Top quality food onboard the ship is a huge part of the experience. Upon arrival on the first day you will find tasty light snacks in the lounge consisting of sandwiches, soup and cookies (or brownies) -- all harbingers of the culinary trip you are about to embark upon. Meals and snacks often reflect the foods of the countries the ship sails through. One evening on our cruise we had crispy schnitzel, available either in pork or turkey. Lunch on another day featured sausages and sauerkraut presented by servers in traditional Bavarian outfits and hats.
Evening menus during our cruise also included favorites like prime rib and beef tenderloin. Desserts are creative and delicious. Our only complaint is that there was not a chocolate dessert option every night, but that was easily remedied with cookies and hot cocoa in the lounge (available around the clock), and by the chocolate croissants, doughnuts or chocolate chip pancakes that rotated through the breakfast buffet.
The Main Dining Room (Deck 2): The elegant window-lined dining room serves all three meals each day. Tables and booths seat from four to eight and two semi-private dining rooms on either side of the entrance seat 10 each. All seating is on a first-come-first serve basis. Tables cannot be reserved in advance. On our cruise, groups of six or more wanting to sit together at dinner usually sent a representative to line up just before opening to secure a large table or multiple tables together. There are no tables for two.
Breakfast in the dining room is served for two hours with opening times usually at either 7 or 7:30 a.m., depending on the port schedule. Times are posted in the Daily Cruiser newsletter provided each evening. Breakfast is primarily a buffet plus a menu of standard options like poached eggs, eggs Benedict, waffles, oatmeal and a minute-steak and eggs plate that can be ordered from the waiter. Waiters also serve an array of coffees, teas and juices.
The buffet has a full selection of cereal, fruit, smoked salmon, cheese, sliced meat, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and baked beans, as well as a cook-to-order egg station for omelets and fried eggs. A full table at the end of the dining room is piled with both sweet and savory breads and pastries. A steamer on that table also serves a different specialty each day -- look for chocolate chip pancakes, French toast and occasionally the menu items like poached eggs or waffles.
Lunch in the dining room is also a buffet featuring local specialties and salads and soups. It is served at a set time, as early as 11:30 a.m. and as late as 1:30 p.m., depending upon the port schedule. A carving station changes daily, serving roast beef, pork or local entrees.
Dinner is normally served at 7:00. It is usually a four-course meal, with two or more options to choose from for each course, plus vegetarian salad and main course options. The left side of the menu contains the chef's recommendations for the evening, with all choices presented on the right side of the menu. On one evening of the cruise, the entire menu is an example of AmaWaterway's membership in the La Chaine des Rotisseurs gastronomic society, taking that night's food experience to a higher level of creativity and taste.
Also available each evening are optional choices like grilled salmon or chicken breast and side dishes like mixed vegetables and even fries. Dietary needs and food allergies are addressed on an individual basis.
One red and one white wine from the region the ship is sailing through are paired with each night's menu, but a cabernet sauvignon and a chardonnay are offered as standard alternatives. Beer and wine are served by the ship's bar staff in the dining room. Coffee (including specialty coffees) and tea are available with dessert.
Dinner on the first and final nights include pre-dinner hors d'oeuvres in the lounge with complimentary wine, beer and sparkling wine while guests enjoy toasts and introductions by the captain and crew. One dinner during our Christmas Market cruise was a buffet/menu combination similar to lunch due to a schedule of evening tours.
AmaSerena Lounge (Deck 3): The lounge features a central buffet counter that serves alternatives to meals in the main dining room as well as snacks at various times of the day. Sweeping views of the river are the perfect backdrop for light meals. For an hour before and an hour after breakfast service in the dining room, light breakfast options like breads, pastries and cereals are served on the buffet.
A light lunch is served here concurrently with the main dining room lunch. It consists of soup, salad, breads and one or two of the hot entrees being served in the dining room, plus a dessert and cookies. Iced tea and water are self-serve, while complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks can be ordered from the bar staff.
Iced tea and water plus a rotation of cookies and savory bites are available throughout the day on the buffet counter, while gluten-free snacks have their own spot away from the buffet on the bar itself. Also look for the detox water of the day on the bar near the library entrance, with explanations of the health benefits of each water being served.
Tapas are served upon request all afternoon in the lounge. The menu changes daily and is posted on a chalkboard in front of the bar. Afternoon teatime is also held in the lounge with tea service from the wait staff as well as sweet and savory pastries, cookies and cakes.
Just outside the lounge is one of the most popular spots on the ship -- the self-serve coffee station. One push of a button grinds the beans and brews a selection of coffee drinks, including cappuccino, espresso and regular coffee. The same machine creates a fabulous hot chocolate and has a hot water button for tea. Cups are pre-heated or choose a paper to-go cup. An array of tea choices includes flavored teas and decaf.
The Chef's Table Restaurant (Deck 3): The ship's specialty restaurant is at the back of the ship with a stunning circular glass wall providing views of the river and ports of call. The restaurant has four tables for four and one table of eight. There is no charge for dining at The Chef's table once during each one-week cruise, but reservations are required. The menu is chosen and prepared by the restaurant's chef and usually consists of a duo or trio of small portions served together for each course, and often with an accompanying sorbet. Expect unusual flavor combinations and the finest ingredients. Courses are paired with wines designed to enhance the flavors of both the wine and the food.
The doors of The Chef's Table are open during the day, providing access to a second self-serve coffee machine. This one is a smaller version without the hot chocolate. It is perfect for quicker access to coffee and tea for guests in cabins near the rear of the ship on all floors.