AmaWaterways is the only major river cruise line to be part of the Chaine Des Rotisseurs, a culinary society, so we expected the food to be better than average. Indeed, it was superb. All meals are open seating within specified meal times (quite generous, allowing for the schedules of all types of passengers, including those who skipped tours and lazed around onboard). Breakfast generally is served from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Most tables were sized for groups of four or more (just a few two-tops), and a handful of booths were always quickly occupied.
Menus typically reflect the region in which the ship is traveling. In our case, on a Danube cruise from Budapest to Vilshofen, items included Hungarian goulash, Bavarian sausages and Viennese schnitzel, along with comfort foods like steak, salmon, chicken and salad.
Breakfast consisted of buffet service with a station for freshly prepared omelets and other egg dishes; it was substantial. There was plenty of healthy fare, such as yogurt and fresh fruit, as well as European-style breakfast options like cold cuts and cheese. Each morning, a menu also featured a handful of daily specials. Think Eggs Benedict and cinnamon pancakes.
Lunch -- which includes free-flowing wine, beer and soda -- consists of menu options and a buffet. Salads are plentiful, and usually there are several choices of soups, regional entrees and desserts. Burgers, fries and other American staples are also available. Dinner is the most formal meal in the main dining room, offering several choices of starters, salads and soups, entrees and desserts, and, of course, plenty of wine. Special needs, from vegetarian to low salt, were pleasantly accommodated (though it helps to give the kitchen advance notice). Always-available choices include steak, chicken and fish.
Other dining options: Erlebnis is a Chef's Table-style eatery with an almost-open kitchen that allows you to watch the chefs work. The set menu (with two choices for the entree), starts with an amuse bouche, then features four courses. The menu is repeated most nights. With just 24 seats (mostly tables for four with a few larger ones), reservations are recommended; in fact, book your seats the first day because demand is typically quite high for the experience. A wine steward is on hand to explain the choices for the evening. The ambience is as lovely as the dining (and sipping); Erlebnis is located all the way aft and features walls of windows around three sides. There is no additional fee to dine at Erlebnis.
The ship occasionally features special themed meals. On our Danube River cruise, it was a Bavarian-style lunch, complete with pretzels, German beer and waiters dressed in traditional costume.
For light fare, the lounge features pastries in the morning and salad, soup and sandwiches at lunch. There's also afternoon tea. Otherwise, cookies are set out for snacks. This was the least appealing option for dining, as the food choices were less than inspired, and the lounge, which has cocktail-height tables, wasn't all that comfortable of a place to dine.
Coffee, tea and water are available around the clock. There is no room service, although special requests (particularly if you're under the weather) will be accommodated.