This is my first review on the blog but I read a lot of others and found them helpful so I wanted to pass on my experience. DH and I are in our early 30s and this was our fourth cruise but first with RC. This was our DD's second cruise. We live within driving distance to Galveston and got a great deal on a balcony cabin through Costco which is why we chose this cruise.
Pre-Cruise Stay -
We spent the night at the Drury Inn Houston Hobby based on recommendations I saw on here. We wanted to get most of the driving done the day before so we could just get up and go Sunday morning. It was a nice hotel. With AAA discount it was $79 plus tax and we got popcorn, soda, a dinner buffet and breakfast in the morning (everyone gets those things, AAA just discounted the room price). Great value and was within a hour of Galveston.
Really smooth and easy. We got an email from RC saying their may be delays getting to Galveston because of Mardi Gras celebrations and I read on here that there may be construction traffic so we gave ourselves lots of time to get to port...too much time. There was no construction or traffic so we ended up at the pier at 9:30 and waiting inside at 9:45. We anticipated getting there early, just not that early. We had stuff to keep us busy while waiting, so it wasn't bad. We were in the first group on non "status holding" cruisers to get on. So once we got on the ship we went straight to the buffet and had our pick of seats.
We ate at all the specialty restaurants on board. I got the first night done right deal for $15 pp, Sabor for $15 pp when it was on sale in the cruise planner, Giovannis for $21 pp when it was on sale in the cruise planner and Costco gave us a four person specialty dinner coupon which we were able to use twice because DD was free so we split it between Giovannis and Sabor. For some reason we couldn't use that at Chops. We also got a free Johnny Rockets meal as part of our perks so we ate lunch there one day. I have pix of all our food on youtube because there are a lot of pix and they are too big for me to upload here. So here's the link if you want to see pix:
Windjammer: Overall I thought the food was pretty good. We ate breakfasts there, a few lunches and one dinner. There were days when the pancakes were crunchy and you wondered what you just put in your mouth lol, but then you switched to bacon. A lot of variety to choose from. The Izumi sushi was AMAZING! Loved it. It's good to have options for a 4 yr old so we ended up there at the end of the night a few times for DD's second dinner.
MDR: We only ate one dinner here. The first formal night. I thought the food was good. Scallops au gratin had the smallest scallops I've seen in my life. They were around the size of a pea. Still tasted good, but you could see they saved some money there. Steak (can't remember what cut it was that day) was good. I don't think it was Grade A beef, but it still tasted good. My DH got shrimp ravioli which he liked. DD got spaghetti and french fries and ate about as much as I expect a 4 yr old to eat lol. My lemon meringue pie was awesome! DH liked the strawberry cheesecake, but I tried a bite and it's not exactly the texture I am used to but he liked it.
Chops: The food was good, service was good. Wish we could have gone there more than once. I got the shrimp and crab cake and it was good. My husband thought the onion soup was delicious. I got the filet mignon and it was great. DH got the NY strip and liked it. We got mashed potatoes, spinach and mushrooms and they were all good as well. DD got a burger and fries but wasn't into eating that night. We got dessert to go. I had the red velvet cake and DH got huckleberry cheesecake. I liked mine a lot, but DH didn't care for his.
Giovanni's: We ate there twice. First time service was good, but food wasn't that great. Second time service wasn't great but food was better. I was disappointed when we got there because the menu isn't the same as what it posted online. It's a very limited menu. Stuff I wanted to try wasn't offered so I was kind of bummed. Over the two visits, we got the antipasta, which was as expected, meat and cheese, minestrone, which was a daily special. Although, I have to say it's not minestone how I know it. It was good, but it was mostly broth with teeny tiny white beans and finely chopped veges. DH got caprese salad, slices of tomato and mozzerella. My grilled prawns were overcooked and under seasoned. I got the branzino the second time and it was better, but still under seasoned in my opinion. DH got the steak the first time and thought it was good, not great. He got the veal the second night and thought it was good. We got the gorgonzola pasta, pasta bolognese, risotto and a pasta of the day, brisket ravioli. They were all OK. Our desserts were the best part of the meal. Tiramisu and olive oil cake. Although my DH olive oil cake came with a lemon sorbet the first night which he loved, but vanilla ice cream the second night, so I'm not sure if they ran out or what. The biggest complaint I have was the first night my pasta and prawns were cold. I think the waitress/kitchen got the timing of things wrong because a steak doesn't cook in the same time as prawns, which were probably why mine were over cooked as well. I'm not the type to complain, mostly because I'm afraid if I send something back they'll do something to my food. The manager the second night cleared our plates and was checking in on us more than our waiter. I think they must be understaffed or something because things just seemed a little off there. I'd put Giovanni's at the bottom of the specialty restaurant list.
Sabor: Our favorite. We ate here twice as well. Great service, both servers so nice to our DD and made napkin animals and oragomi frogs to entertain her. Food was really good. Husband order a smoky margherita and like it very much. DH doesn't eat guacomole so I got the whole thing to myself and loved it! We got calamari and chicken jalepeno poppers which were great. The queso fundido wasn't want I was expecting. I thought it'd be liquid, like cheese sauce but it was like a hunk of cheese I had to cut up and put on soft tortillas. Barbacoa tacos were the best. DH liked his carnitas burrito. Spicy chicken flautas were good. Dessert plate was good. Second night the "creme brulee" part wasn't made right so it was scrambled egg like. If you can only go to one specialty I'd go to this one.
Johnny Rockets:Very good. A fun change of pace. DD ate the best here, so I liked that part. She had a grilled cheese and fries. I had a bbq onion ring chicken sandwich which was really good. DH had the smokehouse burger but realized later that they forgot to put onion rings on it. Hot fudge sundae for dessert was good too. The only point I'll make it that it opened the day we went at 11:30. We got there at 11:20 and there was already a line 10 people long. When we left there was still a line. This is a very popular place so if you want to go, go early.
Character Breakfast: We went to the first dreamworks character bfast. Our characters were Puss in Boots and Shrek. I know the last bfast had Po, not sure who was at the middle one. Characters were fun, staff played music and tried to get kids involved. It was fun, but food was gross. It was at the main dining room, floor 5. They had a plate of chocolatey pastries in the center of the table when you first got there. Most of those were good and it ended up being my breakfast. I ordered a cheese omelet and it had weird color streaks inside and was super greasy. The toast I got, I literally banged it on the table to show my husband how hard it was. DH got french toast which is said was just OK and a super small portion. DD got milk and cheerios so she was fine.
to be continued...