Food on River Voyager is self-serve, with the exception of dinner in the main restaurant. Fare is light and geared to the American palate. Waiter-served meals consist of several courses with portion sizes that fill you but don't leave you feeling stuffed. Passengers with food allergies or dietary restrictions are asked to tell a waiter on the first day of sailing in addition to letting the cruise line know ahead of time. Menu items are coded with numbers that correspond to potential allergens (nuts, milk, gluten, shellfish, sulfites) as a warning to those with special dining needs.
Bourbon Street Bistro (Explorer Deck, forward): Bourbon Street Bistro is the main restaurant, where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily. An early-riser breakfast is provided for those who wake early; regular breakfast is buffet-only with a chef available to whip up something special at a small omelet station. Items might include crepes with Nutella and bananas, premade eggs, bacon, porridge, breads and jams, meats and cheeses, and potatoes.
Lunch is a buffet and waiter-service combo. You can serve yourself at a salad station that delivers an impressive variety of lettuce and lots of trimmings, including tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, carrots, peppers and croutons, or pick up some light nibbles like finger sandwiches. Waiters then come to your table to take entree and dessert orders. Soups included French onion and cold cucumber with dill and Dutch mustard. Entrees consisted of tuna melts, hamburgers, fish and other options, with plenty of cakes, tortes and puddings for dessert.
Dinner is entirely served by waiters, with the exception of a selection of cheeses found by the buffet. Sample fare includes a creamy codfish gratin amuse-bouche, marinated mango cocktail appetizer, fried jumbo shrimp, orange sherbet, roasted beef tenderloin and pistachio ice cream. There are usually a couple of choices for each course. The number of courses varies from night to night, with additional treats like an amuse-bouche and intermediate course showing up for special meals, such as the captain's welcome dinner.
There's one dinner seating for all passengers, and they can sit wherever they please on a first-come, first-served basis. The small number of passengers onboard, combined with self-seating and the option to dine in The Cotton Club, meant we never encountered a wait for a table. We didn't see any two-tops, so prepare to get cozy with others who might not be traveling in your party. Waiters are assigned to the same sections daily, so if there's a particular server you like, be sure to sit in the same general area during each visit.
Decor is cream with dark woods and accents of blue, orange and gray. Tables are adorned with white linens, and a fresh flower appears in a vase on each one. The vibe is quiet and classy, making for leisurely meals (although you can expect to be shooed to the Blue Note Lounge if you linger too long after dinner).
In terms of service, we found it needed work in some areas. All dining staff were friendly and willing to smile and say hello, but some seemed confused by simple requests or said they were impossible to accommodate, while others happily bent over backward to oblige.
The Cotton Club (Navigator Deck, aft): Light breakfast, lunch and dinner -- all self-serve from a buffet -- are offered daily in The Cotton Club, the ship's secondary lounge and alternative sun deck. Items are generally an abridged selection of the ones provided in the Bourbon Street Bistro. There's also a chef who grills on the deck just outside The Cotton Club. Meat-lovers won't want to miss choices like chicken, beef and turkey plus veggie kebabs. Even vegetarians can find something, as grilled tofu is provided.
The room, done up in white and lime green, is bright and showcases panoramic views through glass windows.
Reservations are recommended for lunch and dinner; passengers can sign up at a podium next to the reception desk on Explorer Deck.
We found service in The Cotton Club to be one of the ship's few low points. While opening hours for lunch and dinner are clearly posted, no closing times are made clear. On two separate occasions, members of the wait staff began cleaning up the buffet offerings only an hour after the meals began. The first time, when we asked if they could wait until we were able to take a peek at the dessert, we were met with a reply of "hurry up." Then, when we asked for a couple of plates (which had already been put away) so we could sample the cake, plates were produced with a huff from the waiter. On a third occasion, the venue was supposed to be open for grab-and-go breakfast until 10:30 a.m. When we went at 10:15, there was no evidence food had ever been there at all.
Room Service: Room service is available for a fee between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. Passengers can dial 9 to reach reception and choose from a small in-room menu that includes soup, salad, sandwiches, nachos, pasta, chicken fingers, cheese and fruit plates and chocolate cake. Menu items range in price from 3.50 euros for French onion soup to 10.50 euros for lasagna. Orders take about 30 minutes to prepare and deliver.
Snacks: We were told there would be an ice cream bar and complimentary snacks available in The Cotton Club, but we never saw them when we went. Small baskets of bar snacks were provided in the Blue Note Lounge at night upon request.
Launched: March 2016