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Everything posted by Chervil

  1. Just another tidbit for me to add to my repository of knowledge. Thanks!
  2. Usually 1 but we ended up taking 2 this year and I am worried that Cupcake wants to start making that a tradition.... Just hit Gold this trip and now that we are only 47 points away from Platinum, she is getting excited (okay, we both are.) That first pin sure is shiny and that first complimentary drink on the last day was mighty tasty! (Chivas Regal 18 on the rocks for me!)
  3. As others have said, the portions are generally larger than the MDR and we got full both times we went. We also have had the table at dessert both times with no regrets.
  4. As the main driver in our family, I love any destination vacation that doesn't require me in the driver seat for hours. We ran into a little rain during our last cruise and I told my wife the nice thing about it is I didn't have to worry about steering around it or adjusting course. I just had to worry about whether I wanted to sit on the balcony getting wet or sit inside sipping a cold drink! We love having the room tidied up and a bucket full of ice for our drinks. The towel animal is a fun find too. It is also very ego-boosting to have the servers/stewards call you by name, like you're actually somebody important. And when they remember your drink order from the night before at dinner, or that I want a fruit and cheese plate to go to take back to the room after dinner, it makes it even more special.
  5. We like Sea Day Brunch and enjoy the atmosphere and food. It is nice that you can still get breakfast type food until 1PM. My favorite was the Frittata and also the Parfait and the Chia Seed Pudding, while Cupcake always likes a good Omelette! When we don't feel like waiting around, we hit the Omelette Station on the Lido and grab some French Toast as well! I went ahead and attached the current menu (we just got off the Vista on the 12th.) as well as pics of the parfait, chia seed pudding and the frittata.
  6. It would be a perfect bonding moment. The class was informative but informal enough that there was plenty of cutting up and many laughs were shared. What was interesting to me was the difference in people's tastes as well. The whiskey that I thought was best, only a few others enjoyed, while some of the ones I couldn't stand were favorites with some of the other students. It just showed the variety of style and taste people have. It also exposed me to several brands and styles I wouldn't have paid to try. But at least two of them will definitely find their way into my cabinet now! My favorite turned out to be $80 a bottle. Something I never would have spent to just try, but now that I know for certain I like it, I may splurge!
  7. It was listed in the Fun Times and on the Hub App as: Whiskey Class Sign Up. Just look under "What's Happening" and the afternoon section should have it. On our 7 day cruise the sign up was on the 2nd day at 4pm (first sea day) and the class was on the third day at 1PM (also a sea day). They had a second class that was held on Friday, with sign ups on Thursday. The class is limited and fills up pretty quick, so make sure to get there for the sign up right as it happens. Also, since they have to prep, they generally don't accept any "walk ups" for the class. You "have" to sign up the day before. We seriously considered taking the second class, since we had so much fun. But ended up busy with other things. But we will definitely do it again on our next cruise! I may even make Cupcake join me next time!
  8. Glad to hear it inspired him! You should join him, it was great fun! Alas, the brewmeister was on vacation during our cruise so they did not give a tour of the brewery or the beer tasting😥 I told the bartendar at the Red Frog to let the brewmeister know he is a chump when he gets back😁. Otherwise we would have done that as well!
  9. That's understandable and honestly wasn't that big a deal. Shame that a few bad apples ruin it for the rest of us!
  10. You're welcome! We actually thought about taking it again, since it was held twice on our 7 day cruise, but we had too many other things going on. You won't regret it! It is well worth the money and time and a fun diversion!
  11. They are! The "chemists" are great and the only disappointment I have had with any of their drinks is that the Moscow Mule was not served in a copper cup, but a glass. Other than that, everything is above and beyond!
  12. Then fear not fellow cruiser and whiskey appreciator as you can find it here: I ended up writing the review and posting it last night. Hope you enjoy it!
  13. Totally agree. We always tip on the pre-tax amount. If the service was excellent we over tip. But never in the state's portion of the bill. I've noticed a lot of restaurants have a handy calculated tip suggestion with the percentage next to it, but it's always based off the total including tax. This is misleading and I think it's conditioning people to think they have to tip in the total amount instead of the food+drink amount. Definitely make sure to educate your friends on how the gratuities are divided. But then just leave it to them. No need to be their conscience or have their tipping habits bother yours. It reflects on them, not you. Have a great cruise!
  14. We generally choose the YTD for two reasons: 1. No matter how early we book our cruise, it seems the early dining is full and we get defaulted to the late dining. This requires us to request early dining when we board and wait to see if we get accepted. It took 3 days one cruise, which is when we decided to just go with YTD. 2. Sometimes our group wants to eat right at 5:30, other times we are busy with other things and it's closer to 6:45 or 7. That flexibility isn't something you have with an assigned dining time. Regardless, we prefer eating in the MDR in the evening instead of the lido.
  15. Just off the Vista and it's still Coke products. Not a Pepsi in sight.....
  16. Sorry to hear that! Personally I would have told my offspring to either find a dogsitter or look into a boarding kennel for the week since they knew ahead of time. However you know your family best. Enjoy your cruise with your daughter and I hope you can recoup some of your investment!
  17. Maybe they meant that the dinner service took 1-1/2, hrs, which can happen if they are busy. We just got off the Vista and would eat between 5:30 and 6:30 and never waited more than about 5 minutes for a seat. We didn't check in with the app, but the check in by the coffee shop on 5 aft never had a line. If your group is use to eating around 5:30, you'll be fine.
  18. SPOILER WARNING!!!! I will be giving some details on the Whiskey Master Class we took that are specific to the class on the Carnival Vista. Since it was our first time taking this course, I have no way of knowing if they are all the same, or if there are differences. So if you want to go in completely surprised, then stop reading and just know that we LOVED the class and HIGHLY recommend it! Well worth the money!!! If you don't mind some spoilers, then here we go!!! On our recent cruise on the Carnival Vista(10/05/2019 - 10/12/2019), G and I decided to take the Whiskey Master Class that was offered at the Alchemy Bar. There were about 6 other people there and others showed up while we were waiting. We went down for the Sign-Up only to learn that the class is actually the next day. This is due to the amount of prep necessary for each student. And the class is actually a lot more than we thought it would be. Aleksandar explained that rather than a simple "tasting", we were informed the class would include a history on Scotch Whiskey, as well as a tasting of 9 different whiskies and at then end of the class, we would blend our own whiskey to take home in a 100ml bottle. We were warned that we should make sure to eat before the class, since we would definitely not want to come on an empty stomach. At this point Aleksandar looked us all in the eyes with great seriousness and intensity and stated "I'm not even kidding. You do NOT want to show up not having eaten!" The cost of the class was $29, with gratuities so it came out to $34. We show up for class and our "Chemist" Aleksandar (from the sign up) led us into the "secret area" the class would be held, which turned out to be the back dining room of the 555 Fahrenheit Steakhouse (conveniently located right next to the Alchemy Bar on the Vista). There was a long table with what looked like laboratory setups. Each chair had a white lab coat draped over it, emblazoned with the Dewar's Whiskey and Carnival logos. It was at this point we realized that the class was sponsored by Dewar's. At each place setting, there were 4 small snifters each filled with a different Scotch Whiskey, behind which was a rack filled with test tubes. Each test tube also held a different whiskey. Next to the rack was a tall beaker filled with water (important to stay hydrated!), a small beaker for mixing our blend and a stirring spoon. There was also an empty 100ml bottle with a label, cap and a black sharpie so that you could write the specifics on the label. Having made plans to meet Cupcake for Afternoon Tea at 3pm, and G was meeting his wife D for Disco Dance Lessons at 2:30pm, we asked how long the class would take. Turns out the class lasts 1-1/2 hrs! The class was less a lecture and more discussion, as Aleksandar led us from the purpose of alcohol itself (medicine), when Scotch was invented (around 1494 was the first distilled Scotch Whiskey) and on to the differences in Scotch Whiskey - single malts, double malts and blends. It was very interesting and informative since I am what you might call a basic scotch drinker (I prefer an inexpensive Speyside). I now know the difference between a single malt and a blend, how long a scotch has to be aged before they can print the "years" on the bottle and many other facts I wrote down because I knew I would forget. We were asked who mixed their scotch with Coke Zero ( I do), who mixes it with Dr. Pepper or any other soda (a good portion of the class). We were then informed that we were wrong, since that is apparently an unacceptable way to consume whisky. Water or ice. But it is never to be mixed with sugary drinks. After much Q&A, where most of us were fruitlessly trying to ignore the buffet of whisky laid out in front of us, we were finally led into the sampling portion of our lesson. We began with the four small snifters, moving from left to right. The first snifter we swirled around like wine to see the way it glistened in the light and to watch the body and legs slowly drain down the sides to pool at the bottom of the glass. Then we held it to our noses and inhaled the rich aromas. Aleksandar quizzed us on what we could smell. Other students noted hints of spices or fruits or vanilla. I just smelled scotch. We were instructed to take a drink, swishing it around our mouth. Let it sit on one cheek and then exhale. This actually did improve the scotch flavor, helping it to develop (in my mind, at least). More questions about what we could taste (fruits, spices, vanilla, oak from the cask, etc.) At this point, I realized my palette must be pretty unrefined since I couldn't taste any of that other than the oakiness. My ego was soothed a bit when G leaned over and said "I don't taste any of that. I just taste scotch". Good to know we were on the same level! I tried another drink, which drained glass 1, trying to taste these elusive "notes" and "flavors". Maybe it would get easier to discern as we progressed. It was revealed that we had been sampling Cutty Sark. Our instructor then had us raise both glasses so we could compare the difference in their coloring. Uh-oh! I didn't have anything left in glass 1 to compare to glass 2! Fortunately, the student across from me was in the same boat and said as much while raising his empty glass. No Problem! Aleksandar said anyone that needed a refill could just let him know and he'd take care of it! With 9 different whiskies to sample, I'm sure you can see why they told us to make sure we ate ahead of time. I'm very glad they gave the warning, since the class started at 1PM and it would have been easy to skip lunch. Armed with 2 glasses to compare, we held them either to the light or against our white lab coats. Glass 2 was definitely darker, with a richer color. We learned this was due to the amount of time it had spent aging in the barrels. More swirling, sniffing and swishing, more proclamations of fruitiness, woodiness, etc. and more of me just nodding along and "trying" to smell or taste it. This one had less bite and tasted a bit smoother. I like it pretty well. Revealed to be Chivas Regal. "Learning" from our first glass, most of the class had Aleksandar come refill our second snifter so we could proceed to comparing it to the third (this became something of a ritual because, why not?). The third and fourth were both Dewar's products (the sponsor) - White Label and Dewar's 12 yr respectively. Having exhausted our supply of snifters, we moved on to the test tubes. Before sampling, we were informed that we would be using the contents of our test tubes to create our own blended scotch whiskey in the 100ml bottles. Of course, no worries if we emptied the test tube while sampling because we had free refills! The first test tube was filled with what Aleksandar generically labelled "Grain Whiskey". My favorite of the class was the 3rd Test Tube, which was Macallan Quest Highland single malt and then the 4th test tube which was a Speyside 12 yrs single malt (not sure why I didn't find out which one) The last test tube in my opinion tasted like drinking Liquid Smoke, however G declared that to be his favorite. It was an Ardbeg 12 yrs. I generously gave him the rest of my test tube to finish it off. While I blended my bottle from test tubes 2 and 3, I also managed to get a refill on Snifter 3 and put a good bit of Dewar's White Label in there as well. Sealed the cap, named my blend after myself (because why not) and then drained the rest of the test tubes and snifters (so there would be less clean up for Aleksandar, of course!) We were presented with snazzy black certificates that Certified Hereby that we had completed an introductory Master Whiskey Class. Aleksandar had us line up outside the Alchemy Bar and we took a group photo in our lab coats with our certificates and blends, which he says he will post to FB later. Sadly, we had to return the lab coats (I kind of enjoyed it and G looked pretty sharp in his). Since a few in the class had gotten chatty, and there was a bit of cutting up (blame it on the free refills) the class wasn't actually over until about 2:45. We found out that D wasn't feeling well and had gone back to the room, so G accompanied Cupcake and myself to what was a very fun and hilarious (to us at least) Afternoon Tea. Cucumber sammies, smoked salmon crusties, scones and pastries really hit the spot after that class!! Overall this was a fun, informative and tasty class and I would highly recommend it! When you take into account the amount of alcohol you "sample" as well as the 100ml you get to take with you, it is an excellent value. I plan on taking it again next cruise if it is offered. In the attached photos, the scotch whiskies are (left to right): Snifters: Cutty Sark Chivas Regal 12 yrs Dewar's White Label Dewar's 12 yrs Test Tubes: Grain Whiskey Aberfeldy Highland 12 yrs infused with honey Macallan Quest Highland Speyside 12 yrs Ardbeg 12 yrs The final photo shows my own blend "Chervil" made from a secret proprietary proportion of Aberfeldy Highland, Macallan Quest and Dewar's White Label. I have not yet opened it, since my father is a scotch drinker and I will share it with him. Hopefully it tastes as good as I think it will!
  19. Love the drinks in the Alchemy bar! Also, this last cruise we took the Whiskey Class and had a great time! Definitely worth the money (I'll probably do a review on it later) and I highly recommend it!
  20. I have sailed both the Breeze and the Vista. While we prefer the Breeze ship-wise, the Vista is still a nice vessel. It lacks the deck-spanning atrium and glass elevators, but I do like that he smoke-filled casino is not necessary to walk through to get to the "fun stuff" on the ship. Also, the Vista has a better Sports Deck and has a salad bar in the Serenity area at the front of the ship. As far as itineraries, we much prefer Grand Cayman over Costa Maya and Belize. However, we also live only 4 hours driving from Galveston, so that affects our choice of ports as well. It really depends on what kind of vacation you enjoy. If you like spending time with the activities on the ship, then the extra day won't matter. If you prefer to spend time in port then you will have fun there.
  21. They actually recommend taking a watch with you so it stays set to ship time. Of course, if you have a smart watch that may not work... We just got off the Vista today and they are on CST.
  22. We get YTD and if we find a great server request them again the next time, and they have always remembered us even though we didn't leave a tip. I would never leave a tip just so I wasn't forgotten. Their system knows where I sat and who the tip goes to, so generally unless the service is really above and beyond, I'm not in the habit of leaving an extra tip. That being said, we have left an extra tip several times when they were really good at their job. Both in the MDR and our room.
  23. It's a trade-off between packing your own bags on the ship and then taking them to tea with you as opposed to the convenience of just getting one there. In full disclosure: We just got of a cruise today and packed PG Tips and Bigelow Plantation Mint with us. I'm with you when it comes to saving a bit of money.
  24. Just want to chime in that there is a whiskey class on the Vista. $29 pp. Very informative as it goes through the history of scotch whiskey and you get to sample 9 different whiskies. Sponsored by Dewar's so of course a few samples were from them I'll post a full review in that when we get back but it was well worth the money IMHO.
  25. According to our room steward the Sky Ride is still down for maintenance. He isn't sure how much longer it will take. I will try to ask Guest Services later on.
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