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When travelers are selecting a river cruise, especially a European river cruise or American river cruise, we’re often asked about our favorite ship dining experiences. That’s always a tough question to answer, since river cruising affords so many culinary delights. While where to dine ashore is best left to a future series of blogs, dining aboard a river ship is a bit easier to narrow down. Of course, it’s all about the food but don’t forget the importance of ambiance as well. At Select Waterways, we have a few clear favorites. Our choice on AmaWaterways is all about the presentation, sweeping river views and the intimate room with only a handful of diners. On American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Queen, the largest vessel ever built for US river cruising, the throwback décor and soaring windows are the star. With Uniworld, it’s solely about the extraordinary food, especially since they are such a gastronomic star in European river cruises. Here then, without further ado, are our Top 3 River Ship Dining Insider Picks:

The Chef’s Table

AmaWaterways (All European Ships) Join a few of your fellow travelers at The Chef’s Table, where the fully visible kitchen becomes part of the entertainment. You’ll have the opportunity to watch the chef prepare a special, multi-course meal right in front of you. The menu here is unique, making this a truly distinct gastronomic experience. Indulge in delectable dishes paired with unlimited fine wines, hand selected just for this dinner. You’ll need reservations but don’t worry—everyone aboard gets their chance. We always try to dine at The Chef’s Table on the last night of our voyage. It ends the cruise on a culinary high note.

J .M. White Dining Room

American Queen Steamboat Company (American Queen) With its ornate fretwork and galleries rising two decks high framed by narrow, Victorian-draped windows, this elegant room is one of our favorites because it feels completely authentic. It’s easy to imagine you’re drifting along the Mississippi with Mark Twain as a charming table companion 125 years ago. Along the way, indulge in Southern favorites like bourbon pecan pie, Cajun shrimp and cheese grits, spicy gumbo, fried green tomatoes and, of course, a refreshing mint julep.

All restaurants

Uniworld River Cruises (All European Ships) Uniworld boasts the only Zagat-rated restaurants on the rivers, and it shows. When dining onboard, you’ll be treated to world-class cuisine made from fresh ingredients, locally sourced from the destinations you visit. For example, a dinner menu on the Catherine, enroute to Avignon, features delicacies such as cod loin in bouillabaisse jus, barigoule artichoke, broad beans and saffron potatoes; roasted rack of lamb in mustard herb crust, olive and sweet garlic sauce, eggplant mash, tomato provençale and boulangère potatoes; iced Montélimar nougat parfait with red berry sauce; and French lemon tart with homemade melon ice cream. Delicious!

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