Clipper Odyssey Dining
An American chef, trained by the Culinary Institute of Hyde Park, New York, prepares mainly American menus (and some Asian and European specialties), with food that is shipped from the U.S. The chef also has the option to buy local fruits, vegetables and fresh fish where the line and ports' shipping agents have previously conducted business. On my cruise, the only complaint was the odd-tasting Italian sauces for the pasta dishes. Otherwise we found the soups, meats, seafood and vegetables very well prepared and presented. The baked goods at breakfast and for dessert were wonderful.
A buffet breakfast takes places in what is called the Day Lounge, a naturally lighted room that is more of an informal cafe with tables and chairs than a traditional lounge. The buffet offers freshly baked breads, Danishes, muffins and buttery croissants, various juices, sliced and whole fruit, crispy bacon, cold cereals, and a good selection of teas and coffee. Tea, coffee and fresh fruit are also available all day long.
It was a joy to enter the room every morning and often find the same crowd beginning their day with something light before descending to the dining room for a full American breakfast.
The dining room, located on the lowest A-Deck, spans the width of the ship and can take all passengers, lecture and cruise staff, and the top officers at one open seating. Tables range from a few two tops to four, six and eight tops. An attractive Japanese mural scene graces the forward end. Oval portholes bring in some light, but it was more of a traditional lower deck room than a light-filled one. A full breakfast menu is available beginning at 7:30 a.m. with a daily special such as blueberry pancakes, apple waffles or eggs Benedict. Dinner offers selections such as seafood chowder, mahi mahi, rib-eye, duck breast with a cherry sauce and venison steaks. Side or dinner salads are also available, as are a selection of desserts. The special of the day might be Grand Marnier souffle or Sacher Torte.
On one fine sunny day, we docked at the Japanese port of Hagi and had a terrific lunchtime barbecue on deck with steak, chicken, sausages, hamburgers and fish grilled to keep pace with the demand. Seating was set under umbrellas around the aft Lido Deck pool with additional tables overlooking the stern from the deck above.
The wait staff is male Filipino, many long-serving, and the hotel and assistant hotel managers are Americans.
On special occasions, the captain, cruise director and hotel manager host tables, and seating is by invitation. Most passengers get invited over the course of the cruise.
There is a light-meal room service menu that includes soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch and hot sandwiches, hamburgers, steak and chicken for dinner. Few passengers partake of room service.