Royally Cruising the Mediterranean

Lauren: “Jess, I know what we should do for Fall break.”

Jessica: “Oh, no. What did you find?”

Lauren: “Cruise to the Mediterrnaean, and yes, we DO go to Sicily, so you can get your cannolis.”

Jessica: “I’m in.”

And that is exactly how it happened. We made the decision several hours after seeing the posting on Priceline. And that was that. We impulsively booked a cruise a few weeks before it sailed that some people plan years in advance.

And you know what?

Best. Decision. Ever. I should try this impulse thing a bit more often.

We left out of Civitavecchia Harbor, about 45 minutes northwest of Rome.

We were greeted by a ship the size of a small city (Much bigger than Mifflinburg), Royal Carribean’s Navigator of the Seas.

We decided to get a balcony room, due to the fact that being cramped up inside the ship doesn’t sound the least bit appealing to me. It was surprisingly cozy, with soft pillows, comfortable beds, and a shower handle that I didn’t have to hold.

Was this paradise?

The dining room was three stories high and was elegantly designed with  large chandelier hanging from the top.

And after we ran up and down the ship, checking out the theatre, dining room, specialty restaurants, gym, and spa, we decided to enjoy a bit of lunch.

And I was able to eat a salad for the first time in SO long.

It was an incredible feeling.

And with the array of fried, processed, and sub-par foods on the buffet, it almost gave me a warm and cozy feeling of home. America, the buffet nation.

And surprisingly, SOME of the food on the ship was actually quite good. I attempted to mentally prepare myself for really crappy food, but I was able to redeem these thoughts through several food encounters.

Like lamb shank, which I have recently realized that I’m obsessed with. WHY DIDN’T ANYONE EVER TELL ME ABOUT THIS MEAT!? I feel like I’ve been lost all of my life, well…until now.

Also, a surprisingly delicious dessert was this sugar-free chocolate mint layer cake that was light and made me feel like I was eating super healthy.

A highlight was the roasted peach gazpacho, which tasted like a liquid smoothie.

And surprisingly, this dish was incredible. It was a Thai crusted chicken with jasmine rice cooked with coconut milk and lemongrass. Loved it!

And a turning point in Jessica’s life occurred on the ship. I was able to witness her first serving of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.


Like, that was a big deal.

And with the Priceline deal that we spur of the moment purchased, we were given a free specialty dinner at one of their “fancy” restaurants. Now, knowing cruise ship cuisine and the questionable quality of the food on board, I was more than happy to try something that they charged extra for. So, we booked Chop’s Grille, the steakhouse on board.

Their slogan, you may ask?

“The best steak on the high seas.”

Sounds a little…fishy…hehe.

I mean, there are not a lot of steaks on the high seas, so how good could it have been? As a back up plan, we booked the restaurant at 6:30pm so that if the food was crap, we had time to go to our 8:30pm dining room sitting. I was feeling very American with the whole 2 dinner thing.

And I liked it.

But, we didn’t need the dining room, because we were so pleased and full after our meal that the thought of sub-par food sounded quite distasteful.

And I’m kind of embarrassed when I say this, the food at Chops Grille was one of the best meals I’ve had in Europe.

On a cruise ship.

What has this world come to.

And it’s theme? Meat.

My first course was a warm goat cheese souffle and basil souffle. It was described as a “double baked souffle served with portobello mushroom confit and creamy sage reduction.” When it came out, I was a bit suspicious as to what was beneath the layer of sauce. But after I broke out my fork, said a prayer, and started eating, I was astonished at the flavor and light texture of the appetizer. It was seriously amazing.

Like, I’m going to try and remake that.

Cruise ship food, yeah.

For my main, to avoid all confusion, I did not order the mixed grill with the intention to eat even half of what was presented to me. However, I did. Below, you will witness three of the best prepared and flavored meats that I have ever tasted.

In my life.

On a cruise ship.

I know, I can’t believe it either.

From left to right, Grilled lamb chops, chicken apple sausage, and veal touredos. If it couldn’t get any better, I was given a choice of sauces and selected the classic Bearnaise sauce and a Cabernet reduction.


Jessica ordered the Filet Mignon, and she was more than pleased with her cut of meat.

We also ordered an array of FABULOUSLY cooked vegetables that I kind of ate all of.

Like I think I ate a small garden of vegetables.

The green beans with Dijion mustard sabayon and  feta cheese crumbles were so good that I fought Jessica for more than my portion. It inspired me to purchase green beans and feta, I will be treating myself to this dish in the very near future.

And sauteed broccolini, win.

And as if we didn’t eat ourselves ENOUGH into oblivion, we decided to order dessert.

But due to our issue with decision making, we felt that it was mandatory to order three.

First, was the red velvet cake. The cake was covered with cream cheese frosting and a light chocolate coating in between each layer. The presentation was beautiful and the taste was like home.

It was screaming America, and for Red Velvet Cake, that was a very very good sign.

We also ordered the passion fruit mousse which was so refreshing. Absolutely incredible.

Jessica took part in the Mud Slide chocolate cake, which was basically a slice of fudge with salted caramel inside and a medley of fruit berries.

Seriously, how can you go wrong with any of those things that I just mentioned?

It was fantastic.

I looked at Jessica and said, “This is what pastry chef’s are supposed to do.”

She said, “What, eat incredible food to the point of explosion?”

Not exactly what I meant…but yeah, I’ll take it!

So, you’ve seen the good food, but let me tell you…there was some pretty darn bad food.

Like downright nasty food.

And to save your appetites, I will only share two.

The pork dish I had my first night, which was a reconstitution of what tasted like dried out spam.

And the truffle pasta, which wasn’t terribly bad, but WHAT THE HECK WAS I DOING ORDERING TRUFFLE PASTA WHEN I LIVE IN ITALY?!

It was one of those moments in my life where I just don’t understand my actions.

But other than the food, the cruise was an ideal opportunity to feel like a woman again.

That is, wear something other than pastry pants, steel-toed cloggs, pastry jacket, apron, and pulled back hair.

I wore real clothes AND put on makeup.

So, I took the opportunity to get as much wear out of my pretty dresses as possible.

And while galavanting around the cruise one day, I spotted something that would bring about my demise.

Whittiker’s Jazz, the infamous Elsasser sibling’s favorite childhood carnival game.

Except, Blake was always the one that won.

I just stood there an convinced myself that I won too.

But, I somehow managed to forget that it was never me who came out on top and being tantalized by the silver and dollar bills, I decided to play my hand at the game.

And actually, I attracted quite a crowd. Maybe because of the ridiculousness of my reactions to losing my money, or the excitement that I uttered when I won a quarter.

Either way, from the outside, looking it, it was probably entertaining.

Some guy filmed me doing it. No joke.

The pictures pretty much say everything.

And, Blake, I lost it all. All $20 in quarters. I’m sorry that I have failed you as a sister.

My only redeeming quality is the fact that I’m not the one who hit you on the head with a 2×4 or made an indent on your stomach of a golf ball attempting to be Happy Gillmore.

But other than the money lost in the game (or gained in enjoyment), I treated myself to a professional updo and an overpriced pedicure (so that my feet would look pretty in my sparkly shoes).

And they were both SO worth it.

And for in our photo shoots.

And not realizing that there is quiet hour in the library, we decided to act like 5 year old girls and laugh and giggle until we saw a Royal Caribbean staff member give us the evil eye.

And Jessica, without the help of alcohol, decided to use my pashmina as a jump rope.

And then, we found the book to end all book searching.

And luckily, the picture that was snapped was able to capture everything we couldn’t ever say.

Please, enjoy the following advertisement.

And after we cackled on and on about horses and nuns, we went to sleep.

Then we got dressed up again.

And took MORE pictures.

And more.

And we were greeted by towel creations from our room attendant man named George.

And I chugged a bottle of DayQuil in a day and a half because my immune system decided to fail me on the trip.

But luckily, for medicinal reasons only, I treated my throat to soft serve.

Every day.

Ok, twice a day.

Ok, maybe there were a few time that I did it 3 times.


Oh soft serve.

And our time just sailing on the cruise was so memorable, ridiculously relaxing, and completely worth every penny.

The skies and seas was absolutely magical and calm until the last day. But that last day, it was nasty.

I literally rolled in my bed, and I didn’t do it myself.

Our monkey animal was swinging, and we didn’t push him.

I stumbled in my heels, and not because I’m clumsy.

Our water glasses looked like the sea, and not because I was blowing bubbles in them.

One of the crew members we talked to said it was the worst they had experienced on the ship thus far. There were even bags lining the steps that were for “unfortunate circumstance.” Which means, “please don’t vomit on the stairs, vomit in these nice velvet bags.”

I tried not to look out the window, but I’m pretty sure it looked like this picture, Compliments of

Ok, maybe I exaggerate the situation just a bit..

But my point, it was pretty intense.

Over the next few days, I will share some of the life-changing destinations that the cruise visited. I will share pictures, food experiences, those “moments” I tend to have, and everything in between.

Messina, Sicily

Athens, Greece

Ephesus, Turkey

and Chania, Crete, Greece.

Ciao for now!