I’m about halfway through my debut cruise, and I must say, so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the food. I’ve heard many things about cruise food being mediocre, especially on mainstream ships such as Norwegian Dawn, so I honestly wasn’t expecting much.
And while a few things have been lackluster – cold side dishes in Moderno, the Brazilian steakhouse; slightly overcooked fish in Aqua, one of the main dining rooms; a flavorless lemon mousse in the Garden Café buffet– for the most part, our meals have ranged from good to exceptional.
Everything has been fresh — far fresher than you would imagine possible on a floating hotel. Salads are crisp and plentiful, eggs are cooked well, meat is flavorful and in most cases, tender. It’s also been exciting to see so many international options such as fixings for a full English breakfast including baked beans and grilled tomatoes and Caribbean-inspired dishes like dumplings, rice and beans and jerk pork in the buffet. And while I wouldn’t qualify the menus as hugely creative, they certainly offer a lot of variety, so there’s never really an opportunity to become bored with what’s available.
At Moderno Churrascaria — an all-you-can-eat steakhouse and the ship’s new import from Norwegian Epic (it was part of the recent refurb) — I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of food I was presented with (10 meats including beef, lamb, chicken and sausage, a full salad bar and four side dishes). But I thoroughly enjoyed well-seasoned, perfectly cooked sliced lamb chop, garlicky chicken drumsticks and a coconut flan that I’m still daydreaming about. And while I haven’t seen this restaurant occupied by many people at one time, it’s a pleasant place to dine: It overlooks the ship’s grand atrium, from where the sound of live piano music often floats up to serenade diners.
I’ve even had hot, crisp white truffle fries at Cagney’s, the ship’s for-fee steakhouse, to which I’ve already returned for another helping. Surprisingly, another standout was a phenomenally juicy fee-free burger at Bimini, the poolside grill.
Another observation: My husband (and traveling companion) is also a first-time cruiser and has been thrilled with how many dining options we have. He thought he would be eating the same few things every day, but has yet to eat the same entrée twice in a row. And we’ve only eaten in a couple of the for-fee restaurants (Dawn has seven, including Moderno, for which we paid $20 per person).
As for the other five restaurants, we would love to try the French fare at Le Bistro (which offers escargot every night), and the menu at the Italian restaurant La Cucina looks tempting, but after our night at Moderno they would bring our dining charges to more than $100.
Having had such a surprisingly good experience thus far, I can’t help but wonder how the food on other cruise lines compares. But for now, I guess I’ll just have to continue the search for more goodies on this cruise. Actually, I think it’s just about time for dinner.
Follow Shayne on her first cruise — get her first impressions of Norwegian Dawn and her take on a stormy night at sea.
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