Norwegian Star Dining
Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered the concept of Freestyle dining, with multiple large restaurants and intimate specialty dining venues. Passengers who prefer standard dining, same time every evening, same table and table mates, can notify the maitre d' upon boarding and arrange to do just that.
There are two main dining rooms for traditional-style dining, Aqua, located midship, and Versailles, located aft. Both are lovely, with Versailles looking very much like its namesake (lots of gold and gilt and French Renaissance flourishes), while Aqua is contemporary, calm and cool. There are several tables for two in each restaurant, or you can ask to be seated with others if you prefer.
Besides the main dining room, there are a bevvy of alternative venues.
La Cucina (Italian pasta and pizza) charges a $14.95-per-person cover.
Moderno Churrascaria ($19.95) is a Brazilian-style steakhouse that offers a expansive lineup of skewered meat, including lamb chops, filet mignon, sausage and chicken. There's also the obligatory salad bar featuring international cheeses, dried meats, olives and marinated veggies, alongside the traditional salad ingredients. Sides, including mashed potatoes, fried bananas, and rice and beans, are served with the meat.
Ginza, a free-of-charge restaurant specializing in Asian recipes, has a teppanyaki room that only seats 12 at one time, so reservations early in the trip are critical, and a sushi bar ($15, all you can eat) with a mechanical "train" that delivers a rotating array of morsels.
Le Bistro, NCL's signature French-Mediterranean restaurant ($19.95), specializes in Continental dining with atmosphere being almost as important as the food. Small, dark, intimate, the ambiance is quiet and romantic, making the menu choices taste all that much better. The signature dessert, a fruit and chocolate fondue, is so good that it's a shame to leave it for last.
Cagney's Steakhouse ($29.95) is located at the top of the ship and replicates a typical high-end steak-and-chop house, with white linens and a clubby feel. The Star Bar, located adjacent, is a quiet, dark, intimate place to sit before or after dinner, looking out at the neon palms that line the pool area.
Blue Lagoon (free), the 24-hour dining spot, is wonderful despite its limited menu. It's located on Deck 7 overlooking the atrium. It's a great place to get big, juicy chicken wings at 3 a.m. if you want them, or a bowl of chili, fish and chips, or a big burger and fries, all cooked to order and fresh.
The Bier Garten, located high above the pool deck, serves Bavarian fare (wurst, pretzels) during the afternoon. It's a lovely place to perch when it isn't too windy outside.
The Garden Cafe, the ship's buffet/cafeteria restaurant, is located on the Lido Deck aft, serving the usual breakfast and lunch fare, casual dinners, and light snacks the rest of the day and night. Omelet and waffle stations are available for breakfast, and at lunchtime, the port side becomes a vegetarian station, with fresh salads, steamed vegetables, and a variety of freshly prepared Indian and Middle East dishes.
Room service offers sandwiches, salads, drinks a few hot items and such 24 hours a day, for a $7.95 fee per order; morning coffee and Continental breakfast remain free. Suite and Haven passengers do not pay a room service fee.