With all the great features that Atlas boasts, we wish the food on World Navigator would have been a bit better. Not that it's bad. It's merely OK, with no real standouts (and a few clunkers). For a line that bills its Mediterranean voyages as Epicurean Expeditions, we expected better.
That being said, you won't be hungry onboard. The Porto main dining room has buffets set up for breakfast and lunch, with made-to-order options available. Dinner in the evenings is a lengthy affair, with multiple courses. The pool grill and Paula's Pantry provide solid lunch options and there's always 24-hour room service and afternoon tea.
You'll want to make sure you have some snacks handy because with all alcohol included, the atmosphere definitely leads to heavy imbibing at times. In the Med, we found people lingering over dinner, sharing wine and drinks with others at the tables next to them before heading upstairs for a nightcap. We've also never seen a line advertise 24-hour bar service, but we heard other passengers talk of ordering entire bottles of spirits to their rooms after the lounges closed.
All restaurants on World Navigator are included in the fare.
Porto Restaurant: The main dining room on World Navigator will be the place you eat most frequently. Breakfast and lunch have buffets, although you can order omelets and other hot entrees in the morning, as well as a rotating list of specials at midday.
The dinner menu is extensive and has several sections to it. There is a plant-based/vegan menu nightly, with at least one starter, two soups, a salad, a main course and a dessert option. On the main menu, the dinners are themed by nationality; options might be American, French, Brazilian, Italian or Indian. There is also at least one dish inspired by the day's port visit. Finally, there is a selection of always available entrees, sides, pastas and desserts.
One night per cruise, Porto Restaurant turns into Alma, with a special Portuguese menu. (Don't worry, if you don't like the offerings, the always available dishes are still around). It's something that seemed to mean more to the line than to the passengers, to be honest. Our Epicurean Expedition also had two dinners that featured dishes from visiting chefs onboard.
You don't need reservations for Porto, and you can walk in at any time service is going. Meals on World Navigator start at the leisurely hour of 7:30 p.m. We did find that the restaurant staff, while pleasant and eager to please, were overwhelmed by the number of tables; at times, things seemed short-staffed.
There is also space at the back of Porto to dine outside. Chilly spring temperatures on our trip meant that most people skipped this option, although the staff made blankets available.
7-Aft Grill. The pool grill on Deck 7 does double duty. During lunchtime and afternoon hours, it's a lovely place to grab a burger, hot sandwich or partake from a light buffet. Note: The venue isn't usually open on Antarctica cruises.
In the evenings, the space turns into Josper Grill, the ship's higher-end steakhouse. World Navigator and its sister ships have a special "josper" grill, which allows the chefs to barbecue meat at the steadier temperatures you'd find in an oven. It took some sleuthing to figure out the name; it would have been a more interesting dining experience if our server or chef explained exactly what makes "jospering" meat so special, especially since Atlas is the only cruise line to have this kind of oven.
We enjoyed our meal at Josper, although incoming inclement weather made our reservation seem dicey (the space is protected so we didn't get wet when the rain came down -- only when we went to leave). Several people canceled their reservations -- you need to make them as space is limited -- because the temperatures outside were too chilly.
Paula's Pantry. This coffee shop on Deck 4 is more than just a place to pick up excellent cappuccinos and flat whites. In the morning, you'll find delicious croissants, pastries and doughnuts, as well as healthier smoothies, yogurt parfaits and chia bowls. We personally couldn’t resist the oat-based protein bars that were replenished daily. At lunchtime, the snack bar switches over to cookies and cakes, as well as heartier sandwiches.
Room Service. World Navigator has a full breakfast menu that you order via a door tag the night before. We found that our breakfast arrived on time, but our sunny side up eggs were hard boiled by the time they arrived.
I found it difficult to find the regular room service menu, as there was no card about it in the room (and it wasn't listed on the daily program). It turns out that you have to find it on the in-room TV. It's a limited menu but there's enough for a nosh or a meal if you really don't feel like leaving your cabin (which may happen in Antarctica more than you think).
On our Epicurean Expedition, we did enjoy the meals prepared by the visiting chefs. Porto does have a cooking station in the middle of the dining room, and it was fun to wander up and watch the guest chefs do their thing.
While we're never hungry enough to order a Tomahawk steak, we were impressed that it was on the menu at the Josper Grill.
Leave room for the gelato, which you can either scoop yourself during the day at the pool or order for dessert at dinner. The flavors were creative and delicious.
For such a small ship, World Navigator goes out of its way to accommodate a variety of diets. A full plant-based/vegan menu was available at every meal. The menus were also marked with items that were gluten-free; lactose-free and no-sugar added dishes were also singled out. We also noticed gluten-free pastries at Paula's Pantry.
The line asks passengers with allergies and intolerances to note them on the booking form; this is especially crucial when you're heading to Antarctica where supplies aren't as readily available. It's also important to make yourself known to the maitre'd and let them know of any allergies or preferences. Your server will ask every night as well.