Every meal is a treat on Viking River Cruises!
From 6 – 11 AM a Cafe Breakfast was available at a coffee station next to the Lounge. In fact, food and beverages were always available there. The food ranged from croissants and danish in the morning to cookies mid-afternoon, but there was always something. The liquid libations offered even more variety: coffee drinks both hot and cold; hot tea and hot chocolate; both bubbly and still water; even juices in the morning. The Cafe Breakfast service satisfied the needs of both the early risers and late sleepers, while the coffee station itself kept the rest of us from getting peckish throughout the day. There was at least one day we visited it for a second breakfast and on most days we took advantage of it for an afternoon break. At 7 the Aquivit Terrace served a Continental Breakfast.
At 7:30 the Restaurant opened up for a Full Breakfast and I do mean full. There was a lovely buffet where you could get anything from a made-to-order omelette to a bagel with lox. A list of all the things available would take up more word count than I want to spend on it. I was particularly fond of the mushrooms sauteed in butter, not something I usually eat for breakfast, but once I tried them I ate them every morning. Healthy things like fresh fruit and yogurt were available as well as diet-busters like bacon and breads of every sort. I’m not very experimental in the morning, so I had no interest in things like pickled herring and other local “delicacies” they offered up, but you might be.
Were you able to visit all the stations on the buffet and still not find something you were interested in, a menu was available for other selections. My husband chose to order from the menu on several mornings, but that wouldn’t keep him from enjoying the buffet too. The menu included all those taboo treats like French Toast, Pancakes and Waffles.
Of course, coffee, tea and a variety of juices were available, but should you have an interest in it, champagne was also being poured. Many of the passengers enjoyed mimosas, but I can’t start the day drinking. I’m a wimp!
Most of the shore excursions were planned to get you back to the boat for lunch at 12:30. Lunch was served in the Restaurant in much the same way as breakfast, but with different selections. Instead of a chef preparing fresh egg dishes, the lunchtime chef offered made-to-order pasta. There were a wide variety of casual foods offered around the buffet, but you could also order off the menu. The Aquavit Terrace was also available.
Most days we’d order off the menu and then graze the buffet for tidbits until our meal arrived. The menu items were served in European proportions. You could get as many as you wanted, but a three course meal could be eaten without feeling as if you’d just ingested half the boat. Well, perhaps the desserts were overly indulgent, but the other two courses were very reasonable.
The items on the menu offered a wide variety. There was usually a regional specialty, something for the meat-and -potatoes sort and something else for the vegetarian. The vegetarian choices were delightful, even if you weren’t vegetarian. I would usually opt for the regional specialty, unless it was pickled something or other.
The wine started flowing at lunch, but that’s when I got my caffeine fix. I’ve already
complained mentioned the fact that Diet Dr Pepper was not an option, so I’d have a bottle of Coke Light, Europe’s answer to Diet Coke. Pretty much any other non-alcoholic beverage you were interested was available at lunch.
If you liked the idea of a buffet, then you could go to the Aquivit Terrace for dinner, but in the Restaurant dinner was off the menu.
Passengers generally dressed up a little for dinner, but if you happened to stroll in from enjoying free time at the port and were still wearing your sneakers, you wouldn’t be turned away. For the most part Viking passengers dressed up the scale from your average ocean cruiser, but there was no formality. There was no pool or beaches, so folks weren’t running around in swimwear. The chilly weather discouraged shorts, tank tops and the like. I liked dressing up for dinner and you could tell other women did, too. My husband usually wore nice trousers and a long sleeved shirt. Jackets and ties were not worn.
Each evening before dinner there was a briefing of some sort up in the lounge. The cruise director would ask if we enjoyed our day and then give us the lowdown on what would be happening next. Some evenings this event would be accompanied by a glass of free champagne. We always took advantage of that, but we never ordered drinks. The bar was always open, but unlike the wine with meals, alcoholic beverages in the bar were not free. With so much wine flowing at dinner, we saw no reason to invest in cocktails. That was not true for all the passengers though. We saw the bartender mix a lot of martinis.
Most evenings we’d find our cruise buddies, Deb, Mike, Gwynne and John at the briefing and then take a table with them for dinner. The fun we had around the table made dinner one of the best parts of the day. The food was to die for and as I’ve mentioned the wine never stopped.
At both lunch and dinner the menu was divided into two parts, but different things were offered for each meal. The left side had the chef’s daily menu and the right side was labeled “Always Available.” I usually ordered from the day’s selection, but Deb was all about the Grilled Salmon on the Always Available side of things. The dinner choices on either side were divided into three courses, but you could order it anyway you wanted. Also, like lunch, they provided a variety of things to please the adventurous, the meat-and-potatoes sorts and the picky (for whatever reason).
I’ve chatted for too long about food, but it is an important part of a cruise. Next week I’ll start sharing our exciting stops along the Danube.