Main meals are served in the Compass Rose dining room (located in between decks 1 and 2), but passengers may also opt for a light breakfast and lunch daily in Arthur's (Deck 3) or make reservations for a steak house dinner, also in Arthur's but only on select evenings. Suite passengers can choose to dine in their cabins.
Breakfast is usually 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., unless there's an early-morning tour. Options include a full buffet, as well as a menu of items like omelets, cinnamon raisin French toast, a variety of pancakes, waffles and more. A smaller selection of breakfast items also is served in Arthur's between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Lunch service typically runs from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. (dependent on tour times) in the Compass Rose. Lunch is buffet style and includes one sandwich and pasta option, as well as one or two other entree choices. Don't see anything you want? Just let a waiter know, and the chef will whip up an alternative for you in a few minutes. Regional specialties are often highlighted at lunch, like mussels near Veere in the Netherlands and fish and Pommes Frites (never call them French Fries!) in Belgium. A lighter lunch, featuring just one dish, is served in Arthur's for a half-hour time slot depending on tour times. Lunch items might include pizza, shrimp curry, stir-fry, hot dogs and more.
Open seating dinner in Compass Rose begins at 6 p.m. and runs until 8 p.m., but they'll never kick you out if you run over. Tables are set for two, four and six. Menus are large with several starter options that include soups and salads, and at least three entree choices: meat, fish and vegetarian. Also available every night are grilled chicken breast, strip steak and salmon. A featured dessert is available every night in addition to a selection of ice cream and sorbet.
Arthur's Steak House is available four to five evenings per nine-day sailing, depending on demand. The menu includes a soup and appetizer, as well as your choice of rib-eye steak, strip steak, salmon and a vegetarian option. A dessert selection, plus ice cream and sorbet, round out the evening. Unfortunately, the general consensus onboard our sailing was that the steakhouse was a waste of time, with poor service and often inadequately cooked meals.
A small selection of snacks also is available for delivery to the Panorama Lounge or your cabin between 10 a.m. and midnight. Options include warm pretzels and ice cream, among others. Hors d'oeuvres are served at 5:30 during cocktail hour in the Panorama Lounge.
All drinks, including beer, wine, champagne, spirits and soda, are included in the cruise fare and are available in the lounge throughout the day and served at lunch and dinner.
Service on our sailing, the first "real" sailing of Inspire, was hit or miss much of the time, especially in Arthur's. Though only two waiters were actually new to the job (according to the hotel director, anyway), at least half had difficulty understanding any orders that were different from what was listed on the menu. Want a baked potato instead of rice with your entree? You might get the baked potato. You might get both. You might get mashed potatoes or nothing at all. Despite the difficulties, all the waiters tried their best and were friendly, and most showed improvement from day one. Two maitre d's were always on hand to fix any misunderstandings.
Many Arthur's diners also complained about their steaks, often having to send them back to be further cooked. Even steak eaters who like their meat rare commented on how rare the food was served.
One other aspect of dining room service that bothered many passengers (at least the male passengers) was the waiters' lack of a women-first mentality. Women's orders were not taken first, nor were women served first.