The food is well prepared and presented throughout Navigator, with dishes mostly ranging from "just fine" to "amazing." We preferred La Veranda for breakfast, the Pool Grill for lunch and Sette Mari and Prime 7 for dinner; Compass Rose always served a lovely meal, but we didn't find it quite as alluring.
Compass Rose (Deck 5): The 384-seat Compass Rose received a huge amount of attention during the ship's 2016 refurbishment -- it was completely rebuilt -- and now features a tasteful neutral-centric color scheme with blue and silver highlights. Windows run the length of the restaurant on both walls. Seating is open with plenty of two-tops, and on our cruise, the venue was never crowded. Passengers can enter the elegant Compass Rose from either end.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available here. Breakfast has all the usual suspects -- fruit, cereal, eggs, pancakes, waffles, breakfast meat.
The lunch menu at Compass Rose was upgraded in late 2016 to include a fixed menu of appetizers and entrees sourced from the specialty restaurants found aboard Regent’s newest ship, Seven Seas Explorer. Try the grilled prime burger from Prime 7 (also located on Navigator), classic croque monsieur (or croque madame, served with an egg, sunny side up) from French Bistro-style Chartreuse and tuna tartare from Asian eatery Pacific Rim.
A selection of rotating daily house specials highlight an additional appetizer, soup, pasta, fish (like grilled mahi-mahi with mango peach salsa and lemongrass sauce) and main option; a variety of eight dessert choices round out the menu.
Features of the robust and customizable multicourse dinner menu now include a fixed left side of the menu calling out staples of 13 types of meat, fish and seafood mains, cooked to preference (grilled, baked, broiled, poached or roasted), and available with an accompanying selection of sauces and garnishes. Feel free to mix and match -- go for traditional lobster and steak, or mix lamb chops and shrimp.
There are also favorite appetizers (like shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque or beef carpaccio), as well as soups and salads. An assortment of sides include sweet potato fries, sauteed spinach and Brussels sprouts; there’s also a fresh pasta of the day.
The righthand side of the menu features rotating nightly specials with appetizers, pasta plates and entrees (like roasted pork tenderloin or pan-seared dole filet) turned out by the executive chef, along with a suggested multicourse menu degustation if you prefer to let the chef choose. Specially designated Canyon Ranch Spa plates are also available.
Every evening, there is at least one vegetarian dish to choose from in the selection of appetizers and mains (and so designated on the menu with a special icon), like Mediterranean squash and zucchini, stuffed with mushroom duxelles, tomato sauce and quinoa salad. (Gluten-free and other special diets can be accommodated with at least 24 hours advance notice.)
A separate enhanced dessert menu calls out cheese plates (paired with port wine), house-made ice creams and sorbets and an assortment of cakes and pastries.
At lunch and dinner, waiters serve a daily red and white wine, but you can also request other wines off the complimentary or premium menus or order a cocktail. If you make a special order, be prepared to wait as the drinks waiter pulls the bottle; they don't all seem to be close at hand.
La Veranda (Deck 10): La Veranda offers a buffet-style breakfast and lunch featuring regional specialties. Breakfast is popular here, and the limited outdoor seating is hard to come by. Cold options include cereal, muesli, yogurt, meats, cheeses and fruit, while hot options might be scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon and sausage. A sign indicates the daily special, typically something like pancakes, and you can request eggs to order at the central station that divides the buffet from the seating area. On select mornings, Champagne and caviar with blinis are set out for your indulgence.
At lunch, the egg station becomes a pasta station, and buffet options switch to salad (both DIY and premade) and dessert bars, as well as hot entrees (fried hake fillet, marinated chicken souvlaki).
Sette Mari (Deck 10): In the evening, La Veranda transforms into Sette Mari, an Italian venue with buffet and cooked-to-order options. The festive meal begins with a selection of Italian breads and appetizers (veal meatballs and fried mozzarella, bruschetta) brought to the table and salad, antipasti and soup presented on the buffet. The meal continues with your menu selections from a list of pasta (gnocchi with pesto, lasagna, a daily risotto) and mains (veal scaloppini, grilled swordfish, osso buco), and finishes with an array of desserts on the buffet (though you can order ice cream to the table). Compliment your meal with Italian wines, including prosecco, and your dessert with flavored grappa (chocolate, strawberry, hazelnut).
Even though this venue is a dressed up buffet, the table service was impressively attentive, with servers ready to carry your laden plates from the buffet to the table for you. We found it the most fun of the three main dining options, and the food rivaled meals you'd find at the other dinner venues.
The menu changes every two days, so you can rotate Sette Mari in with your Compass Rose dining and not feel like you're repeating dishes. However, on occasional long days in port (such as Livorno and Civitavecchia), the dining team will sometimes offer a more casual dinner buffet with a regional theme, rather than offer Sette Mari.
Pool Grill (Deck 10): The Pool Grill on Deck 10 is not your typical cruise ship burger bar. Its extensive lunch menu, typically served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, offers a vast array of made-to-order sandwiches, with several vegetarian options. Choose from two types of hot dogs, five types of hamburgers and burgers made from turkey, salmon, tuna, Portobello mushroom, vegetables or tofu. It also serves sandwiches and grilled or blackened fish. Salad offerings and side dishes are available and perfectly prepared French fries accompany grill orders.
With appropriate weather and itinerary timing, a festive poolside barbecue fish lunch (typically with four or more fish choices, including sushi, paella and mussels) is a gustatory highlight.
In August 2018, the Pool Grill launched casual evening alfresco dining, too; it’s the only evening venue on the ship where no evening dress code applies. Thanks to outdoor heat lamps -- and blankets draped over chairs on chillier nights -- the venue operates so long as the winds are not too high, and the temps are above 50 degrees or so. With a jacket, it was quite comfortable during our dining experience, with temps hovering in the mid-50s on an autumn evening.
The menu remains the same nightly, with a focus on fresh salads, grilled sides (like charred corn on the cob or roasted potatoes) and a grilled-to-order selection of BBQ meats and fish (or for vegetarians, marinated veggie kebabs and veggie burgers are available); there's also a cheese and dessert station. At the Pool Bar at the other end of the pool, bouillon is served from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and ice cream and milkshakes are available until about 4 p.m., sometimes later.
Prime 7 (Deck 10): The Prime 7 menu is so big that you could eat here every night and always try something new. The clubby steakhouse, done in dark woods and dark leather wing-backed chairs, is the premier alternate restaurant, and reservations are highly sought after as it only serves 74 to 78 passengers each night. Make your booking as soon as you're allowed before your cruise; if you're lucky, you might be able to score a second one once onboard. (Top suites get unlimited reservations.) Every table at this intimate venue has a view out the windows that line one entire wall.
The menu focuses on steak and seafood, with other meat options, as well. The entrees are huge, and you'll definitely want to try one or two starters and dessert, so pace yourself. All beef products served are U.S.D.A.-approved, and the menu includes Prime New York strip, Prime porterhouse, Prime filet mignon (6- or 10-ounce) and the restaurant's signature surf-and-turf, with your choice of lobster or Alaskan king crab legs as your "surf." There's also lobster, New Zealand lamb chops, pork, veal and roast chicken. Sides include twice-baked potatoes, creamed spinach, truffle fries and caramelized root vegetables. Desserts are hard to resist with options like Key lime pie, Chicago-style cheesecake, molten Callebaut chocolate cake and the decadent (and popular) caramel popcorn sundae.
Afternoon Tea (Deck 11): Traditional tea is served in Galileo's, the ship's observatory lounge, in the late afternoon. Choose from a buffet selection of real English scones with jam and clotted cream, finger sandwiches and fruit, and a waiter will serve you Twinings tea and wheel a trolley around with desserts and petits fours. Stay for trivia if you like.
Coffee Connection (Deck 6): Complimentary specialty coffees, tea and hot chocolate are available from a machine in the Coffee Connection 24/7. Throughout the day, you'll find continental breakfast options, fruit and cookies here, as well.
Room Service: Room service is available 24 hours a day and is much more extensive than that found on many other ships. Along with made-to-order eggs and continental items for breakfast and a range of intriguing entree items for lunch and dinner (grilled medallions of beef tenderloin, chicken breast with salsa cruda and vegetable masala, to name a few), passengers can order from the Compass Rose menu (found on your interactive TV) during lunch and dinner hours. Add in the possibility of course-by-course dining and a white tablecloth setup, and in-suite and on-balcony dining is an attractive alternative to the restaurants on nights you don't want to dress up.