"" Writer's Wanderings: Celebrity Solstice--Tortola & Silk Harvest

Friday, February 06, 2009

Celebrity Solstice--Tortola & Silk Harvest

The Oceanview Café was a bit quieter this morning. Many had left on their Tortola excursions already and others. . .well, there are those who make it a late night and eat breakfast when we’re having lunch. We ate quickly and scurried off to find a ride to Pusser’s Landing at Soper’s Hole. The area was introduced to us while on a tour a few cruises back and we decided it would be a nice place to sit back and watch the world go by.

We found a taxi. The charge for the 25 minute ride was $30. It’s a pretty ride along the shoreline. Tortola is set in the midst of some of the prettiest territory in the Caribbean. Soper’s Hole and Marina is a safe harbor for lots of charter boats and others who are touring the area on boats. We dodged in and out of the shops there, not finding anything suitable to our taste or our price range. On the second floor of the largest establishment there, Pusser’s Landing, we found a dining area that is only open in the evening, I presume. It was an open balconied area and we perched for an hour and watched the boat traffic while sipping “D” Best Coffee which was strong enough to walk on its own.

Since we hadn’t arranged for a ride back, we congregated where the taxis were picking up others and joined a tour that was headed back to the ship. The driver had charged the group $15/each for their tour but he only charged us $10/each to get in on the last half of the tour and return to the ship. (FYI—if you’ve never been to Tortola, there are a ton of open-cab busses that take you all over the island for $10-15 each.)
Back on board the Solstice, Bob wanted pasta for lunch so we went to the buffet again. This time I opted for a croissant with chicken salad and some cole slaw on the side. It was very good. We watched the sail away at 1 p.m. and enjoyed the cruise through the Drake Channel between all the islands.

At a little after 5, the Captain’s Club members met in the Sky Lounge for a cocktail party with dancing and of course the award to the cruisers with the most cruises. The prize went to a couple with 32 cruises on Celebrity ships.

We arrived at the Silk Harvest Restaurant at 6 and were escorted to a table for two next to a window. The restaurant reminds me of a small PF Chang’s—busy and a bit crowded with tables. It’s very nicely decorated in Asian prints and dark wood with light fixtures that resemble rice paper lanterns. At each table is a small artificial bonsai plant. The menu was a bit confusing with “small plates,” “large plates,” and sushi. Our very cheerful waiter explained that the small plates were like appetizers and the large plates were entrees but could some in smaller portions so that we could sample more. The sushi was offered in rolls or Nigiri by the piece.

We ordered miso soup and barbecue ribs to start and were also brought cream cheese filled fried wonton. All very good but the ribs were big enough to be a meal. For entrees we ordered small portions of duck curry, orange chicken, and kum bao chicken and Jasmine rice. I ordered a Solstice roll of crab, tempura shrimp, and avocado. Bob got Nigiri with salmon and tuna. We had enough food to feed a half dozen people. The sushi was great and I loved the orange chicken. Bob enjoyed it all including the spicy duck and kum bao.

Our waiter brought our dessert without asking what we wanted. I had wonderful caramelized bananas with coconut ice cream and Bob was served some sort of Japanese dessert that had ice cream inside. It wasn’t anything I’ve ever seen in Japan but it looked like something you might get there. We swapped back and forth. It was two hours before we were finished and the restaurant was full to overflowing when we left.

The show in the theater was a production number called Pulse. It was very lively, starting with a scene that looked like the Broadway show where they beat on trash cans and pots. It was well choreographed and transitioned from one theme to another by a door that one of the performers walked through. Some of the “circus” acts from the previous show were worked into this one as well. The singers were terrific but overshadowed at times by the loud music. If you are like me and have pain when the music is turned up too loud, better be prepared for this one with some ear plugs or use the cotton balls from your vanity in the bathroom.

Before retiring for the night, we strolled through the 50s-60s party in the Sky Lounge mainly to see the ice sculptures and the dessert buffet. Lots of chocolate and sweets and even crème brulee scorched on the spot with a blow torch. I was good. I just breathed in the scent and left.

One last picture. The dock at Road Town is very narrow. The two bridges of the ships were so close, I could imagine the captain of the Solstice reaching across and handing the captain of the Carnival Freedom a cup of coffee.

Tomorrow: Labadee, Haiti—Celebrity’s private beach

Other specialty restaurants aboard cruise ships:
Crown Princess Sabatini's
Solstice Tuscan Grill
Crown Princess Chef's Table
Queen Mary 2 Todd English

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