Seven Seas Voyager satisfies even the most critical palate with four dining venues, each with its own distinctive style. The menus are inspired, taking full advantage of the ship's ports of call. In Sydney, for example, the formal dining room featured pasta with clams fresh from the Sydney fish market. In Saipan, sherbet made from oranges grown on the island made its way onto the menu.
The afternoon pool deck buffets are also imaginative and well-produced. On our cruise, an Aussie "barbie" showcased kangaroo, emu, crocodile and shark. One day, the Filipino deck crew presented guests with some home cooking: chicken adobo, beef caldereta and fish escabeche along with garlic- and ginger-marinated stir fry and glass noodles salad. A poultry fest included an impressive selection of turkey, quail, pheasant and chicken. And so it goes, day after day.
As for the restaurants, Compass Rose is the main dining room, typically open for dinner from 6:30 until 9 p.m. It's roomy and softly lit; my husband and I were pleased to see plenty of tables for two. There's open seating and no reservations are required.
The dinner selection includes appetizers (like buckwheat blinis with smoked salmon and Russian caviar, and vegetable carpaccio with honey sesame dressing), soups (the anise-spiced corn chowder was a hit), salads, a pasta dish, and three main courses. One sampling of the main course choices: broiled white sea bass fillet with fennel foam, veal scaloppini in lemon sauce with fresh homemade linguine, and olive oil grilled Black Angus rib eye steak.
Dinner at Compass Rose also includes a six-tier gourmet tasting menu. An Asian menu, for example, featured vegetable carpaccio; clear chicken consomme flavored with lemongrass, ginger and coconut milk, garnished with tofu; crispy shrimp and vegetable spring rolls; banana passion fruit sherbet; wok of the day; and a passion fruit tart.
Additionally, selections from the main dinner and gourmet tasting menus are combined to produce specialty offerings: "light and healthy" lean alternatives prepared to minimize fat and calories and maximize taste; vegetarian dishes suitable for lacto- and ovo-vegetarians; and unsalted dishes. Finally, there's a "Simplicity" menu, featuring basics like prepared-to-order salmon fillet, boneless breast of chicken and steak.
Along with regular desserts like creme brulee and cheesecake, there are also offerings such as low-carb flourless chocolate cake and sugar-free ice cream.
Wines are complimentary; choices are determined by the ship's sommelier and vary nightly. You can also opt to buy bottles from a reserve list.
Breakfast (8 until 9:30 a.m.) and lunch (noon until 1:30 p.m.) are also served in Compass Rose. Breakfast typically includes a selection of pancakes, waffles and French toast along with all manner of eggs. There are also baby lamb chops, bacon, sausages, North Sea kippers and "cold galley" specials such as smoked Norwegian salmon, brie and prosciutto.
Like dinner, lunch in Compass Rose is something of a production with appetizers, soups, side salads, "light and healthy" offerings, sandwiches, a fresh pasta dish, three main courses and dessert. Here's a sample light lunch: an appetizer of tomato and mozzarella timbale followed by pan-fried marinated fresh baby tuna and low-carb apple crunch to top it all off.
Menus in Compass Rose have also been expanded to include select items from the Signatures and Prime 7 specialty restaurants, as well as a greater emphasis on dishes from the regions visited on each cruise.
La Veranda, on the pool deck at the stern of the ship, serves as Voyager's buffet -- but it's actually much, much more. With its low ceilings, wooden shutters and white tablecloths, it feels more like a fine restaurant than an all-you-can-eat buffet. That's partly because of a very attentive wait staff.
Breakfast, 7:30 until 10 a.m., includes made-to-order eggs and a daily special such as Eggs Florentine or Belgian waffles and banana pancakes. There's also a counter with fresh fruit, cold cuts, salmon, cheeses, breads and pork products.
Lunch, noon until 2 p.m., at La Veranda is something to celebrate. There are always several salad selections, a cold cut buffet and sandwiches along with several signature hot entrees -- as an example, braised oxtail, lemon sole and salmon and baby back ribs. Also, there's always a pool deck buffet at lunch with a completely different and abundant offering, which we found impressive.
Evenings, 6:30 until 9 p.m., La Veranda becomes somewhat more formal. There's usually a theme -- Aussie Roadhouse, for example, or a Simply Good menu featuring passenger favorites like oven-roasted lamb rack, jerk pork tenderloin and grilled halibut steak. At dinnertime, La Veranda is part-buffet (you gather your own salad and appetizers) and part-formal (a waiter brings you your dinner entree and dessert).
Voyager's specialty restaurants, Prime 7 and Signatures, require reservations and are only open for dinner, 6:30 until 9 p.m. The menu at the intimate, 70-seat Prime 7 steakhouse, features steaks and seafood. (Try the ahi tuna tartar or jumbo lump crab cake starters.) The entrees are pretty huge. All beef products served are U.S.D.A.-approved, and the menu includes Prime New York Strip, Prime Porterhouse (carved tableside, by the way), Prime Fillet Mignon (6- or 10-ounce) and surf-and-turf. There's also lobster, New Zealand lamb chops, pork, veal and a half chicken (cooked and served on an iron skillet). Sides include baked potatoes, creamed spinach, truffle fries and Lyonaise potatoes. Regent Seven Seas' famous, 14-layer cake is on the dessert menu, but how can anyone possibly still have room?
Signatures is another thing altogether. The restaurant, and the one just like it onboard Seven Seas Mariner, is the only restaurant at sea operated under the auspices of Le Cordon Bleu. Yes, that Cordon Bleu. It is, as my mother-in-law would say, "swish." It's very formal and very good. Coddled quail egg, anyone?
Last, but not least, there's room service.
We enjoyed dinner in our cabin a number of times -- enough to make us think of room service as Voyager's fifth dining venue. Room service is 24/7 and meals are served, as they are everywhere else onboard, on a table with a white tablecloth. You can order from Compass Rose or from a fairly lengthy room service menu that covers the basics and then some.