This morning, Azamara Quest is sailing toward the tiny village of Golfito, Costa Rica. We are not scheduled to arrive until 6pm this evening, so, in essence, we have another day at sea. And, a beautiful day it is, with calm waters and moderate temperatures. Our first stop this morning is at The Cabaret Lounge for a "Behind the Scenes" visit with Captain Jose Vilarinho. Captain Jose went through a slide show describing every department on the ship, explaining what goes on behind the scenes to make every cruise memorable for the guests. It was very enlightening, and shows that this Captain is involved with every department on the ship.
Captain Jose Vilarinho
After Captain Jose's talk, some of the senior staff came on stage to take questions from the audience. After the Q&A, I headed up to Deck 10 aft to Prime C for another cooking demonstration by Chef Joao. Today, he showed us how they prepare Mushroom Risotto. Even though I have prepared this dish many times, it is always good to learn new techniques from a professional chef.
Chef Joao prepares Mushroom Risotto
I learned that you can actually peel a Portabello mushroom! Who knew? At the conclusion of the demo, wait staff passed around samples of the delicious rice dish. After the cooking demo, it is time for the Officers' BBQ lunch on Deck 10. Once again, The Patio is converted into a large buffet serving line, and the crowd soon begins to line up for food being served by the ship's senior staff.
Hotel Manager, Phillip, serves up delicious tacos
The highlights, for me anyway, were the whole roasted pig and the BBQ pork ribs. Both were delicious. However, we had to show restraint because we have a very special dinner scheduled for later this evening.
Whole roasted suckling pig
Because of the Deck barbeque, we skipped Team Trivia today, yet our team apparently won the progressive point award! Someone showed up at our stateroom with a couple of Azamara logo t-shirts and a refrigerator magnet as our prize winnings. Pretty cool.
I also decided that today would be a good day to take advantage of the Free Bag of Laundry (available to Le Club Voyage members at Explorer level and above). This is another good benefit that loyal Azamara guests can enjoy.
Le Club Voyage Members can get a bag of laundry done free for every 7-day cruise
This afternoon, we stayed in our stateroom and I watched the Green Bay Packers get smoked by the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC Championship while RIckee enjoyed some time in the sun on our balcony. Before the end of the game, Quest was pulling up to the dock at Golfito, Costa Rica. And, by 5:00pm, a message came over the ship's PA system that guests would be required to meet with Costa Rica Immigration officials. Since we have an early dinner reservation at 6pm, we went to The Cabaret Lounge with the first group called.
Rickee gets her passport stamped by Immigration officers in Golfito
The Immigration process was very efficient and quick. Afterwards, we had enough time to visit The Living Room for a cocktail before our dinner reservation. We were the first to arrive at Aqualina on Deck 10 aft, right on time for our 6pm reservation. Aqualina is one of Azamara Quest's two specialty restaurants, the other being Prime C Steakhouse.
Table setting at Aqualina is a step above Discoveries restaurant
Aqualina is an Italian-themed restaurant, which is different from our last sailing aboard Quest in 2014. On our last cruise, Aqualina was described as "Contemporary American Cuisine with a Mediterranean flair." We had no idea what the heck that meant, and found the theme to be confusing. So, we did not dine there in 2014. But, we completely understand "Italian" and wasted no time in making a reservation on this voyage.
About to experience an incredible meal at Aqualina
Our waiter for the evening, Emmanuel, greeted us and explained the menu, which is very straightforward. After a Bruschetta amuse bouche, my Antipasti (starter) soon arrived: three Proscuitto-wrapped Seared Scallops with a Garlic Cauliflower Purée and Balsamic drizzle. The scallops were small, but the preparation and presentation were excellent. They were delicious.
Seared Scallop Antipasti
Rickee ordered the Carpaccio of Beef as her starter, and loved it. For my Zuppa and Insalata course (soup and salad), I ordered the Lobster Bisque while Rickee went with the more interesting Tomato and Watermelon salad with Basil and Balsamic glaze. It was very different, and very good.
Tomato and Watermelon salad with balsamic glaze
For our Secondi (main course), we both ordered the Crispy Duck Confit with Mushroom Risotto. We primarily ordered it for the Risotto that we had sampled earlier in the day at the cooking demo. The mushroom Risotto was as creamy and delicious as we remembered and the duck was juicy and flavorful with a light, crispy skin.
Crispy Duck Confit with Mushroom Risotto
We were both way too stuffed by the end of the meal to enjoy the signature souffle dessert, so I had a scoop of gelato and Rickee, a scoop of lemon sorbet. It was the perfect end to a wonderful dining experience. So far, this has been our favorite meal of the entire cruise, and well-worth the $30/pp additional cost.
Tomorrow, Quest remains in Golfito where we will enjoy a horseback ride!