Dining is possibly the most enjoyable aspect of S.S. Beatrice. The food is fresh, tasty and varied, the service is impeccable and the convivial atmosphere in sophisticated venues is a joy. There are five ways to eat onboard: in the main restaurant, the cafe, the lounge, cooking with the chef and room service.
Mozart's (Deck 3): The main dining room is open for breakfast and lunch, offered buffet style, and a la carte dinner, served by waiters, a sommelier and the wonderful restaurant manager. By day, it's a bright and pleasant space with lots of natural light beaming through numerous floor-to-ceiling windows. In the evening it's a lively collection of dinner parties taking place at tables for two, four and six (or seven or eight if you ask nicely). Reservations are not required and seating is open.
The room is elegantly arranged with white tablecloths, fresh flowers and blue leather chairs. Interacting with the staff is a big part of Beatrice's dining experience. The Mozart team is unfailingly friendly, efficient and professional, while some have a great sense of humor. All dietary requests and food allergies can be catered for.
Breakfast (usually served from 7:30 to 9 a.m.) offers a hot and cold selection of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, grilled vegetables, breads, pastries, cold meats, cheeses, smoked salmon, yogurt, fruit, French toast, pancakes, smoothies and fresh juices. A smiling chef is on hand to make delicious omelet, fried eggs, poached eggs or waffles. Hidden in plain sight is an ice bucket of Champagne and orange juice, if you feel like a morning mimosa.
The lunch buffet provides a wide variety of entrees, which are never repeated over a week's cruise. Hot options include pasta, fish, red meat, chicken and vegetable dishes. Sides include cold meats and fish, salads, mini-sandwiches and a daily soup. The dessert counter has a changing variety of cakes, ice cream, cheese and crackers.
Dinner starts at 7 or 7:30 p.m. Diners can choose a starter, soup, main and dessert. Light starters might include a dainty Balkan meze plate, crabcake, beet salad or roasted eggplant on grilled pita. Tasty soups include local flavors such as paprika goulash and Hungarian fish soup as well as consommes and creamy concoctions of carrot, ginger, bell pepper or pea. Mains are standard offerings of pasta, seafood, steak, chicken, beef and vegetarian dishes. Our favorite desserts were a chocolate slider, banana split, lemon meringue and bread pudding.
Three different European cheeses and three flavors of ice cream are offered each day, as well as regional wines from Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Austria. Most people drink the suggested red or white wine but diners are free to have complimentary beer, spirts or cocktails with meals. Premium wines can also be purchased. Glasses are topped up regularly.
Schubert's (Deck 4): An 18-seat cafe was added to the ship in 2018 to offer a quieter alternative to the main restaurant and bar. Located at the bow, adjoining the lounge, Schubert's replaces much of the outdoor deck which is now a smaller area with four benches. Enclosed with wraparound windows, the indoors venue is a casual one for a light lunch or dinner showcasing local flavors.
At midday, a table is laid with a large pot of soup, fruit, potato salad, pretzels and cold cuts of meat for passengers to help themselves. Served from 7 to 9 p.m., dishes to share include Austrian beef bouillon, Hungarian chicken with paprika and spatzle, tafelspitz (root vegetables and potatoes with freshly grated horseradish and chives), wiener schnitzel, Sacher cakes with whipped cream and Uniworld's popular Mrs. Tollman's honeycomb ice cream. The evening menu is the same every day.
Between meals, a few passengers use it as a reading room while others come to chat over tea or coffee, so it may not be completely peaceful, especially as the staff are often clinking cups and plates while preparing drinks and snacks. Classical music is softly piped through the room, which is nicely separated from the rest of the ship, so it can be relaxing if you manage to get it to yourself.
Room Service: Twenty-four-hour room service should only be used when nothing else is open. The limited menu consists of a wiener wurstl (not far removed from a hot dog), saftgulasch (goulash soup in a bread tureen), a triple ham and cheese sandwich on white bread with crisps, a salad, and Sacher cake with whipped cream. Only the first three items are available from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. (When we tried to order at 6 a.m., we had to call the front desk three times until the phone was answered at 6:30 a.m.) Breakfast can also be ordered to your room from 7 to 11 a.m. Choose from apple, orange or grapefruit juice plus a basket filled with a croissant, chocolate pastry and Danish pastry, yogurt, fruit, jam, honey and butter.
Wolfgang's (Deck 3): Tea, coffee, snacks and evening canapes are served in the lounge.
Max's (Deck 4); 50–90 euros: This new dinner venue replaces the former Captain's Lounge and part of the outdoor deck at the ship's stern. While it is spacious in size, it is intimate in ambience. The stylish room has a modern, tiled floor that matches the blue leather seating and white tables, blue wall lanterns and white curtains on wraparound windows. In one corner is a rectangular table for 10 and a kitchen where the chef prepares dinner, observed and assisted by the exclusive group of diners.
The success of Max's is yet to be determined. On our voyage, only three people booked the steak night (50 euro per person) and nine people joined us for the Chef's Table cooking class (90 euro per person). Many passengers told us they didn't see the point of paying extra for food, especially to cook it themselves, as they were happy with the meals and atmosphere in the main dining room.
Our experience of the cooking class was mixed. It was certainly a fun night with an enthusiastic group of couples and solo travelers, and the staff were exceptional. However, the three courses seemed a little standard: coleslaw, goulash and apple strudel. Also, passengers didn't actually get to cook. We were each given one vegetable to chop but most of our efforts were wasted as the goulash takes three hours, so the chef had prepared it earlier. Our fellow diners were disappointed by the lack of involvement and felt it was more of a cooking demonstration; all agreed it was over-priced. The highlights were the delicious food, the matching wines and the apron, chef's hat and group photo that participants take home. The experience does feel exclusive, enhanced by the charming company of the chef, sommelier and waiters. A family or 8 to 10 friends would have a ball if they booked it out for a private party.
* May require additional fees