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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Cruise Ship: Food Glorious Food

Note: This is a sponsored post
 
As you probably know by now I got back from my bloggy break last weekend after a blissful 14 night cruise holiday with my family of 8 on board Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas. It was such an incredible holiday we all had a really great time and my Nanna got her Birthday wish of going on another cruise holiday with us.

I've got lots of stories to share with you which you may have seen sneak peaks of on my Facebook and Instagram @jarrahjungle ... I hope you saw them because it cost me $200 for an hour of Internet at marine rates! Eeeeeeek!!

But first thing's first I'm going to start with our tummies and talk about the food glorious food found on board this cruise ship.

My treat for dinner tonight babe .... oh that's right it's all free!

For readers who have cruised before I'm sure you'll read this with a knowing smile. For those virgin cruisers I'll be honest with you .... the war on food begins as soon as you step on board the cruise ship and a squirt of hand sanitiser is all that stands between you and a world of food glorious food.

The other thing that's very hard to believe is that every meal and drink (other than alcohol or soft drinks) are included in your cruise fare so there's no charge for anything which makes you want to order every single thing off the menu!

There are specialty restaurants that charge a small fee and there's more about the ones we tried in this post. But otherwise all your meals are all included and all free ...

So what are you waiting for? Let's tuck in shall we!
 
An abundance of seafood dishes on offer
 
Let's start the day with breakfast - for early risers why not treat yourself to silver service in the Dining Room, it's a great way to start the day especially on a port stop day when you're up early anyway. There are plenty of tables available this time of the day and you'll get service at the table without having to wait in line, which makes a nice change from the Windjammer buffet style eatery. Order anything off the menu which changes daily and let them make your breakfast just the way you like it.
 
Dining Room breakfast menu changes daily

My favourite breakfast of all time eggs benedict

Or you can have your first meal of the day in the comfort of your cabin and order room service, you have until 3am to put your order out which is great for night owls like me! Select the time you want it delivered and they'll give you a call to tell you it's on it's way so you have time to get out of bed and un-zombie-fy yourself before letting them in.

We enjoyed a hot coffee most mornings before heading to the Dining Room or Windjammers for breakfast. Another slightly hungover morning we had a big cooked breakfast, fresh fruit and pastries for an indulgent breakfast in bed!
 
Room service - coffee on our balcony
Or a big cooked breakfast best eaten in bed with a slight hangover!
 
For a casual breakfast with the biggest variety head to the Windjammer Cafe and help yourself to a full buffet breakfast with healthy fruit and yogurt, a pile of pancakes with toppings and cream or a traditional fry up no hangover will stick around for. There are so many choices here you'll need a second and maybe third plate to sample it all!
 
Come lunchtime you can do it all again - Dining Room, Room Service, or Windjammer. At the back of the Windjammer is the Island Grill where you can make your own hamburgers or super dogs. If the weather's nice they'll have a BBQ lunch by the pool. We tried lunch in the Dining Room too and they had chefs making salads for everyone at the salad bar which was pretty cool although it's not as fancy as dinner time in the Dining Room, that's when they really lay it on!
 
In between lunch and dinner there are afternoon snacks served at the Windjammer .... heaven forbid you have to wait until the next meal of the day to sample something sweet or something savoury or heck just have both! After a spa and some cocktails one sunny afternoon we enjoyed a big plate of freshly made sushi from here which we took out to enjoy on deck. Mmmmm I could eat sushi every day!

Fruit carvings displayed in the Windjammer


BBQ lunch by the pool

There is a 24 hour Cafe Promenade which serves hot pizzas, sandwiches and rolls and a huge range of cakes, slices and cookies. This is a small place compared to Windjammers and a great alternative when you don't feel like queuing for the buffet or fancy a light snack. There are hot drinks and water but no soft drinks or fruit juices on offer here. We often snuck a few slices of pizza back to the cabin while we watched an afternoon movie.

Next door they serve coffee and Ben and Jerry's ice cream but on the Captain's cocktail party there was a whole lot of champagne on offer here ... the Captain's drinks is a party you don't want to miss ... did someone say free champagne!

Cafe Promenade open 24 hours

The bar at Cafe Promenade being put to good use for the Captain's Party

Dinner in the Dining Room is one of the best experiences and treats of cruising for me and really is a must - do it every night if you can and save the buffet and cafe food for your other meals! Plus you get to dress up in your frocks and heels and bring out the bling, the men look sharp and dapper, it's like being treated to 5 star dining every night. I love it.

The formal Dining Room on board was magnificent spanning over 3 levels with a beautiful big chandelier in the centre and a piano on the stairs ... it's hard to believe your floating on the ocean sometimes with such grandeur! Each floor has a Dining Room with a different name - ours was Magic Flute and we had the same table, same waiters and same time reservation every night. This is the best way to go for dinner because your table is booked for you each night there's no waiting and you can work out your other entertainment and the evening's plans around dinner plus you have the same waiters each night and they really get to know you and look after you.


Our dining room Magic Flute

We secured our table and dining time when we booked the holiday but you can also do this online before you sail. If you aren't happy with the table you're given just ask and they'll change it, for us we had extra family join us so they changed it to a bigger table. It's never a problem they always do their best to help and make everyone happy.

You can also go My Time Dining where you ring the Dining Room each night and book a table, but in the past I've found this to be a pain and not as enjoyable because you're put on different tables with different waiters each night.

The incredible views from the dining room looking out into the deep blue sea

Our family dinner table we're we feasted each and every night
  
Another treat is room service as I mentioned above for breakfast - you just order whatever your rumbling tummy desires and then maybe two more serves just in case and they'll deliver it to your door with a smile and plates stacked with deliciousness. Room service is free unless you order it from midnight to 5am as the poor kitchen guys have to make it and bring it to you in the middle of the night!

We had an afternoon girly pamper session in the cabin and ordered some room service via the TV room service menu, followed by a phone call to room service to check they had the order (which they didn't so it's always a good idea to check!). In case you're wondering what was in all those dishes ... sandwiches, rolls, salad, cakes, cheese board and yes there was some fresh fruit too ... promise!
 
Room service lunch for 5 hungry women!
  
An afternoon of pampering painting our nails and feasting on snacks!
 
As for the specialty restaurants on board where there is a fee to be paid - we dined at two.

We had lunch on my Dad's Birthday at Johnny Rockets a retro burger joint which was pretty entertaining with the waiters jumping up every half hour to do a little dance. At $4.95 per person you can order anything off the menu ie: chips, burgers, sundaes, etc for that one price. But to be honest this venue didn't really rate as high as I'd hoped - our order was messed up and we got food we didn't order and they forgot some of our order (my Dad's Birthday burger!). The burgers and sundaes were yummy but the entrees were pretty average. Next time I'd probably just go for a milkshake they were really tasty.
 
The retro burger joint on board
 
Mr P and my Mum enjoying a sundae
 
If you really enjoy being wined and dined then book yourself into the speciality restaurant Portofinos Italian Restaurant as a special treat. The cost for Portofinos is pretty reasonable at $20 per person and this was for a 3 course meal which was absolutely delicious and we all received extra attentive service and attention. It's a small intimate venue which is a nice change from the large Dining Room and had a really nice ambiance to it.

We booked a table for dinner for my Nanna's 86th Birthday, the reason we were on the cruise holiday, and we were all in the mood to celebrate such a special occasion. I ordered a Birthday cake the day before which was baked especially for us and was big enough for 8 of us with extra to take back to the cabin for a midnight snack .... it was by far the fluffiest lightest tastiest chocolate cake I have ever eaten, and I'm quite the chocoholic! Nanna also received an extra tier of Birthday treats just for her which she happily enjoyed and begrudgingly shared her chocolate dipped strawberry's with us ;) They really did show us a fantastic night which you would expect from a speciality restaurant.


My Nanna and me ... I'm the youngest grandchild in our family although not so young anymore!

  
We ordered the seafood skewers which came to the table on skewer sticks

The seafood was then taken off the skewer and arranged on the plates before being served to us

A selection of the desserts bought to the table
 
Birthday Cake and a tier of Birthday treats .... spoilt much!

The celebrations didn't stop there, when we returned to our Dining Room Magic Flute the next night our awesome waiters wanted to celebrate my Nanna's Birthday again (as we weren't there the night before) and they bought out a small Birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday. Seeing my Nanna so happy and that huge smile on her face made the whole trip worthwhile and I'm so grateful that we could do this trip together as a family.
 
My Nanna getting her 2nd lot of Birthday celebrations

It was also my Dad's Birthday on board and we ordered a Birthday cake for him (the same as my Nanna's) which had a bit of a spelling glitch but none the less tasted delicious! He also got the royal treatment from our waiters with singing and we all had a really fun night.
 
My Dad Graeme's Birthday cake
 
My lovely Mum and Dad .... Happy Birthday Dad!
 
Our 2 waiters looked after us for 14 nights and kept us entertained with party tricks and games. They had us in hysterics trying to work out their tricks ... when often the tricks were on us! 

 
 
Can in a cup party game ... go Nanna!
 
Mr P trying to work out the napkin trick
 
Our waiters were so attentive you only need to tell them once how you like your coffee or you're a tea lover and they will remember and make it for you each night thereafter. The personal service you receive on board is second to none and you feel like a celebrity the way they look after you.
 
What flavour tea bag would you like tonight ladies?
 
Whatever was recommended on the menu was always impressive!


Dessert was the hardest decision to make .... that's why they would bring us extras to share!

All the restaurant staff are amazing they are friendly, always smiling, attentive and go out of their way to help you out and make your holiday enjoyable. All the restaurant staff do a parade through the Restaurant and sing a song standing on the tiered staircase running between the 3 levels of restaurant, it's a pretty awesome sight to see. 
 
Well done everyone, love your work!
 

That covers all the  dining areas on board this beautiful ship Voyager of the Seas and if I can offer a lasting tip for you on the food glorious food journey on board a cruise ship it will be this - if in doubt order both!

Disclosure: Royal Caribbean have partnered with me to help promote their company. This is a sponsored post and I received on board credit to spend on the ship. I am free to form my own opinion and share them in my own words.

 
[All images my own]
 
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

This Years Christmas Inspiration

I'm so damn excited about Christmas this year because Mr P and I are hosting our first Christmas lunch with our parents and siblings joining us. The most fun about hosting for me is decorating the tree and house and we'll be doing up the backyard and patio as well because that's where we'll be feasting on Christmas Day. The food isn't too stressful because everyone brings a dish so that really takes the load of having to cook and be in the kitchen all day. 

I've been tempted to get my festive on and start putting up the decorations early but I've always waited until 1 December before I dust off the decos and don't want to break with tradition now, so to satisfy my festive spirit I've been trawling through Pinterest updating my Christmas board and flipping through the latest Target, Ikea and Spotlight catalogues for inspiration on colour schemes and Christmas table ideas. I'm thinking about going with a Red, White and Silver theme outside for the Christmas table and patio.



 
 


Inside the house the Christmas tree and decorations I want to be a rainbow of colours and brights. I'm also contemplating buying a smaller tree this year, I think I was a little to excited about my first Christmas in the Jarrah Jungle home and got the biggest tree I could find and it is just way too big for our living room ... if I put it in the corner it's blocked by the couches and if I put it near the front door it gets knocked every time you walk past. But I do love it, it's so life like and beautiful. But maybe just a little impractical. Sigh.

 


How are you decorating for Christmas this year?


[Images via Pinterest 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]
 
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Sunday, November 24, 2013

What Does Adventure Mean To You?

There are many things I consider to be an adventure when travelling - meeting people from different countries and customs; seeing all the sights from the mountains, jungles, beaches and cities; but what adventure means to me is the culinary journey. Every country has a culinary journey to take you on with foods to taste and drinks to enjoy, each telling a unique story with your taste buds.


Here are some of the tastes of adventure I've experienced on a plate and while these memories can't always be photographed they will always be remembered with a smile ...
 
1. Picking fresh figs off the trees at our holiday villa for breakfast in Ibiza
2. Asking for the recipe for Paella so I could make it at home on my return from Spain
3. Feasting on fritz on the walk back to the hotel after a big night out in Amsterdam
4. The must try biggest and most succulent steaks barbecued on an open flame in Brazil
5. Drinking a pint of beer poured from ancient taps in an old English pub in London
6. Eating an ice cream while cruising down the river in beautiful Copenhagen
7. Trying the traditional snails escargot in a fancy restaurant in Paris
8. Starting dinner with a shot of Ouzo at a BBQ in Greece
9. Indulging in an abundance of varieties of fresh fruits from tropical island Indonesia
10. Drinking coconut milk straight from the coconut on a beach in New Caledonia
11. All the weird and wonderful foods seen on a walk through China Town in Vancouver
12. Wine tour and tastings at vineyards on beautiful Waiheke Island in New Zealand
13. Eating fresh seafood almost every night while on a road trip around coastal Tasmania
14. Buying home grown pineapples from the road side in Queensland
15. Barramundi burgers and beers while watching the sunset over Cable Beach in Broome
 
All of the above is the taste of adventure on a plate and in a glass for me!
 
What does adventure mean to you?
 
Southern Cross Travel Insurance are running an awesome competition, to enter all you need to do is write a blog post about what adventure means to you with a photo collage. The winner will receive $2000 towards their next travel adventure with other prizes up for grabs. You can find all the details on how to enter here.

I would also like to nominate 2 bloggers with a love for travel for this competition -
Anna of Seasons of Lust and Sarah of My First Little Place

Competition closes on 30 November 2013 - good luck everyone! 

 
[All images my own]
 
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Friday, November 8, 2013

Taking A Bloggy Break

The count down for my much needed holiday with my family is on so I'm signing off the blog for a little while to spend time with my gorgeous man and family.

I'll be back to share my stories about my cruise onboard Royal Caribbean and I'm especially looking forward to exploring New Zealand. I can't wait!
 
 
Keep in touch with me on my Facebook and Twitter and I've just signed up for Instagram under @Jarrahjungle.

I hope you all have an amazing November :)

 
[Image my own]
 
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Book Club: Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

The November book club read which I finished in record time of one week was Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
 
 
This is the second book I've read by the author Mitch Albom, the other was Tuesday's With Morrie. I found this book almost as moving and easy to read, there's something about Mitch's words on the page their simplicity and honesty seem to get deep inside my head and find their way to my heart. He really is an amazing writer.
 
Time Keeper is a bit of a fantasy fictional novel about the man who keeps time for all of us. It starts with how time was created and invented. How the world began to measure time from days to minutes, soon becoming enslaved to the alarm clock, working hours, due dates, the list goes on. The story then moves onto 2 main characters vastly different to one another and how time is affecting their life - a school girl who falls for a boy and a successful business man married to his work.
 
The way each page and chapter is split makes this such an easy book to get through. Other authors should take note of this writing style as I often find books with multiple characters really hard to follow and relate to the characters. Not this one, it is clear as day and very easy to know who you are reading about and thus form a connection with.
 
I would recommend this book to everyone, I think we all need to slow down and stop being restricted by time so much.
 
I give this book 4 stars out of 5
 
Jarrah Jungle's Star Rating:
1 Bad - I'd rather eat brussel sprouts topped with anchovies than read this again
2 Not Good - I'd rather watch re-runs of Neighbours than read this again
3 Ok - I'm sitting on the fence - its not great but not terrible either
4 Good - I'd pass up a pack of tim tams for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read


[Image via Dymocks]

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Saying Goodbye To My Sandy Bumpy Driveway

With the Courtyard now built and the retaining walls alongside the driveway in are moving right along to the next project of having our driveway and path to the front door poured and laid.

I've mentioned before my driveway reversing issues and well if I'm completely honest the problem lays a lot deeper than that. I can't express enough how much my driveway has frustrated me over these years but that's all about to change now. I don't know how I'll spend my time I won't have sand and dust to clean off the floors every day!


Let's paint a picture - it's crumbly, part bitumen and part concrete slabs, orange pebbles and rocks with a bit of brown and yellow sand mixed in. Beautiful it aint!

The reason it's such a pain is because everyone can see it - cars driving by, neighbors on the street, friends and family that visit, taxis that drop me home - I can't hide it inside the house behind a closed door, it's on show warts and all for the world to see! 



It wasn't in complete disarray when we bought the house, the most damage was caused when we started the garage renovation early last year. When the carport slab was ripped out this left a big gap in the driveway which has caused the slabs to move with the cars parking on it all the time. The final straw was the concrete truck backing up to lay the garage footings which made some big cracks and movement in the slab. Not to mention the skip bins to take away all our rubble. Yes it’s taken a bit of a beating our ole driveway.
  
 
 
 
 
Now it looks like a mine field when you get out the car with your hands full and you have to get through the battlefield to the front door and:-
1. Try not to roll down the driveway because it is on such a lean
2. Dodge the cracks and holes so you don’t sprain your ankle
3. Don’t ever attempt any of the above in high heels - after a night of drinking - ever!



I've limited using my car to once a week as I need to use planks of wood to back out of the garage and have ripped my front spoiler off my car twice now. I've promised myself that I'm going to buy a four wheel drive after all this then I won't have to worry about boggy sand anymore!


 

I know it's just a driveway but when our new driveway is laid I intend to lay a big fat kiss on the newly laid ground in thanks and appreciation! Or maybe just pop the cork on the champagne and toast to it. Maybe both :)

For updates on the Courtyard project follow me on Facebook and you'll never miss a thing!
 

[All images my own]

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