The menus offered on Avalon Siem Reap reflect the food people eat in Southeast Asia. It's a wonderful way to learn about food cultures from not only Vietnam and Cambodia, but also Thailand and Myanmar, for example. Passengers tend to be somewhat adventurous with their choices, though we generally found there was a relatively small variety. And by the end of the cruise, some passengers were craving Western options like pizza or hamburgers, which simply aren't on the menu. Still, cuisine, for the most part, is delicious, and portion sizes are just right, so you can try a bit of everything without feeling stuffed. Service is also incredible; staff memorize your names before the end of the first day, empty plates are removed immediately and glasses are never empty for long.
No room service is offered onboard, though if someone is ill, crew will arrange to have food sent to the cabin.
The Dining Room (Deck 2): The Dining Room is the only true dining venue onboard. Located on Deck 2, the restaurant is decorated with huge, intricate carved wooden panels on its walls. It also has two large paintings depicting daily scenes in Southeast Asia. A small, oval buffet sits in the middle and is used for breakfast and lunch. A hot bar, where food is made fresh and kept warm, is located at the front of the restaurant. Seating is around tables of four to six and is open, meaning passengers can sit wherever they want at any meal. (Though by the end of our cruise, passengers seemed to have their "usual" spots and meal companions.) Lunch and dinner are announced with a gong.
An international breakfast is served early in the morning to sync up appropriately with excursions, which generally start around 8:30 a.m. Breakfast is buffet style and features a variety of hot and cold items, such as toast and pastries, fruit, cereal, muesli, cold cuts, oatmeal, salad, soup, baked beans and various juices. Passengers can order made-to-order eggs from a hot station, which also features a rotating selection of items such as pancakes, French toast, fried noodles, breakfast potatoes and grilled tomatoes.
Lunch also is served buffet style. Every day, it includes a small salad bar with a selection of toppings and dressings, a premade sandwich option, a hot and cold soup, cheese and crackers, fresh fruit and bread. The hot bar features a daily made-to-order noodle selection, so you might eat Vietnamese pho one day, and Cambodian glass noodle soup the next. You can also pick from items such as fish, taro root, mashed potatoes, braised pork, curry chicken and steamed river spinach. Hot options rotate daily and are heavy on Asian dishes.
Dinner is the only seated meal of the day, and it's served at 7 p.m. It can be a fairly long affair, often taking from 90 minutes to two hours. The four-course meal begins with an appetizer option, such as Thai salad or shrimp cocktail (though this one isn't at all like the Western version of the cruise ship staple; instead, it's more like a deconstructed salad). Then, comes the soup course, which usually includes one Western choice, like tomato or potato soup, and one Asian choice, such as oxtail. Passengers usually have four options when it comes to main choices, and that might include pad thai, Cambodian fish amok or a Vietnamese seafood pot. For those looking for a break from the Asian menu, "Western Options" are offered daily and include chicken breast, spaghetti and salmon. Desserts include items like mango ice cream topped with pineapple and blue Curacao or a fruit plate.
Vegetarian options as well as more heart healthy choices are marked on the dinner menu, as are the chef's selections. Passengers with dietary restrictions can be accommodated for all meals, but they need to make note of those restrictions when they book their cruise and follow up with the cruise director right away in person. Avalon Siem Reap has gluten-free soy and oyster sauces and can prepare rice breads so Asian dishes can be modified to accommodate gluten-free diets, for example.
Panorama Lounge (Deck 2): For early risers (and there tend to be a number of these on Avalon Siem Reap), the Panorama Lounge offers some pastries, tea, coffee and juices from roughly 5:30 a.m. until breakfast time. During the day, you can visit the lounge to grab treats like cookies, dried fruit and nuts. Appetizers are served here during the daily cocktail hour.