Last New Years, my wife and I took a new years cruise on the Mercury. For the entire cruise, the dining room was still decorated with Christmas decorations from the cruise the week before (Debarkation was Monday, December 27th). Despite this "degrading" of ambiance (if that is how you want to look at it), there was still a fabulous string quartet during meals, the sommelier was excellent and we could not have asked for a more knowledgeable, competent or wonderful waiter.
As for the food, I would not say we were disappointed, but I can say that we were not amazed. On most cruises, there is a lobster night. We figured that with New Years, there MAY even be two: The typical lobster meal and something amazing. Come on, this is New Years Eve! But alas, there was only one...and it was New Years Eve.
As previously stated, we were never disappointed with a meal. In fact, every meal was excellently prepared, wonderfully spiced and something I do not remember. Yes, that is right, unmemorable. Not due to quality: they were in-fact wonderful. And, not due to service: the staff was amazing. It was the presentation of the menu.
On previous cruises, after returning to the ship and before dinner, we always made a special trip to the dining room for the “Viewing of the Menu.” This is a most wonderful time...almost like Christmas Morning. For those of us that delight in new dining experiences (the three nights before our next cruise, we already have reservations at bistros in San Juan), the anticipation of “un-wrapping” the menu is as valuable as the meal itself. The Mercury’s lackluster menu was like Aunt Doris showing up at noon with a small handful of crumpled one-dollar bills. Sure, it will get you a couple albums for the new stereo you unwrapped that morning, but there is something missing: the presentation.
Perhaps it was the Michele Roux style, or maybe Celebrity caters to those with “older,” pallets more sensitive to bold spices or even that the menu presentation is toned-down so as not to scare people away from some of the more adventurous fare. Whatever the reason, neither my wife nor I were ever able to look at a menu and, like that wild-eyed child on the Christmas cruise the week before, know that the meal at hand would be “the Most Wonderful Time.”