Meals are served in the ship's only dining room -- a cheerful, well-appointed room whose centerpiece is a long copper-colored buffet with large, round copper-colored lights above it. Large windows -- though not floor to ceiling -- line either side for river views and, on one end, there is a bright orange sculptural profile inspired by the roof lines of the Loire's famed chateaux. The color palette is warm -- rose, orange and cream. Most of the tables seat six, although seating can include six two-tops, as well. Tables are topped at every meal with white cloths and fresh flowers. Seating for all meals is open, meaning there are no seat assignments.
CroisiEurope is different than most lines when it comes to meals. It offers a breakfast buffet, but the midday and evening meals consist of a single three-course option that celebrates French cuisine. Mind you, they are terrific -- created by classically trained chefs using fresh ingredients often purchased that same day and beautifully styled. But many cruisers are accustomed to an abundance of dining options. Substitutions can be made with advance notice, and special arrangements will also be made if you follow a special diet, such as gluten-free or low-salt. Note: CroisiEurope, as it reaches out to an American audience, is considering enhancing its menu options.
Beer, wine, soda, mixed drinks, coffee and tea are complimentary with meals and at the bar in the lounge -- as are spirits such as Campari and brandy. For an extra charge, passengers can order pricier fare such as Champagne, Glenfiddich whisky and Grand Marnier.
The breakfast buffet, usually served from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., is simple fare: fresh and dried fruit, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, cold cuts and cheese, porridge, sweet rolls, croissants, toast and, typically, scrambled eggs, sausage and ham.
With its three courses, lunch, generally served at 1 p.m., looks more like dinner. Starters might include leek quiche, ham fagottini in a cream sauce, Russian-style eggs or a combination of salads. Main entrees featured on our cruise were hake filet Grenoble-style with mushroom risotto and broccoli; roasted rib steak with potatoes, cauliflower and spaghetti; spring lamb stew and cod fish in aniseed sauce with English potatoes; and ratatouille. As for the desserts, frozen nougat, seasonal fruit and ile flottante (vanilla-scented custard with floating clouds of meringue) were delicious. It does seem a little crazy to eat this much for lunch, but the food is wonderful, and you have many opportunities to walk it off in port.
Dinner, often served at 8 p.m., is a leisurely affair. There's a nice mix of entrees: filet of veal with shallots, mashed potatoes and veggies; a duck breast in pinot noir sauce with French fries and Brussels sprouts with bacon; cranberry chicken breast with vegetable tagliatelle pasta; and a pork filet in a sweet-n-sour sauce with duchess potatoes and vegetables. Starters might include onion soup, a duck foie gras with caramel and brioche and a meat terrine with baby peppers. Dinners typically feature a cheese -- among them, Cabecou, a soft goat cheese from the south of France; Montboissier, a soft cow's cheese; and Camembert. Desserts on our cruise included baked Alaska flamed with Grand Marnier, crepe Suzette with orange sorbet and tiramisu.
There is no room service or snacks between meals, except for nibbles in the bar.