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Allure of the Seas

Photo of the Day: Romero Britto unveils a custom painting for Allure of the Seas


Photo by Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean announces new restaurant for Allure of the Seas


There will be a new specialty restaurant on the soon-to-be-completed Allure of the Seas, Samba Grill, a Brazilian-style Churrascaria restaurant.

The new restaurant will be a little different depending on the time of day.   During the evening, Samba Grill will be adults only while during the day it will revert to being the Solarium Bistro, where it will serve light breakfasts and lunches.

Samba Grill will be a notable difference between what you will find on Allure of the Seas' sister ship, Oasis of the Seas, where the Solarium Bistro serves healthier choices for all three meals during the day and dinner in the evening for a supplementary charge of $20.

While eating at Samba Grill, guests will be served by waiters dressed as gauchos, who will offer grilled meat off skewers while live music is playing.

The new restaurant will have a charge of $25 per person, as well as a vegetarian alternative, featuring a wide-ranging salad bar, for $15 per person.

What's next for Turku shipyard?


STX Finland's Torku shipyards are home to the soon to be completed Allure of the Seas.  Allure is floated, painted and almost ready to leave for her international press gala and start her service in Royal Caribbean's fleet, but once Allure of the Seas leaves, there's a lot of doubt in the Torku shipyards about what's next.

There isn't any news of any other ships on order and that's been the case now for a few years.  The main competitor to the shipyards are in Germany, Italy and France and all of them have received orders over the last few years. Turku shipyard is the only one who has no job pending.

One issue for Torku is that cruise lines tend to build cruise ships where previous ships were built, such as Carnival Cruises, who ordered a new ship to be built at the Italian Fincantieri shipyard because the ship of the previous series of ships was ordered from there.

There's no question that Turku shipyard's future depends largely on Royal Caribbean, the shipowner whose ships have been built in the shipyard for 40 years.

So what are Royal Caribbean's future ship building plans beyond Allure of the Seas?  The company has not yet committed to anything since the beginning of the financial crisis ended. It is, however, considering new ships, since the company's main competitor Carinval Cruise Line is looking to take a bigger lead in the cruise market.

Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein hasn't said much about what the future will hold, opting to focus on what's still in front of him, "We are going to grow as a company and brand, but today we focus on fully Allure of the Seas ship."

Royal Caribbean CEO updates construction progress of Allure of the Seas


Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain posted an update on the construction progress of Allure of the Seas, sister ship to Oasis of the Seas.  Allure is scheduled for delivery on October 28th and it sounds like Royal Caribbean is still on progress to meet that date.  After a visit to the shipyards in Finland, Fain seemed optimistic about the soon to be released vessel.

She is scheduled for delivery on October 28th and the state of her construction was remarkable. I don’t think that I have ever seen a ship at this stage of construction so ready. Despite regular status reports and photographs from the newbuilding team, I was astounded by how far along she was.

Of real interest was something Fain mentioned about "remarks".  Simply put, remarks are little issues that Royal Caribbean needs to address that are caught by the inspection team and can vary in scope from a minor scratch to something major like a broken critical systenm.  Fain mentioned when Oasis of the Seas left the shipyards, she had 6,000 remarks to resolve but surprisingly, Fain and his team think there may be zero remarks to worry about.

That would be virtually unthinkable for a normal ship, but for ALLURE it is an amazing target. The beauty of such a target is not that the remarks are an issue (virtually all the remarks would never be noticed by our guests) but that it frees both teams from having to deal with them and allows them to focus on more important things like making the perfect Mojito.

Video of the Day: Alex the Lion from film Madagascar gives you a sneak peek of the Allure of the Seas Fitness Center


Royal Caribbean to include the Britto Store on Allure of the Seas


Royal Caribbean announced today details of another new venue that will call Allure of the Seas home – the very first Britto Concept store at sea by pop culture icon, Romero Britto.

The new Britto Store onboard Allure of the Seas will be located in Central Park and will be "an engaging and interactive space for guests to enjoy the color, innovation and spirit which encapsulates Britto's art".  In the store, you will find display artwork as well as smaller collectible pieces and sculptures of varying sizes.  Outside the store and just in front of the entrance, Britto's well-known butterflies will be placed around the gardens of Central Park to welcome guests into the store.

In addition, Britto will be creating two original pieces that will be exclusive to Royal Caribbean for guests to purchase.  The first is a custom painting which will be available as canvas Giclees, and the second will be a Royal Caribbean-inspired teddy bear. Romero Britto himself will attend Allure of the Seas' inaugural sailing on December 5, 2010, providing Britto fans a unique opportunity to interact with the artist in painting parties, autograph sessions and meet and greet events

Britto and Royal Caribbean have a history of working together, having started back in 2003 on Mariner of the Seas when the artist designed the pool deck for the then-brand new ship.

Within the store, which will be outfitted in black and white as a contrast to Britto's exceptionally colorful artwork, guests will have the opportunity to learn about the artist himself from a documentary of Britto's accomplishments as well as participate in wine and champagne events, art discussions, and other activities related to Romero Britto. A wide array of artwork, posters, giftware, collectibles and luggage will be available for purchase, ranging from original and limited edition Giclees, to tableware such as teapots and coasters; collectible figurines and sculptures; stationery; umbrellas; children's books; pet toys and much more. A modern day pop culture icon, Romero Britto creates contemporary masterpieces that evoke a spirit of hope and convey a sense of warmth. Embraced by the international community, Britto's paintings and sculptures are currently featured on five continents in more than 100 galleries worldwide. His original artwork, dubbed "the art of healing," brings together bright colors and playful themes with compositional elements of Cubism. Britto's artwork conveys an honesty that reflects his desire to use colors which exude happiness. His belief that "art should be accessible to all, and enjoyed by people of all ages" is a key reason his artwork appeals to art lovers ages eight to eighty.

Video recap of Culinary Challenge for new chef of 150 Central Park


Interview with Maureen Brandt, new chef at 150 Central Park on Allure of the Seas


Today we have the exclusive opportunity to interview Maureen Brandt, who just won the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge, and is the new Chef de Cuisine for 150 Central Park onboard the soon to launch Allure of the Seas.  Maureen was generous enough to give us some of her time and offer us a look into how she managed to win this highly touted contest.

How did you find out about the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge and why did you feel compelled to enter it?
I received an email from The Culinary Institute Alumni Association announcing the challenge as the job of a lifetime.  Who can pass that up?  I love my business Cook In The Kitchen (catering and personal chef) but I've wanted to run a fine dining establishment for a while.  What a perfect opportunity!  My grandparents owned a travel agency, and my mom is a travel agent that has been on 55+ cruises and so it kind of runs in my blood.  I have no other real attachments aside from my black lab Stella so it seemed like a great idea.  How fabulous that I now get to design my own menu and be the chef of 150 Central Park with the most innovative cruise line in the world.
Prior to the Culinary Challenge, how much cruising had you done, if any?  If you had cruised before, what were your thoughts on cruising in general?
As I mentioned it kind of runs in my blood.  I have had the opportunity to cruise 5 or 6 times (can't remember right now.)  I've enjoyed each trip thoroughly.  It's so pleasant to unpack once but enjoy several different ports of call.  You really get the most bang for your buck out of any vacation of ever taken. 
To enter the contest, you had to include a dish that you can cook for the restaurant.  Tell us our readers what your choice was as well as why you chose that particular dish.  Was it because you thought it was your best dish that you make or was it something you thought would win over the judges?
The rabbit dish was something I developed when I was taking a continuing education course on culinary competition.  I ended up winning an American Culinary Federation sponsored competition with that dish, as well as working with a PR firm after cooking that for them.  It's my lucky rabbit's foot.  There wasn't much time to put together the video so I decided that would be the most logical choice because it was well developed, refined, and it looks beautiful.  I know it's somewhat controversial and not necessarily what everyone would choose.  After looking at the menu for 150 Central Park onboard Oasis I knew that I would have to make something else for the competition.  Royal Caribbean caters to a very international clientele and I needed to come up with something else using a little more mainstream proteins.  The final decision for the three courses was 
Chilled Lobster, Fennel, Carrots, Citrus, Caviar, and Tempura Battered Lobster Mitt
Provencal Lamb Loin, Dijon Potato Puree, Ratatouille, Pattypan Squash, and Olive Tapenade
Pistachio Cake, Whipped Rosewater Creme Fraiche, Carbonated Raspberries
The first portion of the contest involved voting from people all over the world where they viewed your video as well as the other contestants and voted on who they liked best.  Tell us a little about what that was like and if you did anything special to garner a few extra votes for yourself from friends and family.
Well having my own business has been an education in itself.  I learned how to market at a very basic level, and then outsourced.  I'm fond of saying that I'm an idiot-savant of sorts.  I can cook very well, but when it comes to writing, or design, or anything else I hire the best I can find and they make me look great!  For the actual voting period I posted on facebook like a fiend, and also emailed people nearly daily, much to their chagrin!  I also utilized the designer, writer, and photographer (Angela Ferraro-Fanning of 13ThirtyOne Design, Lindsay Berger of Inkwell Marketing, and Verna Pitts of Verna Pitts Photography respectively) that I used for my website to come up with a voting flier that I passed out absolutely everywhere, and for a press release that was sent to every news media in MN that I could think of.  Obviously that all helped!!
How did it feel to win the fan vote?
Spectacular!  I think I screamed like a teenage girl that just saw Justin Bieber!  I was cooking for an event that day and it was very difficult to concentrate following that.  It's amazing I didn't cut or burn myself!
After the fan vote, it was onto the cooking challenge last week.  Walk us through that experience and what it was like to put everything you had worked for on the line.
I didn't sleep well, for about a week.  In fact the night before I left for New York I was up sick all night!  I spent the day before writing out lists and packing very carefully.  I brought all of my own plates, so that was somewhat nerve-wracking as well.  I brought a few extra just in case any of them broke.  In the weeks preceding I hosted a few practice dinners where friends and clients could come and eat what I was going to prepare for the judges.  I just asked for a donation to cover the food cost.  That was a HUGE benefit.  Not only did it give me the chance to practice actually making the food and the timing, I could refine my plating, take some criticism, take photos for my assistant, and eat everything myself to make sure that I liked how it all worked together.
I worked as a teaching assistant at the Culinary Institute of America so being back was so much fun.  I got to see so many of the chefs and administrators that I spent a lot of time with and they all had pearls of wisdom for me.  I'm not going to lie though, it was very stressful!  The waiting was the hardest.  When I was in the kitchen prepping the first day, and cooking the second I was fine.  I was focused and ready.  I had mise en place lists for myself and my assistants, as well as the photos of the actual dish.  I had already labeled containers and was as organized as possible.  Which was a good thing because I used every second they gave me!  I can't thank my assistants enough, particularly Viraj Borkar.  I knew we were going to be okay when he told me about his personal kitchen experience and when he walked around the corner before we started and he had his headphones on listening to music to get focused just like me!
The judges named you the winner and you're now the next chef at 150 Central Park on Allure of the Seas.  What does that mean to you?
Well you can't wipe the smile off my face that's for sure! It was so gratifying to hear them call my name because it affirms every decision I have made about my career up to this point.  Cooking really isn't glamorous, it is hard physical labor and the pay is peanuts!  You do it for love of the game, but eventually you hope all of your hard work will pay off and that you will get to run the show someday.  I'm just so excited that all of the hours I've put in, and all of the research that I do has not gone un-noticed.  I know that this is just the beginning and that Royal Caribbean hired me specifically because of that work ethic and that I'm ready to put my best foot forward for them.  The real work is about to begin, but I appreciate the recognition along the way.
Let's get to know you a little bit more...
  • Favorite food cuisine (Mexican, Italian, chinese, etc)
    I'm not sure I have one.  I call myself a human garbage can because I'll eat anything.  But I really do like bold flavors so I'm a fan of Mexican, Indian, and Thai.
  • Favorite drink to have on a cruise (either one you've had or one you think would be great on a cruise)
    Corona's in the sunshine, wine pairings at dinner, and a specialty cocktail in a lounge.  I take the same unbiased approach to drinking as I do to eating.  I like it all! Dark beer, light beer, clear liquor, brown liquor, bubbles, white, and red wine.  No I am not an alcoholic!  I think the drink I most often order is a Manhattan on the rocks just like my dad! 
  • Favorite port of call to visit 
    Monte Carlo.  I loved the luxury of it, seeing the palace and the casino, and driving the roads!  How fabulous! Plus it's just a hop skip and a jump to France and Italy.
  • Favorite song on the radio/iPod today
    Somewhat embarrassing, but I'll give.  Right before I walked in to the kitchen before the finals I listened to Dynamite from Taio Cruz 3 times as loud as possible. There's a line in it where he sings that he'll be the last one standing, I just took that and ran with it!

You can visit Maureen's company, Cook in the Kitchen, as well as follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Congratulations Maureen!

Royal Caribbean and The Culinary Institute of America formally name Maureen Brandt winner of the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge


Maureen Brandt of Stillwater, Minn. Nabs Job as Chef de Cuisine for 150 Central Park Onboard Allure of the Seas

MIAMI, Aug. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- After hosting an eight week-long contest, which culminated with five intense hours in the competition kitchens at The Culinary Institute of America, Royal Caribbean International has found the next culinary superstar to lead the kitchen of the signature restaurant onboard Allure of the Seas, the cruise line's newest ship which will make her debut in December 2010 and share the title of world's largest and most innovative cruise ship with sister-ship Oasis of the Seas.  Maureen "Molly" Brandt of Stillwater, Minn. has landed the job of a lifetime: a one-year paid contract to be the Chef de Cuisine of 150 Central Park onboard Allure of the Seas.
Brandt was one of six chefs – all graduates of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the world's premier culinary college – to be a finalist in the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge, a contest open exclusively to the CIA's network of 40,000 alumni.  The six chefs participated in a two-part final challenge at the college's Hyde Park campus in New York on August 5 & 6, where they were each required to showcase their culinary prowess and creativity by participating in an interview with, as well as preparing a three-course meal for, an esteemed panel of judges from Royal Caribbean and The Culinary Institute of America.
"Partnering with the Culinary Institute and having the ability to tap into their alumni has been an amazing opportunity," said Lisa Bauer, Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean International. "Each of the finalists truly showcased their passion and knowledge in the kitchen and we are extremely excited to have selected Molly as our new Chef de Cuisine for 150 Central Park."
After her entry video was selected as the "fan favorite" in the consumer voting portion of the contest, Brandt went on to impress the judges at the Final Challenge by serving up a menu consisting of Chilled Lobster with fennel, carrots, citrus, caviar and tempura battered lobster mitt; Provencal Lamb Loin with Dijon potato puree, ratatouille, pattypan squash and olive tapenade; and Pistachio Cake with whipped rosewater creme fraiche and carbonated raspberries.  
"This entire process with The Culinary Institute of America and Royal Caribbean has been such an amazing experience and hearing my name announced as the winner of the Culinary Challenge was surreal," stated Maureen "Molly" Brandt, Chef de Cuisine, 150 Central Park, Allure of the Seas.  "I am beyond thrilled to open this amazing restaurant and look forward to crafting the perfect menu for our guests over the next couple of months as we count down to the launch of Allure."
A 2006 alumni of The Culinary Institute of America, Brant was named a Food and Wine best student chef in 2006.  While in training she worked at the Food Network as a culinary extern, where she prepared food for a variety of production projects including "Iron Chef America," "Emeril Live," and "Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee."  Immediately following graduation, she spent a year as a teaching assistant in the CIA's Escoffier restaurant, before going on to work in the kitchens at many reputable restaurants in New York, Minnesota and abroad, including the critically acclaimed, Michelin starred Cafe Boulud in New York City.  Currently Brandt owns her own private chef and catering company, Cook in the Kitchen in the Twin Cities.  She is also the co-founder and villa chef for Flavors of Italia, a company that offers intimate, culinary-focused vacations in Northern Tuscany.
Located in the lush and tropical grounds of the ship's Central Park neighborhood, 150 Central Park will feature decor that will embrace the mellow earth tones, unique textiles and fixtures inspired by nature's four seasons. Inspired by the simple elegance concept of trend-setting restaurants in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, each detail of 150 Central Park will be dedicated to enhancing the dining ambiance, from the tabletops to the service team uniforms. The restaurant menu and certain design aspects will be developed and determined by the winning chef of the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge.
Allure of the Seas shares the title of the world's largest and most revolutionary cruise ship with sister-ship Oasis of the Seas. An architectural marvel at sea, she will span 16 decks, encompass 225,282 gross registered tons, carry 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,700 staterooms. Allure of the Seas will tout Royal Caribbean's exclusive neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, which will include Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. The ship will alternate a Western Caribbean with an Eastern Caribbean seven-night itinerary from her home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 

Maureen Brandt wins final cooking competition to become chef of 150 Central Park


The final cooking competition is over to become the next chef at 150 Central Park on the soon to be launched Allure of the Seas and it's Maureen Brandt of Stillwater, Minnesota.  Brandt won the fan vote last month and today competed with five other chefs for the right to become the next Chef de Cuisine of 150 Central Park, the signature restaurant onboard Allure of the Seas.

Brandt competed in a day long competition and cooked three meals for the panel of judges.  Her specialties included chilled Lobster, provencial Lamb Loin and a pistachio cake.

Chef Daniel Fein came in second place and CruseCritic is reporting he has accepted the position of Chef of 150 Central Park on Oasis of the Seas, whose chef has announced previously that he will be leaving.

With Brandt winning, she completes a long trek of winning the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge, which started back in early July 2010.  She submitted a video of her cooking a dish and explaining why she should be considered for the contest.  She then made it to the final six competitors, won the fan vote and today has won the cooking competition.

Brandt is a 1999 graduate of Stillwater Area High School and she is also a "Certified ProChef Level Three" by the Culinary Institute of America and CEC through the American Culinary Federation.

The panel of judges for the cooking competition included Culinary Institute of America Chef Lou Jones and Dr. Victor Gielisse and from Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, Lisa Bauer; Vice President of Food & Beverage Operations Frank Weber.