All dining is included and there is no main dining room. If you want to splurge on something fancy like fruits de mer or a fine cut steak or Champagne, however, that will cost you extra.
There are a total of nine restaurants to choose from covering everything from Italian to Korean, Mexican and a first-at-sea, vegetarian. Virgin has done away with shared galleys, so each venue has its own kitchen, staff, chef and servers, meaning the quality and service is high across the board. Test Kitchen, for example, is as good as any fine dining venue we've eaten at in London or New York -- and is free.
The line has also brought in some big names to help oversee the food -- Brad Farmerie of PUBLIC in NYC and Sohui Kim of the Good Fork and Insa in NYC are just two.
Each venue also has its own bar with specific drinks, so if you want to go to one restaurant for a drink or snack, then another for dinner, the ship is set up to do so.
Extra Virgin: Scarlet Lady's trattoria-inspired Italian venue serves regional dishes and handmade pasta made daily. Also on the menu are a variety of Amari, digestive and other traditional Italian aperitifs. The wine menu will feature an infographic to help diners better understand Italian wine and pick out the right option for them. Extra Virgin also has an Aperitivo hour each day with drink specials and small plates.
Gunbae: Meaning cheers or bottoms up in Korean, Gunbae is a Korean BBQ restaurant featuring specially designed flameless grills built into the tables so that diners can cook their own meals if they so wish (or get your server to). The entire experience begins with a complimentary round of soju (like sake)for the table plus a drinking game. The food is fine, not exceptional; it's the setting and the participating that makes this a memorable night. There's also a fatal flaw if you are mixed eaters: vegetarians have to have their food cooked first and so eat out of time with the carnivores.
Pink Agave (Deck 5): Pink Agave is an upscale Mexican restaurant featuring electric blue metallic lighting fixtures, oversized banquet tables and porthole windows.
On the menu don't expect typical Tex-Mex fare like quesadillas, tortillas and nachos, instead you'll find real Mexican items such as tlayudas, memelas, sopas, tortas, esquites, and tamales like you'd find in Mexico City. All meant to be sharing plates, so they come in around mid-sized. Be warned, though, portions err on the large side so when it comes to ordering your appetizer you may want to plan ahead. The restaurant features a bar area in the foyer with what the line is claiming to be the largest collection of mezcals at sea. There is also a private dining room for larger groups.
Test Kitchen (Deck 6): This restaurant is designed to encourage diners to think about their food from a new perspective. The entryway features lighting fixtures that mimic the periodic table to get people into the mood of the laboratory-like environment with design elements that include metallic furniture, beakers and test tubes. The chef-driven set menus are presented in the form of an ingredient list and diners follow along as the chef combines the list of flavors throughout the course of the meal
Test Kitchen offers a six-course tasting menu based on different ingredients that day, with the food based around that. You can pair it with wine or cocktails or beer for a $35 additional fee. The food is exquisitely prepared and presented and carefully explained, and the whole meal lasts around two and a half hours. On land, this would cost you at least $150, perhaps more, and would carry a significant upcharge on other ships. If you're lucky, you can meet the British chef afterwards who will explain how he wanted to create a restaurant experience as good as any on land, and he has succeeded.
This venue also hosts a number of different experiences throughout the voyage from cooking classes, to mixology school and even coffee labs.
The Dock House (Deck 7): Set at the back of the ship on Deck 7, this alfresco eatery is a beach club-inspired space serving Mediterranean small plates, salads, dips and mezzes. Flame-grilled skewers are also be available for those who want a hot meal. In the evening, there's live music, which can start unexpectedly all around you (look out who you are sitting next to). There is also an inside area called The Dock for pre-dinner cocktails.
The Galley: This space acts as the buffet, but is modeled after the popular food halls or market places (think Whole Foods or a deli) you'll find in many cities, The Galley is where you can grab a quick, casual meal throughout the day. Rather than the traditional islands or rows with different foods, this is a mixture of counters and food areas. Menus are via QR code, but orders are taken in person (you can help yourself to drinks though, and brand sodas are included).
Among the options on offer are a dedicated bakery and pastry shop, a panini shop, a burger grill, a taco shack, a sushi bar with bento boxes, a noodle bar, a soup and salad stand, and a 24-hour American-style diner where breakfast is served all day.
The Pizza Place (Deck 6): Pizza lovers can choose off the classic menu at this spot, where pies are always made fresh, or design their own based on a variety of ingredients. The casual spot has a beach club-inspired design with white and pastel colored furniture, as well as hammocks for lounging.
Razzle Dazzle: Razzle Dazzle is the first vegetarian restaurant at sea, and we applaud Virgin for that. The cuisine here is astonishingly varied and made even this meat eater sit up and take notice (it also helps that if you do drag your meat-eating friend here, there are a few non-veg options hidden away). It gets its name and design from the practice of camouflaging ships during World Wars I and II using patterns of black and white paint.
On the menu is a selection of vegetarian and vegan fare, as well as a juice bar. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Breakfast might include: "Avo toast: siracha, watermelon radish, finger lime, toasted seeds." and "Coconut milk fairy toast: brioche, condensed milk, rainbow sprinkles," and that's just for breakfast. It's all very Insta-friendly, but is it edible? Well annoyingly it is. We opted for a turmeric egg scramble: sofrito, salted yoghurt, mint and ztb sourdough. It's always fun to try food items you've never heard of.
Dinner options might include mushroom tartare, gazpacho or melon salad; mains might include "fish" (crispy banana blossom) and chips; or an impossible burger. Under the naughty section you can choose pasta with fennel braised pork, salmon and chicken options.
But food's not the only thing on the menu at Razzle Dazzle; diners will be treated to a performance by Scarlet Lady's resident drag performer and friends. For an extra fee, you can also can opt to enjoy bottomless drag-inspired cocktails.
The Wake: The largest restaurant onboard, this 5,866-square-foot dining venue is located at the back of the ship, offering beautiful views of the ship's wake. It's also the nearest the ship comes to a MDR in terms of layout, location and fanciness -- if you're going to dress up one night, it would be to come here.
The Wake serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
At night, it is very much a steak and seafood space with offerings that include salads and ceviche to start, a raw bar (with an upcharge) and a selection of steaks (some with a surcharge), lamb chops, chicken and fish. The New York strip was a contender for the best we have had at sea. Note, there are limited vegetarian options. There is an excellent wine selection, with grape varietals from around the world (though note it's not cheap).
Veggie: If you are vegetarian or a vegan, there's only one choice -- Razzle Dazzle.
Experimental: Test Kitchen gets our vote for best experience -- if you are foodie and enjoy your wines, then definitely opt for this.
With friends: Gunbae is a lot of fun if you are in a group and you like Korean cuisine.
Surf & Turf: The Wake: serves an outstanding selection of steaks and seafood options.