Vasco da Gama offers a wide selection of dining ranging from a casual buffet to elegant restaurants. These venues were slightly modified from the ship's previous incarnation as Pacific Eden, but have been adapted to suit the ship's new clientele with more included options. Despite being a 'value' cruise line, CMV manages to deliver cuisine of a quality that would easily be at home on higher rated vessels.
There are plenty of vegetarian options and gluten-free can be catered for with prior notification. The wine and beer lists include an extensive selection from Australia and NZ, but popular drinks may sell out early.
On longer voyages of five nights or more, there will be a formal night where you can flash those sequins and tuxedos. But if fancy attire does not suit your style, head upstairs to the bistro where casual clothing is always OK.
Waterfront Restaurant (Deck 7) Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D) The main dining room seats 350 people and is typically open for all mealtimes with an a la carte menu, plated meals and full table service. It's a pleasantly bright and airy venue with flexible sitting times. The menu is tailored to local tastes but with a nod to British cuisine. Dinner includes a starter and main course with meat, fish and vegetarian options often featuring locally sourced ingredients.
The tables are arranged thoughtfully, allowing plenty of space for diners to move throughout the room without banging chairs or disturbing fellow diners. Groups and families can sit at circular tables and booths while couples can opt for conventional two- and four-seat configurations. Solo passengers are encouraged to dine at communal tables; a waiter will escort singles to a table that is open for others to join.
Opening times are typically 7am to 9am for breakfast, noon to 1.30pm for lunch and 5.30pm to 8.30pm for dinner.
Waterfront Eurasia (Deck 8) Meals: Dinner (D) This dinner-only venue is a smaller upstairs extension of the main dining room downstairs. The atmosphere is more intimate and romantic with subdued lighting, dark decor and tables suited to couples.
The menu comprises various Asian flavours such as Indian, Malaysian, Singaporean, Chinese and Japanese. Dishes include noodles, curries and sushi. Spices are mild and the presentation is simple.
With seating for only 130 diners, it fills up early, so there may be a short wait for a table. Doors open at 5.30pm and close at 8.30pm.
Waterfront Mediterranean (Deck 8) Meals: Dinner (D) Similar to Eurasia, the Mediterranean offshoot caters for 140 people for dinner only. The menu offers a taste of Italy, Spain and Greece through hearty pastas, salads, meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes. The decor is brighter and predominantly white, with a reception table made out of a Vespa scooter. Get in early to beat the queue. Open from 5.30pm to 8.30pm.
Club Bistro (Deck 11) Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D) The busiest venue on the ship is like a food court with various outlets where passengers are served by the crew. The food is free, unlimited and similar to the standard of a buffet.
There is capacity for 280 people but snagging a table can be challenging at peak times; benches are most likely to have space. Despite the busy atmosphere, it is still a pleasant place for a quick bite or longer meal with excellent ocean views from every seat.
Club Bistro is open for the majority of the day but it does close in between meal times.
Breakfast is served from 7am until 10am, although early-risers can get coffee and pastries from 6.30am. Hot and cold breakfast items are readily available at the various stations on both sides of the ship. Highlights include a good fruit selection, smoothie of the day, smoked salmon and cheese. Ask the chef to cook an omelette or poached egg if you don't like the scrambled and boiled eggs on display.
Lunch is generally noon to 2.30pm when the food stations convert to salads, pasta, pizza, cuts of meat, fish, vegetables, stir fries, sandwiches and desserts. Dinner dishes are similar, but heartier. Evenings are busiest between 6pm and 9pm, especially for passengers who don't want to change out of shorts, T-shirts and thongs.
Afternoon tea is served for an hour from 3.30pm for people who are peckish between meals, and late-night snacks come out around 11pm. The bistro bar sells beer, wine and soft drinks during meal times.
A couple of 24-hour tea, coffee and water stations are located near the aft elevators. The coffee is fair quality and the range of teas includes black and herbal. The filtered water machine also dispenses juice. If you have your own refillable water bottle, CMV asks you not to fill them directly from the spout of the water dispenser for sanitary reasons. You can work around this by filling a cup with water and pouring it into your bottle.
Alfresco Grill (Deck 11) Meals: Lunch (L) The lone chef at the poolside grill on Deck 11 is constantly cooking hot dogs, burgers and fries. The burger is a small but tasty beef patty with cheese melted on top (ask him for no cheese if preferred) plus a slice of tomato, pickle and lettuce on the side. Open from 11am until 5.30pm.
The Grill (Deck 8);$49 Meals: Dinner (D) This 66-seat steakhouse is usually quiet; on the first night of our cruise we almost had the whole place to ourselves. It may be that the surcharge deters some diners, which is a shame because the feast includes an entree, main, two side dishes, dessert and freshly baked bread. The meals are truly excellent, especially for carnivores who enjoy top quality steak or a herb-crusted lamb rack. The signature dish is surf 'n' turf, which is a superb filet mignon topped with a decent portion of juicy lobster, for an additional $9.
Chef's Table (Deck 8); $109 The ultimate dining experience aboard Vasco da Gama sees up to 14 guests indulge in a multicourse degustation menu paired with a selection of fine wines. Hosted by the ship's executive chef, this exclusive evening begins with a welcome drink in a reserved bar before moving to a beautiful room with a table set for royalty, attended by several of the ship's best waiters.
Cappuccino's (Deck 11); a la carte A poolside counter sells specialty teas, coffees, liqueur coffees, cakes, shakes, gelato and ice cream. Open from 7am until 9pm.
Room Service Continental breakfast is available in the privacy of your cabin from 7am to 10.30am for no extra charge, but the set menu is limited to toast, pastries, tea, coffee and non-fresh juice. Premium breakfast with the addition of fruit and a hot item such as pancakes costs $19.95 (9.95 GBP) or complimentary for passengers in deluxe cabins and suites. At other times, room service can be ordered for a fee, ranging from $6.95 (3.95 GBP) for a sandwich to $14.95 (8.95 BGP) for a cheeseburger. Bottles of wine can also be delivered to your room. All premium cabins have a small minibar stocked with a few miniature liquors, mixers and 250ml bottles of wine, which are charged to your onboard account if consumed.