While multiple dining venues have been standard on practically every deep-ocean cruise ship to enter service in the past decade, many river cruise ships tend to offer meals only in the ship’s main dining room, with the exception of breakfast pastries and light lunches that can sometimes be found in the main lounge.
The reasoning for this isn’t because river cruise lines want you to dine in a single spot – far from it. Instead, they are limited largely by the size of the ships that can sail the waterways of Europe, where ship height and length are restricted by the numerous locks and low-clearance bridges encountered along nearly every waterway on the continent.
Even so, there’s a growing trend among river cruise lines to try to find the space to offer multiple dining venues and alternate, so-called “specialty” restaurants. Not only does this provide guests with more choice (always a good thing), but also allows river cruise lines to offer a more intimate, premium experience onboard ships that are already renowned for their intimacy and high level of service and cuisine quality.
So who currently offers alternate dining venues on the waterways of Europe? Let’s have a look at a few of the major lines:
|AmaWaterways||Yes||Wine Bar; Chef's Table Restaurant; Al Fresco terrac||AmaBella
|Avalon Waterways||Yes||Panorama Bistro featuring local specialties and lighter fare.||Avalon Panorama
|Scenic Tours||Yes||Portobello's, featuring Italian cuisine and wine pairings.||All|
|Tauck||Yes||The Lido Bar features lighter dining fare.||All|
|Uniworld Boutique River Cruises||Yes||Al Fresco dining is offered on the Sun Deck during both lunch and dinner.||All|
|Viking River Cruises||Yes||Aquavit Terrace offers al fresco dining.||Viking Longships (Viking Odin, Viking Idun, Viking Aegir, Viking Freya, Viking Embla, Viking Njord, and more to come.)|
Already booked on a river cruise aboard a ship without alternate dining venues? Not to worry; meal times are generally flexible and nearly every river cruise line offers open-seating, not to mention some pretty sumptuous food. Chances are, you’ll never miss having the alternate venues.
For those looking to book an upcoming river cruise, though, you certainly can’t go wrong with a ship that features multiple dining options.