The Beagle Restaurant on the Ocean Deck is the only dining room onboard, and all meals are served there except when there is an outdoor barbecue (usually once per cruise) or alfresco dining, which is served on the outside Panorama Veranda.
The food is generally of a very high standard: fancy, rather than hearty. (The gastronomic director is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef.) Seafood is sourced locally, and it's exciting to try a "fish of the day" that is native to the islands.
The dining room has enough chairs and tables for everyone (including guides and officers) to sit at the same time. People quickly find "their" table and will sit there throughout the cruise, rarely switching locations.
Each meal is served during one seating, unless there are a number of children onboard. In that case, a family dinner time (not lunch) with kids' food (burgers, meatballs etc.) will be served an hour or so before the main seating. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style; dinner is waiter service. The meals are served at different times, depending on the activities that day.
The dining room does not have a lot of character; it's more functional, with single-color chairs and tables and little in the way of decor. It is modern, light and airy, despite being on the lower (Ocean) deck, with a buffet station at one end. Service is impeccable, as you'd expect on a small ship, with the maitre d' and his staff anticipating your needs and your preferences after a day or two.
Breakfast consists of a hot option, such as eggs and sausages, and then everything you might expect at breakfast: cereals, yogurts, fruits, juices, toast, tea and coffee, as well as fresh-baked pastries.
Lunch is buffet style and consists of a fish, meat and vegetarian option, with plenty of vegetables, salad and rice or plantains. There is usually a soup to start. Most days, the kitchen will showcase a local specialty such as ceviche. Desserts include fresh fruit and delicious freshly made cakes. You order your dinner at lunchtime from a menu on the table, in order to reduce waste.
Dinner is four courses -- salad, soup or pasta, entree and dessert. Salad might be a seafood salad with octopus, soup could be French onion and the pasta might be penne with mushrooms and parmesan. The entree will always include fresh fish, a meat (chicken, pork, beef) and a vegetarian option.
You can order wine or beer at the table. It is not included, and wine is quite pricey. A fairly average bottle will set you back $30, a glass, $8.50.
The ship also caters for any dietary requirement if you notify the crew before you cruise.
The only other place where you'll get food is in the bar. It offers a few free snacks served before dinner --such as olives, popcorn and tortilla chips -- except for once a cruise when you'll find sashimi.
There is a coffee dispenser, hot water, a selection of tea bags and biscuits available in the library 24/7. However, a proper espresso machine, manned by a barista, will replace this in 2016.
There is no room service.
Santa Cruz II Ship Stats
- Crew: 50
- Launched: 2002
- Decks: 5
- Passengers: 90
- Registry: Ecuador