Specialty Restaurants

Review: Giovanni's Table on Brilliance of the Seas

In:
16Dec2015

Of all the Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants available, few have spread as far and as wide as Giovanni's Table has, especially given how relatively new it is to Royal Caribbean.

While aboard Brilliance of the Seas, I just could not resist the temptation to enjoy lunch at Giovanni's Table one more time.

I had no plans to dine at Giovanni's Table, but the tempting favorites along with the lower lunch price swayed my decision on one particular sea day.

Atmosphere

Located on deck 6, Giovanni's Table is across from the ever popular Schooner Bar.

Walking in, the restaurant is rather large and offers seating in a variety of configurations.

The restaurant is essentially one large room, with windows making up one wall, that offer an unobstructed view of the ocean.

On our day to eat here, there were waves of 2-4 meters, so we certainly had some action to see.  Admittedly, these waves were also responsible for not having the largest of appetites with all of the motion.

Giovanni's Table will not win any accolades purely for its aesthetical looks, but it feels like a restaurant that is distinct from its surroundings and certainly more elaborately decorated than Rita's Cantina

Eats

It is no secret that Giovanni's Table is an Italian restaurant and there are plenty of Italian favorites to pick from on the menu.

On my last visit to Giovanni's Table on Freedom of the Seas, I felt I did not do a good job ordering, so this time I would try something more on the "seafood spectrum" as means of correcting the experience.

Once seated, we were served complimentary bread and olive oil.  This is consistent with the every other Giovanni's Table I have dined at and having bread and oil is a standard practice among many Italian restaurants.

As I said earlier, the ship was rocking quite a bit so we ordered lightly.  

To start with, we shared an insalata caprese.

This is your standard tomato and mozzarella salad. If I can be picky, I would point out the tomatoes are the same previously frozen tomatoes served in the Windjammer.  Not the end of the world, but I was hoping for something fresher.

I also ordered the eggplant parmigiana.

The eggplant parm from Giovanni's Table is not breaded and is more of a baked eggplant than traditional eggplant parm.  Nonetheless, I would say this was the best eggplant parm I have had at Giovanni's Table in quite a while.

For our entrees, I ordered the sole filets, while my wife opted for the pappardelle pasta.

My fish was a lightly fried sole filet that was served on top of sautéed garlic zucchini spaghetti.

The fish was light and pretty good, but it was the zucchini that I really enjoyed.  Combining the zucchini and fish together was a real treat and if I were to order this again, I would ask for extra zucchini.

My wife's pasta came in a white cream sauce and the little she ate of it, she enjoyed (the motion of the ocean was starting to get to her by this point).  

I sampled a bit of it too and thought the pasta tasted better than something out of the box.

Overall

Giovanni's Table on Brilliance of the Seas is a good option for those looking for Italian food that is more than just the typical pasta and sauce served in the Windjammer.

It is far from my favorite specialty restaurant, but the price (especially for lunch) makes it almost impossible to ignore. 

I will point out that when we dined there, there were perhaps six tables but only one waiter who also was serving as maître d'.  

Because of this, the service was extremely slow.  It did improve towards the tail end of the meal when more servers showed up to assist. 

Our overworked waiter was still quite generous, because he opted not to charge my wife for her meal because she barely ate it due to her not feeling well.  Definitely a welcome gesture and a credit to his service.

If you are asking, "should I eat at Giovanni's Table on Brilliance of the Seas," my advice is go for lunch on a sea day and take advantage of the lower cost and ease of which it is to get a table.  Stick with traditional Italian dishes and enjoy the view!

Giovanni's Table is open for lunch 12:00pm to 1:30pm and open for dinner 6:00pm to 9:30pm and we reviewed Giovanni's Table on Brilliance of the Seas.

Dining with kids in Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants

In:
14Dec2015

Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants are one aspect of the cruise experience many guests look forward to each sailing, but just because you have children with you does not mean you cannot enjoy these restaurants.

Royal Caribbean welcomes children younger than 13 in all of its specialty restaurants (when accompanied by an adult) and even offers them special pricing.

How much does it cost for children to eat at specialty restaurant?

Kids ages 6-12 can dine at specialty restaurants for a $10 cover charge.

Kids 5 years old and under eat free.

Is there a special menu for kids?

Kids 5-12 have a modified adult menu,which is a round-up of kid-friendly favorites from the regular menu.

Kids under 5 are free and have a kiddies menu similar to the kids menu in the main dining room.

Some restaurants do not have kids menus and so kids order off the regular menu.

Royal Caribbean specifies restaurants such as Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, 150 Central Park, and Chef's Table do not have kids menus, as those experiences are better suited for guests age 13 and older. 

What if my kids want to eat off the regular adult menu?

In this scenario, you may be charged full price for your children.

It is worth discussing with your waiter, as we have heard of situations where they still charge the children pricing.  

Your mileage may vary, but expect to pay full price for children ordering off the regular menu when there is no kids menu option.

How do I make reservations at a specialty restaurant if I am bringing children?

If you book in advance, you will pay the full price but then it will be adjusted for the children's price as a credit on your SeaPass on board.

Bookings made on board will be charged the reduced rate when booked.

Because the Cruise Planner does not offer pricing for children, we recommend making reservations for a party size that omits the children and then showing up to the reservation with the children and informing the staff your dining party has grown.

This strategy allows guests to not overpay for their dining reservations and require an adjustment later.

What is the pricing for children at a la carte specialty restaurants?

At a la carte specialty restaurants, children are charged based on what they order off the regular menu.

Here's how to get free money for eating at Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants

In:
12Dec2015

Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants offer some amazing food and many guests love to go back again and again to enjoy them.

But with so many great choices, did you know about a trick to get free onboard credit just by making plans to eat at specialty restaurants?

We share the secret to getting free onboard credit just for booking Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants before your next cruise.

Review: Rita's Cantina on Brilliance of the Seas

In:
09Dec2015

It is time to talk about a specialty restaurant that we have never reviewed before, Rita's Cantina on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas.

Rita's Cantina is a Tex-Mex inspired restaurant that first launched on Allure of the Seas when she debuted and has since spread to a number of Royal Caribbean ships.

Before ever stepping foot into Rita's, I had read quite a number of reviews online and most guests seemed to have a negative view of Rita's, especially compared to Sabor Modern Mexican.

I try not to judge anything based purely on what I may read or hear about it, but I will admit I did lower my expectations considerably.  I assumed a meal at Rita's would not be similar to my amazing meals at Sabor, but I wanted to keep as open a mind as possible.

Once on Brilliance of the Seas, I made a point to stop in for lunch on one of our sea days.  Will it be a hit or miss? Time to find out!

Atmosphere

On Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, Rita's Cantina is located on deck 11 behind the Windjammer on the port side of the ship.

Rita's is a half open air restaurant, with covered seating and tables out in the open.  If you have eaten at Johnny Rockets on a Voyager or Freedom class ship, the seating arrangement is somewhat similar in that there is indoor and outdoor seating. 

On Brilliance of the Seas, although there is covered seating, there is no air conditioning (or heat) for the indoor portion, so you are still somewhat at the mercy of the weather conditions outdoors.

Regardless of if you are seating inside or outside, there are views of the ocean from everywhere, except the bar (although you could simply turn around to see the ocean).

To describe the decor of Rita's Cantina, I would have to say there are hints of a Southwestern USA/Mexico motif with teals, dark reds and oranges.

Much of the restaurant, however, is not very well themed and feels more like a table at the Windjammer than a typical Royal Caribbean specialty restaurant.

After I scoped out the restaurant for a bit, it was time to dig into lunch.  Let's check out the menus!

Eats

For my meal at Rita's Cantina, I wanted to sample a little of everything that I could to get a sense of what Rita's really offers.

The first thing I noticed about the menu at Rita's Cantina is that while you could have a meal here, the menu really leans more towards being a restaurant that offers a lot of drinks and some snacks and light fare to go along with the drinks.

There is quite a selection of margaritas available, served on the rocks or frozen.

If mixed drinks or beer are your thing, then there is plenty to choose from as well.  Certainly. no one can complain about there not being a good selection of alcohol at Rita's Cantina.

The food menu is fairly limited, with just eight items listed.

The one thing I did notice immediately about Rita's Cantina menu are the prices.  Everything is incredibly inexpensive.  Most items are about $2-3 each.  That is dirt cheap.

I asked my waiter for a recommendation for a margarita and he pointed me towards the Pineapple Orange Margarita.

I opted for frozen and it was served in a rather large cup.

The margarita was fine, neither the best I have ever had nor the worst.  I prefer my margaritas to have more tequila than what I was served, but not the end of the world.

For my food, I ordered the roasted tomatillo broth, fiesta guacamole, chips & salsa and a grilled Quesadilla.  I figured that would be a good assortment of food to consider.

Service was a bit slower than I expected, but not because of my waiter.  The restaurant was not that busy, so at least I could tell the food was not just sitting around.

First up was the chips and salsa. 

The salsa was more of a pico de gallo, and I really enjoyed it.  We had just been in Cozumel, Mexico the day before, so I had a pretty good idea of what good salsa is and this was freshly made.  I could snack on this any day.  The chips were certainly out of a bag.

Next came the guacamole.

This guacamole was, well, awful.  The consistency was too watery and it was really bland.  I hate to say it, but I have had far better guacamole out of a jar from my local supermarket.  

Luckily, the tomatillo soup came out next and it was a welcome distraction from the guacamole.

The soup was more of a tortilla soup than anything else and it was above average.  I certainly ate much more of the soup than I did the guacamole.

Last out was the chicken Quesadilla, which was served with sour cream and more guacamole.  

I sampled the guacamole that came with the Quesadilla to see if perhaps my first guac serving was a bad batch, but this too was inedible.

The Quesadilla itself was okay and lent itself to the comparison that most Quesadilla are just Mexican grilled cheese's.  I ate a good amount of it, but the Quesadilla was just okay.  

Overall

After hearing mixed reviews of Rita's Cantina for years, I did not know what to expect but after eating at Rita's Cantina, I now know why it has the reputation it has.

I have two takeaways from RIta's Cantina on Brilliance of the Seas:

  1. The food is nothing special and tends to be more lackluster than anything else
  2. The food is really, really inexpensive

I freely admit the food is not going to impress many, but when you consider the low prices (I spent about $8 for all my food), perhaps Rita's Cantina is not an awful value.

I see Rita's Cantina as not a restaurant for a meal, but rather a snack with a few drinks.  If you purchase one of the unlimited alcohol packages, I could easily see Rita's Cantina being a great spot to enjoy the benefits of the drink package with a plate of nachos and salsa.

The bottom line is Rita's Cantina will not be at the top of many guests' favorite restaurant lists, but I do like the low prices and ample selection of drinks available.

Have you dined at Rita's Cantina? What's your favorite dish on the menu?

Review: Izumi on Brilliance of the Seas

In:
03Dec2015

When we talk about favorite restaurants on Royal Caribbean Blog, Izumi is at the top of the list and for good reason.

On Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, we had the chance to dine at Izumi. Three times. Suffice to say, we had a pretty good look at what Izumi offers.

With Izumi, Royal Caribbean offers its passengers a high quality Japanese cuisine experience.  And with sushi being as popular as ever, we had to give Izumi another try on Brilliance of the Seas to ensure the experience has not changed.

Read on to see what our experience was like.

Atmosphere

Izumi is located on deck 12 at the aft of Brilliance of the Seas, where the Seaview Cafe used to be located.

Looking purely at the exterior, you would be hard pressed to know there is a Japanese restaurant inside, given that the traditional hallmarks of a Japanese restaurant are not evident outside.

Once inside Izumi, you quickly get that feeling of being in a Japanese restaurant.

Izumi on Brilliance of the Seas features a lot of dark woods and oranges mixed with bright colors, notably a light blue.

I am not certain I could pull off the color motif found in Izumi in my living room, but it is aesthetically pleasing, especially at the bar.

The seating area is comprised of one large room, with optional seating at the sushi bar.

The best seats have to be by the window, which offer views out to the ocean and deck twelve.  The larger capacity tables are at the center of the restaurant.

You may not mistake the restaurant for a little piece of Tokyo from looks alone, but the food will make you second guess yourself!

Eats

On Brilliance of the Seas, we dined at Izumi on three separate occasions for "research" purposes.  The Izumi menu offers a fairly wide selection of food.  

Sushi dominates the menu, but there are also a good selection of starters, salads, soups and ishiyake (hot rocks).

It should be noted that there is no cover charge at Izumi on Brilliance of the Seas. Rather, you will pay a la carte pricing for all items on the menu.

All guests receive a complimentary bowl of edamame soy beans, sprinkled with salt.  It is a delicious appetizer and I highly recommend trying them.

Interestingly, the miso soup at Izumi on Brilliance of the Seas now costs extra.  On all of our previous Izumi experiences, the miso soup was complimentary as well, but it seems to be a change on some ships.

I ordered the miso soup and at $2, it was the largest serving of miso soup I have ever had.   

Like all Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants, there is a full bar selection.  I would be remiss not to sample the hot sake while dining at Izumi.

There is a serving of hot organic sake that is included with the premium unlimited alcohol package and it definitely hit the spot. Try ordering a beer and dropping a cup of your sake in it for a sake bomb!

By far, the reason most guests go to Izumi is for the sushi and this was no exception.  Guests will find a large selection of sushi to choose from, including hand rolls, sashimi, combinations, signature rolls and chef's signature rolls.

The best value is in one of the combination plates, signature rolls or chef's signature rolls.  We found it difficult to order any of the nigri or sashimi pieces without realizing we were better off financially to order one of the combination plates.

In addition, the signature rolls offer more pieces and the best quality sushi.  There is nothing wrong with the individual pieces of sushi, but we gravitated towards the signature rolls and combinations for those exact reasons.

You might be wondering how good the sushi is and I can easily tell you it is as good or better than many land based sushi restaurants I have been to.  The basic hand rolls were a bit small, but any of the signature rolls were ample in size and serving.

There is also something to be said about presentation, and the sushi chefs at Izumi do a fantastic job at making their food as pretty to look at as it is to eat.

Those looking for the best value, stick with the combination plates, which offer a lot to enjoy in one price.  If you want the best sushi Izumi has to offer, go with any of the signature rolls. 

If sushi is not your thing, there are some other options worth considering.  My wife has no love in her heart for fish, so she picks the hot rock plates.

Essentially, the hot rocks are slabs of rock that are heated to to 575 °F and guests are invited to cook their choice of seafood, chicken, or beef.

If this sounds fun, it really is.  And not to worry if you are not sure what you are doing, because the staff is happy to help you cook the pre-seasoned food.

There are also a good variety of salads and soups, although I cannot speak for them since I always saved room for the sushi!

Overall

When looking at Izumi on Brilliance of the Seas, I am biased in the sense that I really love sushi.  But on the other hand, I eat so much sushi on land that I feel I can make an informed decision about how good or bad Izumi is.

In terms of service, Izumi has a very attentive staff that responded very well to everything we asked for.  

The bottom line is Izumi offers great sushi (and other Japanese cuisine) for a fair price.  Most of the prices you will find at Izumi are about what you would pay at any reputable sushi establishment on land.  As noted earlier, the combination plates are easily the best value of the menu, given how much you get for the price.

I would love to hear your opinion on Izumi.  Have you enjoyed dining at Izumi? Let us know in the comments below.

Royal Caribbean offering new dining packages on Allure of the Seas

In:
24Nov2015

Royal Caribbean has started offering dining packages on select Allure of the Seas sailings, that allow guests to enjoy multiple specialty restaurants for a fixed price.

There appear to be three dining packages to choose from

  • 3-night package: $80 per adult
  • 4-night package: $95 per adult
  • 5-night package: $110 per adult

Guests that reserve a dining package will be asked to select their dining party and preferred dining time.  Royal Caribbean will then make a courtesy dinner reservation will be made the guest's behalf in a pre-selected restaurant on day 1 or day 2.

On Day 1, guests will receive reservation confirmation in their stateroom. Guests are able to amend or to complete additional dinner reservations by visiting a Hospitality Desk or any specialty restaurant.

For restaurants with a la carte pricing, package includes a $30 credit towards the food portion of your bill.

Kids ages 6-12 dine at specialty restaurants for only $10. Ages 5 and under eat free!  Royal Caribbean staff can add kids to existing reservations at kid's prices once onboard.

Earlier this year, we have spotted similar dining packages offered on Explorer of the Seas and some Freedom class ships.

It is not clear yet if these dining packages are available for all sailings yet.  Royal Caribbean Blog reader Calvin Harris spotted the deal offered on his December 12, 2015 Allure of the Seas sailing.

UPDATE: Royal Caribbean Blog readers have spotted similar dining packages on Oasis of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas & Serenade of the Seas.  

Will you book one of these dining packages for your next Royal Caribbean cruise? Tell us in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean offering dining package option on Explorer of the Seas

In:
05Sep2015

Guests sailing on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas can purchase a dining package that gets them access to three specialty restaurants for one low price.

Photo by sky0000547

The Fine Dine package costs $45 per person, per cruise and includes 

Royal Caribbean claims dining at these venues without the package would cost $75, netting guests a $30 savings.

Fliers for the packages are available on Explorer of the Seas and started appearing onboard earlier this summer.

Royal Caribbean has been experimenting with offering dining packages throughout this year.  Earlier this year, unlimited dining packages have been offered on a few Royal Caribbean ships.

Restaurant Review: Giovanni's Table on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas

In:
24Aug2015

Giovanni's Table on Freedom of the Seas offers guests fresh made Italian food that has been getting a lot of attention lately, so we decided to try it out on our recent cruise.

Part of Royal Caribbean's update to Freedom of the Seas in early 2015 saw Giovanni's Table replace Portofino as the Italian specialty restaurant onboard.  The replacement of Portofino by Giovanni's Table has been a fleetwide initiative for a few years now and while we will miss Portofino, Giovanni's Table offers a different kind of experience that we have enjoyed on other ships.

It is always interesting to see how this Giovanni's Table compares to other Giovanni's Table restaurants in the fleet, as well as dearly departed Portofino.  Let us head in and try out this new restaurant!

Atmosphere

You will find Giovanni's Table up on deck 11 in the Windjammer area.  It is located to the left as you walk into the Windjammer, in the former location of Portofino.

As you step inside Giovanni's Table, you will find a lot of browns and greens, with a hint of orange.  This is a different color pallete from Giovanni's Table on Navigator of the Seas, which had more of a blue tone to the location.

Just like Navigator of the Seas, the Giovanni's Table on Freedom of the Seas has a great view of the ocean.  If you happen to dine here for lunch or early dinner, you should have a very nice view of the sea as you dine.

The restaurant is divided up between two rooms and it is a rather large space, relative to most specialty restaurants.  The first room as you enter is more rectangular shape, while the second area opens up a bit more into a box shaped room.  Both rooms have large floor to ceiling windows with views of the ocean.

Compared to Portofino, the look and feel of Giovanni's Table is a bit less formal.  Where Portofino had an upscale look to it, I think Giovanni's Table does not have quite that formal look to match, but it certainly feels like a specialty restaurant.

Eats

We ate at Giovanni's Table for lunch and the menu certainly offers a lot of choices. I think Giovanni's Table appeal is that there is a lot of good Italian food to choose from and most of it are foods you have probably heard of.

Giovanni's Table also tends to be among the least expensive Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants, and I think that is welcome by most guests.

For our meal, I tried to go between favorites and new dishes. I will admit two friends of mine onboard raved about their Giovanni's Table experience, although they went heavier into the seafood choices than I did.  

Most dishes, especially the appetizers are on the small side, so be sure to order extra to share.  

We started off with two classics: insalata caprese per due and malanzane alla parmigiana.

The eggplant parmigiana came out in a small white bowl and I really enjoyed it.  It might have been cooked a bit too long, but I love eggplant parmigiana and when I got below the top layer of cheese, I really enjoyed it!

The caprese salad is an Italian classic as well, and to me it is the perfect appetizer because of its light nature.  Grab a piece of bread and put some of the mozzarella and tomato on top and it is perfetto!

On to entrees and we wanted to try something different, so I picked the 8 ounce grilled strip loin steak.  My wife opted for the chicken breast filled with ricotta and mushroom, wrapped in prosciutto.

I wanted to try the steak to get a sense of something a little different than I might otherwise order.  Our waiter also mentioned the steak as being a good choice, so I went with it.

Out came a very tender piece of beef that I enjoyed.  It was simple, but I liked the Barolo reduction and thought it was a good choice.  It was also on the small side, which I did not mind since I wanted to sample lots of food.

I also ordered the traditional meat lasagna because I have had it at other Giovanni's Tables and enjoyed it.

Sure enough, this lasagna was equally as good and as someone that enjoys a lot of sauce with his lasagna, this did not disappoint.

The chicken was incredibly moist and tasty and my wife really enjoyed the contrast between the chicken and the prosciutto.  She said this was something she would definitely order again.

Alas, no meal at Giovanni's Table is complete without a visit to the dessert cart.  Luckily, after all this food, the dessert cart comes to you.

We tried the canoli and chocolate cake, both of which were incredibly rich and even better than they look in these photos.

Overall

Giovanni's Table offers some tasty and satisfying Italian food that I think most guests will really enjoy. If you like Italian food, it is hard to go wrong with eating at Giovanni's Table. 

What Giovanni's Table lacks in "WOW factor", it makes up for in an enjoyable meal experience.  The view of the ocean combined with a wide selection of Italian dishes makes for a great spot for a meal away from the usual.

I really think Giovanni's Table is a great choice for lunch, perhaps even more so than dinner.  The reason is for lunch, the cost is only $15 and I think guests will find the menu offerings a nice change of pace compared to what is available for lunch elsewhere on the ship.

It is also not difficult to get a table at Giovanni's Table, especially given the large size of its restaurant.  Royal Caribbean encourages reservations, but if on a whim you decide to try Giovanni's Table, I think you will find there to be a table open for you.

Giovanni's Table is open for lunch 12:00pm to 1:30pm and open for dinner 5:30pm to 9:30pm and we reviewed Giovanni's Table on Freedom of the Seas.

Restaurant Review: Sabor Modern Mexican on Freedom of the Seas

In:
18Aug2015

If you have read this blog at length, you may know that I am a really big fan of Sabor Modern Mexican specialty restaurant.  

Ever since Royal Caribbean first added it to Navigator of the Seas and I had my first taste of homemade guacamole and first sip of hand crafted margaritas, I was hooked.

Since then, to my pleasure, Royal Caribbean has added Sabor Modern Mexican to a number of cruise ships, including Freedom of the Seas as part of a refurbishment that occurred in early 2015.

While on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, I just had to eat at Sabor and enjoy it again. 

Will my love for Sabor Modern Mexican continue and can this restaurant continue to win me over with amazing food and drink?  Let's find out!

Atmosphere

Sabor Modern Mexican is located on deck 4 of Freedom of the Seas, in the spot where the night club once existed and across the hall from the Schooner Bar.

Much like Navigator of the Seas, Sabor Modern Mexican on Freedom of the Seas is nearly identical in look and layout.  You will find lots of browns, reds and oranges that accentuate a modern restaurant look and feel.

Sabor Modern Mexican definitely does not look like a typical Mexican restaurant found in the United States, with sombreros, art involving mules and mariachi band music playing.  Instead, Sabor Modern Mexican has the kind of vibe that you are in a hip new restaurant that opened in a city close to you and if not for the food, there is not a whole lot here that says Mexican simply by looking at it.

The restaurant is laid out in a sort of rectangle, with a set of tables in the center and tables and booths around the edges.  It is not a large space but it can comfortable fit a lot of guests inside.

Inside Sabor, you will find a lot of colorful flowers and woods.  There is also a larger table near the entrance for bigger groups.  Recently, Royal Caribbean has been adding one large table near the entrance that has the most interesting decor.  Perhaps that is an indication to bring more friends with you!

Eats

On Freedom of the Seas, we elected to eat at Sabor twice.  Frankly, I am surprised it was not more than that.  

Sabor is open for lunch on sea days and dinner on every evening.  There are slight menu differences, with the lunch menu offering a couple less options than dinner but otherwise the experience is indistinguishable.  For the purpose of this review, we will refer to both experiences interchangeably unless otherwise important to note.

After being seated, your server will welcome you with menus and offer you chips and salsa as well as the option of having a bowl of guacamole made in front of you.  

The guacamole is made via a portable cart that has all the ingredients.  Guests can tell the waiter how spicy (or un-spicy) the guacamole should be and if there are any ingredients you want less or more of.  

It is quite interesting to watch the guacamole be made and in just minutes, your guac will be ready for you to eat.  In my opinion, this is the best guacamole I have ever eaten and I could easily come to eat the guacamole and chips alone.  I was very happy to find the guacamole on Freedom of the Seas lived up to the expectations I had from Navigator of the Seas!

For beverages, guests may order from a variety of drinks.  All beverages beyond water have an extra charge to them unless you happen to have a qualifying beverage package.

We opted first to try the handcrafted margaritas. Just like the guacamole, a different cart is brought to your table to have the drinks made for you.

 There are only two margaritas (sweet and spice margarita and Sabor Grand margarita) that are brought to your table to be made in front of you, while the rest are made at the bar.  

Being that we enjoy a show, we opted for the handcrafted margaritas (when in Rome, err... Mexico City, right?).

Watching the margaritas being made was enjoyable and tasting them was even better.  The drinks are large and have some fantastic flavor that certainly masks the alcohol inside.  

Sweet & Spice Margarita and the Sabor Grand Margarita

Simply perfect margarita & Jalapeno-Cucumber Margarita

The Sweet and Spice margarita is quite interesting because it tastes sweet as you drink it, but after you swallow, you get a spicy kick to it.  Very interesting!

I also wanted to try one of the tequila flights available, after a friend recommended it.  There are two tequila flights to choose from: the vertical tequila flight and the horizontal tequila flight.

Do not ask me what the difference is but the horizontal flight is slightly more expensive and comes highly recommended by our waiter.  I went with the horizontal flight!

The flight offers three tequilas to try: Don Julio Reposado, Sauza Hornitos Reposado, Corazón Reposado.  

I am no tequila expert, but I can say that each was very smooth and certainly puts you in the right mood to enjoy a meal!

Moving onto the food (assuming you have not filled up on chips and guac yet), the menu has a mix of appetizers and entrees but they are intermixed.  Our waiter (hi Juan) knew which to bring out when but feel free to order whatever sounds good.

At lunch, we started out with the queso fundido and sopa de tortilla.  

Both appetizers were great and I think my wife and I enjoyed both a lot.  

It is worth noting that many of the dishes are on the small side, so it is a good idea to order more than you might ordinarily order at a restaurant.

Our entrees were the tres quesos quesadillas and the chicken and roasted corn empanada.

The quesadilla features melted Monterey Jack, queso fresco and Chihuahua cheeses.  If cheese is your thing, this is your meal.  My wife recommends dipping the quesadilla into the queso for maximum cheese levels!

The empanadas had good flavor to them but I found them to be a little dry.  I compensated by dipping the empanadas in the salsa and guacamole and it tasted a lot better.

For my dinner appetizer, I tried the Tuna Crudo, 3 crispy corn tortillas, fresh tuna, salsa mexicana, guacamole.  

My friends, this was one of the best things I ate over the course of the entire cruise and when I come back next time, I may just order a few servings of this. It was really outstanding!

Keeping with my change of pace, I also ordered a different entree at dinner and went with the pan-seared red snapper.

Had I not filled up on guacamole, chips, tuna crudo, guacamole, margaritas and guacamole, I might have enjoyed this a bit more but the red snapper was very, very good.  It tasted wonderful and was cooked to perfection.

There are also side orders to be had and in both lunch and dinner, our waiter simply brought us all of them.  

Yucca barrel fries, Mexican rice, calabacitas and Mexican beans are available to try.  They all looked good and I sampled some of it but I was so full by this point that I did not eat much.

If by some miracle you have room in your stomach left, the desserts are really phenomenal.

Just like the accompaniments, the desserts are served family style on a large plate and are described as "Mexican inspired mini-desserts".

My wife still dreams about the churros and chocolate banana empanadas.  

Overall

I have to say eating at Sabor Modern Mexican on Freedom of the Seas lived up to and exceeded my expectations.

I love the mix of freshly made food combined with plenty of choices.  I feel like there is a good mix of traditional Mexican favorites (tacos, quesadillas, etc) and some new choices. 

The guacamole, chips and salsa are supreme and I really considered a few times paying the cover charge again simply to dine on them along with perhaps a few drinks.

If you are going to try a margarita, go for the ones made at your table and my friend was definitely right about ordering the tequila flights.  Both will set the right tone for the meal (and likely well into your evening).

Looking at the cost, lunch comes in at $15 and dinner at $25.  I really feel both prices are well worth it and there is not much of a difference between the two to say one is better than the other.  If you want to save some money, go for lunch.

Sabor Modern Mexican still lives up to the lofty heights I have in my mind and it is without a doubt a restaurant I would recommend trying and then going back again (and again) for on your next cruise on Freedom of the Seas.

Sabor Modern Mexican is open for lunch on sea days between noon - 1:30 p.m. and dinner every night between 5:30 p.m.- 9:30 p.m. for dinner. We reviewed Sabor Modern Mexican aboard Freedom of the Seas.

Three ways to save money on Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants

In:
07Aug2015

Royal Caribbean offers a variety of impressive specialty restaurants that serve up some of the best food available at sea and there are some ways to save money on the total cost to eat at these hot spots.

Whether you want to indulge in steak, sushi or Mexican, Royal Caribbean has added a number of specialty restaurants to its ships with cover charges per person that start at $25 and go up from there.

With these tips, you can cut down that cost and have more money to spend elsewhere on your cruise vacation!

First day discount

On most Royal Caribbean ships, the day you board you will find specials if you eat at many of the specialty restaurants that evening.

Most guests do not consider a specialty restaurant for the first night.  It is not clear why exactly, but specialty restaurants seem to enter guests' radar as the cruise progresses.

Look at your Cruise Compass or go to any of these restaurants and look for discounts available if you dine that day. Usually, there is a 20% discount if you dine at one of the restaurants that evening.

OUR IN-DEPTH LOOK AT SPECIALTY RESTUANTS

Pre-pay online

Royal Caribbean wants to encourage its guests to eat at more than just one specialty restaurant so they will reward you if you happen to go to at least three.

Using Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's website, you can save up to 30% onboard credit when you make three or more reservations at any specialty restaurants.

You will get the onboard credit on day one of your cruise and that's more money to spend onboard!

If you know you will dine at three (or more) specialty restaurants, pre-book them online to take advantage of the savings.

Dining Package

If you really love eating at the specialty restaurants and you just cannot get enough, consider the dining package.

We have seen the dining package offered on a few Royal Caribbean ships (Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas to name a few) where for $20 per day, guests can dine at any of the specialty restaurants every day of the cruise.

The dining package is not available on every Royal Caribbean ship, but if it is available on your sailing, it can be a great way to save money provided you want to dine at a specialty restaurant each night.

Which specialty restaurant discount have you used before? Tell us in the comments!

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