APT, along with partner AmaWaterways, is the only major river cruise line to be part of the Chaine Des Rotisseurs, a culinary society, so we expected the food to be better than average. Indeed, it was superb. All meals are open seating within specified meal times. Breakfast generally is served from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Most tables are sized for groups of four or more (just a few two-tops), and the handful of available booths is always quickly occupied.
Menus typically reflect the region in which the ship is traveling. In our case, while on the Danube portion of our two-week Rhine-Main-Danube voyage, we tried Hungarian goulash, Bavarian sausages and Viennese schnitzel, along with staples likw steak, salmon, chicken and salad.
Breakfast consists of buffet service with a station for freshly prepared omelets and other egg dishes; it's substantial. There's plenty of healthy fare, such as yogurt and fresh fruit, as well as European-style breakfast options like cold cuts and cheese. Each morning, a menu also features a handful of daily specials. Think Eggs Benedict and cinnamon pancakes.
Lunch -- which includes free-flowing wine, beer and soda -- consists of menu options and a buffet. Salads are plentiful, and usually there are several choices of soups, regional entrees and desserts. Burgers, fries and other American staples are also available.
Dinner is the most formal meal in the main dining room, offering several choices of starters, salads and soups, entrees and desserts, and, of course, plenty of wine. Special needs, from vegetarian to low salt, are pleasantly accommodated (though it helps to give the kitchen advance notice). Always-available choices include steak, chicken and fish.
Other dining options: Erlebnis is a Chef's Table-style eatery with an almost-open kitchen that allows you to watch the chefs work. The set menu (with two choices for the entree) starts with an amuse bouche, then features four courses. The menu is repeated most nights. With just 24 seats (mostly tables for four with a few larger ones), reservations are recommended; in fact, book your seats the first day because demand is typically quite high for the experience. A wine steward is on hand to explain the choices for the evening. The ambience is as lovely as the dining (and sipping). Erlebnis is located all the way aft and features walls of windows around three sides. There is no additional fee to dine at Erlebnis.
For light fare, the lounge features pastries in the morning and salad, soup and sandwiches at lunch. There's also afternoon tea. Otherwise, cookies are set out for snacks. This is the least appealing option for dining, as the food choices are less than inspired, and the lounge, which has cocktail-height tables, isn't all that comfortable for eating.
AmaReina is the first ship in the fleet to debut an all-new concept eatery. The River Bistro, located just off the ship's atrium, is a small, four-table restaurant that's open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. when the dining room isn't. The menu is small, consisting of the soup of the day, sandwiches and wraps, Caesar salad, and Austrian sacher cake for dessert. There's no additional charge to dine there.
The ship occasionally features special themed meals. On the Danube River portion, it's a Bavarian-style lunch, complete with pretzels, German beer and waiters dressed in traditional costume. There's also an ice cream social up on the sun deck on one afternoon when the ship is cruising.
Coffee, tea and water are available around the clock. There's no room service, although special requests (particularly if you're under the weather) will be accommodated.