Passengers look forward to meals aboard Reef Endeavour. Fiji's succulent fresh fruit and vegetables are featured at all meals, along with the ever-popular and versatile coconut.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the Captain Cook Dining Room on D Deck, and at least two alfresco lunches, including a barbecue, take place during a seven-day sailing.
Breakfast, served between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. is buffet style, consisting of a huge range of cold and hot dishes. There's nothing quite as sweet as pineapples in Fiji, and these, along with delicious papaya, pawpaw and watermelon, grace the buffet daily. Cereal, yogurt, freshly baked bread and pastries and an array of cold meats are also available. Hot choices include two types of bacon (the crispy version for the North Americans and the not-so-crispy for the Aussies), sausages, baked beans, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes and usually a couple of interesting vegetable sides, such as stir-fried okra or eggplant. Chefs will make omelets and poached or fried eggs to order, and cruisers help themselves to toast, tea and coffee -- and the coffee (percolated style) is very good.
Lunches (served from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.) are equally varied and just as delicious. They include hot dishes like pasta, pizza, curries, grilled fish, garlic prawns and an inventive array of salads. Who would have thought pineapple and chili worked so well together?
Lunchtime desserts vary daily and might include chocolate cake, pies, muffins and other sweet treats.
There will be one "curry tiffin" (an English word meaning light meal or lunch), which is a nod to the large population of Fijian Indians. Dishes include dahl, curried beef, fish, chicken and vegetables, served with roti, poppadum, rice and condiments, along with desserts. The alfresco barbecue, usually held on the Sun Deck, features chargrilled fish, beef, chicken, sausages and salads.
Dinner is served at 7:30 p.m. and is a table-service meal with three courses. Both the entree (or appetizer for U.S. passengers) and main course feature three choices, including a vegetarian dish. Main courses might be baked fish fillet with tomatoes and coconut cream in a rourou leaf parcel (rourou are the leaves of a taro plant) or a vegetarian pawpaw ravioli. The dessert menu always features a fresh fruit plate, a cheese plate and two sweet dishes, such as butterscotch pudding with warm cream topped with rum-spiked caramel sauce or chocolate pavlova, a twist on the classic Australian meringue dish. The food is best described as international with Pacific influences, and it's very good; passengers had nothing but praise for the meals and the quantity of food.
Menus are rotated every fortnight, so there's no chance of receiving the same dish more than once on a cruise.
The first evening is the Captain's Dinner (Yakayakavi Nei Kavetani in Fijian), and everyone receives a complimentary glass of sparkling wine to start. Dishes included Fijian spiced coconut prawn soup and vegetable frittata, followed by butter chicken served with rice and seasonal vegetables and a succulent lamb served on a bed of mashed potatoes with buttered spinach carrots and spiced beetroot glaze.
Drinks are not included in the fare. Prices are about the same as those charged in Australian or Fijian four- and five-star resorts. They range from around $6 for a beer and about $8 for a glass of wine. Bottles of wine are about $25 and up.
Two themed buffet dinners (Asian and Island) are offered during a seven-night cruise, while shorter cruises feature the Island night theme. Both offer many choices, including delicious prawn and fish dishes, chicken and beef, pork or lamb and a couple of vegetarian options.
Seating is allocated on the first night of the cruise. Thereafter, it's open seating, and passengers can reserve tables and sit with whomever they like. Throughout the cruise, suite passengers and past passengers will usually have the opportunity to dine at the captain's table or with the chief engineer, who also hosts a table of six. New dining room tables and chairs were added in mid-2013. Tables are a mix of round and square, while chairs are painted cane.
Tables are set for dinner with white linen cloths, cloth napkins and sparkling cutlery; it's more casual at lunchtime. Alcoholic beverages are served during dinner, and passengers who buy bottles of wine can have them stored in the refrigerator if they don't wish to drink the bottle in one sitting.
An extensive wine list features mostly Australian and New Zealand labels, along with a couple of Champagnes and a handful of wines (mostly red) from other countries including Italy and Argentina. There are also both white and red wines from Chateau Ste. Michelle winery in Washington state.
Help-yourself afternoon teas (with cakes, scones with jam and cream and muffins) and pre-dinner canapes are served in the cocktail area of the Yasawa Lounge. Canapes may include meatballs, sushi, tiny pizzas and delicious fried coconut with a touch of chili.
Tea and coffee stations, offering a variety of espresso coffees, are located in the Yasawa Lounge and the Reef Room for passengers to help themselves throughout the day. Biscuits (cookies) are also available.
There is no room service, although suites have their own tea- and coffee-making facilities. An optional "romance and spa" package (for a fee) includes breakfast in bed one morning, along with extras like a mini-massage, bottle of sparkling wine and a cosmetic Senikai Essence of Viti gift pack.