TRAVEL THERE: WHAT I LIKE AND DISLIKE ABOUT DINING AT SEA
Food is one of the biggies on a cruise and Viking has it down pat. You’d have a hard time feeling hungry at anytime on board, yet it’s not the obscene food orgy of ocean cruising.
Cruise Food I Have Loved
My favorite food I’ve ever had on any boat was a dessert on the Carnival Ecstasy. I ordered it the first night, because it was chocolate. I ordered it the rest of the nights, because it was the best thing I had ever put in my mouth. The name of the chocolate creation, which I cannot for the life of me remember, did it no justice. I have no picture of it, but will never forget it. The rest of the food on the boat was good, sometimes really good, but it wasn’t the best overall I ever had.
The best dining experience on any ship was on Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas. I was traveling with all the people I loved best, so that may have enhanced the enjoyment. This was old fashioned cruising where you really dressed up for dinner and had assigned seating at a specific time in a single venue. Every meal, every night was a unique and wonderful experience. We also had the best waiter I have ever had aboard any ship any where.
What You Won’t Suffer on a Viking River Cruise
I am not a fan of multiple restaurants on a cruise. I don’t want to make reservations. I don’t even want to have to make a decision about which restaurant I’m going to choose. I don’t want to pay a premium. I like it the way Viking had it. They just fed me.
On our “Free-styling” Norwegian cruise a few years ago, my husband felt like the only style unavailable was the one we wanted – particularly when it came to breakfast. Breakfast is his favorite meal. He loves to linger over the menu and the meal. The only sit-down breakfast service on that cruise was quite early in the morning and on a cruise, Bill doesn’t do anything early in the morning. On top of that he had to navigate the huge buffet, when all he really wanted was for someone to bring him exactly what he wanted for breakfast and he wanted it piping hot. Was it a lovely breakfast buffet? Yes, but he didn’t want a breakfast buffet. Viking solves all of this.
Another of our pet peeves with Ocean Cruising has been the battle of the bottle. We like wine with dinner. While we love a particularly good wine, we’re perfectly happy with a decent wine. On-board various ships we’ve ordered by the glass, ordered by the bottle and pre-ordered a selection of wines. Either way we’ve done it we’ve felt the ouch of the price, because we know we can get a perfectly good wine at Trader Joe’s for around $10 a bottle and it bothers us to pay more for less. To make things more interesting Bill loves red and thanks to my sinuses I prefer to drink white. Viking made wine with dinner a breeze for the same price of a breeze.
And speaking of bottles, even getting a glass of water on your average cruise ship is a hassle. They’ll sell you a soft drink package, they’ll tempt you with fancy cocktails and they’ll charge you for a bottle of anything – even water, but try whetting your thirst for free. It’s not easy. Viking completely abandoned that business model. There were bottles of free water all over the place and a dispenser for bubbly and still water at the coffee station.
On most cruises I sort of feel like the emPHAsis is on the wrong sylLAble, as my mother used to say. There’s entirely too much attention paid to shoving food down your mouth. It takes a page or two of the daily newspaper to explain all the food choices and then if all else fails, they will deliver food to your stateroom 24 hours a day. I had all I could eat and more on Viking, but I didn’t have to make a career of managing my food choices.
So now that we have discussed cruise food in general, next week I’ll introduce you to the way Viking does food.