Open-seating dining takes place in the ship's only restaurant, located aft on the topmost enclosed deck. Breakfast is handled fairly informally over a two-hour period, but it's best to be punctual for lunch and dinner, usually served at 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively. Meals will be mostly familiar to the American palate, but they're nicely punctuated with regional classics like the Austrian specialty, tafelspitz (tender boiled cap of rump with horseradish sauce) and razniji, a Serbian minced meat skewer. Waiters also encourage guests to ask for alternatives if they don't see what they want on the menu.
Early risers can take breakfast in the lounge from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. There you'll find coffee, juices and pastries, along with the posted Quote of the Day: "Forgive to Others when they are Nasty," for example, and "Don't Forget to Have Some Rest." The regular breakfasts include a made-to-order egg station, juice, fruit and artisan bread and pastry bars, as well as a buffet that serves up what passengers have come to expect of just about any cruise: potato croquettes, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, porridge, yogurt, crepes with fruit, waffles, pancakes, cold cuts and cheese.
Lunches, which typically start with a soup or fruit yogurt choice, are a nice mix. There's a self-
serve cold-and-hot buffet, or you can order off the daily menu from your waiter. The buffet has a create-your-own-salad counter, a sandwich station and hot choices, such as pasta carbonara, New Zealand mussels, roasted buffalo chicken wings and Austrian beef goulash. On top of that, there's made-to-order pasta, and a carving station offers selections like honey and mustard-glazed ham or whole roasted turkey with natural gravy. On our cruise, daily specials that could be ordered from the waiter included pork goulash in creamy paprika sauce with root vegetables and bread dumplings, as well as chicken skewers with mixed bell peppers and onions, served on garlic-parboiled rice. Always available were hamburgers, cheeseburgers and hot dogs with fries. Your sweet tooth won't go unaddressed either. The dessert cart offers favorites like rum-soaked sponge cake, served with warm apricot ragout and nut ice cream; creme caramel; plum cake and ice cream.
Dinner is a pure sit-down affair -- no buffet. The four-course meal always includes a vegetarian entree -- mushroom risotto, topped with green asparagus and freshly grated parmesan; leek and onion pie; and breaded eggplant are examples. There are no specifically branded low-salt, low-calorie or low-fat options, however. Dinner starts with an appetizer (roasted duck salad with mango and raspberry vinaigrette, for instance, or sauteed prawns with mashed and crisp potatoes, served on leek julienne with lobster sauce) and continues with a soup, such as Romanian red beet soup or cream of broccoli with gorgonzola croutons. Entrees range from grilled beef tenderloin, wrapped in bacon, and pan-fried tilapia to a grilled, mixed lamb platter.
Again, the desserts don't disappoint. On occasion, there's a themed dinner -- like the Mozart dinner on the night we boarded in Linz, Austria. Waiters gamely donned white wigs and colorful silks, but even more memorable was the "Mozart Kugel" -- frozen chocolate mousse, stuffed with pistachio marzipan and presented on a plate, surrounded by musical notes that were written in chocolate.
There's a fairly extensive wine list, most of it from the region. Bottles are priced from 12 to 24 euros, or premium wine can be ordered by the glass for 3 euros. House wines are complimentary. Beer costs 2 to 3.5 euros, and sodas range from 2 to 2.5 euros. (Editor's note: Rhapsody began using the euro, instead of the U.S. dollar, as its onboard currency in 2008.)
There's no room service, but passengers can get complimentary coffee, tea and juices in the lounge.