The one word we heard the most when talking to other passengers about the food on Viking Odin was "fine." And the meals were just that, a perfect accompaniment for those most interested in the itinerary and port tours, and not a gourmet onboard experience. Cruisers seeking a foodie paradise might be disappointed, but for most people the food served onboard is perfectly acceptable.
Where Viking Odin does stand out, dining wise, is its attention to passengers with dietary restrictions. Every evening at dinner, the maitre d' visits each cruiser with a dietary restriction (whether gluten free, lactose intolerant, low-sodium, vegetarian or nut allergy) to discuss the next day's lunch and dinner menus. Many of the dishes can be tweaked to meet individual needs or the chef can prepare something else.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the Restaurant and the buffet-style Aquavit Terrace. There is no room service. If you get a hankering for a snack during off hours, you can head to the coffee stations set up outside the Observation Lounge, where you'll find croissants and muffins in the morning and a selection of cookies the rest of the day.
Restaurant (Deck 2): Viking Odin's full-service dining space, simply called the Restaurant, serves a full buffet breakfast, as well as waiter-served lunch (with small buffet) and dinner. Inside you'll find tables for four, six and eight.
Breakfast service starts between 7 and 7:30 a.m. depending on the day's tour schedule. The buffet features scrambled eggs, omelets made to order, bacon and sausage, roasted mushrooms, grilled potatoes, cold cuts and sliced cheeses, yogurts, cereals and oatmeal, smoked salmon, pastries and a variety of breads. Gluten-free toast is available by request. You can also order pancakes, French toast and fried or poached eggs Benedict from the waiter.
Lunch starts between noon and 12:30 p.m., depending on the day's schedule, and typically lasts up to two hours. The lunch menu changes daily and features a selection of buffet and a la carte items. Selections might include roast beef, stuffed eggs and caviar, soup of the day (often vegetarian), Wiener schnitzel, smoked duck breast, rigatoni alla Romana and American stew. Dessert choices might include a warm sugar waffle, vanilla rice pudding and an ice cream flavor of the day (vanilla and chocolate are always available.)
The open-seating dinner usually begins at 7 p.m., though some (like on embarkation day or the farewell meal) begin at 7:30. As with lunch, the menu varies daily but there are also four "always available" dishes: a Caesar salad, poached Norwegian salmon, chicken breast with barbecue sauce and prime rib-eye steak. The only dinner these are not available at is the Farewell Dinner, which proved to be a source of irritation for some passengers. (After some arguing, the maitre 'd did agree to put in an order for the rib eye for some of them, others he persuaded to try the beef Wellington.)
Other than the Farewell Dinner and Germany Night, menus always feature four appetizers, three main courses (one is always vegetarian) and two deserts (not including a cheese platter and the ice cream and sorbet of the day). Appetizers might include a soup of the day, baby shrimp cocktail, blue cheese stuffed meatballs, baba ganoush, salad nicoise, truffle-scented chicken cassoulet and mesclun salad with fresh figs. Main course options can include roast beef, seared halibut, vegetable halloumi kebabs, sauteed Chinese egg noodles, orange and soy-marinated grilled pork tenderloins, seared mahi mahi, falafel and roasted vegetables and herb Provencal lamb chops. Desert choices on our sailing included a peanut butter and chocolate crunch, creme caramel, apple cake, passion fruit mousse and mandarin cake.
The Farewell Dinner featured three appetizer and three entree choices: salmon tartar, tandoori chicken and parsley root soup for the first course and beef Wellington, sauteed prawns and a grilled polenta sandwich for the main course. A pumpkin mousse ravioli with lamb loin was served in between courses. Desert was a dark chocolate tart or pear strudel.
Germany Night is a casual buffet, served in both the Restaurant and Aquavit Terrace, of various brats and sausages, along with grilled chicken, kale (made with sausage, of course, but a vegetarian version was also available) and soup.
Most days a sauvignon blanc and Malbec from the Enrique Vollmer winery in Argentina are liberally poured with lunch and dinner; at the Farewell Dinner, the sauvignon blanc was replaced with a regional Riesling from the Moselle Valley.
Aquavit Terrace (Deck 3): Located at the back of the Observation Lounge is the small Aquavit Terrace, a casual indoor/outdoor cafe that serves as an alternative location for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At breakfast, which typically starts an hour before the main sit-down service starts (and ends an hour later), you'll find a small selection of danish and pastries, cold cuts and sliced cheese, fruit, yogurt and museli, and bread with butter, cream cheese and varied jams.
Lunch and dinner are served at the same time as the respective sit-down service. Typical offerings at the lite lunch are a salad bar, soup, kabobs and cold-cut sandwiches. One vegetarian dish is usually on offer as well -- the day we stopped by there was a hearty Hungarian vegetable relish. The most popular lunchtime offering was the burger bar -- about half the passengers showed up for it and those that missed it expressed regret when they heard about it.
Dinner is a downsized version of the "always available" menu served in the Restaurant, plus a few extras. The starters are always the same -- a Norwegian sampler with salmon dip, roasted bell peppers, crabmeat salad, shrimp salad, Norwegian cheese and flatbreads, and a chopped salad made with bacon, crushed Scandinavian-style crisp bread and artichokes. Entrees always include poached Norwegian salmon, prime rib-eye steak and chicken breast in a barbecue sauce. There is one additional daily special; items range from barbecue beef slider and sliced tenderloin to a sauteed fish cake or a beef carbonnade to poached shrimp. Passengers with dietary restrictions should not eat at Aquavit Terrace.