My wife and I recently sailed on the Spirit, our first cruise with NCL. We're looking into booking another cruise shortly with NCL again and had a question about the restaurants on all the NCL ships...
From what I can tell the 'setup' of all eating arrangements on NCL's ships is the same... one 24-hour buffet, one smaller cafe, one main dining room, and 9 or so specialty pay resaurants. I presume this is a trademark of the Freestyle cruising experience. Am I correct?
My wife and I actually ate only at the buffets, not the main restaurant or any of the surcharge ones... is the food considerably better at those vs that at the buffet?
Are reservations required at the main restaurant? Is there a surcharge?
Last question is one for those who have gone on Spirit and another NCL ship... how did the food compare between the two ships?
It depends on what ship you are thinking of. As Chuck said they do very if you are comparing the older with the newer ones. The Sun, Star, Dawn, Jewel and Pearl plus the shortly to be introduced Gem, are similar and still a little different:
Most have: 2 main dining rooms, no charge, no reservations
the buffet wihich you are familiar with.
A diner type that will be open 24 hours (again depending on the ship) it is normally called Blue Lagoon. No reservations
A Tex Mex, which may require reservations but not too far in advance: no charge
An Italian restaurant: maybe free, maybe a sur charge: reservation required
A Steak house: reservations required; sur charge
The famous Le Bistro: reservations required: sur charge
Japanesse Habachi table: sur charge, reservations required (book early, seating is very limited)
Plus there will be a few others; normally there are only 3 or 4 max which have sur charges which will run from about $12.50 to $20 per person plus a tip if you are so inclined but not necessary. We always do leave $5 or $10.00.
You can see, there are several choices, so go and enjoy. BTW what ship are you considering? NMnita 8)
The only ship that I know in the NCL fleet is the Majesty. It is the worst food that I have had on 17 cruises. We ate in the two main dining rooms for all dinners. I heard (I didn't experience this personally) that the steak house on the Majesty isn't good. Our food was terrible on the Majesty.
I think, in general, you'll find the buffet restaurants on most ships to be at the lower end of the quality range for the ship. The main restaurants will generally be a substantial step up and the specialty restaurants are usually quite good. Between the buffet and the main restaurants you'll find many of the other eateries on the ship. Personally, I've never been impressed with the buffets. They are fine for a quick bite when your pressed for time, but thats about it. The meusli and omelets with lox on Holland America are notable exceptions.
You may have noticed I used a lot of terms like generally and usually. This represents my experience across several ships on several different cruise lines. Every ship is different. This is just my, very general, rule of thumb.
Your actual mileage may vary.
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