All meals are taken in the dining room, although you can take your plate outside and eat on the shaded deck by the bar if you wish. The food was, without exception, outstanding -- very fresh, extremely healthy, and a real reflection of the destination. Breakfast and lunch are always buffet, while dinners were a mixture -- a couple of buffets and otherwise, a set menu with choices.
The small dining room is open seating, with most tables taking four or six. Getting a two is difficult, and feels somehow unsociable. Tables can't be reserved. Meals are timed to fit around excursions, on the assumption that most people will join the tours, but typically, breakfast is from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.; lunch around 1 p.m.; and dinner around 7:30 p.m.
Dining Room (Main Deck): The wood-paneled restaurant has a pleasingly nautical theme, with vintage map prints on the walls and a brass ship's clock. There's a buffet station at the center and tables with chairs on one side and fixed banquette seating, upholstered in red, on the other, around the sides of the room. Tables seat four or six. When the ship is full, the dining room does feel busy. Although it's not overcrowded, all the seats will be taken.
Breakfast is buffet style, with fresh fruit, fresh pastries, jams and spreads, and yogurt with honey and nuts. There are several cereals, two or three different styles of egg (a couple to order), and sausages and bacon.
Lunch is also buffet, with four or five different salads every day, grilled meats and fish, stuffed vegetables, a couple of vegetarian dishes and at least one local specialty, which on my cruise in Greece ranged from barbecued chicken souvlaki (kebabs) to an enormous grouper, freshly caught, which was enough to feed most passengers. There's a cheese board, with different cheeses every day, and a couple of desserts, and fresh fruit.
Dinners are a mixture of buffet and table d'hote; the buffets were better. A typical set menu might be grilled prawns or spinach and cheese pastries; baked sea bass with roast potatoes and eggplant mousse, or beef tenderloin with bearnaise sauce; and a choice of fruit, cheese or desserts like baklava with ice cream. When the ship is in West Africa (operating winter river cruises) you might be offered Chicken Yassa, a local dish including chicken, spices, onions, peppers and olives, or Cachupa (a slow-cooked stew with corn, cassava and sweet potatoes). Typical dishes for the Spanish cruises the rest of the year include chicken breast fillets with blue cheese, beef sirloin with garlic and white wine, traditional paella or chorizo and portobello mushroom risotto. Special diets can be requested and the chef was extremely willing and very creative on our cruise.
Drinks are not included. There's a wine list, although we brought our own onboard (after asking) and nobody seemed to mind. No corkage was charged. Every day, there's a cocktail of the day for around five euros.
Wines reflect the local region, so most on my cruise were Greek, ranging in price from 18 to 43 euros per bottle. A glass of house red or white costs 3.50 euros. When the ship is in Spain, Spanish wines will be featured. There’s no service charge added
Lounge Bar (Upper Deck): Outside the back of the bar/lounge, there is fixed seating under a shade canopy where you can sit if you want to -- waiters come up here with drinks, and to clear plates. On embarkation day, a generous selection of canapes were served here, including hams, cheeses, caviar and little meatballs, with free-flowing red and white wine. One night, the crew laid on an ouzo and octopus tasting, too, before dinner.
Room Service: There isn't any room service, although there's flexibility if, for example, someone is feeling seasick and wants some soup in their cabin.