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Old March 7th, 2011, 12:34 PM
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Sapphire Princess - March 26
We spent the day in Maui today; our last port of call before starting eastward back to the continental United States.

Tendering ashore is required during the visit to Maui. The ship anchors off the coast of Lahaina transporting passengers to the pier using its own tenders. Guests not on ship’s tours were required to check in at the Vivaldi Dining Room to pick up tender tickets, and wait there to be called to the matching tender. Everyone in the party must be there when you are ready to go ashore, as you’re escorted to the tender boats when you number is called.

I don’t think anyone, including the ship, enjoys the tendering process, but in Lahaina the tender ride ashore is generally fairly short.

The most popular excursions in Maui are the whale watching tours. And this is certainly the right time of year for whale watching in this area. They are everywhere. Several were sighted just off the side of the ship this morning, and this time I was awake to see them.

Aside from ship’s whale watching excursions, it’s also quite easy to book private versions of the tours as well. Maui also has some great beaches for those who just choose to make their day a relaxing day.

Mrs. Kuki and I had some friends from home vacationing in Maui, so we’d arranged to spend our day with them. They met us at the tender pier, and took us for a sometimes lost car tour of parts of the island.

They also planned a lunch stop for us at one of the most popular restaurants on the island, and their personal favorite; Mama’s Fish House. The grounds surrounding the restaurant are gorgeous, as is the entire setting, and atmosphere inside in the restaurant. The prices, even for lunch, are relatively high, though inline with one would expect from a high quality restaurant.

My friends know that I’m not a fish eater, but know that Mrs. Kuki loves fish. To accommodate my carnivorous tastes they had called the restaurant in advance of arrival to ask if they could offer a steak, even though it’s not on the menu, and were assured they could offer me a Beef Tenderloin.

I’ve always said one should not expect great fish in a steak restaurant, thus it’s also true that one shouldn’t expect a great steak in a fish restaurant. Understanding this I didn’t enter with great expectations.
In earlier portions of the Virtual Cruise I’d given the food and service onboard the ship a fairly “rough ride”, and now I have to say it is approaching superb compared to the service I received in this “high end” Maui restaurant.

The difference of course, on this ship they are serving over 1000 guests at a sitting, so I expect good quality banquet-style meals. In a “high end restaurant” on land, where everything should be cooked a la minute, my expectations are justifiably higher.

The service, though friendly, suffered from beginning to end. From having to remind the server of my diet coke order, to then have to request a straw for it once it arrived.

As mentioned, I didn’t have high expectations of the steak I ordered, but when it arrived it wasn’t the Beef Tenderloin I ordered, it was Short Ribs. I pointed out the error as soon as I saw it, but was told it was in fact the Beef Tenderloin. As soon as I cut into it, it was obvious it was not, and another server admitted the error. My steak arrived shortly after, and it was not done as requested, so the server asked if I’d like it thrown back on the grill.

After Mrs. Kuki and my friends had finished their lunches, the steak had not come back, so I simply declined to wait, and left the restaurant. After I left the server did come to the table to ask if I was returning.

She did apologize to my friends, and the Manager did come over to apologize. And to their credit did not charge for anyone’s meals. However, the kicker is this should never have taken place in such a restaurant, particularly as my meal had been prearranged in advance. I felt bad for my friends as well, because they were a bit embarrassed for having chosen and recommended this restaurant. Though no need to be, as they are good friends who I knew were just trying to take us somewhere nice.

I’ve gone into so much detail of the incident here, because it really should help all of us appreciate the level of cuisine and service they are able to produce most nights on cruise ships. For the cost of what today’s lunch could have been, I could dine at least several times in one of the ship’s alternate restaurants. To put an exclamation point on it all, tonight I enjoyed Chateaubriand in the dining room with Béarnaise sauce and it was outstanding.

It’s always good to get one of life’s little reminders once in awhile.

Tomorrow morning we’ve got the CruiseMates group, team treasure hunt to begin our sea days back. And a couple of days later, the Ugly Aloha Shirt contest, and a couple of other mixers for the group coming up after that.
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