There's one main dining venue, The Restaurant, on the Main Deck, where panoramic windows showcase views of the passing landscape. Friendly and efficient staff oversee a breakfast buffet with an egg station, buffet lunches and sit-down dinners with waiter service. Open seating applies at all meals, with tables for two to ten people. Walk through the restaurant toward the front of the ship, and you'll find the intimate alfresco dining area, which has heating lights for cooler evenings and transparent plastic curtains to protect from breezes and insects. You do have to reserve tables there in advance for dinner (not for lunch), and its popularity grows over the course of the voyage as passengers realize how idyllic it is.
Breakfast is typically served between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. in The Restaurant, with an egg station manned by the ship's cheery head chef. The buffet is fairly varied, with everything from sausages and hash browns to fish and beans. There is also an adequate selection of cold meats, cheese and some excellent breads and pastries, as well as a wide choice of fresh and dried fruits, yogurts and cereals.
Lunch is usually available from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. (itinerary depending) and served buffet-style. The omnipresent Dutch chef serves up a different fresh pasta each day, which is complemented by a wide choice of hot and cold dishes (always including traditional Portuguese offerings like green soup and salt cod), and a generous salad bar with breads and a cheeseboard. There is also a wide choice of desserts and a regular gelato bar, which always proves popular.
Dinner is generally served from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in The Restaurant, and it's ordered from a menu. As with lunch, there is always a decent selection of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes on offer, with some popular options like salmon, steak and pasta always available, as well.
The wines served onboard (included in the cruise fare) are virtually all local to Portugal and, on the whole, extremely good. Each evening brings a different port to enjoy with dessert and/or the cheeseboard.
Early-bird breakfast (6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.), light lunch (1 p.m. to 2 p.m.) and afternoon tea (4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.) are served daily in the lounge. The light lunch is far more limited than what you find in The Restaurant, offering soup, a salad bar, sandwiches and a dessert. It is possible to take your food outside onto the small outdoor bar area in good weather. It's a great spot from which to admire the narrow gorges of the Alto Douro section of the river.
Finally, there is a 24-hour tea, coffee, hot chocolate and snack station located next to The Restaurant.
Uniworld Queen Isabel Ship Stats
- Crew: 40
- Launched: 2013
- Decks: 3
- Passengers: 118
- Registry: Portugal