Celebrity Flora – Dining Review

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a buffet table full of food
Special Sushi Lunch Buffet

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Introduction: Sailing Celebrity Cruises’ Flora in the Galapagos

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Exploring Quito, Ecuador on a Celebrity Cruises Excursion

Quito to the Galapagos and Back by Avianca Charter

Ship Review – Celebrity Flora

Cabin Review – Penthouse Suite 5125 on Celebrity Flora 2024

Celebrity Flora – Dining Review

Exciting and Unique Activities on a Galapagos Cruise

Revolting Copa Airlines Business Class – Delayed, Dirty Windows and Mold!

The Santa Maria, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Golf Resort, Panama City Review

Who Should Take a Galapagos Cruise?

Introduction

In this Celebrity Flora – Dining Review, we’ll cover the various dining options on board as well as the included wine, beer, and alcohol.  As noted in previous posts, Celebrity Flora is unlike any other ship in the Celebrity fleet and this extends to the food and beverage inclusiveness onboard.  Celebrity Flora fares include all your meals, drinks, tipping, excursions, transfers (if booking the pre/post stays), use of wetsuits, snorkel equipment and more.  You’ll notice the per day fares for these cruises are MUCH higher than for comparable suites on other Celebrity ships.

I know lots of cruises claim to be the most inclusive, but with Celebrity Flora they really mean it.  At the end of our cruise the ONLY charges we had were tips for two complimentary massages.  It’s the first time we’ve had a balance due of less than $100 after a week on board any ship.

Restaurant Options

There are essentially two and a half restaurants on board.  They are the Seaside Restaurant located on Deck 4 open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day and the open-air Ocean Grill and Bar on the top deck that serves light lunches each day and becomes Dinner Under the Stars by reservation only weather permitting (each passenger is eligible for this once during your cruise).

Ocean Grill and Bar

Let’s start with the Ocean Grill and Bar, because it will be the first restaurant most passengers will experience on board as it’s where the welcome lunch is served on embarkation day.  The spread on embarkation day had a variety of salads as well as fried chicken, hot dogs, quesadillas, burgers, and a nacho bar.  This is a larger offering than on other days during the cruise where it was largely grilled items and salads as many passengers opted to eat at the Seaside Restaurant each day for lunch.

food in a buffet at a restaurant
Ocean Grill and Bar Welcome Buffet Hot Food Options

As Penthouse Suite guests we were among the first to board and thus the first to make it up to the buffet.  For the 100 guests on our sailing, the spread was more than ample and replenished quickly.  For us, there were limited Gluten Free options, but we had no problem finding something to eat.

a plate of food and wine glasses on a table
Welcome Lunch at Ocean Grill and Bar (Somewhat Limited GF Options)

The food on board was well marked for allergens, so we were able to find things quickly.  We were still enjoying our welcome bubbly that we received at the Marina as we boarded.  As soon as we reached the bottom of our glasses a friendly server arrived offering refills.

a hand holding a bottle of champagne
Complimentary Wines are Available at All Meals as Well as In the Bar All Day

The sparkling on board was French.  They did not offer a Champagne on their by the glass list at meals.

Jumping ahead to our penultimate night on board, we enjoyed dinner under the stars as a group of 11 (we made a lot of friends on board!!!).  The menu was very similar to what was on offer in the Seaside restaurant, but it was fun eating outside and watching our food prepared in the open kitchen.

chefs cooking in a restaurant
Open Kitchen at Ocean Grill and Bar for Dinner Under the Stars

I enjoyed a beef filet while my wife enjoyed a grilled fish.

a plate of food on a table
Beef Filet Entree at Seaside with Yuca Fries and Vegetables
a plate of food with sauce and french fries
Fish Entree at Seaside with Yuca Fries

While we really enjoyed our experience Dining Under the Stars, we heard from other passengers that they felt they needed one more server for dinner as the tables further from the kitchen area received less attentive service than we had come to expect throughout the ship.

Seaside Restaurant

The Seaside Restaurant is really the heart of the ship alongside the Explorer Lounge.  Located at either end of Deck 4 these spaces provide for the perfect flow in the evenings.  We’ll get there in a bit, but let’s start with breakfast as the Seaside Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Breakfast, like most things on Celebrity Flora, is a very informal affair.  Breakfast is always a buffet with a cook-to-order egg station.  The selection of foods on the hot and cold buffets changed daily with a much better variety than we find on most cruise ships where it seems like breakfast offerings are essentially the same every day.  There are the usual scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, fruit, pastries, and yoghurt on offer.  Given the tropical location, there was always an abundance of fresh fruit as well as fruit smoothies, fruit juices, and fruit yoghurts.

But what I found really enjoyable was the selection of Ecuadorian specialties that were offered at breakfast and lunch on the buffet.  These were complimented by other rotating items like a Spanish tortilla.

Because it was a buffet and because many activities started relatively early, most people were in and out quickly, but for the early risers you could certainly take your time and enjoy the cooked-to-order items.

a table with different drinks on it
Breakfast Buffet Yoghurt and Fruit Selection

As with all buffet items as well as menu items, allergens were well marked.

Lunch is where the culinary team on Celebrity Flora really shone brightest.  This is where they had the most flexibility in their food offerings and they really took advantage to provide really delicious and interesting options.  There were several themed lunches during our sailing as they have on all sailings – sushi, Mexican, and of course Ecuadorian features all had their day.  Because we were at sea during the US Thanksgiving, they crew also provided an Ecuadorian take on Thanksgiving with roast turkey and mashed potatoes.  Other sides were delicious, but didn’t appear in any Norman Rockwell paintings.

a buffet table full of food
Typical Lunch Cold Items on the Buffet at Seaside
a buffet line of food
Typical Lunch Hot Items on the Buffet at Seaside
a group of bowls of food
Typical Lunch Ecuadorian Specialty Items on the Buffet at Seaside
a buffet table full of food
Special Sushi Lunch Buffet
a chef cutting a turkey on a tray
Thanksgiving Buffet Served Including Roast Turkey Carving Stations
a table with plates of desserts
Typical Lunch Desserts on the Buffet at Seaside
a table with food on it
Typical Lunch Desserts on the Buffet at Seaside

Dinner at Seaside is supposed to be the most refined dining experience on board and to be honest, it’s a bit of a let-down.  Service is plated with three to four courses.  Unfortunately, there’s the same number of staff working dinner as the other meals that are buffet, meaning that it’s understaffed and everyone, while well intentioned, is running around like crazy.  I feel really bad criticizing the service because it’s simply an issue of insufficient staffing to pull off the level of service they’re looking to create and not a failing of any of the staff in the dining room or in the kitchen.  But let me take a step back and explain the flow of a typical evening on board to show why the dining team is set-up to fail at dinner.

Afternoon excursions typically ended between 3:00pm and 5:00pm leaving time to freshen up before heading down to the Discovery Lounge for our daily briefing, pre-dinner cocktails, and a few light nibbles.  These briefings were typically 20-30 minutes long and then following them the announcement would be made that the dining room was now open.  At this point nearly every passenger on board made their way to the dining room to eat dinner, except for those few that were enjoying Dinner Under the Stars that night.  This alone puts massive pressure on the front of house and kitchen, but because of the small staff on board that had to be back up to serve breakfast the next morning, I understand why they tried to get dinner out of the way as quickly and as early as possible.

Nearly all passengers were enjoying wine, beer, or cocktails during dinner, with wine the most popular.  Because the complimentary wines were all served by the glass (I don’t recall seeing anyone purchase one by the bottle) the servers were constantly running around pouring the various wines.  They tried to feature one white and one red at each dinner; however, all of the wines on the list were available meaning they were running to and from their bus stations constantly with multiple bottles.

When it came to ordering food, the menus were reasonably small, but they allowed for a fair amount of customization.  This is very passenger-friendly; however, it again slowed down service.

All this running around front of house meant that the food, once it reached your table, was never hot.  Again, no fault of the servers or the kitchen, it’s just that there weren’t enough hands to get the plates out fast enough.

Prior to the cruise I’d read a lot about how your best bet was to order fish or chicken on board as the food is largely sourced from Ecuador and raising cattle is not their forte.  I’m not sure that I agree with their conclusion as I found the beef to be at the same level as the fish.  Unfortunately that’s because I found the fish to be on par with what I would get frozen from the grocery store.  Some of this is because it always arrive a bit over room temperature, but it also lacked the moisture content one expects from fresh fish.

I ultimately ordered fish for most of my dinners; however, the best thing that I had at dinner was an Ecuadorian chicken dish (pictured below) near the end of the cruise that was succulent and much better seasoned than the other dishes I’d been eating.

a plate of food on a table

a plate of food on a table
Seaside Local Fish Entree at Seaside
a bowl of ice cream with whipped cream on top
Coffee Ice Cream at Seaside

Again, like the buffet, my strong guidance is to go for the Ecuadorian dishes as that’s what the Ecuadorian chef’s know how to make best.  Their attempts at French, Italian, and California styled dishes were OK, but easily forgotten by the next morning, mostly due to a lack of seasoning and Ecuadorian ingredients being forced into Euro-centric cooking styles.

One thing that I really liked that they did on board Celebrity Flora and that many cruise ships do, is post the dinner menu all day.  It’s probably overkill, but here are photos of the menus for most of our dinners on board.

a menus on a table
Dinner Menus Change Each Day at Seaside – Here is a Sampling

You’ll note that the Celebrity signature classics section did not change, while the Galapagos Inspired Cuisine changed nightly.

a menu on a table
Dinner Menus Change Each Day at Seaside – Here is a Sampling
a menu of a restaurant
Dinner Menus Change Each Day at Seaside – Here is a Sampling

a menu on a table

a menu of a restaurant
Dinner Menus Change Each Day at Seaside – Here is a Sampling

If you’ve made it to the end of this Celebrity Flora – Dining Review I hope you enjoy your upcoming Galapagos cruise on board Celebrity Flora!!!  This post has run very long so I will forgo the wildlife photo this time, but promise more to come. – Michael

 

 

 

 

 

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Advertiser Disclosure: Frequent Floaters is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com. Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers. Compensation may impact how and where card products appear on the site. This site does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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