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Orlando’s John Blazon is master sommelier of the high seas — really high seas!

Written By Scott Joseph On November 16, 2009

oasis of the seas

When the humongous ocean liner Oasis of the Seas sailed into Port Everglades Friday the 13th — two days behind schedule — on board was Orlando’s master sommelier John Blazon.

Blazon made the 14-day crossing from Finland to train restaurant staffers about proper wine service. He conducted seminars and lectures and some wine tastings — not all the wines were aboard the ship yet — to about 400 of the 2000 crew members. The crossing was a repositioning of the Oasis of the Seas from its place of berth to its new home in Ft. Lauderdale. The only passengers were the crew, vendors and contractors who continued to work on the vessel during the voyage.

Or work as well as they could in the rough seas, which, said Blazon, back on dry land in Orlando, had swells as high as 49 feet. There were days, he said, when no one was allowed to go out on the decks.

But that wasn’t a problem because the ship, the largest cruise ship in the world, was like a city unto itself and the 18 decks could easily be traversed via passageways and elevators.

Blazon, of course, is known to local wine workers as the former lead wine educator at Walt Disney World. Before his position was cut in March, Blazon spearheaded the initiative to provide wine training to as many of Disney’s restaurant workers who wanted it. Because of his efforts, and those of his fellow masters, George Miliotes and Brian Koziol, Orlando restaurants have more servers with at least the first level of sommelier certification than any other city in the world.

So it’s no wonder that Royal Caribbean tapped Blazon as a consultant to overhaul its entire wine program, which, says Blazon, is about 80 percent new. He credits director of beverage Bob Midyette with having the foresight to understand the importance of fine wine in a beverage program, and to having a staff that is knowledgeable about it. Through his new company, John Blazon Wine Consulting, he has advised the cruise company on the wine lists of its entire fleet.

As for the ship, Blazon says he was impressed with the quality of some of the specialty restaurants, especially the signature dining room, 150 Central Park, and its chef, Keriann Von Raesfeld, a graduate of the Professional Culinary Institute in California. (You’ll remember that PCI was to open a school in Orlando this year, but pulled up stakes before the first culinary class could begin.)

Oasis of the Seas will hold 6,000 passengers in addition to the 2,000 crew members. It’s inaugural cruise is slated for December 1, 2009.

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