All onboard dining, plus wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, is included in the fare. The main dining room is situated forward on the middle deck and is an uncluttered, contemporary room with rectangular and round tables seating six, 10 and 12. All mealtimes are operated on a single sitting, free seating basis that encourages people to mix with fellow passengers and creates a convivial atmosphere. There are no tables for two, and couples that want to dine alone can eat in the Aquavit Terrace upstairs.
Main Dining Room (Middle Deck): Breakfast in the restaurant is typically served from 7 a.m. until 9:30 a.m., depending on the itinerary, with lunch from 12:30 p.m. and dinner from 7 p.m. Vegetarian choices are always available, however passengers requiring special diets such as low-salt, diabetic or low-cholesterol are advised to contact Viking at least one month prior to the sailing and advise the maitre d' on arrival.
The breakfast buffet features a huge choice of cold and cooked dishes, plus an omelet station with egg dishes cooked to order. Some days feature novel additions such as prunes wrapped in bacon or smorgasbord-style smoked salmon plates. Passengers can also order from a served menu that includes pancakes, French toast, oatmeal and eggs Benedict. And for those who want to get the day off to a celebratory start, sparkling wine is always available at breakfast.
Lunch opens with a choice of items from the buffet, which always includes soup, salads and a live pasta station, plus changing daily dishes such as stuffed eggs and salmon caviar or a salami platter with mixed vegetables. Entrees and desserts are served at the table and typical fare includes barbecued baby back ribs served with seasoned curly fries and slaw, roast turkey medallions with red wine risotto or smoked salmon quesadilla with onion, cucumber and tomato relish. To follow expect temptations such as cinnamon-crusted baked apple in caramel sauce or dark chocolate mousse with a vanilla bean sauce.
The three-course evening meal starts with a choice of four appetizers, such as tuna carpaccio, truffle-scented chicken cassoulet, roasted tomato soup with basil foam or arugula, cherry tomato and pine nut salad. Soup is always featured and can be ordered to create an extra course. Typical entrees are roasted lamb rack and herb gravy, caramelized sea scallops or vegetable quiche served with saffron sauce. Vegetarian dishes are clearly marked. Desserts might include hazelnut parfait or strawberry spongecake, with the choice of a cheese platter instead of, or in addition to, a sweet dessert. There is an "always available" menu of Caesar salad, roasted chicken breast, sauteed salmon fillet and seared prime ribeye steak. Coffee and tea is served at the table. Courses are served promptly, and wait staff will happily oblige if diners want to order several appetizers or have entrees served with extra sides or minus certain ingredients, if feasible. They are also attentive and keep wineglasses topped up. Traditionalists would probably prefer to see women served first to add an extra touch of finesse.
On every cruise there is a five-course captain's dinner with an amuse-bouche, appetizer such as trilogy of salmon (smoked salmon lasagne, blackened salmon fillet and salmon tartare), followed by porcini ravioli with a white truffle sauce, an entree such as a "surf and turf" combination of grilled fillet of beef and Canadian rock lobster with chocolate fondant and raspberry coulis to finish. Vegetarian alternatives and the "always available" menu can also be ordered on these nights. Tables are always nicely laid with crisp white napkins, fresh flowers and bread in attractive olivewood bowls.
Guests are also welcome to take food from the dining room to eat in their cabins or on the sun deck.
There is no corkage fee and, in complete contrast to ocean ships, passengers are positively encouraged to bring wine and other drinks onboard to enjoy with their meals or in their cabin. Viking also offers a Silver Spirits beverage package, which covers unlimited premium wines, beers, espresso drinks, juices and mineral water for the entire duration of your cruise, plus cocktails and a bottle of sparkling wine. That said, it is not really promoted onboard and not many passengers seem to take it up, probably due to the unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks served with meals and the open policy regarding alcohol being brought onboard.
Aquavit Terrace (Upper Deck): Days start with cafe breakfast of coffee, juice and pastries served from 6 a.m. until 11 a.m. During the opening hours of the restaurant, the Aquavit Terrace serves a lighter, healthy lunchtime choice of soup, sandwiches, salads and fruit. Passengers who want a more relaxed option in the evening can head to the Aquavit Terrace where a scaled down menu of salads, soup, entrees such as burgers (cooked on a barbecue at the front of the terrace in warm weather) and chicken sandwiches is available from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
In sunny weather this area can be fully opened to provide an al fresco deck, partially shaded with a retractable canopy. At other times the section closest to the lounge is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass, enabling it to be enjoyed in all weathers. On chillier days, blankets are provided for those who want to sit in the fresh air. The prime viewing spot is from the four rocking chairs situated at the front to the terrace.