There's a gem of a spot on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas where you can have great food, an adult beverage or two and an incredible view of the sunset over New York. Throw in a rainbow, and your cruise is off to a great start.
My husband and I were walking the ship during our 6 p.m. sailaway from Bayonne, N.J., in search of the perfect photo op when serendipity guided us to the deserted outdoor seating area of Portside BBQ, a restaurant added to the Oasis in late 2019.
Alone on its outdoor promenade, we watched as the ship glided past the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn and under the Verrazzano Bridge.
Staff and guests line dancing at Portside BBQ. Photo Credit: Cheryl Rosen
We also had a fine down-home dinner with the view. The food is delicious, the portions enormous and the upcharge small.
By lunchtime the next day, when Portside featured live music and a line dance or two, the restaurant was packed with a line out the door. But the first evening is always slow, said restaurant operations manager Tabrez Sheikh, as folks come onboard, unpack and get their bearings.
Vice president of F&B operations Linken D'Souza, whose idea it was to add a barbecue restaurant, noted that 1,100 of the 2,000 crew onboard Oasis work in F&B.
"It all begins with the crew. This is our business, and we own it," he said. It showed in the service and the food.
The $6 upcharge for each meal combo includes two meats, one side and a dessert. We got two meal combos and dined on ribs, brisket, smoked turkey and chicken; cole slaw, corn, baked beans and mac & cheese; and one Chocolate Brookie (combination cookie and brownie) and one Banana Dream (banana pudding).
Please note, one dinner would have been plenty. The brisket and ribs portions are enormous.
And speaking of food, for a sample of the best of all the restaurants, try the Taste of Royal lunch. My personal favorite dish? The fried cheesecake.
"The most popular dessert across the fleet," Sheikh said.