All meals onboard take place in the ship's dedicated dining room, located aft and wrapped on three sides with picture windows. There's a half-dozen round tables for six, and passengers can sit anywhere. People move around, and you get to know virtually everyone on the boat. Generally, the food is hearty fare rather than gourmet dining, but the food is consistently good and plentiful, and meals are well rounded. Meal times vary, depending on the day's activities, but, generally, breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and dinner at 7:30 p.m.
Buffet service is offered at breakfast, lunch and dinner. At breakfast, staples include eggs in some form (fried, scrambled, premade cheese omelets), a sweet option like French toast and a vegetarian option. (Fried cauliflower was popular.)
Don't miss the lavish fresh fruit at every meal. At breakfast, we had different juices each day, from star fruit to papaya.
Lunch and dinner seem interchangeable. The delicious food is mostly Peruvian but sometimes South American, Indian European or Asian. The selection includes a meat choice, commonly chicken but also beef and pork. You also will get a chance to enjoy fresh fish -- everything from the region's ubiquitous catfish to the piranhas we caught on one outing. Meals include a starch, which is almost always rice, though an occasional appearance of potatoes -- mashed, fried or boiled -- along with one night's Italian-themed spaghetti and meatballs rounded out the choices.
Two types of salads are offered each night, and they typically use local vegetables like cucumber, carrot and onion, rather than lettuce. Dressings are made in house, and they're deliciously spicy.
At lunch, dessert is almost always ice cream with fresh fruit. At dinner, ice cream is supplemented with other concoctions, such as rich chocolate cake or caramel flan.
Occasionally, meals take place off the ship, and the crew manage to create marvelous picnics with an astonishing lack of fuss and bother. One early-morning outing included breakfast: an unexpectedly delicious ham and cheese sandwich spread with strawberry preserves instead of mayonnaise, as well as hot coffee, fruit and juices, all presented in charming baskets. The crew also put on a hot lunch one afternoon in a ranger station along the Pacaya River that included a salad bar and broiled chicken. In one cooler, they brought a portable bar that served beer and soda for the usual fee.
You can order wine, beer, soda and spirits from the bar at any time, but be forewarned: They are not bargain priced. Wine selections by the glass were limited (mostly Peruvian), but the by-the-bottle list included South American reds and whites that started at $45 per bottle. Beers ranged from Heineken to Peru's Cusquena. The most popular drink onboard was the Peruvian pisco sour in various forms.