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Post Seven - Dining, Take 1

It Was Only Raisin Bran, But…It Was Only Raisin Bran, But…

It was delivered! Have you ever seen someone look so giddy over a room service breakfast of cereal, rolls, juice, and coffee? During breakfast, we usually perused the daily newsletter for activities. If you were bored on this cruise, it was your own damn fault.

Depending on the day, you could attend a lecture on using forensic techniques to study art, the Spanish civil war (given by a former British ambassador to Spain), or cruising the inland waterways of England. You could take classes in watercolor, Spanish, computers, napkin folding, acting, ballroom dancing, or vegetable carving. There were culinary demonstrations, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, church services, and movies. You could play bridge, bingo, darts, mah jong, shuffleboard, or even try some putting. Of course, you had to get up before 11 in the morning if you wanted to do all this (as we found out).

Stop Me Before I Eat Again!Stop Me Before I Eat Again!

Now I understand why people gain weight on cruises. Food was plentiful, excellent, and ubiquitous. For example, to feed a full-capacity ship on an average 14-day cruise, the Millenium burns through:
24,236 pounds of beef
10,211 pounds of chicken
2,100 pounds of lobster
25,736 pounds of fresh vegetables
20,003 pounds of fresh fruit
600 gallons of ice cream
2,458 pounds of coffee
1,976 quarts of cream
450 pounds of jelly

With This Entrance, the Food Had Better Be Good…The Metropolitan Dining Room Entrance

The formidable array of flatware at each place setting was the first warning. Four forks, two knives, three spoons. We were in for a 13-day festival de la food. A culinary orgy.

Eating in the Metropolitan dining room was like going to a nice French restaurant (that seats 1,000) 13 days in a row. Every dish looked amazing, but after a while, your palate got a little tired. We dined on things like escargots, medallions of beef in a mushroom reduction, and baked Alaska. It was almost overwhelming.

A Rare Moment Between Meals in the MetropolitanA Rare Moment Between Meals in the Metropolitan

A famous French chef designed the ship's kitchens and menus. This man owns a three-star Michelin restaurant, publishes cookbooks, and has his own line of kitchenware. His name is even apropos: Michel Roux (come now, is that really your name, Michel?).

The French influence was clear, with a focus on fresh ingredients, small portions, and presentation. Even the ice creams and baked goods, from bagels to Napoleons, were made fresh each day.

Dinners consisted of five courses: appetizer, soup, salad, entrée, dessert. You didn't have to order all of them (thank God!) but you could order as much as you wanted. Like that salad? Have another. Two desserts? No problem.

Mr. and Mrs. Semyan Go to the Captain's TableMr. and Mrs. Semyan Go to the Captain's Table

When we first got the invitation, dining at the captain's table sounded about as attractive as having my teeth drilled without anesthetic. Too formal and intimidating. Scott had requested it when he made the cruise reservations. Now I'm glad he did; it was one of the highlights of the trip.

At 6 p.m. that evening, we snapped this photo (doesn't my husband look startlingly handsome in a tux?) and headed to the Platinum Club to meet our dinner companions. Everyone looked terribly important in dark suits, tuxedos, and formal gowns. The social director introduced us by our last names only: "Mr. and Mrs. Semyan, this is Mr. and Mrs. Smith."

Then the captain arrived and led us into the dining room. The other diners watched as we filed down the grand, curving staircase to a long table in the middle of the room. To be honest, it was kind of thrilling.

Captain's TableCaptain's Table

When we first sat down, Scott was at my left. To my right was an empty seat, and the place card had the captain's name on it. Oh, shit, I thought. Karen, you are sitting next to the captain. Let him speak enough English that this won't be difficult. Ask him questions. Let him talk. Don't babble or interrupt.

Fortunately, Staff Captain Skylogiannis (Greek) was a friendly, well-mannered guy of about 35 who spoke good English. We talked about Athens (his hometown), his family (his wife is English and pregnant with their first child), the Peloponnesian Peninsula (he really liked Monemvassia, too), and even the Atkins diet (he had lost 26 pounds).

Dinner probably was excellent. All I remember is nice wine and a delicious rose sorbet between the main course and dessert. Each woman received a red rose at the end of the meal, compliments of the captain. He also had this photo taken and delivered to us the next day (we are in the back).

Next Up: Dining, Take 2

Copyright 2001
Scott & Karen Semyan