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Old January 26th, 2008, 01:12 PM
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Default Food: NCL vs Carnival

My last cruise was on the Carnival Glory and I'm thinking of going on a cruise again, except on the Norwegian Gem this time on the Mediterranean (Western?) route. I've heard pretty bad reviews on NCL food . . . but, if I thought Carnival Glory's food was fantastic (which many ppl don't think so), will I find NCL Gem's food bad? Which line has better overall food? Thanks!
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Old January 26th, 2008, 02:43 PM
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My opinion is buffet food is all about the same on any line. Everyone complains about the length of the line, the runny eggs, the food temperature yadda yadda...

To compare the main dining room on any Carnival ship to and NCL Ship, Carnival will likely win 9 times out of 10.

However, there are the speciality restaurants and you will find several on the Gem. They are very nice, and we have never had any issues with them on three of our NCL Cruises. They are an additional charge though, but we've always felt they were worth the price we paid, and most of them are less expensive than the one speciality restaurant you will find on Carnival's newer ships. BUT I found the Harry's on the Liberty produced the best meal I have ever had at sea. I loved it. We generally budget about $125-$150 extra for these restaurants on a 7 day cruise for the two of us total

There is a much greater variety of eating venues on NCL. So if you like the idea of trying a different place for dinner every night you'll probably like NCL.

The one thing you probably won't like is the fact that many of the high demand restaurants like Teppanyaki can be difficult to get reservations, so if you have a suite, utilize the concierge, if not, try calling early in the morning or as soon as you get on the ship. Everyone raved about La Cucina the Italian Restaurant on the Pearl which was free but you had to have reservations, well we never got in there, but we'll try it on our Transatlantic in November on the jade, we'll have more time to try more places.

Bottom line, if you don't want to pay extra for the speciality restaurants and just stick to the dining room, Carnival has better food. Otherwise you may want to give NCL a shot.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 09:42 AM
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I just got back from a 7-day on the Norwegian Sun. I thought the food on NCL was much better, and I just ate in the dining room rather than the specialty restaurants. I used to sail on Carnival, and the food there was good as well, but I thought NCL was better.

I did run into a couple from France who were complaining about the food, but I figured being Europeans they might have had a more sophisticated palate.

Just my twocents.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 06:27 PM
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I will disagree with Beenie Weenie only because food is far to subjective to claim 9 out of 10 would say Carnival is better. The rest I do pretty much agree with. Most of the specialty dining rooms are very good and not all have extra charges. The secret to reservations for the more popular but smaller dining rooms is, as she said, decide to eat there early in your cruise. Later in the week they get much busier and often are either filled or you have little time choices. Of course we ran into the same thing on Princess this past week. We were able to make reservation for the entire week the first day. Even then, the one restaurant we really wanted to try had only 9pm slots available until about the 3rd or 4th night.

Nita
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Old January 29th, 2008, 04:23 PM
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Just back from 9 day cruise with NCL. In general the food was very poor. Almost to the point of spoiling the holiday. "Freestyle dining" is an excuse for you to stand in a line to get a seat. They would not allow a party of 2 people to book a table so we had to take our chances. the "speciality restaurants" were better, although at a charge of up to $40 per go. Wine prices were extortionate, with very ordinary wines costing 35 dollars minimum. To add insult to injury, they then stick on an additional 15% for good measure.

Been on Carnival and quite simply you could not even measure the quality. carnival was in a different league.

One final point - Even in the speciality restaurants the portions were miserly. I am amazed that the American travellers put up with the small portions (they being used to a full plate). we ate with American friends on the trip and they ended up ordering 2 main courses!!

cruise was saved by
a. Good room sizes
b. Friendly staff
c. New friends we met on the cruise.
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Old January 29th, 2008, 06:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlebeach
Just back from 9 day cruise with NCL. In general the food was very poor. Almost to the point of spoiling the holiday. "Freestyle dining" is an excuse for you to stand in a line to get a seat. They would not allow a party of 2 people to book a table so we had to take our chances. the "speciality restaurants" were better, although at a charge of up to $40 per go. Wine prices were extortionate, with very ordinary wines costing 35 dollars minimum. To add insult to injury, they then stick on an additional 15% for good measure.

Been on Carnival and quite simply you could not even measure the quality. carnival was in a different league.

One final point - Even in the speciality restaurants the portions were miserly. I am amazed that the American travellers put up with the small portions (they being used to a full plate). we ate with American friends on the trip and they ended up ordering 2 main courses!!

cruise was saved by
a. Good room sizes
b. Friendly staff
c. New friends we met on the cruise.
I have to disagree with you on a couple of things: 15% gratuity is added to all drinks and wine on all lines, not just NCL. I was just on NCL a few months ago, there are many kinds of wine less than $35.00, not many under $30 I agree. This was pretty much the same on Princess just last week. They did have a few bottles for $25 to $30. In fact drinks were less expensive, not by much, but were less.

As for food servings, is it better to order 2 entrees or waste food? Actually sometimes I want to try 2 things and am glad the servings are not all that huge. After oredering an appitizer, salad, and maybe soup why do we all think we need a 12 oz steak for instance? I can't comment on the quality because food is too subjective. What ship were you on btw and how long did you have to wait? We were on a sold out Star cruise and never waited more than a minute. Yes, we sometimes (twice I think) agreed to share a table with one other couple. On Princess, you will wait up to an hour if you do not share and the table sizes are all for 6 to 8 people.

Nita
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Old January 30th, 2008, 07:36 PM
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I've been on three Carnival Cruises before I tried NCL and found the food on NCL to be better.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 06:03 AM
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Hi Nita

We did share a table a couple of times and became friends with the other couples which was nice - but we waited up to 30 minutes for a seat. I live in the UK and I would say that the standard restaurants (ie no extra payments) the food was equivalent to school dinners which when I was at school was poor!

In particular on the last night we "dined" in the Mamas kitchen adn the food was simply awful. the strange thing about the food was the Buffet (which I do not like eating in personally -great for young kids though) the food was often excellent and I could not understand why they could not serve up such a good quality in the main eateries. At lunch time we did eat at the buffet and they had superb spiced foods etc, but in the evening, at the restaurants it was nowhere to be seen!

John
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Old February 4th, 2008, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlebeach
Hi Nita

We did share a table a couple of times and became friends with the other couples which was nice - but we waited up to 30 minutes for a seat. I live in the UK and I would say that the standard restaurants (ie no extra payments) the food was equivalent to school dinners which when I was at school was poor!

In particular on the last night we "dined" in the Mamas kitchen adn the food was simply awful. the strange thing about the food was the Buffet (which I do not like eating in personally -great for young kids though) the food was often excellent and I could not understand why they could not serve up such a good quality in the main eateries. At lunch time we did eat at the buffet and they had superb spiced foods etc, but in the evening, at the restaurants it was nowhere to be seen!

John
obviously food is a very subjective subject. I don't claim to do very much really well, but cooking I do, I have a pretty good reputation for being a gourmet or blue ribbon cook and rarely go out for dinner because I prefer creating good meals at home. That being said, I certainly would never put NCLs food in the catagory of school dining food and I don't think the buffet is outstanding. As for Mama's kitchen we really enjoyed it on the Jewel, again I have read many reviews from people who loveed Mamas and from those who did not enjoy it.

This is the reason we should always remember what you are saying or I am saying is a matter of opinion. Many would say food in GB is about as bland as it comes, others love it. Again, a matter of opinion.

Nita :o
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Old February 14th, 2008, 12:48 AM
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NCL Star on the Mexican Riviera over Christmas 2007. Food no better than average in any of the regular dining venues. Premium/Pay restaurants were very good, but at > $100 for four was a bit much.

We were on Carnival Conquest to the Carribean and found the food, atmosphere, facilities, everything, far nicer and more enjoyable than NCL.
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Old February 17th, 2008, 10:54 AM
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It is true that everyone has a different opinion about the food. I just returned from the Sun yesterday and I would give the foodie award to Carnival. While some of the meals on NCL were quite good, it was very inconsistent. The specialty restaurants on the Sun can't compare to those on Carnival. We ate in the Steakhouse - the food and service was very mediocre. The waitress did not even introduce herself. She had zero personality. The last night we ate at the Teppanyaki grill - much better service and the quality was much better (not great). However, they seem to want to get you out in 1 hour, making the grill available for the next reservation. They only have one table (2 cooks) and only hold a total of 12 people. We were in at 5:30 and out at 6:30. My experiences in the specialty restaurants on Carnival were/are far superior to that on NCL. NCL did have more of a variety in terms of different foods available. In fact, the Sun has free ice cream which was very good (especially the strawberry).
I liked the shows on the Sun - the first show, "The Producers" was fantastic. The singers far superior to any I've seen on any other ships. The other 2 shows were ok, but in my opinion they go overboard on ballroom/ballet type dancing (but I'm sure others love this!).

If anyone has any specific questions please don't hesitate to ask.
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Old February 20th, 2008, 08:26 PM
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There is no comparison, Carnival is so much better. I just got back from a cruise on Norwegian and the food was bland, the portions was small and the choice was very limited. They only served Prime rib 1 night and it was PAPER thin and they only served New York steak one night and it also was paper thin. On seafood night, they served a piece of lobster over pasta and it was very tough. The choice of appetisers were terrible!!!! Carnival will win every time!
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Old February 20th, 2008, 10:44 PM
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on the Star though we ate in specialty dining rooms 3 of the 8 nights we did have prime rib twice in the main dining rooms plus the last night there was a steak ( I don't remember what they called it) it was very much like London Broil: no London Broil isn't the greatest steak, but fixed right and this was it has as much flavor or maybe more than many steaks. One night they served New York and one other night Beef Wellington. Also any night you can request steak, salmon or chicken breast. I am not sure how many more choices one could want. They offered beef, seafood, poultry, and one other entree each night plus a pasta dish and a vegetarian dish. I will say Princess had better food and NCl does serve small quanities, but choice wise I am not certain what more we could want. If 6 choices are not enough something is wrong. The appitizers do leave a lot to be desired, but the soups make up for this plus there are usually 2 or 3 salad choices compared to only one on Princess.
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Old February 21st, 2008, 06:00 AM
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Just got off the Dawn. In OUR opinion, the dining room food was terrible. Lukewarm and no taste. The buffet food was just plain cold. The speciality restaurants were good, but for an additional price. We are not picky eaters by any means, but were not satisified with NCL's food at all. Last year on Carnival was great, a night and day difference.
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 05:57 PM
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I just got back from a cruise on the NCL Jewel and I do have to say that I prefered the food on Carnival (Dining rooms only- I didn't care for the buffet food on Carnival), but absolutely LOVED the food in buffetts on NCL FAR BETTER than Carnival. I heard lots of complaints about the buffet food on NCL, but we truly enjoyed 99% of the food at the Garden Cafe.....I was prepared to hate the buffet after reading so many terrible things about it, but I actually loved it....I didn't eat alot of breads or starches (potatoes, pasta pizza etc) because I'm diabetic, but the fresh fruits and salads were outstanding, as well as the meat dishes I tried.....We ate 3 times in the dinning room for dinner and just gave up and ate on the buffett the rest of the time.....
BTW-the coffee stations are out of this world!!!!!!!!!!!! and free too!
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Old March 1st, 2008, 01:21 AM
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My husband and i cruised on the jewel we enjoyed the cruise very much so we ate at the Buffet, the main Dinning room the alternate dinning room and 3 specialty restaurants we thought that all the food was good of course the formal dinner was better than the Buffet but it is a Buffet how good can it get I think if you are looking for something to complain about you will find it my suggestion is if you don't like something order something else and be happy and focus on enjoying yourselves a cruise is so much more than just the food


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Old March 5th, 2008, 12:56 PM
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I have sailed on the Norwegian Jewel twice and Norwegian's Pride of Hawaii. I have to honestly say the food is not the highlight. Cruise food tends to be very VERY salty. I guess it is heavily preserved. Norwegian does a fantastic breakfast though. I would eat most breakfasts at the buffet and they had everything you can imagine and beautiful fresh fruits, fantastic coffee, cappuccino machines etc. If you chose NCL, make sure you go to one of the restaurants for breakfast. Fantastic service and presentation. I judge the cruiseline solely by cleanliness and flexibility. The idea of Freestyle Cruising completely appeals to me so I will cruise with no other line - mediocre food or not. The ships have always been immaculately clean. Book on their larger, newer ships. I am taking the Mexican Rivera cruise in Jan 2009.

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Old March 6th, 2008, 12:57 AM
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Over the past four years I have cruised with NCL three times (Dawn twice and Spirit once) and four times with Carnival (all on the Glory). IMHO Carnival wins the food debate hands-down.

But the production shows on the NCL ships were better - because of the ballroom/ballet dancing in the shows which I liked (yes Chris M. I am a ballroom dancer, haha)

I also like NCL for their casinos - fantastic BJ rules.
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