There is one main dining venue onboard the Royal Crown, The Restaurant, where arched panoramic windows showcase views of the passing landscape as the friendly staff oversee a breakfast buffet with an egg station and buffet and à la carte lunches and dinners. Open seating applies at all meals, with tables seating six to ten people. Early bird breakfast (6.30-7.30 a.m.), afternoon tea (4-4.30 p.m.) and a late night snack (11 p.m.) are served daily in The Lounge. Weather (and crew availability) depending, light meals and drinks are served up on the Lido Deck.
Breakfast is typically served between 7.30-9.30 a.m. in The Restaurant with an excellent egg station manned by the ship's exuberant head chef. The buffet offerings don't change much, consisting of hot choices (sausages, bacon, hash browns, beans and scrambled eggs –- you're better off asking the chef to make you fresh scrambled eggs); a selection of cheeses, cold meats and smoked salmon; a fairly poor selection of tinned and dried fruits and standard cereals (no muesli); and pastries.
Lunch is typically available from 12.30 - 2 p.m. and served either buffet style (lots of salads, although little variation through the week, and hot dishes such as fried fish and pasta, and a carvery offering) or à la carte. When sailing with Hebridean Island Cruises, more seated lunches are served than with other operators. Dinner is also a mix of buffets and seated meals, with two formal dinners (on the second and last night of the week-long voyages), and service generally starting at 7.30 p.m.
The Royal Crown's (German) chef is generally regarded as one of the finest working on the rivers and his food is generally of a high quality, if a little heavy and lacking in diversity. Local dishes are served regularly and there was a hearty German Buffet, complete with three different types of sausage, potato salad and local Bittburger beers, which was generally regarded as a great success. Formal dinners are clearly his forté, however, and a real treat, with dishes such as salmon tartare, succulent steak and unctuous risotto.
When chartered by Hebridean Island Cruises, all drinks are included in the fare and a white and red wine were presented at each meal, with the option to request a different one (although this wasn't always granted). The quality of these wines varied considerably, ranging from an enjoyable Austrian Grüner Veltliner to a very average Australian Chardonnay and Bulgarian Pinot (sold in Lidl for £1.99 per bottle).
* May require additional fees