Food onboard Safari Voyager is relatively simple, fresh (with most ingredients sourced locally) and tasty. Because the boat is based in Central America year-round, you'll find many dishes and ingredients with a Latin bent -- entrees might have a chili-based sauce, fruits and vegetables are local varieties and tortillas are a common side at lunch. (We also found the chef onboard our sailing was a little heavy handed with onion and scallion.)
Cruisers with dietary restrictions can usually be accommodated. On our sailing, the pastry chef always had a gluten-free desert available at lunch and dinner, plus made gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for the lounge, and once, when a sauce was made with peanuts, the chef made a separate batch for some cruisers with nut allergies. When a replacement is not available, the servers will try to let those with special needs know when a dish is off-limits for them (not all servers were as good at this as others).
All meals, with the exception of the early morning breakfast and cocktail hour hors d'oeuvres are served in the Deck 1 restaurant. Seating is open; you'll find two-, four, six- and eight-top tables. The chef introduces the evening meal choices each morning at the end of breakfast and cruisers pre-order their choice. You're not locked into your choice, but the count gives the chef a better idea of how much of any one dish to prepare.
* May require additional fees
Breakfast typically starts at 7:30 a.m., though a continental-style early riser layout is offered in the Lounge beginning at 6:30. At the main buffet breakfast, you'll find four selections, which typically include an egg dish (scrambled, fried or an omelet, for example), a starch (like rice and beans, or grilled potatoes) and bacon or sausage. The fourth dish might be buttermilk pancakes, refried beans or sauteed vegetables. Also available at the buffet are fresh fruit, steel-cut oatmeal and breads with butter, cream cheese and jams on the side. From the wait staff, you can order eggs any style or cereal (on our sailing the only cereal available was Raisin Bran).
Lunch begins at 12:30 p.m. and is a buffet selection of three entrees. Each day is typically themed. One day it might be Mediterranean with grilled chicken, falafel, hummus and stuffed tomatoes on offer, while the next is a taco bar featuring shredded beef, tilapia and a mushroom and tofu mash. A mixed salad is always available, as is a soup of the day. A favorite lunch for many was the Southern Comfort buffet with barbecue pulled pork, mac 'n cheese, green beans, cornbread and three-bean chili. On our last day, a full day at sea, the crew served a brunch at 10:30 with prosciutto eggs Benedict, grilled cheese sandwiches, grilled potatoes, bacon, smoked salmon chowder and a guanabana smoothie.
Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. Meals consist of a soup (always vegetarian; our favorites were a tomato basil and a butternut squash) and three choices of entrees comprising a meat, seafood and vegetarian dish. You can order half choices of two entrees if you'd like to try more than one option, or you're free to order seconds if you wish. Freshly baked bread is always on the table (gluten-free is available on request). Your server will alert you to which wines are suggested with entrees, and the wine is free flowing. On our evening transit through the Panama Canal, the sit-down dinner was replaced by a buffet on the third deck at 5 p.m., giving everyone enough time to eat and get out on deck before the ship entered the first lock.
A freshly baked dessert is available at lunch and dinner, as are a selection of ice creams and sorbets.
If you need a snack during the day, you'll usually find a plate of cookies in the Lounge in the afternoon. Hors d'oeuvres -- usually vegetarian -- are served during the evening cocktail starting around 5:30 p.m.