Diners can choose from four restaurants: Compass Rose, the main restaurant, serving European-inspired Continental cuisine; Prime 7, a contemporary American steakhouse; Signatures, a classic French dining experience; and Sette Mari at La Veranda, offering authentic Italian specialties. All feature an open-seating dining policy, so passengers can choose when to eat and pick their tablemates.
Awash with warm golden and maroon hues, elegant Compass Rose is the 570-seat main dining room located midship on Deck 4. Appetizers on the diverse menu might include tiger prawns with remoulade sauce and celery, or goat cheese and apple tarte tatin with watercress, while main course dishes could be pork medallions with asparagus spears or sea bass fillet with vegetable stuffed calamari wrapped in pancetta. For those who simply can't decide, a six-course tasting menu fits the bill.
For the health-conscious who want to know exactly how many calories they're consuming, the menu also offers Canyon Ranch selections, such as curried fresh black mussels with coconut and tomatoes at 122 calories, 6 grams of fat and 1 gram of fiber. Vegetarians are catered to with safe choices like tagliatelle with cherry tomatoes, artichokes and melted buffalo mozzarella, or tofu with vegetables. Menus occasionally feature local specialties representing the cruise destination.
No reservations are accepted in Compass Rose, and seating is assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who dislike forced intimacy with strangers can access plenty of tables for two. Staff aim to accommodate special requests.
Compass Rose is open for breakfast (8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.), lunch (noon to 1:30 p.m.) and dinner (6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.).
On Deck 5, Prime 7 is the specialty steak and seafood restaurant. Its decor a melange of rich browns and burnished woods, this glamorously intimate space is designed to encourage lingering. The menu features appetizers, soups and desserts, but the stars of the show are the main courses -- eight USDA prime dry-aged steaks including a whopping 32-ounce Porterhouse for those who like their portions large. Less hefty offerings include chicken, pork and seafood dishes.
For those with a sweet tooth, it's worth saving room for the rich cheesecake with sweet raspberry sauce and traditional key lime pie with vanilla mousse. Prime 7 is open only for dinner, between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Reservations are essential, and no alterations to the menu or special requests are accommodated.
French specialty restaurant Signatures, on Deck 5 aft, is directed and staffed by chefs wearing the white toque and blue riband of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Like Prime 7, it's also open for dinner only (6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.). It is necessary to make a reservation if you decide to eat there. For an entree, you might opt for Sevruga caviar on celeriac finished in lemon sauce, or scallops marinated in herb oil, spring onions and mashed potato. Main courses to tempt the palate include Alaskan halibut fillet with pistachio oil, duo of spinach and herb-marinated tomatoes, or camembert, celery and walnut quiche. Whatever you choose will be paired with a French vintage selected by the sommelier. Presentation is top notch. Unlike most cruise ships' speciality restaurants, Prime 7 and Signatures levy no additional charges.
Serving breakfast (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.) and lunch (noon to 2 p.m.), the casually chic La Veranda on Deck 11 offers buffet-style dishes only. For breakfast, there are made-to-order omelets, waffles, pancakes, muesli, cereals and fruit, as well as the usual tomatoes, eggs, sausage, bacon and so on, although serving dishes are not always replenished quickly when running out. Lunch is also buffet style and comprises a selection of soups, good choice of salads, fruits, cold meats and sandwiches, as well as hot dishes like grilled lamb chops or pan-sauteed sea bass. La Veranda also features an authentic pizzeria.
In the evenings, between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., La Veranda is transformed into Sette Mari -- the name translates as "Seven Seas" -- and becomes an Italian dining experience. Salads and appetizers are served buffet-style, but dinner entrees and desserts are ordered from and delivered by waiters.
An extensive a la carte menu of antipasti and Italian speciality items are paired with Italian wines, all complimentary. Soups include the hearty farmer's vegetable soup with barley and pesto, while mains of handmade fresh pasta layered with garlic and minced beef, Bechamel sauce and grated Parmigiano Reggiano may hit the spot. Leave some space for the dessert; the menu offers 10 choices. When the weather is nice, passengers can eat alfresco.
The open-air Pool Grill on Deck 11 is the ultimate come-as-you-are dining venue when you don't want to spend too much time disrupting your sunbathing or swimming schedule. It's open for a fitness breakfast between 6 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and for lunch between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. The menu is average and offers the usual suspects: burgers, sandwiches, salads and milkshakes.
The informal, comfortable Coffee Connection on Deck 5 forward is ideal for relaxing, chatting with friends and enjoying coffee and snacks from 6 a.m. right through to 5 p.m. Breakfast options include cereal, rolls, fruit and bagels, while lunch includes cold meats, cheeses, assorted rolls and sweet pastries. In the afternoon, sandwiches, biscuits, cakes and fruit are on hand. International newspapers and news magazines are placed there when available. However, if you want your afternoon tea to be more of an experience, head for the Horizons Lounge. Now much flashier than before, with pretty beaded walls and a chic bar, it serves sandwiches, sweet pastries, tea and coffee between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to a backdrop of relaxing music.
Of course you can also choose to eat in the privacy of your suite. You won't get your food delivered on a tray; meals are elegantly served on tables with white tablecloths. Complimentary room service is available 24/7, so no need to worry if you have an attack of the munchies in the middle of the night. Whether you feel inclined to savour Greek mezze, a steak sandwich with pesto or comfort food like a traditional hamburger or cheeseburger, you've got it. You can also order room service from the Compass Rose menu during dinner hours. The breakfast menu is fairly extensive, and besides the usual fruit, yogurts and cereal, you can opt for minute steak, smoked salmon and six types of omelets.