Generally speaking, the dining onboard Grand Classica is passable -- neither extraordinary nor terrible. What stood out to us most was the service; wherever we dined, for lunch and dinner, our wait staff was always friendly, attentive and accommodating.
Breakfast on the morning the ship arrives in Grand Bahama Island can be had at the buffet, the Yellow Elder dining room or the Rock Grill deck (for late risers), as well as at an extra-fee Champagne Breakfast. Lunch is only ever available in the buffet, but it spills onto the adjacent Rock Grill. There are six options for dinner, two of which are included in the cruise fare.
There are limited choices for people with dietary restrictions outside of the main dining room.
* May require additional fees
Yellow Elder (Deck 8): Grand Classica's main dining room is named after the national flower of the Bahamas, and offers two set seating times at 6 and 8:30 p.m. (though diners for the first seating are given an hour grace period, while those at 8:30 get a half-hour). Your Choice dining (reservations required) is also offered from 6 to 9 p.m.
Breakfast and dinner are served in the main dining room, with breakfast including three express options, plus a full menu of bakery items, seasonal fruit, cereal and yogurt, assorted cold cuts and cheeses, fresh from the griddle items and eggs your way.
Dinner comprises appetizers, entrees and desserts. At the start of each dinner, waiters will ask if there are any special dietary restrictions at the table before taking dinner orders. The chef will do his best to accommodate, but options can be limited.
Starters might include chilled asparagus and prosciutto, Bahamian seafood chowder, goat cheese croquettes and two salad choices such as water cress and endive or mixed greens. Entree options might include Cajun broiled fish fillet and shrimp, Jamaican jerk marinated pork loin, teriyaki-glazed Atlantic salmon or mustard-rubbed petite beef tenderloin.
Three vegetarian options are always available and include penne with basil and tomato, a baked zucchini boat with ratatouille or a vegan sweet and sour "It's Not Chicken" stir-fry.
Also on the menu every night is a selection from the Admiral's Steak & Seafood specialty restaurant. Each of these items comes with a surcharge; options include, but are not limited to, jumbo shrimp cocktail ($6.25), Maine lobster tail ($19.95), filet mignon ($18), New York strip steak ($18) and a filet mignon and lobster tail combo ($27.50). All come with a choice of three sauces and two sides: creamy spinach, truffle steak fries, harvest vegetables and baked or mashed potatoes.
Desserts are tasty and might include chocolate layer cake, peach cobbler and a variety of ice creams and sherbets.
Ocean View Buffet (Deck 10): Unlike the rest of the ship's venues, which tend to boast earth-toned colors, the buffet stands out in a lemony lime green. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served here. There are lots of places to sit, with tables for two, four and six spread across the space. However, it gets pretty crowded around 8:30 to 9 a.m. on the morning the ship arrives in Grand Bahamas Island and it can be tough to find a place to sit. Additional seating can be found at the Rock Grill, accessible from the very back of the buffet.
Serving stations are placed about midway in the space, as well as toward the back, with identical offerings on each side of buffet.
For breakfast, you'll find the usual mix of scrambled and boiled eggs, sausage and bacon, potatoes, pancakes, assorted fruit, bread and pastries, oatmeal, deli meats and cheeses. There's also an omelet station.
Complimentary beverages include tea, coffee, fruit punch, orange juice and water.
Lunch isn't as packed but can still be busy depending on how many passengers choose to get off for the day in port. Options might include jerk chicken, fried fish, pork schnitzel, rice and beans, mixed veggies, plantains and salad fixings.
While the Rock Grill doesn't offer its own breakfast and lunch menus; the beautiful outdoor space is used as an extension of the buffet, during these dining times. This is where late risers can have breakfast (same options as the buffet) between 10 and 11 a.m., when the ship is in Grand Bahama Island. During lunch hours, the Rock Grill features a burger station -- where you can order burgers, hot dogs and German sausages -- as well as a separate buffet-style table with waiters serving a variety of smoked meats and sides. (The barbecue ribs are mouthwatering.)
Dinner consists of a carvery station (on our sailing it was roast pork), along with dishes like spaghetti in tomato sauce, fried fish, green beans, chicken on the bone in sauce and salad fixings.
A small assortment of pastries and cakes make up the dessert selection for both lunch and dinner.
Admiral's Steak & Seafood (Deck 8); $33: Grand Classica's fine dining restaurant offers a five-course gourmet meal with a menu that features fresh seafood and steaks. Appetizers include jumbo shrimp cocktail and escargot, while main courses consist of various steak cuts (filet mignon, New York strip), as well as seafood including broiled Maine lobster tail. (Note: The lobster tail is the only item that comes with a surcharge; it costs $18.)
We found the food here to be mostly superb. Our goat cheese souffle and crabcake starters, as well as our lobster tail main course were all cooked to perfection (though we found the maple leaf duck main course a little too fatty for our taste); the desserts also were tasty.
The steakhouse is also the site of the Admiral's Champagne Breakfast, served on the morning the ship arrives at Grand Bahama Island. The meal, which costs $16.50, includes a glass of Bouvet sparkling wine, mimosa, Bellini, rossini (a Bellini that has strawberries instead of peaches) or a bloody mary. The bulk of the breakfast food items are the same as the free breakfast in Yellow Elder but there are a few gourmet options, such as New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp and grits, brioche French toast stuffed with marmalade, blueberry-pecan pancakes, Scottish or New England eggs Benedict and huevos rancheros.
Reservations are recommended for dinner but not required for breakfast. An 18 percent service charge per person is automatically added to the bill, at both meal times.
Rock Grill (Deck 10); $28: In the evening, about three-fourths of the outdoor seating area normally used by buffet goers is converted into the interactive Rock Grill, with black tablecloths and pops of hot pink and red via the placemats and water glasses. New to Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, this restaurant gives diners the chance to cook their own food on a square lava stone heated to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Your meal starts with a selection of appetizers (cooked by someone else), including Hawaiian tuna poke, spicy Korean spareribs, Thai chicken coconut soup (it's delicious, but spicy!) and San Francisco cioppino. Also available are three salad options.
The main attraction starts when the wait staff bring over your lava rock with strict warnings not to touch it. He or she will then lay your chosen meat on the rock, and the rest is up to you (feel free to ask for help if you need it). Options include sesame crusted sushi-grade ahi tuna, teriyaki miso-glazed salmon wrapped in a banana leaf, mixed seafood platter (shrimp, scallops, corvina), Angus beef tenderloin, Angus beef sirloin kebabs, duroc pork chop, chicken satay and a 10-ounce Maine lobster tail (the latter for an upcharge of $18).
You can also create your own surf and turf by adding a 6-ounce Maine lobster tail ($10), jumbo scallops ($6) or colossal shrimp ($6) to any of the included meat dishes. Choose two sides from a menu of French fries, colored potato medley and broad beans, steamed jasmine rice, stir-fried rice, and braised bok choy and shitake mushrooms.
Depending on which meat(s) you've ordered and how you like it cooked, it can take anywhere from a minute or two to upward of 10 minutes to cook. (We erred on the side of caution with our chicken satay and ended up with slightly overcooked chicken, but the yummy plum sauce made up for it.) There's also a selection of seven sauces (the waiter will choose three for you if you don't specify), and three desserts: dulce de leche cheesecake, churros with chocolate sauce, and mango mousse cake.
An 18 percent service charge per person is automatically added to the bill.
The Bull Gourmet Burgers (Deck 10); a la carte: A section of Rock Grill transforms nightly into The Bull, a casual joint serving up gourmet burgers, buckets of chicken wings and fried shrimp. Most of the burgers on offer are made with 10-ounce Angus beef patties; though other options include an ahi tuna burger, a salmon burger, a turkey burger and a veggie burger.
The Bull is hard to distinguish from Rock Grill, as they share the same space at the back of the ship but The Bull is closer to the Rock Bar, where the buffet-style breakfast and lunch takes place. Most burgers are priced at $8.95, but the fish burgers are $9.95 and $10.95. The fried chicken bucket and fried shrimp basket also are $9.95 and $10.95, respectively. Sides include French fries, sweet potato fries, yuca fries and onion rings, and all burgers come with a portion of coleslaw. The Bull is open both nights, from 6:30 p.m. to midnight.
A Slice Above (Deck 9); $9.50: Open for dinner and late-night snacks, this counter offers flatbreads, calzones and build-your-own pizzas. Flatbread choices are: Veggie Delight; Pacific Coast, which features salmon, capers, olives and cream cheese; and the Cowboy, which comes loaded with smoked pulled chicken and Kansas City-style barbecue sauce. The four personal pizzas are a Classic Margherita, Toscano (pepperoni, prosciutto, meatballs, Italian sausage and mozzarella), red or white Parma E Fichi (mozzarella, arugula, parmigiana, prosciutto, figs and aged balsamic and fig glaze) and Frutti di Mare Arrabbiata (shrimp, calamari, scallops and mussels). There are also two calzone options.
You can also choose to build your own pizza from a choice of 16 toppings. While hours can vary, it's typically open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Across from the counter are several table and chair groupings for four or six people where diners can choose to gobble up their pizza, or they can take it to go.
Grand Cafe (Deck 9); a la carte: This specialty coffee and gelato bar offers a variety of hot and iced specialty coffees, teas and smoothies. In the morning, cruisers can choose from a selection of pastries, muffins and quiche; midafternoon, the selection switches to gelato, sorbet, cakes, cupcakes and brownies. As at A Slice Above, a selection of futon-style couches, armchairs and coffee tables are scattered across from the cafe counter for people to linger with their purchases.
Sample prices are: $2.50 for an espresso, $2.50 for a 12-ounce iced coffee, $3.50 for a vanilla or hazelnut macchiato, $3.75 for a 12-ounce Frappuccino, $3.25 for a 12-ounce freshly brewed iced-tea and $4.50 for a smoothie. A shot of liqueur can be added to any drink for $3.50. Gelato runs $2.95, $3.95 and $4.95 and a slice of cake is $4.95.
Crow's Nest Sports Bar (Deck 14); a la carte: Though primarily a place to drink and watch sports or play pub games, you can order food from The Bull Gourmet Burgers menu, with choices like the Cajun, the Godfather, the South of the Border and the Signature Black & Blue. There's also a turkey or veggie burger, as well as salmon and tuna burgers, and chicken wing or fried shrimp baskets. Prices range from $9.95 for most of the burgers to $11.95 for the yellow fin tuna burger. French, sweet potato and yucca fries, as well as onion rings, are each $1.75.
Room Service: "Free" room service is available throughout the day but comes with an automatic $3 service delivery fee. Only four items are available: turkey club sandwich, vegetarian sandwich, fruit platter with cottage cheese and a cheese plate with crackers. All other items that can be ordered from room service 24/7 cost money and come with an 18 percent service charge. These items include assorted snacks ($1.75) and chocolate-covered strawberries ($1.25 each). From 6:30 p.m. until midnight, you can order off The Bull Gourmet Burgers menu.