Avalon Visionary Dining
Visionary has one main dining room, midship on Deck 2, which can accommodate all passengers at one time. It's split down the middle by dark wood decorative shelving, and tan upholstered benches rest against either side of the divide. Tables with white tablecloths are placed throughout the space, accompanied by dark wood and blue upholstered chairs. Walls are cream in color, and carpeting features a blue, brown and cream floral pattern. Lighting is soft, and panoramic windows surround the dining areas, offering nearly 360-degree views. At the back of the dining room, you'll find a marble-topped buffet serving station, which is where breakfast and lunch buffets are located each day.
Since the ship is so tiny, the waitstaff consists of only four or five people, so you'll easily learn their faces and names over the course of your sailing, even though you might not necessarily have the same waiter or waitress every night. We found service to be terrifically attentive.
Breakfast is split between the ship's main lounge (early riser from 6 to 7 a.m. and late riser from 9 to 10 a.m.) and main dining room (buffet breakfast from 7 to 9 a.m.). Don't let the buffet-style offerings fool you -- the quality is great, and you'll be able to choose from varied options that include cereal, oatmeal, fruit, cold cuts, bacon, sausage, hash browns, yogurt, pancakes and more. Additionally, there's an egg station where a chef will make a fresh omelet or scramble right in front of you. Room service is available for breakfast only; the menu is small and includes continental items like coffee, tea, orange juice, croissants and pastries.
Lunch is also served buffet-style in the main dining room. Choices on our sailing included vegetable and pasta salads; chicken, fish and beef options; soups; vegetables; and cooked-to-order pastas. Everything we tasted was simply delicious. There's also a non-buffet, always-available menu that includes items like minute steak and Caesar salad. Times vary based on each day's activities, but the standard lunchtime is generally from about noon to 1:30 p.m. Lighter fare (sandwiches, fruit, etc.) is available simultaneously in the ship's main lounge.
For lunch on nice days, a portion of the ship's sun deck may be converted to Sky Bistro, an outdoor dining venue offering grilled fare. It wasn't available on our sailing, so we can't comment on the quality of the food.
Dinners are served in the main dining room. Although passengers can choose their tables and tablemates, dinner is served at a set time each night, generally around 7 p.m. Seating is also first-come, first-served, so if you're dining with a group, be sure to show up early. Some two-tops are available, and tables for six or eight can be pushed together to accommodate larger groups.
Menus mainly consist of four or five courses: appetizer, soup or salad, sorbet, entree and dessert. Most items, such as foie gras and carpaccio, have a French or Italian influence. Other dishes we tried included Canadian rock lobster, lemongrass-flavored chicken consomme, dumpling soup, grilled North Sea bass, pistachio ice cream and a plate of assorted cheeses. Everything was skillfully prepared and beautifully presented. Always-available options -- Caesar salad, grilled chicken, grilled rumpsteak of beef and roasted salmon -- are included on the menu daily. "Healthy" selections like potato and watercress soup, glazed codfish, and roasted plums are also on the list.
Although the food is superb, the time between each dinner's many courses is occasionally a little long. Don't expect dinner on this ship to be a short affair; on some nights, ours lasted as long as three hours.
A nice perk on Avalon cruises is that juices, sodas and a selection of alcoholic beverages (beer and wine, both white and red) are available gratis during lunch and dinner.
For between-meal or late-night snacks, cookies and fruit are available in the ship's aft lounge, along with tea, hot chocolate, juices and an assortment of coffee beverages from a Lavazza machine.