Dining onboard Wind Spirit is a pleasure due to its variety, quality and stellar service. All meals are complimentary, including room service and Candles Grill, a pop-up alfresco specialty restaurant on the top deck. There are plenty of vegetarian options along with a shoutout at just about every meal to locally sourced food, such as freshly caught moonfish with pineapple salsa and bread pudding with vanilla bean sauce. All dining is open seating.
One of the cruise highlights: a not-to-be-missed top deck barbecue under the stars featuring paella, roasted pig, lobster, grilled steak and chicken, and a buffet of salads and breads.
The executive chef is very tuned in to passenger preferences and will happily make adjustments for guests with dietary restrictions. On our cruise, one couple raved to him about the 15 spices and herbs he'd used in a northern Indian lamb and rice dish. The next day, he had the spices delivered to their cabin.
AmphorA (Deck 3): This handsome dining room that serves dinners only is open and airy; there's never a sense that it's crowded. The only distraction? Choosing what to order. Basically, you can eat as healthy or decadent as you want. Meals are as short or leisurely as you like -- and the service is superlative.
Every dinner features five or six main courses that are notable for their range -- everything from beet risotto and grilled New Zealand lamb chops soaked in an overnight marinade to sesame-crusted tuna and fettuccini seafood pasta. The menu includes a choice of two soups and an assortment of salads and appetizers such as smoked duck breast, spicy ahi tuna and sauteed wild mushrooms served in a flaky puff pastry. Desserts always feature a sugar-free option; a selection of cheeses; and ice cream, sherbet and sorbet.
Everyday options on the menu include crowd favorites like grilled North Atlantic salmon fillet, Black Angus sirloin steak, free-range chicken breast and Caesar salad. Side dishes offered every evening: mashed or baked potatoes, steamed veggies, crispy fries tossed in truffle oil and Parmesan cheese and Cajun sweet potato fries.
Dinner is served from 7 to 9 p.m. Reservations aren't necessary. Note: There are six two-tops for couples who wish to dine alone.
Veranda (Deck 4): Veranda, with indoor and outdoor seating, is the venue for breakfast and lunch. It's comfy, casual and rarely crowded.
Breakfast always has a cold buffet (cereals, fresh fruits, smoked salmon, fresh smoothies) a hot buffet (bacon, ham, chicken or pork sausages, scrambled eggs, oatmeal and freshly baked breads) and a cooked-to-order fried egg and omelet station. Diners can also order a la carte items from the menu like roasted apple pancakes, breakfast tostada, a create-your-own waffle and eggs Benedict.
Lunch, served buffet-style, is a fairly elaborate spread with an array of appetizers, soups and salads; entrees like chicken kung pao, coq au vin, fish and chips, grilled fish of the day, and Irish stew; and a plethora of desserts including strawberry cream pie, sugar-free lemon mousse, classic brownies and Boston cream pie. There's also a live cooking station with made-to-order selections such as roasted lemongrass chicken, beef stir fried with broccoli and noodles topped with pork and shrimp. Everyday options include a grilled fish of the day, vegetarian burger, chicken breast burger and hamburger, hot dogs and sausages with sauerkraut.
Pool Bar (Deck 4): It's modest but the pool bar in the morning offers juices, coffee, tea, rolls, yogurt, fresh fruit, cold cuts and cheese. Afternoons, there's a sampling of cookies and canapes.
Candles Grill (Deck 4): In the evenings, the wide-open teak deck near the plunge pool is transformed into a steak-and-skewers restaurant. It's a great place to watch the sun set, then dine under the stars. The entrees are amazing -- among them, grilled fish purchased at local markets; a skewer of scallops, salmon and shrimp; broiled corn-fed veal chop; and Black Angus filet mignon. The chef also makes a "vegetarian creation of the day." Even the sauces are fun: classic Bearnaise, chimichurri, Cabernet reduction and green peppercorn sauce. Can't make up your mind? Don't be afraid to ask your waiter to mix and match. And save room for dessert -- a chocolate creme brulee, sugar-free orange panna cotta or a red velvet cake for two. Reservations are required.
Room Service: In-room dining is available 24/7 and breaks out into a breakfast menu, all-day options including salads and sandwiches, and an overnight menu featuring salads, crudites, sandwiches, quesadillas, chips and popcorn. There's also a chef's daily soup on offer. When AmphorA is open, dinner from the dining room can be delivered to your cabin. Your steward can transform your cabin's seating area into a dining area.