Norwegian Cruise Lines have been extremely innovative in their dining facilities over the past ten years. After all, they were the first line to use the phrase “FreeStyle Dining”. When first launched, the program limited itself to an assigned area in the main dining room. This allowed passengers to dine whenever they wished between 17:30 and 22:00, thus making the whole eating experience a lot more flexible.
Dress codes were relaxed from the formal evenings of the past, although the management still frowned upon inappropriate dress, such as shorts and vest type tops.
FreeStyle Dining quickly became a ‘buzzword’ in the cruise industry and forced other cruise lines to take notice and follow Norwegians lead.
After this Norwegian upgraded their dining options with an array of specialty restaurants. The entire fleet has at least six alternative specialty restaurants in each of their ships including the Japanese hibachi-style restaurant “Teppanyaki and the “Cagney’s Steakhouse” both of which are firm favourites with their regular and new passengers.
In 2014 Norwegian made it more affordable for all passengers to experience these restaurants with the introduction of a prepaid specialty dining option known as the Ultimate Dining Package.
THE NORWEGIAN NEXT PROGRAM
The corporation recently announced to the media, their Norwegian NEXT program. Much to the delight of their loyal passengers the menus will be revamped and improvements made in all the dining areas.
Norwegian NEXT began earlier this month, and promises to present more regional focused menus as well as a larger and updated version of their most popular dishes. The menus will also have helpful tips and recommendations from the ship’s chefs on what to order as well as good wine pairings for each dish. For total ‘foodies ‘and gourmets, the full culinary history of what is being served will be provided as well.
Contemporary dishes with an exceptional variety are now available on the menu. Appetizers and entrees such as the Tuna Crudo, Beef short ribs with Cajun shrimp, Atlantic scallops seared with fennel puree are just a few examples. For seafood lovers, there’s good news as more seafood dishes have been added including an increase in sushi and crab onboard.
Nothing is forgotten, not even desserts, Norwegian Cruise Line has decided to offer a special dessert event on every ship. The “Chocoholic Night”, which will be held randomly during the cruise, will allow passengers to sample over 7 delectable chocolate desserts. Everything from an enormous chocolate volcano to a pot de crème made with Nutella or even white chocolate strawberry mousse.
Some of the restaurants such as O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill, which is located on the ships Getaway, Breakaway, Epic and Jewel, will be offering specialty dish nights as well. A few of the best meals from the restaurants will be free of an excess charge to encourage more passengers to sample these delights.
Besides all these progressions, their trademark FreeStyle Dining remains intact. However, passengers will now have the ability to book restaurants up to 90 days in advance and can request a table for up to 12 people. Dining times are in specific slots on the half hour from 17:30 to 20:30.
Norwegian Cruise Line has truly pulled out all the stops to make their menu systems and dining facilities as desirable as possible with this program. The new dining menus and enhancement concepts have begun on most ships. They will be available system wide for the entire fleet by early 2015.
Written by Veronica Shine