The all-inclusive cruise fare covers all meals and snacks; there is no for-fee dining. All drinks in the two dining rooms and from the bar are also included. What sets Tauck apart from many of its competitors is that there is a huge amount of flexibility with dining; you are not expected to go to lunch or dinner the minute the restaurant opens and alternative lighter bites are available throughout the day and evening. This creates a very relaxed onboard vibe and is great for folks that prefer to dine a little later.
Passengers can expect a wide range of regional and international dishes, plus more simple fare, that are as appetizing as they are varied. There are plenty of options for vegetarians and other dietary requirements can be catered for, although it is best to mention any very specific requests at the time of booking. On the first afternoon of the cruise, the maitre d' is available in Arthur's restaurant and passengers can talk to him about any dietary requirements or food allergies. The food throughout our cruise was excellent and of an extremely high quality.
Outside the restaurants, MS Treasures also offers a "Bite to Eat" menu comprising an assortment of cheese, crackers or bread and nuts; hot dog served with mustard or horseradish sauce; an assortment of fresh fruit; hot pretzels; nachos with guacamole; and ice cream. This is available from 10 a.m. to midnight, ordered through the bartenders and will be served in your desired location, such the lounge, Arthur's, on the sun deck or in your cabin.
Complimentary cookies and snacks are available 24/7 from the tea and coffee station situated in Arthur's. There is a bowl of candy on the reception desk and snacks, generally cookies, are available in the reception, along with a refreshing drink, on return from excursions.
The service was superb throughout and nothing was too much trouble for the ever-smiling and attentive wait staff and bartenders, who quickly remembered names along with food and drink preferences. In addition to being happy to bring seconds or carry something from the buffet during breakfast or lunch, they went the extra mile -- bringing extra nachos when we commented there were not enough to go with the delicious portion of guacamole served one evening during cocktail hour and even bringing aboard special drinks.
Compass Rose Restaurant (Deck 2): The main restaurant is situated on the Ruby Deck and can seat all passengers at one sitting at tables for two, four and six. It is an elegant room with large panoramic windows down each side. The rectangular buffet area is situated at the far end of the dining room and tables are attractively laid out with crisp white table linen and a signature rose.
There is open seating, so passengers can choose where and with whom they want to sit. Due to flexible dining times, it never feels overly busy or crowded.
Breakfast is served from 7 to 9 a.m., buffet-style, with an extensive spread of pastries, breads, fresh fruit, juices, yogurt, cereal, smoked fish, cheese, cold cuts, bacon, sausages and other hot items. Tea and coffee are served to the table. In addition to the buffet, you can always get made-to-order items from the menu, including omelets or eggs as you like them, including specialty dishes such as eggs Benedict. Other options from the menu include pancakes, French toast, Belgian waffles with fresh fruit, hash browns and corned beef hash. Also available are freshly made fruit or vegetable smoothies made to your choice. Lactose-free, hazelnut, coconut, soy or almond milk are available on request.
Lunch, always a buffet bar with a few served items, is generally available between 12:30 to 2 p.m., with timings sometimes changing slightly depending on the excursion schedule. There is always a daily soup, such as creamy tomato topped with crumbled cheese, an extensive salad bar, cold cuts and items such as a smoked salmon and other fish. There is a daily sandwich -- with one that is always vegetarian -- and main dishes such as boiled beef rump with horseradish sauce, creamy spinach and rissole potatoes or pan-friend barramundi fillet with tomato sauce, vegetables and basil gnocchi. Each day the live carving station will feature meat or poultry such as the Indonesian dish bami goreng -- chicken served with egg noodles -- or whole roasted wild duck with orange and port wine sauce, mango ginger chutney, Brussels sprouts and potato croquettes. Typical desserts will include a variety of sweet treats, cheese and ice cream. Sometimes there are special events such as themed Bavarian lunch and an "ice cream social," where the chef will serve ice cream on the sun deck. In fine weather, passengers can also expect a barbecue on the sun deck.
On many river vessels, dinner is at a fixed time and passengers are expected to go into the dining room at the same time for a single sitting meal. However, on MS Treasures the served a la carte dinner is available from 7 to 9 p.m., offering a good window of opportunity for passengers that prefer to dine earlier or later. After the daily briefing, the maitre d' comes into the lounge to "introduce" a suggested white and red wine to accompany dinner, which is a nice personable touch. Of course, passengers are free to order different wines from the wine list if they prefer something else. Many of the wines are regional, from the destinations being visited. Another mark of Tauck's outstanding service is that special drinks will even be brought in if requested. For example, we mentioned our love of rose wine to the maitre d' and he sent out for regional wines that were not on the menu. Another passenger talked about a local beer that he wanted to try and this was also brought onboard.
Thoughtful touches extend to the dinner menu, which is always topped by the informative "gourmet chat" section by the executive chef, where he writes about the history of one of the regional dishes being featured on that night's menu, such as Slovak cream of roasted garlic soup. Additionally, there are regional menu suggestions listing an appetizer, main course and dessert reflecting the region and the chef's suggestions for a well-balanced meal based on other items on the menu.
Typical appetizers might include lobster carpaccio, Austrian salad with egg and bacon or goat cheese brulee. There are always two soups, such as beef broth with pancake strips or pumpkin soup, and one is always vegetarian. The choice of four entrees covers meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian and might typically include mustard-marinated lamb rack, pan-fried local perch fillet, sauteed seasonal mushrooms with blue cheese sauce and dumplings or linguini seafood marinara. To follow, there might be lemon gratin with berries and rum and raisin ice cream or Viennese chocolate cake. For those who want simpler fare, there are the always available items of filet of beef, corn-fed chicken breast or Norwegian salmon served with a choice of sides, including fries, baked potato with sour cream or butter, corn, broccoli and cauliflower. After dinner, a selection of digestifs are brought to each table on a trolley and include regional drinks such as schnapps.
On cruises of seven nights or more, there is a welcome dinner, plus a farewell five-course captain's dinner. On shorter cruises, there is one gala dinner. Each day, the dinner menu is put out on the table in the lobby.
Dinner reservations can be made for groups of seven to 12 people wishing to be seated together. These can be made through the hotel manager, via the reception desk, for the same evening and subsequent nights during the cruise. Note: Same day reservations must be made at least two hours prior to dinner.
Some excursions include meals ashore. For instance, in Vienna we went to a private classical music concert in a palace that included a cocktail reception and four-course meal, with main course options ordered in advance. Again, this reflected Tauck's emphasis on a quality experience and it was of a very high standard.
Panorama Lounge (Deck 3): Passengers can order items from the "Bite to Eat" menu to eat in the lounge. Hot and cold canapes are served during the cocktail hour, generally from 6 to 7 p.m. and nuts are put out on the bar and on the tables.
Arthur's (Deck 3): Named after the line's chairman Arthur Tauck Jr., this is the ship's second, smaller restaurant, which is situated in a lovely spot overlooking the back of the vessel. It is a particularly nice place to have dinner when the ship is sailing and, on warm evenings, the floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows can be opened. A more casual alternative to the Compass Rose, it seats 26, at tables for two to six, and there are five alfresco tables, seating up to four, located on the small aft deck area in front of Arthur's. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and there is open seating.
A light self-serve breakfast is available from 6 to 10 a.m., comprising fresh fruit, cold cuts, yogurt, cereal, boiled eggs and assorted breads and spreads.
At 11 a.m., it converts into an all-day dining venue that remains open until 11 p.m. There is a fixed menu that does not change during the cruise. The options for appetizers include carrot and ginger soup, various salads such as Caesar, shrimp cocktail or an assortment of regional specialties such as farmhouse ham, pate, cheese and gherkins served with bread. Mains include a pasta dish with a ratatouille sauce, Black Angus burger, grilled tofu skewer, club sandwich and sandwich of the day (such as a Reuben), or flatbread with a choice of toppings such as smoked salmon, ham, bacon and a variety of vegetables. To follow, there is cheesecake, fresh fruit or ice cream.
Although the menu is small and doesn't change, passengers are welcome to order items from the "Bite to Eat" menu and have them served in Arthur's. Reflecting Tauck's flexibility and eagerness to please, it is also possible to order items from the Compass Rose menu to eat in Arthur's.
Complimentary tea, coffee and hot chocolate is available 24/7 from the self-serve machine. Cookies are also available along with cute small bags of nuts, goji berries and banana chips, hand packed in cellophane by the staff and tied up with a red ribbon. They're great for taking out on excursions and another example of the many extras that you don't get on the majority of other river cruise lines.
Room Service: There is no dedicated room service, however passengers can order items from the "Bite to Eat" menu available from 10 a.m. to midnight and have it delivered to their cabin.