Oasis is in port. People have had a lot of fun with the Christmas theme – we have seen Santa hats, reindeer horns, people with lights on and funny t-shirts. Steve did four laps of the track down on deck 5 (1.72 miles total), in a vain effort to stem the tide of the inevitable cruise weight gain from eating and drinking. Tonight we stuff our faces again at 150 Park Central, the top specialty restaurant. We really like Oasis of the Seas so far!

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