There are a total of 13 places to get food on Norwegian Spirit, including seven free restaurants and six for fee. The quality of the food on Norwegian Spirit is excellent, and that's across the board -- from The Garden Café buffet to the newly-installed Onda by Scarpetta, an upmarket and pricey Italian.
We were especially impressed by the quality of food in the main dining room -- Windows and its smaller sibling, Taste, a new, post-refurb addition.
While Norwegian Spirit may not have the vast choice of restaurants you'll find on the line's bigger ships, there's plenty of cuisines to choose from, including German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and a steakhouse.
You can also order food from room service on Norwegian Spirit, which is free only for a pretty basic Continental breakfast.
Also notable, dishes are tailored to the destinations visited, such as roasted rack of lamb and grilled barramundi and the line makes an effort to source locally where possible, and that includes a superb selection of Australian and New Zealand wines.
Please give a brief description of the restaurant. You don't need to have a laundry list of the items available, but please point out the highlights. If you have a tip or recommendation for a certain restaurant, go ahead and put that in. NB: Do not use specific opening and closing times as these can change. Instead, you can ID what meals they are open for; open early or open late; lunch only; and so on.
Windows (Deck 6): The ship has two main dining rooms, Windows and the newly installed Taste (both share menus; Taste is just smaller). Of the two, Windows is the more elegant, located aft with dramatic Palladian-style windows overlooking the ship's wake. With its classic ocean liner decor -- think dark woods and padded chairs -- the space is stunning, flooded with light from the double-deck widows. Beg, borrow or steal to nab a table by the windows. Windows is open for breakfast, lunch (sea days only) and dinner.
Taste (Deck 6): Taste seats 304 passengers and has a more modern look as it was installed in the 2020 refit. It does not have aft views like the larger dining room, which is twice the size, but does have windows along the side. Taste has a more intimate feel and is popular with passengers who enjoy a quieter dining experience. Though the menu is the same in both venues, having two separate main dining rooms, each with distinct decor, provides cruisers with a sense of variety, particularly on longer itineraries. Taste is open for dinner only.
Breakfast is served 7 to 9 a.m. (or 8 to 10 a.m. on sea days) and includes coffee and juice, fresh fruit, cereals, yogurt, pancakes, eggs a few ways, bacon, sausages and hash browns.
Lunch is available on sea days from noon to 1:30 p.m. with a changing daily menu that includes dishes such as shrimp penne pasta, roasted rosemary chicken leg, fish 'n' chips or a tuna sandwich. Burgers, soup and salad are also available. Desserts range from peanut butter cup souffle or bread and butter pudding to ice cream, or sliced fruit.
Dinner is a multicourse affair served from 5:30 to 10 p.m. daily and has enough mainstay and rotating options to please any palate. On the menu's left page are starters such as French onion soup and escargot cassoulet and classic entrees such as grilled New York strip steak and beef lasagne, which are available every evening. On the right you will find a daily changing menu of entrees featuring dishes such as linguine with clams, Thai green chicken curry and mushroom stroganoff. Coffee and tea are served, but specialty coffees and drinks like wine or soda are additional.
The Garden Café and the outdoor section of it The Great Outdoors are the ship's casual buffet area, situated at the aft of the ship, overlooking Spice H2O. There are plenty of spots to grab a table, both indoor and out, and we never found the crowding you can experience on many contemporary cruise ships. Expect a good selection of Aussie favorites when the ship is based Down Under, including Vegemite, Weet Bix, Milo, Four’n Twenty sausage rolls and Fountain mint sauce.
Silk: The Asian restaurant formerly known as Shogun has an extensive menu of Chinese and pan-Asian food such as Singapore noodles, stir-fried beef and vegetables, and sweet-and-sour pork. Dishes lack the requisite chilli hit, but you can always ask your waiter to spice it up. We especially enjoyed the combination fried rice packed with prawns, roast pork and vegetables.
Dinner is available from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. but be prepared for waits of up to 50 minutes if you dine at peak times. Cruisers are given a buzzer so they can sit in a nearby bar.
The Local: Another new addition, this popular pub-style eatery serves burgers and hot dogs, chicken pot pie and fish 'n' chips.
Bier Garten Grill: This counter next to the Bier Garten bar serves hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries and the like on sea days, with plenty of seating available under a large sun sail. If the weather is good, this is a great spot to enjoy a drink and something to eat while you listen to whichever performer or band is playing on the pool deck.
Room Service: The only complimentary room service offered on Norwegian Spirit is a basic continental breakfast, which includes choices such as croissants, muffins, juice, and coffee or tea.
Onda by Scarpetta, $$$$: The newly installed contemporary Italian is only the fourth of the fleet, and testament to this small ship that the other three are on the line's latest vessels (Encore, Prima and Viva). Built where the former kids' club was and overlooking the new Spice H2O area, it has a contemporary, elegant feel and lovely views. Be warned though: it's not cheap, and probably a once-in-a-cruise type of meal, maybe on a date night -- mains start at $22 for a basic pasta dish and rise to $39 for a beef filet (or you could always opt for a $15 margherita pizza). Starters are delicious (yellow tail crudo, beef carpaccio and our favorite, short ribs), and start at $14. It's a small menu, but it means each dish is cooked to perfection. You may also want to leave room for some pretty spectacular desserts -- a slab of melt-in-your-mouth pistachio cheesecake with a scoop of mango gelato.
Le Bistro, $$$$: This high-end French bistro serves a selection of classic French food including steak tartare, escargots and scallops. For main you are looking at very expensive (starting at $42) cuts of meat including beef tenderloin, veal chop and braised shank and lamb chop, as well as cheaper chicken dishes. Desserts are delicious: try the Poire Belle, you won't be disappointed: poached pear with ice cream and warm chocolate sauce.
Cagney's Steak House, $$$$: A passenger favorite (you'll find it across the NCL fleet), Cagney's never disappoints and is great for a mid-week cruise treat. The line's signature steakhouse serves Angus beef, as well as a variety of fish, chicken and lamb dishes, plus veggie and potato sides. Try the oysters Rockefeller or Tiger shrimp trio to start, followed by lobster bisque or French onion soup. For the main event, you can choose from any number of cuts (ribeye, filet mignon, Portherhouse; we opted for the New York strip sirloin and it was outstanding. You can also opt for surf & turf and get half a lobster with your filet; or opt for Australian lamb chops. Desserts are an additional $8 each and range from truffle mashed potatoes to sauteed garlic mushroom and steamed broccoli.
Sides such as truffle French fries, onion rings, creamed corn and roasted mushrooms are addictive. For dessert, there is an Oreo cheesecake or a decadent chocolate fudge brownie Open for dinner only. Passengers in suites can also dine at Cagney's for breakfast and lunch, but it's an entirely different menu.
Teppanyaki, $$$: Chefs perform a stir-fry meal before your eyes, flipping knives in the air, juggling eggs and turning onion rings into a volcano, in the 10-person teppanyaki room, which doubled in size post-refurb and can now accommodate to groups of 10. Many teppanyaki experiences are more about the show than the food but the one on Norwegian Spirit is different. Steak is a premium cut and cooked to order, prawns are large and everything is perfectly seasoned.
Lunch is available from noon to 1:30 p.m. on sea days. For dinner, make reservations for seatings at 5, 6:30, 8 or 9:30 p.m.
Tip: With only 20 covers per session and no advance reservations available online, you should book this dining experience on embarkation day or risk missing out, especially on shorter cruises.
Sushi, $$: This is a counter top within Silk which charges a la carte for sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki and rolls.
Atrium Cafe, $: Serving Starbucks coffee and a selection of sweet treats.
It's hard to beat a good steak, and it's hard to beat Cagney's, which is consistently outstanding -- and good value compared to land-based equivalents.
Onda by Scarpetta is lovely and inventive, particularly the antipasti, and the setting and ambience is lovely.
We're a sucker for a Teppanyaki restaurant and even if you're not keen on the theatricality, the food here is outstanding and good value for what you get.
Vegetarian and gluten-free options are always available in the main dining rooms and identified on the dinner menu. If you have specific dietary needs, discuss them with the maitre d' before your first meal, or ask specific questions about the items you select.
In the specialty restaurants, dishes are not marked vegetarian or gluten-free so diners with dietary requirements need to ask their waiter.
* May require additional fees