The woman at the ticket office looked up at me with pity in her eyes. “Just one?” she said. “My husband had to work,” I lied. Actually, Steve was at home because he did not want to “pay $86 to eat bad food on a boat.”

“How do you know it’s bad if you haven’t tried it?” I asked him before I left.

“I’ll read your review,” he said.

Unfortunately, I am not an ideal food critic, as I have been a vegetarian since grade school. But even I could tell that my first course on the Odyssey DC Dinner Cruise was pretty lame: a hunk of iceberg lettuce, a sprinkling of sun-dried tomatoes and a ramekin of ranch dressing. The couple at the table beside me also were unimpressed, even though their version of the salad included bacon bits.

The second course was no better. My “Greek Zucchini Fritters” contained no discernible zucchini, and the side of tzatziki, perhaps due to a ramekin mix-up in the kitchen, tasted a whole lot like the aforementioned ranch dressing.

I was feeling a little jealous of the passengers with the meat options, which included something called “Oven Baked Atlantic Salmon Fillet.” It looked good, and the passengers at the next table over said that it was. However, we were all a little concerned that the menu writers felt compelled to specify that the fish was baked in an oven, as opposed to, say, pan-fried on the ship’s engine.

While I was picking at my fritters, the ship glided away from the dock near The Wharf. A cover band began playing “Dancing Queen,” causing several older couples to hit the dance floor, while younger folks — meaning, anyone below retirement age — beelined to the outside deck.

Going outside turned out to be a good call, and not just because ABBA makes my ears bleed. The view was just gorgeous: The setting sun had turned the Washington Monument seashell pink and made the Potomac shimmer like a sequined dress. We all took turns taking pictures of each other, and, for the first time that night, I wished Steve was there. “Titanic” nearly ruined it for everyone, but there’s still something wonderful about standing on the prow of a boat, wrapped in the arms of someone who loves you.

I headed back inside to check out the dessert bar, where I, out of journalistic duty, tried a little of everything.

The chocolate cake was delicious, but the other options — red velvet cake, cheesecake and apple crumble — were dry, bricklike and soggy, respectively.

Clearly, the dinner cruise experience is more about the cruise than the dinner. And the cruise part was great. The Odyssey’s dining deck is completely glassed in, offering 360-degree views of the sky and shoreline. Another benefit of the barge-shaped boat is its low dining deck, which makes you feel like a gull flying just above the waterline. Also, every single staff person I interacted with was extremely friendly and nice, as if they had been imported from some other, more southerly place.

If you’re more carnivorous than I am, you might want to splurge on the full-out dinner as opposed to the “prix fixe” Sunday dinner cruise I took ($65 plus fees and tax). For a $108-$128 base price (which doesn’t include cocktails or appetizers), you get more options for each course, and can, for instance, opt for lobster soup instead of the wedge salad. (The full-price dinner cruises tend to be on weekdays and Saturdays.)

Despite not having paid extra for a single alcoholic drink, I left the Odyssey with a warm, contented glow.

“How was it?” Steve asked when I got home.

“It was nice,” I said. “Maybe we should do an Odyssey cruise next month for your 40th birthday.”

“I think I’ll wait for my 60th,” he said.

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