American Spirit Dining
Forget Freestyle Dining or ten different restaurants. Instead, you eat in the same restaurant at the same time every day. With the room filled with nothing but tables for six, however, choosing with whom you sit and engage in conversation becomes part of the mealtime fun.
The food onboard is generally very good and can be ambitious at times, with some particularly memorable meals. Cuisine is American themed, with a fair amount of seafood such as crab cakes, fish, seafood salads or Oysters Rockefeller, and seasonal or favorite flavors like pumpkin or butternut squash spices or apple pie appear on the menu.
Lunch options might include a ham sandwich on a baguette with apples and melted brie or pork loin with goat cheese and onion. While there is no official vegetarian choice, tasty salads frequent the menu and special requests can always be accommodated. Chefs are usually graduates of the Culinary Institute of America, but with such a small galley and staff, the change in only one chef can make a large difference in food quality.
For an experience aiming towards the upscale end of the market, it is surprising that only two appetizers and two entrees are on the menu for lunch and dinner. If you don't see anything you like, however, alternative meals can be arranged if you give the chef notice in the morning. (Breakfast had a greater variety, with three hot dishes that changed daily and Grand Marnier French Toast or Eggs Benedict complementing the standard breakfast menu.)
Like the rest of the ship, the restaurant is pleasant, if a bit plain, and is located all the way aft on the lowest deck. This location can make for some background noise from the engines when underway, but it is kept to a minimum and the ship is often in port during meal times. Large picture windows on three sides allow for fine viewing of the passing scenery no matter your seat.
Waiters double as bedroom stewards, but they do try hard and are usually efficient. Expect a level of informality and knowledge of the menu that would be more akin to a local restaurant than a luxury cruise ship. The Hotel Manager and his or her assistant cast their more experienced eye over the room, however, and help out as needed to keep things running smoothly and professionally.
Meals are served between 7:30 - 9 a.m. for breakfast, at 12:30 p.m. for lunch and 6:30 p.m. for dinner. Cocktail hour is held every night at 5:30 p.m. with hot hors d'oeuvres in the lounge.
Two daily treats are popular and addictive. At 9:30 a.m., freshly baked cookies appear and are usually devoured by noon, and in the evening, root beer floats and sundaes are served following the guest lecturer's presentation.
With the vessel so small and having limited crew, there is no room service.