Dining onboard Viking Einar is a bright spot. Viking sources local food and ingredients, which translates into fresh options that are delightfully prepared no matter the restaurant venue. Dining is an area in which Viking has invested a good deal of time, money and imagination, and it certainly shows with some creative takes on local dishes and beautiful casual meals in the buffet-style Aquavit Terrace.
Menus can be customized for vegetarians and those who have allergies, though dietary restrictions require advance notice. (You can include dietary information online after booking, and you should follow up once onboard.)
All dining is included in the cost of your cruise, as are wine, beer and soft drinks during lunch and dinner. Those who want to enjoy spirits or more premium wines will need to pay extra, though reasonably so. Viking also has a liberal policy regarding brining your own drinks onboard: You're permitted to do so without a corkage charge. For itineraries that visit wine regions, it's not uncommon for passengers to buy a bottle or two of wine in town or at a vineyard and bring it back to enjoy onboard.
Restaurant (Middle Deck): Passengers can visit the Restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The ship's main restaurant features tables for six or eight, with no set seating no matter the time of day. This creates a pleasantly social environment, especially at dinner, and people can make new friends each night if they wish.
Breakfast start time varies depending on what time the ship is in port. A buffet, with a variety of hot and cold breakfast items, is set up, where passengers can order omelets and fried eggs from a chef. Those looking for something a la minute can order from a small menu, which includes a scrumptious salmon eggs Benedict and lovely berry bowl. Lunch, likewise, is a buffet affair with a la minute options, but many passengers elect to dine at the Aquavit Terrace for a quicker bite before or after their excursions, so attendance is a bit sparse midday.
Dinner is the most formal of the meals in the Restaurant, in that it is a four-course affair that often borders on the two-hours-plus range, as passengers swap stories from the day and enjoy the company of their fellow travelers. Starters include salads or soups -- or both -- with options that change each night. A second small appetizer, such as shrimp cocktail, is also offered. Entrees might include regional dishes, steaks and some type of vegetarian course. Salmon, chicken and steak are always available. Desserts, too, vary each night, but a cheese plate and ice cream are always-available options.
Aquavit Terrace (Upper Deck): The Aquavit Terrace is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It offers a continental breakfast each day, and it's open for early risers who want a little snack while everyone else is sleeping.
Lunch is, by far, the busiest meal at Aquavit Terrace. The timing varies depending on the port schedule, though it opens pretty quickly after passengers come back onboard following morning shore excursions. Chefs set up a buffet that features soups, a small salad bar (with a daily rotating premade salad option) and sandwiches. There's also a carving station and a small dessert bar. The star, though, is the grill, which is fired up as soon as passengers start sitting. Steak, salmon and shrimp are grilled daily. You can also order from the lunch menu offered at the Restaurant. The prime outdoor space is limited at Aquavit Terrace, so if you want to enjoy dining outside, you might need to head straight there after your excursion instead of making a stop at your cabin first.
In contrast to lunch, only a handful of people eat there in the evening. It's actually a pretty great spot to grab a bite, especially if you want a little quicker or intimate meal for two. Menu items include Norwegian flat breads, salmon dip, prime rib, chicken breast and rotating daily specials.
Coffee Stations (Upper Deck): Viking Einar offers two self-serve coffee and tea stations, where passengers can whip up lattes or hot chocolate. You'll also find muffins and pastries here at breakfast time, and delicious cookies from lunch onward.
Room Service: Passengers staying in Explorer Suites can order room service breakfast. It's not offered to other passengers or for other meals.