October 18, 2017
Solarium Bistro Hot Pot
We decided to eat lunch at the Solarium Bistro today since it was another day at sea. On Chinese sailings the Solarium Bistro lunch and dinner menu changes to a traditional hot pot meal. You are given a choice of broth; chicken, beef, or vegetable. You then use this broth over a heating element to cook your food. The server offered to make us a custom dipping sauce, although they had all the ingredients available for you to make your own.
The food offered included a plate of meat and a plate of seafood. The meat plate had beef, lamb, and pork dumplings. The seafood plate had shrimp, fish balls, cuttlefish, tilapia, and salmon. The $29 per person cover charge included both plates, as well as unlimited refills on most of the food. The shrimp had an additional charge for extra helpings. There was also a salad bar with a variety of vegetables and noodles you could add to your meal.
Overall it was quite the unique and interesting experience. The food cooked surprisingly quick and the broth added a bit of flavor. The dipping sauce was definitely where most of the flavor came from, though. While we made an attempt at creating our own sauce, we were not familiar with a lot of the ingredients. I’m glad the server offered to create a custom sauce for us when we first started.
After lunch we decided to go to the Vitality Spa for a massage. Massages on a cruise ship are a little on the expensive side, but not overly so. I opted for a Swedish massage, while Luis tried the Bamboo massage. We have had massages on Royal Caribbean ships before and the biggest negative is always the sales pitch. At the end of the massage the masseuse attempts to sell you various lotions, scrubs, and other wellness products. This cruise was no different, although it was made a little worse because of the language barrier.
Throughout the cruise we had almost no trouble speaking English with the crew. The spa was the one noticeable exception. Both masseuse’s spoke very limited English, and so did the cashier who set up the reservation. This made the entire process a bit more challenging than it usually is, and also made it more difficult to get out of the upsell process. Eventually we did manage to convey that we did not want any products, and were able to leave.
The saddest part of the last day on board is starting to prepare for disembarking. Royal Caribbean offers either a scheduled departure, where you put out your luggage on the last night and can pick it up off the ship at a specific time, or self-disembark, where you carry your own luggage off at any time you choose. We personally always opt for self-disembark, so we were able to take our time repacking our suitcases. We were originally scheduled to dock at 8 AM, but we were told that due to congestion at Shanghai our new arrival time was 10 AM. We still had to be out of our rooms no later than 9 AM so housekeeping could do the turnover for the next cruise.
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