Lyubov Orlova Dining
To put it mildly, dining is not a highlight onboard. Selections are limited, and the food quality falls well below what most mainstream cruisers have come to expect. In addition, this was the first cruise I've ever been on where I didn't think enough food was offered. Teatime snacks and after-dinner desserts often ran out within minutes.
All meals are taken, open-seating, in the ship's dining room, with breakfast and lunch served buffet-style and dinner served by waitresses, who double as cabin stewards in the morning hours. Despite the tablecloths and china, the dining room still feels more like a cafeteria than an appealing restaurant, mostly due to the rows of long, rectangular tables and poorly framed, crooked posters around the wall. Service is presented with a smile, but on my trip, the Russian waitresses' English abilities were very limited. Communicating any special requests could be difficult -- the "point to the menu" method of ordering was occasionally the best way to get across what you wanted.
Selections for both lunch and dinner included a soup, a salad and three entree options. Where possible, some local food, including caribou and moose in red wine sauce and salt cod brandade with Atlantic Mussels, is incorporated into the menu. The tastiest options were often the simplest comfort food dishes, such as tuna melts and croque monsieur.
Perhaps the most interesting stretching of the menu came for dinner one night, when option one was cottage pie, option two was macaroni and cheese tortellini and option three was "The Orlova Comfort Plate" (cottage pie with macaroni and cheese tortellini).
A selection of sweets is offered at 4 p.m. for tea, but the more popular items -- like brownies -- are quickly eaten and not replaced. Arrive early for the best selection.
On most trips, one lunch will be a barbecue outside on the open decks. Fresh Arctic char, ribs, sausages and more are served under beautiful blue skies, amid lovely Arctic scenery, and the barbecue gives the fresh food a delicious flavor. This is, arguably, the best meal you'll enjoy on the entire trip.
Room service is not available.