Much like their ocean counterparts, one similarity you will easily find between river cruising and their larger seagoing cousins is that for the most part, the quality of dining onboard is of an exceedingly high standard.
Dining is one area where a river cruise brand can really stamp its mark and strive to stand up and be different from their competitors. Each one does things in their own unique way and while each understandably claims to be the best, the truth is that not only will you never go hungry on a river cruise, you will always enjoy cuisine of an exceptional standard.
When it comes to an APT river cruise in Europe, breakfast, lunch and dinner is for the most part served in a single venue at the front of the ship on the lower level (although there are a few alternatives). If seated by the window, you’ll see the waterline practically at arm level which can be an enjoyable sight if the ship is moving slowly or stationary as there’s a chance you may be visited by local ducks or birds enjoying their day on the river.
The main restaurant usually opens to the early risers from 6:30am, however for the really earlybirds, there are often a selection of hot, fresh and tasty breakfast pastries available in the lounge area. Breakfast consists normally of a buffet set-up, with cereals, pastries, breads, fruit, teas and coffees which guests can enjoy to their heart’s content.
An omelette station is also usually in operation, overseen by a crew member taking individual orders where travellers can design their own with ingredients including ham, onion, capsicum, tomato, bacon and cheese, all of which can be mixed together with the egg batter to make a hearty meal.
When taken onboard the ship (such as when sailing or whenever passengers are onboard), guests can opt for a self-serve light option in the main lounge, or visit the main restaurant for a sit-down table service meal. Regardless of the time of day, seats in this venue are always open and tables cannot be reserved, even if your dining party is able to fill an entire table. You’ll all need to arrive at the same time in order to secure a table for yourselves, but this open seating format affords you a good chance to get to know your fellow cruisers.
Dinner time sees the restaurant, generally opening at 7pm, divided into two separate venues, with APT operating one side as Bella Cucina, an Italian themed eatery, and the other as Verde Grill, which serves up seafood. Menus at both restaurants change each evening in line with their respective themes, but there is always a selection of dishes which remain consistent throughout the cruise, so you can either opt for one of the specially created menu items for the evening or go with the tried and true method of sticking to what you like.
Menus are divided up into Entree, Main and Dessert, with each section featuring one item specially prepared for vegetarians. Of course, any particular and specific dining requirements declared to APT in advance will also be easily catered to separately. And no matter how strong your taste for sweets may be, APT has you covered in its delectable dessert range.
It’s important to note that sometimes, the seating time for dinner can vary, served as early as 5:30pm on occasion. This is usually only when the ship is docked in a major town and is offering a night touring option such as an evening theatre or opera performance or just a chance to take a coach ride around a city to see it at its glimmering evening best. Any night tours are usually accompanied by a late night snack when you return to the ship. For example, some Bratwurst sausages await you upon your return to the ship in Vienna, Austria.
Dinner service never feels rushed but is extremely efficient, and it’s likely you will be served by more than one crew member at a time. In addition to a waiter taking and delivering your order for the evening, a sommelier is also doing the rounds keeping your wine glass topped up with your choice of red or white wine for the evening.
Both wines on offer will generally be sourced from the region your ship is sailing, however no real recommendations are provided as to which one will go best with your meal. Soft drinks and other beverages are also catered to by request.
As you progress through your river cruise, you’ll see that the main dining room is the overwhelmingly popular option most of the time, with the alternatives offered to keep all moods satisfied depending on how you feel on any given day. Food is always well prepared, always to your specifications and will surely leave you content as you head back to the lounge for some evening entertainment and drinks.