American Splendor keeps its passengers well-fed, with food and snacks available from sun-up to sundown. In general, you'll find the cuisine Southern-inspired and tasty, if not gourmet. Passengers with food allergies and dietary restrictions are asked to note their preferences, and the kitchen will work to accommodate. There's always a vegetarian option.
In an unusual twist, passengers are asked to order their lunch and dinner ahead of time, on cards available in the main dining room at breakfast and also in the Sky Lounge. While these probably do cut down on food costs, we found that most people had forgotten their order by dinner and it didn't matter if you got something different. We appreciated the fact that half orders were available and if you didn't like the options, you were usually able to order something else. We saw people special ordering chicken noodle soup, bagels and lox, broiled salmon and other items.
Dining Salon (Deck 1): American Splendor has one dining room that can accommodate all passengers at one seating. Tables consist of four tops, six tops and eight tops, and all three meals are waiter served (we saw this as a positive for the clientele, many of whom had mobility issues).
Breakfast runs from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Passengers have a choice of cooked items, including a quiche of the day, waffles, pancakes, French toast, eggs Benedict, omelets cooked to order, bacon and sausage, oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins, grits, breakfast potatoes and corned beef hash. There is also a small self-serve table with fresh fruit, pre-made yogurt parfaits and cereals. Coffee, orange and cranberry juices are all available.
An early riser breakfast, with scones or muffins, coffee, fruit and juices, is available in the Paddlewheel and Sky Lounges, starting at 6:30 a.m. Note: The coffee in the lounges is not fresh ground, while the coffee in the main dining room is. So if you're discriminating about your java, it's best to go downstairs.
Lunch takes place at 12:30 and runs until 2 p.m. A choice of two appetizers and three entrees is available daily, with half portions possible. Choices might include chicken and andouille gumbo and beet salad for an appetizer; and a shrimp chop salad, a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup or slow roasted chicken breast with sweet potato mac and cheese and braised greens as entrees. Dessert might be Mississippi mud pie, along with a choice of ice creams.
Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and runs until 8 p.m. Again, passengers receive a choice of two appetizers and three entrees, with half portions possible. The menu might include Old Bay poached shrimp and French onion soup as appetizers; and roasted Bartlet Farms beef tenderloin with gorgonzola potato puree and vegetable medley; shrimp and crab-stuffed baked lobster tail and butternut pasta penne as entrees. Dessert might be creme brulee, banana bread pudding or a choice of ice creams.
Snacks are available throughout the day, starting with warm cookies in the Paddlewheel and Sky Lounges at 10 a.m. Afternoon tea service, with small savories and sweets, takes place at 3:30 p.m. in the Sky Lounge. The Sky Lounge and Paddlewheel Lounge also have sodas, water, granola bars and bagged snacks such as Sun Chips and pretzels available around the clock. Root beer floats, sundaes and popcorn are served at the evening entertainment. And finally at night, a steward delivers a sweet treat to cabins.
The pre-dinner cocktail hour bears mentioning, as a popular feature of all American Cruise Lines trips. It takes place in the Magnolia Lounge at 5:30 p.m. daily and is often accompanied by live music. There's a full bar with a full array of complimentary mixed drinks available; if there's a certain drink or liquor you want, the staff will go out and get it for you (my father's Heineken was there every day, once he requested it). Staff walk around and serve hors d'oeuvres such as bacon-wrapped potatoes, tenderloin puff pastry and smoked salmon crostini. There's also a large table where a selection of cheese and crackers, and other appetizers such as shrimp, crudite and tiny crab cakes are often available.
Wine is complimentary, but of average quality. You can get Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It's served by the glass at lunch and left in bottles on the table during dinner; you pour it yourself. If you don't like the varietal that has been put on the table, the waiters will swap it out. We also found the wait staff amenable to allowing passengers to take leftover wine from the table to enjoy during entertainment. If you'd like better wine, you can order with the hotel manager or buy your own onshore and bring it on.
Room Service: Breakfast room service is available on a complimentary basis. You'll find order cards in your room, with both hot and cold breakfast items available.