All onboard dining -- plus wine, beer and soft drinks with dinner -- is included in the fare. The main dining room is the Compass Rose Restaurant, on the Explorer Deck, and the alternative, casual dining venue is the Captain's Club, situated aft on the Navigator Deck.
In Compass Rose, all mealtimes are operated on a single sitting, free seating basis. Passengers are very punctual, with a small, orderly line invariably forming outside the dining room before lunch and dinner. Vantage makes a point of designing its menus for the American palate, so guests can expect lots of familiar dishes plus regional specialties tweaked to appeal to North American tastes. Vegetarian, gluten-free, diabetic and other dietary requirements are catered for.
Breakfast is served in Compass Rose from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m. or 9:30 a.m., depending on the itinerary. The breakfast buffet here features a wide choice of cold and cooked dishes, plus an omelet station with egg dishes cooked to order. Early risers can get orange juice, pastries and fresh fruit in both the Peppermint Lounge and Captain's Club from 6 a.m. until 7 a.m.
Lunch -- starting at noon or 12:30 p.m. -- is a very civilized affair in the Compass Rose as Vantage favors waiter-served meals rather than a lunchtime buffet, which is the norm on many vessels. Typical fare includes chicken consomme, cream of leek or cold tomato soup to start; entrees of lamb casserole, roast chicken or tuna melt sandwiches; followed by cheesecake with forest berry sauce or choux pastry filled with hazelnut cream or, always available, ice cream. Salads are available from the buffet, where there is also a made-to-order pasta cooking station. At the same time, the Captain's Club serves a light and healthy lunch with a choice of soup, sandwiches, salads and fruit, plus a carving station featuring dishes such as roast turkey with cranberry sauce.
Dinner is served in Compass Rose from 7 p.m. Typical dishes at the four-course evening meal include marinated jumbo shrimp or smoked duck breast appetizer, cream of celery soup with Champagne or tomato soup with basil cream, followed by entrees such as broiled fillet of halibut on walnut butter sauce, truffled chicken breast, rack of lamb or gnocchi served with spinach and gorgonzola sauce. Desserts might include warm pear pie or white chocolate mousse, with the choice of a cheese platter instead of, or in addition to, a sweet dessert. If by any chance you're still hungry, you can order a second helping. There is an "always available" menu of grilled chicken breast, salmon fillet and sirloin steak. Coffee and tea is served at the table. Courses are served very promptly, but at times the waitstaff seemed very rushed and under pressure to get out all the orders; this meant there was little time to interact with them at the table. Dinner offers a few traditional touches: women are always served first, and butter is in dishes and not foil-wrapped pats.
On every cruise, there is a six-course captain's dinner with an amuse-bouche, appetizer such as foie gras, followed by baked snails or French onion soup, lemon sorbet, an entrée such as chateaubriand of beef and creme brulee to finish. Vegetarian alternatives and the "always available" menu can also be ordered on these nights.
The Captain's Club is a casual and relaxing option for dinner (served at the same time as in the main restaurant), and passengers can drift in and out during the opening times rather than arriving right at opening time. In addition to a salad bar, expect to find appetizers of tomato with cucumber and tuna, or sheep cheese with tzatziki, and cauliflower cream soup followed by lasagna. There is also a nightly barbecue cooked on the open rear deck, weather permitting, where choices might include spareribs, chicken and grilled vegetables.
Self-serve tea, coffee and hot chocolate are available 24/7 in the Peppermint Lounge and Captain's Club along with fresh fruit and, every afternoon, a selection of cookies. There is no room service.
Vantage River Discovery II Ship Stats
- Crew: 46
- Launched: 2012
- Decks: 4
- Passengers: 176
- Registry: Germany