*Disclosure: I recently attended a media trip with Royal Caribbean; related travel and accommodations were provided. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.
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Of all the experiences I had on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas last week, the one I miss the most surprises me.
I miss Rodson. Or more generally speaking, I miss dinner in the Leonardo’s Dining Room and being served by our waiter, Rodson, and his assistant, Leo.
Eli had very little patience for eating during our Freedom of the Seas cruise – after all, sitting down to eat was only time taken away from swimming, playing in the arcade or kid’s club, exploring the ship, or watching movies on the dedicated DreamWorks channel in our cozy stateroom.
But dinner happened to be my very favorite time of day. Leonardo’s was so lovely, and our tables were set so beautifully. Each night, Rodson would present us with a different “themed” menu with a wide variety of delicious starters, entrees, and desserts.
Our first night on board the ship, I was giddy with excitement at dinner. Here we are, soaking it all in:
Eli and I were seated with three other families from our media group. Rodson introduced himself – we learned he and his family are from India – and gave us his suggestions from the menu. When it came my time to order, I asked for the shrimp ravioli as my entree. “No, no, no,” Rodson said. “That’s too small a portion. You are on vacation! I’ll bring you the prime rib.”
He proceeded to bring me the prime rib…AND the shrimp ravioli.
Every night was the same. Rodson insisted that we eat, eat, eat, that we explore different foods, that we try a portion of this and a portion of that. He pronounced Eli’s name as “Ellie” (due to his accent, I think), and was incredibly attentive to him all week. Rodson brought fruit to the table every night for the kids and insisted, “You eat fruit! It makes you healthy!” And each night was the same: he served the children first, women second, men last.
Before I went on this cruise, I was dreading the dinner experience. I am not necessarily accustomed to “fine dining,” and I was especially intimidated by the daily suggestions for dress – including two “formal” nights. When I discovered that dining at the Windjammer buffet was an option, I thought that’s where we would be every night.
But that very first night in the dining room got me hooked. It was a combination of things: the atmosphere, the conversation, the food, the service. Just the idea of someone taking great care of me. It was also immediately apparent that no one was standing on ceremony here – it was relaxed, no pressure, all levels of “fine dining” experience (or lack thereof) were welcome.
I even got dressed up for the formal nights! (*note: I am not a clothes horse or fashion plate, so the whole “dressing for dinner” thing had me a little freaked out. But trust me – wear what you have. Maybe pick the nicest of what you have. No one is going to throw you out. And honestly, no one is really going to care. People show up in ALL sorts of clothes, you will fit in.)
Now that I’m home, I miss that personal care at dinner time. Even more than not having to cook or do dishes, I miss feeling so special. I miss having someone insist that I explore and venture and enjoy. As a mom, you don’t often get that. So thank you Rodson, and thank you Royal Caribbean for creating a genuinely enriching experience in your dining rooms!