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Foodies - Opinions Wanted


Host Jazzbeau
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Every discussion about food seems to include a disclaimer that "food is subjective." OK. Said it. Now let's get over it.

 

Some people clearly don't care too much about the food on a cruise -- many even state this in their posts. They will likely be happy on any cruise line. But some of us care a great deal. I'm not saying that the food is the ONLY factor, but it's a very high priority for me.

 

My assumption is that among foodies, the subjective aspect will be less of a problem. I know what top restaurants are like -- I don't always like each dish, but I expect the chef to keep up with trends, use top quality ingredients, pay attention to flavor, and aim high. That's what I would like to have on my cruises.

 

I have only sailed on one river cruise so far: AMAcello Rhine last year. The food was very good. Better than a mass market ocean cruise. But nowhere near as good as on our Crystal Serenity cruise this spring.

 

So, which are the best river cruise lines for Food?

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Looking forward to following this discussion. Food is very important to us, and Uniworld's focus in their literature on getting fresh local ingredients and cooking meals that mirrored the culture we were cruising in was one of the reasons we chose them for our first river cruise. I'll report back at the end of September :)

 

For reference, when we're in Prague we intend to dine in a Michelin star restaurant. With the exchange rate, we almost can't afford not to!

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I am far from an expert on river cruise dining since I have only been on one river cruise. That was on Uniworld River Beatrice last September. I have done many other cruises on Cunard, Princess, Celebrity, Holland America, Windstar, Regent Seven Seas, and my very favorite ships for food, Sea Dream Yacht Club. We have been on Sea Dream 9 times. They only have a max of 112 passengers and if you don't like what's being offered they will prepare what you want if they have it in the kitchen. Their food is superb! In general I think the food on small ships like SD, Regent, and Windstar is better than the mass market lines.

 

But I was quite impressed with the food on Uniworld. It was in my opinion, better than the mass market lines, but not as good as Sea Dream. Uniworld tries to theme their food and wine to the areas in which you are sailing. So, for example when you are sailing through Hungary, if you don't like Hungarian food and wine, you may not be happy with some meals. There are other options but they are the main focus. We are very adventurous diners so we were fine. We had a few more problems with some of the wines. Many of the wines of the Danube regions are on the sweet side, which do not please our palate. The waiters were very nice to try to find us something that we liked even if was not the chosen wine of the day.

 

The quality was good, the presentation was very nice, but the dinner choices were sometimes limited if you were looking for good healthy choices. I really enjoyed the breakfast and lunch buffets more than the sit down dinners.

 

So yes food is subjective!

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I think one thing that must be considered is the number of people being served (fed) at almost the smae time on a river/ocean cruise - a much different situation than at a land restaurant where numbers can be controlied so the dinner(s) receive a much more personalized experience. (One reason for the increase in smaller, specialized restaurants on large ocean cruises.)

 

On a recent land trip to Ireland we dined at a one star Michelin restaurant (Chapter One) in Dublin. Service was top notch and food fantastic - but there were only two of us! - not a room full of hungry dinners!! We are very spoiled foodies - our daughter, in management, has worked at top NYC restaurants and her husband is a professional chef. While we've been badly spolied we also understand how complex a good dinner really is - and cooking for hundreds makes life even more difficult for any chef!

 

All that being said, we've found the food on Viking to be very good - probably as good as it could possibly be given the circumstances.

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We are foodies and both food and wine are important to us.

 

We have only been on two lines, 7 river cruises.

 

We found AMA to have very good food, with nice wines as well. Much better than Avalon's food and wine with superior staff and service. And Erlebnis has been exceptional for us every time.

 

We love the cheese board offered at lunch and dinner, a nice touch.

 

There was a difference boat to boat; AmaCerto and AmaDante were substantially better than AmaBella.

 

We rarely ocean cruise these days but Oceania is our choice for food quality and variety.

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First of all, I have many allergies to foods.That being said,after 11 river cruises and ALL the major lines.Prior to last Scenic cruise,I WOULD have said AMA.

Scenic had more hi end items(lobster,steak,prime rib,etc)with fresher and more varied ingredients.Loved the river café,where they would serve many sandwiches,bakery items,specialty coffees.Then theres ROOM SERVICE, never on one where THAT was inc...with a private butler,no less.Loved the special Italian and chef s dinner also.

That ALL being said, STILL not as hi end as Oceania,Seabourn,SeaDream,Regent,but STILL darn good.

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We were on 1 Scenic river cruise in 2012

the food is better at Mc D's

 

Glad to see in the above post they have improved

But you get 1 chance to make a good impression & Scenic failed

 

We also asked for sodium free or low sodium foods ..was assured by HO this would not be a problem never once did any person come talk to us about the menus

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At the risk of being banned from this discussion, I will admit that I am not a foodie. Yes I do enjoy good food and wine but after cooking for more years than I care to admit to, I am just grateful when someone else plans and prepares a meal. So an entire week or so on a river boat is a wonderful thing for me. I guess it all goes back to the "subjective" thing......or what is important to each of us. I am happy that AMA has been favorably mentioned since we will be on the Sonata later this year.

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The food on the river boats (we use Vantage) is excellent. At the evening meal if you don't like any of the three items you may order a steak or Salmon fish. The presentation of the food is outstanding - so much so that on every river cruise I photograph every meal. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. I put together a "Foodie" book on every cruise. As a retired news photographer I shoot everything. Great to look back on. On one cruise we were sitting with a group when they started serving and the folks at the table watched me and though I was crazy...two days later they were doing the same thing. Willard

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At the risk of being banned from this discussion, I will admit that I am not a foodie. Yes I do enjoy good food and wine but after cooking for more years than I care to admit to, I am just grateful when someone else plans and prepares a meal. So an entire week or so on a river boat is a wonderful thing for me. I guess it all goes back to the "subjective" thing......or what is important to each of us. I am happy that AMA has been favorably mentioned since we will be on the Sonata later this year.

 

I'm with you Purdue Mom! After spending years shopping, planning, cooking and cleaning up after 7 it's such a pleasure to have someone else do it all, serve me my food AND change it, if it's not to my liking, and then I just get up and take my wine to the lounge while they clean up!!!! :D

 

And I also agree with Willard. We just came back from our 6th Vantage cruise and while not a pure vegetarian, I do prefer a plant based diet. I have to say that Vantage has one of the best vegetarian chefs on the planet!! :)

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We appreciate good food, well-prepared and presented. We were certainly pleased with our meals onboard AmaLyra in May. At a couple of the meals, we each ordered the entrée we preferred; but, since the vegetarian option looked interesting, we had our waiter bring us one of those to share. No problem. We also thought the complimentary wines served were quite good.

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The one over riding complaint I had with regard to the food on my recent Tauck cruise was that regional dishes that were meant to be spicy or strongly seasoned were somewhat bland.

 

Whether or not this was to cater for an American palate is debateable, but the difference was noticeable when dining ashore.

 

However, the overall quality of the food on-board was very good.

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Avalon's food not for the foodie but with the money you save you can eat in the ports without feeling you are wasting money. Avalon food equivalent to Royal Caribbean food. Good but no spices to appeal to all palette. The bread was purchased in port each day so that was awesome.

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We were on 1 Scenic river cruise in 2012

the food is better at Mc D's

 

Glad to see in the above post they have improved

But you get 1 chance to make a good impression & Scenic failed

 

We also asked for sodium free or low sodium foods ..was assured by HO this would not be a problem never once did any person come talk to us about the menus

 

I had read your comments and was reluctant,but was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed Scenic food.Even booked another one.Loved the perks,too.Didnt think it was 5star as they say,but 4 to 4 half.

Re.lo sodium. To made it simple I ASKED at dinner EVERY time/waiter.On buffet,just chose what I new ok.Even reminded them for room service and butler always mentioned it after FIRST time.

Hope other readers will give them a try and think they ll be pleasantly surprised ,most luxury on riverboat SO FAR.:)

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Avalon's food not for the foodie but with the money you save you can eat in the ports without feeling you are wasting money. Avalon food equivalent to Royal Caribbean food. Good but no spices to appeal to all palette. The bread was purchased in port each day so that was awesome.

 

Agree with your evaluation of Avalon's food. On par with RCI. Average quality. Wine was jug quality last Avalon cruise. I was very disappointed in the quality of bread as well; much the same day after day and little variety.

 

On AMA, many of the breads were baked fresh each day and were just fabulous! And wine was quite good.

Edited by caviargal
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Interesting thread for me. I really dislike bland food that is meant to be properly seasoned. 'Older' Americans supposedly like bland food and some companies cater to their taste. On another thread I read that one cruise line removes interesting food choices from the menu when Tauck charters the ship.

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Avalon's food not for the foodie but with the money you save you can eat in the ports without feeling you are wasting money. Avalon food equivalent to Royal Caribbean food. Good but no spices to appeal to all palette. The bread was purchased in port each day so that was awesome.

 

When the kitchen staff came out for a bow on the last night of our AMA cruise, we were surprised that there were two bakers on board: one for pastry and one for bread. Needless to say it was always fresh and always very good.

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Have now traveled on most of the major river lines--best food for us was AMA and Uniworld. Least liked Vantage dinners--found them to be bland and quite uninteresting. It was a Christmas market cruise , Nurnberg to Cologne--only real German food was the wonderful cookies. We really appreciate good food having owned our own restaurant. Food is a difficult item to catorize, but we all have opinions. Have been cooking for family for 48 years and yes someone else doing the cooking and serving is nice, but bland Americanized food isn't. Just MHO.

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Agree with your evaluation of Avalon's food. On par with RCI. Average quality. Wine was jug quality last Avalon cruise. I was very disappointed in the quality of bread as well; much the same day after day and little variety.

 

On AMA, many of the breads were baked fresh each day and were just fabulous! And wine was quite good.

 

i'm happy to report that the wine on Avalon is better than jug quality now. They must have read your last review.:D: At four o'clock each day they offered "cake and coffee" and the cake was amazing when we went the one time, real pastries and real German Plum cake or Black Forest cake. It was a Rhine cruise, and they did offer authentic German fare. Sauerbraten, red cabbage, dumplings. Since my Grandma was German, I know how to make sauerbraten (I have to say that the rest of the folks at the table had never heard of it) and the sauerbraten was like I said "mild" not sauer. But I'm guessing that most guests wouldn't care for it if it tasted like it was supposed to taste. On the Seine cruise everything was French, french wines, french cheese, french inspired entrees.

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We don't consider ourselves foodies, just people who love to eat new, interesting and well-prepared food. We thought the food aboard the Amaprima was excellent. On most evenings we ordered the Chef's Recommendation and were never disappointed.

Not sure if this is meaningful to others but, they made special note of the fact that AMA is the only river cruise line that has been inducted into Confrerie De La Chaine Des Rotisseurs, the world's oldest gastronomic society. It is supposedly one of the most prestigious culinary organizations and invitation is only extended to those posessing world-class culinary acumen. (Taken from AMA printed flyer.) All of this means nothing at all to me, I just know we thought the food was fantastic! :D

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