By Jeannine Williamson
Cruise Critic Contributor
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Dining

Spirit offers round-the-clock dining options. There are two main dining rooms, the Lido Restaurant and Compass Rose, plus a casual alfresco grill and Sirocco's, a speciality for-fee restaurant.

Free Dining

Compass Rose (Deck 4): Located midship, this restaurant is open for a buffet or waiter service breakfast (7.30 to 9.30 a.m.), waiter service lunch (12.30 to 2.30 p.m.), and waiter service dinner (6 to 9:30 p.m.). The timings sometimes vary slightly according to the ship's schedule.

The restaurant offers open-plan seating -- although at lunch and dinner, waiters fill up the tables (which seat from two to eight) one by one as diners arrive, so unless you request a specific table, you will be automatically seated with other passengers. Clearly, this system helps the waiters with meal service, but some were reluctant to seat passengers elsewhere if they asked for a different spot in the dining room. However, a refreshing feature is the lack of the early or late sitting so passengers can choose to dine at any time during the restaurant opening hours.

This is the quieter and more sophisticated of the two main restaurants, particularly for breakfast and lunch. It has the air of a grand old dining room with its dark wood, deep red chairs and matching window blinds. The breakfast buffet is a pared down version of the Lido buffet and aside from the ubiquitous full English, items to order from the menu include eggs Benedict, various omelettes and a rather novel and tasty vegetarian breakfast, poori bhaji -- thin flour crisps served with spiced potato and pickles.

Lunch and dinner menus feature a selection of at least three appetisers, two soups, a salad course, three mains and choice of puddings and cheese. If you need help making up your mind, the executive chef's choice of complementary courses is listed at the start. There is always a vegetarian option and, at lunch, 'always available' items include pizza, pasta, cheeseburger, hot dog and toasted sandwich. In the evening, signature dishes include glazed duck and roast lamb. There are additional speciality made-to-order items, available for a supplement, including a 13 oz. T-bone steak and marinated skewered prawns. Generally very good rather than gourmet, the food was consistently tasty and well presented with generous portion sizes.

At gala dinner nights, expect the menu to err on the side of classic dishes, such as French onion soup, flambeed sirloin steak, duck a l'orange and baked Alaska which, in keeping with tradition, is paraded around the dining room by the waiters.

Lido Restaurant (Deck 5): The ship's self-service buffet restaurant is open for continental breakfast (6 to 7 a.m.), full breakfast (7 to 11.30 a.m.), lunch (11.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.), afternoon tea (3.30 to 5 p.m.), dinner and late-night buffet (6 p.m. to 1 a.m.).

As you'd expect, breakfast in the Lido is a full English affair with bacon, eggs, sausages, baked beans, black pudding, tomatoes, mushrooms and more, although Marmite fans may need to take their own. There are omelette and waffle stations, a selection of pastries and muffins and a healthy section with cereals, fresh fruit and yoghurt.

Moving seamlessly on through lunch, tea and dinner, the Lido caters for the masses with hot dishes that invariably include British favourites, such as shepherd's pie, steak pie, toad in the hole and puddings such as fruit crumble with custard. There is always a choice of meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian dishes and lots of salads and accompaniments. At peak times it resembles a busy, cavernous canteen with a nonstop bustle of passengers going back and forth and waiters efficiently and cheerfully clearing up in their wake. Two identical main buffets, with separate stations for desserts, fruits and tea and coffee help with the flow of the inevitable queues that build up at busy times. International theme nights are held twice a week.

Lido Pool Grill (Deck 5): Outside, by the main pool, the Lido Pool Grill has a salad buffet and serves pizza, hot dogs, baked potatoes and barbecue dishes. The main seating area is under an awning that protects from the sun and also makes it possible to sit out on colder and -- if you bag a table near the back -- rainy days. (A pile of blankets is thoughtfully available for passengers to use). It is open from 11.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Fee Dining

Spirit has one speciality restaurant. 

Sirocco's (Deck 4); a la carte: For a really special dining experience it is well worth paying the £19.95 per person supplement to dine in the intimate surroundings of Sirocco's, which is situated in a separate dining room next to the Compass Rose. With its contemporary table settings, starboard sea views from each table, imaginative menu and attentive service, the 32-seater restaurant has a stylish and sophisticated atmosphere.

Sirocco's seven-course menu stays the same throughout the cruise. For instance, starters include exotic fruits in a splash of Curacao, baked escargot or wild mushroom soup served inside a crusted sour dough loaf. There is a choice of salads and a refreshing sorbet. Mains include wild salmon strudel, oven-baked lamb shank and roast duck breast. Vegetarian options include a garden vegetable mille-feuille -- layers of puff pastry filled with grilled vegetables in a blue cheese sauce. Crepe suzette are prepared with theatrical panache, and there is coffee followed by petits fours. Service is superb throughout. The restaurant is open from 6 to 9.30 p.m. and bookings need to be made in advance.

Room Service: A 24-hour, good-value room service menu is available with items that includes a burger or antipasto selection both costing £3.50, a club sandwich for £3.60 and an omelette for £4.95. Special occasion treats, such as Champagne and strawberries, Champagne breakfast and a celebration cake presented in the restaurant can also be ordered

Marella Spirit Information

Marella Spirit Ship Stats

  • Crew: 520
  • Launched: 1983
  • Decks: 10
  • Passengers: 1,254
  • Registry: Malta

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