The Halogaland dining room, located aft on Deck 4, has panoramic windows on three sides. The decor is a snappy nautical motif with armchairs upholstered in navy blue, red carpeting, and an attractive brass and glass ceiling. Tables for two, four and six have practical plastic covers that look like linen and paper napkins. Cloth would be a nice touch, at least at dinner. There is no smoking in the dining room.
Breakfast (7 - 10 a.m.) is a European-style buffet with cheeses, cold cuts, boiled eggs, herring, cereals, yogurt, fruit, crackers and delicious breads. A hot item is also offered. It's not unusual to hear cell phones ringing over the hubbub of European voices. On my first morning, I dined alone and never heard a word of English from neighboring tables.
The lunch buffet (12 - 2:30 p.m.) includes soup, smoked and poached salmon, cold shrimp, crayfish, cold meats, relishes, minimal salad items, and a good selection of cheeses. Hot dishes may include vegetables, potatoes, meatballs, reindeer stew and fresh fish. Deserts are creamy cakes and fruit.
By the fourth day, the buffets were getting repetitious. They are entirely self-service. You get your own food, water, etc., so you're constantly jumping up and down. The central food station gets crowded at peak times, but I found it cleared if I waited a few minutes. On my cruise, dirty dishes were slow to be cleared, and the table often looked more than a little unappetizing.
The two dinner seatings take place at 6:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Tables are assigned. Dinner is a set, three-course menu with no choices offered. I admit to being apprehensive, but I found the entrees to be quite tasty and the portions generous. The appetizer is usually a creamy soup. Main courses alternate among fish, chicken and red meat (venison for the captain's dinner), served with vegetables and potatoes. Desserts are heavy on cream and custard. Special diets can be accommodated with advance notice. After dinner, passengers retire to the lounges for tea and coffee.
As to prices (converted to U.S. dollars from the Norwegian Kroner, the onboard currency), they are high. Wine by the glass costs a hefty $8.50. A bottle from the short wine list costs $27 to $80. Soft drinks are $3.50. Walk-on passengers whose meals are not included in the fare pay about $16 for breakfast, $36 for lunch and $45 for dinner in the dining room. There is also a 24-hour cafe near the center of Deck 4 where anyone can buy a pizza ($15), soup ($6), omelet with ham ($14), coffee ($3), and various munchies. The cafe tables are frequented by day-trippers. Cruise passengers, too, must pay for snacks, tea and coffee outside meal hours. There is no room service.