This morning, Carnival Vista docked in La Romana, Dominican Republic. We were here three years ago on Carnival Breeze where we enjoyed a pretty intense Zip Line tour. In our opinion, it is the best excursion offered here. Since we are not interested in repeating history, we saw La Romana as another opportunity to enjoy the seclusion of Serenity on Deck 15 forward. It was great! When it came time for lunch, with most people still off the ship, it was the perfect time to enjoy another burger from Guy's Burger Joint.
On a typical day, the line at Guy's Burger Joint can get insanely long. So, here was a rare opportunity to walk right up and get a fresh, hot burger with no wait. After my second Guy's burger on this cruise, I can now declare this to be one of the best hamburgers anywhere. They are that good. For those of you who follow our blog, you know I have been complaining for years about the poor quality of burgers on cruise ships. Carnival appears to be the only cruise line to have mastered this relatively simple culinary achievement.
Even the French fries are excellent, and perfectly seasoned. I think I may have to have at least one more of these burgers before the end of the cruise. After lunch, we spent the afternoon competing in a series of trivia competitions. Rickee finally won the Sports Trivia and collected her coveted "Ship On A Stick" trophy. In case you are unfamiliar with the famous Carnival trophy, they are solid 24-carat gold and priceless!
While we were playing trivia, the Captain made an announcement from the bridge that, due to a tropical storm, we would not be able to make our port calls in Aruba or Curacao. The ship is being diverted to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and St. Maarten instead. The reaction from the crowd in the Ocean Plaza was overwhelmingly positive.
For dinner this evening, we had a reservation at Cucina del Capitano, Carnival's Italian-themed restaurant. We made our reservations online a few weeks before the cruise through Carnival's 'My Cruise Manager' website. The restaurant is typically fully-booked, so advance reservations are highly recommended. We arrived at 6:30pm and were instantly greeted by the restaurant manager who showed us to our table for two.
The decor is decidedly Italian with red-and-white checkered tablecloths. Each table is set with a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar. As soon as we are seated, our waitress greets us and delivers a plank of crusty bruschetta with roasted garlic, tomatoes and mascarpone cheese.
The menu is divided in half with the left side offering appetizers, soups and salad. The right side highlights pasta dishes and entrees. The idea is for each guest to order an item from the left side plus an item from the right side. However, the waitress never suggested that more than one item from the appetizer list could be ordered. I ordered Nonna's Meatballs and Rickee ordered the Il Capitano's Signature Arancini.
My meatballs arrived piping hot in a rich, flavorful tomato sauce with melted mozzarella and crispy basil leaves. They were delicious and I found myself sopping up the remainder of the sauce with a leftover chunk of bruschetta.
Rickee's arancini consisted of four deep-fried risotto balls mixed with cheese and served in a tomato sauce. They were good, but we both agreed that between the two, the meatballs were the better choice.
For an entree, Rickee ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara and I ordered the Bistecca Alla Griglia. When our main courses arrived, Rickee was surprised because she thought she had ordered Spaghetti Bolognese (which is not even on the menu). The Carbonara is a cheese sauce, like an Alfredo, with Pancetta. Rickee thought she was getting a tomato sauce (she should have read the menu!). The waitress did not hesitate to offer to bring her Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce and left the Carbonara for us to share in the meantime. My Bistecca (a New York Strip) was cooked perfectly to order and was good.
The real star of the evening was the Spaghetti Carbonara. Even Rickee loved it once she gave it a taste. The portions of spaghetti were huge, easily enough for two people to share. The Spaghetti with Captain's Tomato Sauce was also very good, but the Carbonara is the best on the menu, in our opinion.
Tomorrow, we will be in San Juan, Puerto Rico.