Managing director Yellow said the ship has changed food-service providers since its launch, in response to passenger feedback. Kitchen staff are Indian, and we found them overwhelmingly eager to satisfy passenger requests -- whether it was providing breakfast after official hours or making a special portion of curry with a little extra kick. Because the ship is a one-off, it's not bound to corporate menus, so there's typically a nod to local cuisine in at least one offering at lunch and dinner.
Aegean Odyssey has two dining venues: one a buffet and one with table service. The menus at both are nearly identical, so for lunch and dinner, you simply need to decide whether you'd prefer to select your own food or order from a menu and be served.
The Terrace Cafe and Grill serves all three meals each day from a circular buffet. Thankfully, during our entire 12-night cruise, we never had to wait in line. Waiters swoop in to carry diners' laden plates to the tables and provide all beverage service.
Breakfasts feature pastries, scrambled eggs, bacon, smoked salmon, cold cuts and a rotation of other hot standbys, including waffles, pancakes, hash browns, oatmeal and eggs Benedict. In a nod to British passengers, you'll also find grilled tomatoes, baked beans, sauteed mushrooms and kippers. Cold cereals, yogurt and fresh fruit can be found on a separate table on the opposite side of the dining room.
At lunch and dinner, you'll typically find a variety of five or more salads, including tossed ones and those made with pasta and various vegetables; two soups, one cold (and sometimes sweet); a hot pasta; a carved meat (the roast turkey was particularly moist and delicious, and a suckling pig was spectacular); a portioned meat preparation (baked pork chop, Malaysian-style snapper with lemon-coconut sauce or braised veal leg with mushroom sauce, for example); grilled items (ranging from buttery-tender minute steaks to burgers); a stirfry; a vegetarian entree; and an assortment of hot side dishes. At the back of the restaurant, a large table features a buffet of desserts (one sugar-free) and two varying choices of ice cream. There is always fresh fruit and, at dinner, a cheese selection as well.
Diners in the Terrace Cafe may choose to eat outdoors, by exiting the rear of the restaurant onto the ship's stern. About two-thirds of the tables are shaded by an overhang, while those closest to the rail are not. In the shaded area, there's also an outdoor bar.
At breakfast, additional continental breakfast items like fruit and yogurt are available on the outdoor terrace, and there is also a made-to-order omelet station next to the bar.
At lunch and dinner, the outdoor dining area also features a tapas bar and hot pasta station. The tapas items often reflect local cuisine. On an Asian itinerary, choices like Thai-style meatballs served with rice, Burmese kufta (skewers of minced meat served over lentils) and chicken with peanut sauce were offered. On European itineraries, passengers have found items like pork with an apple-prune strudel, salmon cakes, tortillas with roast peppers, calamari and olives, hummus, clams and mussels. A choice of two pizzas is also served from the bar.
On an Asian trip, we were drawn to the outdoor terrace for most meals. Dinner was particularly enchanting, with white tablecloths adding a touch of elegance and a star-filled sky overhead providing ample romance.
The Marco Polo Dining Room serves only lunch and dinner, essentially offering more formal platings of foods found in the Terrace Cafe.
Located on the lowest passenger deck (aptly named the Marco Polo Deck), the Marco Polo is open-seating at every meal. It offers an a la carte menu and attentive service by the waiters. The color scheme is off-pink with gray accents.
The lunch menu includes two appetizers, a soup and salad; a favorite was cream of cauliflower soup with saffron. There is always a pasta, such as linguini or penne, plus three entrees. Examples include a club sandwich, a selection of lightly battered and fried seafood, and a grilled steak sandwich on garlic ciabatta bread. Three dessert choices round out the lunches; the bitter chocolate orange pudding was scrumptious.
Broader still are the dinner menus, following the same menu format as lunch, but with more choices for each course. Memorable dishes included herb roast loin of New Zealand lamb and crispy duck a l'orange. Three desserts, plus a cheese option, fresh fruit and ice cream are offered at dinner, as well as a sugar-free choice.
Vegetarian and heart-healthy items are noted, and passengers can request specific foods in the Marco Polo if they give the galley staff a day's notice. Passengers with specific diets -- such as diabetic, gluten-free or salt-free -- can advise the cruise line office when booking their voyages. A choice of two wines (red or white), beer and soft drinks is included with dinners in both venues. Otherwise, all such beverages and cocktails are sold at lunch and at the bars located in the Charleston Lounge and on the Lido Deck near the pool. Premium wines are also available for an additional charge.
Prices are reasonable: in the Charleston Lounge, any of the six imported and one U.S. beers is $3.50, while glasses of the 10 wines range from $3.50 to $7 for a serving of just more than 4 ounces to $5 to $10 for 6 ounces. The 30 liquors range from $5 to $7 for a serving of slightly less than an ounce, to $8 to $11 for slightly more than 1.5 ounces. The numerous cocktails and Champagne by the glass all cost $9. A "cocktail of the day" is $5.
Breakfast in the Terrace Cafe is served from 7 or 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.; continental breakfast is on the Lido Deck by the pool from 6:30 to 10 a.m. Lunch is typically noon to 2 p.m. in both dining rooms. Similarly, dinner is usually from 7 to 9 p.m. Hours in both restaurants may vary if shore excursions leave early in the morning or return later in the day -- it's best to consult the daily bulletin to confirm hours, as no change announcements are made.
In the event of an all-day shore excursion, one of the restaurants may close at lunch; on our cruise, it was the Terrace Cafe and Grill.
Afternoon tea (not offered on some days when the ship is in port) features scones, pastries, finger sandwiches and hors d'oeuvres; it's served from 4 to 4:45 p.m. in both the Terrace Grill indoors and its adjacent open-air seating. Hors d'oeuvres and snacks are served beginning at 5 and again at 10:30 p.m. in the Charleston Lounge.
Coffee and tea are available 24 hours a day on the Lido Deck.
Room service is available for continental breakfast, but there are no request forms to hang outside your door. Passengers must instead call Reception with their selections. A limited room-service menu is also available from noon to midnight.