All food and drinks are included in the fare and there are no for-fee restaurants. There is one restaurant with waitstaff service at all meals. Passengers who prefer an early or self-serve breakfast with fewer food options can go to the Chesapeake Lounge, where snacks are also available throughout the day. Although not widely advertised, room service is available for all meals.
Restaurant. The Restaurant on Deck 1 is open for served breakfast, lunch and dinner and can seat all passengers at the same time. It operates on a free-seating basis and opening times are generous rather than at a fixed time. You can arrive at any time during the 90-minute slots for breakfast and lunch and during the two-hour restaurant opening time for dinner, two hours for dinner, which is good for those that prefer to eat early or later in the evening.
Tip: All tables are for six or more; there are no tables for two. However if you head to the restaurant towards the end of service, it is likely you can find an empty table and sit alone or with your travel companion.
A quirk on American Independence is that passengers are asked to order lunch and dinner during breakfast, marking your preferences on a card from the choice of three lunch entrees (you can pick from two desserts during lunch) and choose from two dinner appetizers and three entrees (again deciding on dessert when you are there). It became a bit of a standing joke that come lunchtime and evening we couldn't remember what we had ordered. That said, if you decide to change your mind -- or order more -- it's never an issue and staff happily accommodate any flip-flopping. The line says this ordering system helps reduce food waste, which is credible. Half portion entree sizes are also available. If you have any dietary requirements, such as vegetarian, you make a note on the card and the chef will prepare a special meal.
Tip: Take a photo of the card as a reminder of what you ordered.
Meals are geared towards American favorites, such as beef tenderloin, crab cakes and pot roast, with maybe cheesecake or ice cream to follow. Expect to see regional specialities too, including cat fish.
A wide selection of complimentary wines (red, white and rose), beer and sodas flow freely at lunch and dinner and, in the evening, you can take a bottle up to the lounge, or back to your cabin, if you want a nightcap or two.
Chesapeake Lounge. Coffee, a selection of teas, water, juices, sodas and ice are always available from the self-serve area and ice chest. Passengers can also help themselves to wine from the refrigerator. There are also sweet and savory snacks including chips, nuts, trail mix, cereal bars and cookies. There's breakfast for early risers and anyone who wants a lighter, self-serve option with choices including smoked salmon and bagels, pastries, yoghurt and fruit. Canapes are served in the lounge during the daily pre-dinner cocktail hour with popcorn during the evening entertainment. There are also canapes during special events such as the future cruise presentation.
Room service. Room service is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner during restaurant opening hours and passengers can choose from items on the main menus for each meal. They are also welcome to take food back to their cabins if they wish, or up to the sun deck.
Dietary requirements, including vegetarian, gluten free and other restrictions can all be catered for. Passengers are asked to submit this information in advance, however at the beginning of each sailing passengers are invited to meet the executive chef and restaurant manager to share any specific dietary and allergen information, which is an extra reassuring touch.
* May require additional fees