Thanks to Russia's official ban of meat, fish, cheese, vegetables and other food imported from Western countries -- the result of sanctions imposed because of Russia's 2014 Crimea annexation and rising tensions in Ukraine -- some Truvor passengers on a mid-August cruise jokingly wondered whether shipboard menus would be skewed to borscht and boiled potatoes.
Not to worry: The Austrian chef at Truvor's cozy, window-lined Neva Restaurant, located aft on the Middle Deck, offers a daily mix of tasty local Russian cuisine (from beef stroganoff to selyodka pod shuboy, a layered salad with herring, beets, potatoes and sour cream) and such Continental choices as bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin in a marsala sauce.
Dinners, generally served from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at open tables seating from two to eight, feature a soup or appetizer, choice of three main courses (meat or chicken, seafood and vegetarian), dessert and cheese plate with Russian and European options. Always-available dinner alternatives include a Caesar salad, grilled salmon fillet, roast chicken breast and beef tenderloin.
Lunch, which usually runs from noon to 2 p.m., includes a choice of three entrees ordered from the waitstaff and a buffet with a salad bar and made-to-order pasta station. (The restaurant's unusual layout, which places the kitchen in the middle of the dining room, means diners usually have a choice of two buffet lines.) Complimentary beer and unlimited glasses of French chardonnay or merlot-cabernet sauvignon are served with both lunch and dinner, and sparkling wine for mimosas is also available at breakfast.
Breakfast in Neva is served from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., incorporating a buffet, cooked-to-order omelets and other menu options like eggs Benedict. Starting at 6 a.m., early risers can pick up tea, regular java or cappuccino, hot chocolate, juice and pastries at two coffee stations flanking the entrance to Neva. (The stations, open 24 hours a day, also offer Russian and Western cookies in the afternoon.) A third morning option is a Continental breakfast (yogurt, pastries, muesli, meat and cheese, fruit and juice) in the aptly named Panorama Bar at the bow of the Upper Deck.
Service by Truvor's wait and bar staff, a mix of Russians and Filipinos, is capable and personable, with (mostly successful) efforts to remember passengers' names and favorite menu choices. Complimentary nuts and potato chips are served during cocktail hour in the Panorama Bar; no room service is offered, but cruisers can stash alcohol, soft drinks or snacks purchased on shore in their in-room refrigerators. Bar prices start at 3.50 euros for a glass of Baltica Russian beer and 4 euros for house wine; most cocktails are 6.50 to 8 euros, and the ship's varied Russian vodka selection ranges from 2.90 euros (for St. Petersburg's My Favorite City) to 8.50 euros for the premium Legend of Kremlin.
Among the thoughtful extras: Truvor passengers receive free bottled water when they leave the ship each day, and those on tours that extend through normal dining hours get boxed meals.