If you just don’t feel like dining with others or you want a quicker—and perhaps lighter—meal, the Viking Atla offered options for meals other than the sit-down/more formal meals in The Restaurant.
Two coffee stations are located just outside the two side entrances to The Lounge (on the third level). Oooh, I learned to love those little coffee stations! Each was a mirror of the other so there was never (that I saw at least) a line to enjoy the drinks and snacks available around the clock. From 6 to 11 am you could enjoy a “Cafe Breakfast” by choosing coffee, juice, pastries (and usually fruit, such as apples) from either of these two locations.
Throughout the day you could also find cookies and nifty little biscuits at these locations. And, even better, each had a nifty coffee machine which doled out your choice of coffee, specialty coffee drinks, hot cocoa or hot water for tea (lots of tea choices on the shelf just above the coffee machine). Just grab a mug, put it under the spout and push a button—the latte machiattos were my favorite. You can also use an insulated cup for your drinks and pop on a sip top so you can take your beverage choice with you as you head out on a morning tour (but watch out: really push the tops firmly onto the paper cups or you’ll have leaks).
Not in the mood for a hot drink? There’s also a water spigot and those lovely blue drink glasses just like the ones in your stateroom; fill one up with “live” or “still” water that’s always cool and fresh.
I especially enjoyed popping by a coffee station late in the evening and taking a warm drink up to the top deck as I looked over the river and marveled at the scenery (and pinched myself to prove that I wasn’t dreaming). I also kept crossing my fingers that I wasn’t gaining too much weight…
Aquavit Terrace. Directly upstairs from The Restaurant, the Aquavit Terrace is on the third floor of the ship. You enter the Aquavit Terrace by going past the bar and through the Lounge. The Aquavit Terrace is a light-filled, sunshiny place lined with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and even a glass ceiling (it’s fun to watch the crew members carefully squeegee it clean every morning).
A glass wall of doors opens out to an open front deck. Small tables (seating two to six) are grouped together both inside and outside on the deck. When the weather is fine, the doors are opened and all dining is al fresco. Even when the weather is chilly or wet, though, you have the sense of being outside when you dine in the Aquavit Terrace. If the tables in the terrace are full, you can also select food from the Aquavit Terrace and take it to the Lounge.
I really enjoyed meals at the Aquavit Terrace—there you’re surrounded by the scenery which you traveled so far to see. But, do be prepared with a sunhat if you’re out there for lunch; it can be bright. I talked with several passengers who ate almost every meal on the cruise on the terrace; they said they liked the view, smaller tables and buffet-type options.
Note that mealtimes in both The Restaurant and the Aquavit Terrace varied a bit day by day, depending upon the morning’s tours and activities; look in your “Viking Daily” for the next day’s dining hours.
Breakfast: Think what we call a “continental” breakfast every morning: fruit, juices, cheeses, cold meats and pastries. Coffee, too, of course. That’s what’s served in the Aquavit Terrace from 7 to 10 am. Also included in this buffet breakfast are a choice of dishes cooked to order from The Restaurant down below (there’s a crew-only staircase leading from the terrace directly down to the kitchen).
Lunch and dinner at the Aquavit Terrace vary and are not necessarily the same as what’s served down below in The Restaurant—but sometimes there was a similarity (e.g. chicken down below, chicken up above). The Aquavit Terrace boasts an outdoor grill and Joszef usually manned it, serving up grilled chicken (dark or light?) and burgers.
The only flaw about enjoying lunch at the Aquavit Terrace was that, at least on our cruise, there was only one server delivering drinks (whether the free beer, wine or soft drinks) to the terrace area. That means we sometimes had to wait quite a while to get our beverages. Of course, nothing stops you from walking inside to the Lounge and getting your own drink…but maybe we’re getting a little spoiled by all this service and many folks didn’t seem to think of that.
Snacks were sometimes available in the afternoon in places other than the coffee stations. One day of great cruising found the hotel manager and his helper scooping up ice cream for passengers (Cone or bowl? Chocolate, vanilla or strawberry? What kind of topping?) up on the top deck. Now that is decadent, indeed: licking up sweet strawberry goodness while gazing at castles and walled towns and vineyards stacked up the hillsides in almost vertical rows. On another day, the kitchen crew gave a “how to make apple strudel” demonstration in the Lounge—with plenty of samples.
A final note: At the cruise’s start, the hotel manager (a jovial guy who definitely enjoys the ship’s food) predicted we’d all gain at least six pounds by the end of our stay on the Atla (I heard someone in the audience laughingly mutter that they thought they’d gain that much each day!). I’m happy to report, though, that all that walking in the tours (and up the medieval stone stairways) kept my weight gain to just one pound! No, I don’t know how that happened. Maybe my scale is wrong at home???