Sunday, September 12, 2010

Allure of the Seas: What's New On The Menu

As the second ship in Royal Caribbean International's Oasis-class design, we didn't expect Allure of the Seas, debuting in Dec 2010, to break the mold. We aren't disappointed, although we have a vague feeling that we should be. With a few exceptions, dining options on Allure are pretty much clones of those on Oasis of the Seas, which couldn't be called trend-setting by any stretch of the imagination, although Royal Caribbean calls the ones on the newer ship, "tempting twists to signature Oasis-class restaurants."

Taking a page from Norwegian Cruise Line's menu aboard Norwegian Epic, RCI's Allure of the Seas will introduce Samba Grill, a Brazilian steakhouse that replaces the Solarium Bistro's focus on healthy dinner fare with meats and seafood dishes served table-side and sliced straight off the skewer. The destination restaurant's menu features Brazilian-style dishes, from Picanha cut sirloin steak to Atlantic salmon marinated with sea salt and garlic. While Oasis' Solarium Bistro charges $20 for dinner, Allure's Samba Grill will charge $25. If all you want is the salad bar, the Samba Grill charge will be $15 (but you can probably get the same, or similar salad fixings in the buffet for free). The healthier spa items will continue to be served for breakfast and lunch in the Solarium.

In another NCL-was-there-first move, the Seafood Shack ($8.95 for lunch or dinner) aboard Oasis will be replaced by Rita’s Cantina in Allure's Boardwalk neighborhood. Mexican fare, such as shrimp ceviche tostadas, warm tortilla chips with salsa, and fiesta guacamole, as well as entrĂ©es, such as fajitas, fish tacos, and Chipotle-style flautas. RCI says that Rita’s Cantina will also boast some of the best and widest selection of margaritas at sea, offering both authentic and signature concoctions mixed with a choice from the extensive list of quality tequilas, served on the rocks or frozen in a variety of fruit-flavor combinations. In addition, the restaurant will introduce new nightlife to Boardwalk with live guitar music, drinks, and dancing. Rita Cantina’s design will include large open breezeways and an outdoor seating area furnished with high top tables and stools. While Rita's Cantina will be located in the same place as the Seafood Shack on board sister-ship Oasis of the Seas, we hope they re-think the pricing (which hasn't been announced yet). For a seafood meal, $8.95 isn't an unreasonable charge; for Mexican food, it's sort of high.

Also new to Allure of the Seas' Boardwalk scene will be The Boardwalk Dog House, an outdoor hot-dog specialty counter located where The Donut Shop is on Oasis of the Seas. Allure's Donut Shop will remain on Boardwalk in a new location next to the Ice Cream Parlor. At the Dog House, diners can choose from traditional hot dogs, wieners, brats, sausages, and other linked meats, with a variety of toppings to split a long bun. No word yet on whether there will be a charge for the franks 'n beans.

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