Norwegian Viva Dining

4.5 / 5.0
85 reviews
Vietnamese Pho at Food Republic aboard Norwegian Viva (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Hudson's aboard Norwegian Viva may be one of the nicest dining rooms at sea (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Indulge Food Hall on Deck 8 aft is entirely free - and entirely awesome (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Chicken Tikka in the Indulge Food Hall. Note the iPad-style ordering screens. (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
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Editor Rating
Very Good
Aaron Saunders
Senior Editor, News and Features

Dining aboard Norwegian Viva is full of variety. While there are plenty of specialty restaurants that carry an extra charge, the complimentary dining venues offer enough variety and quality to satisfy most, with everything from standard cruise staples like burgers and pizza to more exotic fare from around the globe.

Plan on spending some money on the ship's specialty dining venues, however: you're missing out on the overall experience by just sticking to the complimentary ones.

Curiously, Norwegian Viva's for-fee dining venues are only open for dinner; none were open for lunch on our inaugural sailing.

Free Restaurants on Norwegian Viva

Surfside Café & Grill (Deck 17): Norwegian Viva's traditional top-deck buffet is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but suffers from its ridiculously-small size for a ship of this scale. While overflow seating is available in Food Republic during breakfast and lunch hours, diners may simply find it easier to grab a bite to eat in one of Norwegian Viva's other dining venues. Competitive, busy, and loud, we avoided Surfside as much as possible.

Hudson's and The Commodore Club (Decks 7 and 6): Norwegian Viva's two primary main dining rooms offer a menu of selections that rotate daily, in contrast to when sister-ship Norwegian Prima debuted with a one-menu-only concept. Food here is better than average, and Hudson's is open for breakfast and dinner most days, with lunch served on sea days. The Commodore Club is only open for dinner, and isn't nearly as impressive as Hudson's, the latter of which boasts some of the most amazing, 270-degree views we've seen in a dining room on any cruise ship, thanks to banks of floor-to-ceiling windows and fresh, upscale design and decor.

Indulge Food Hall (Deck 8): Tucked away at the very aft end of Deck 8, Indulge Food Hall is a real winner -- and a nice alternative -- to the insanely-busy Surfside Café and Grill. Replete with indoor and outdoor seating, Indulge features an iPad-driven ordering system filled to the brim with specialties from around the world, including delights culled from Asia and the Americas. Menus change between lunch and dinner, while breakfast is an uncomplicated eggs-bacon-sausage affair that is one of the ship's hidden gems.

The Local Bar and Grill (Deck 8): The Local is the place to go for sit-down, menu-driven casual eats. Service is fast and snappy, and is more akin to a local New York diner, with a menu of savory favorites (try the Reuben Sandwich -- trust us!). While food is available in The Local Bar on the starboard side of Deck 8, the actual dining room itself -- and its associated outdoor seating -- are tucked away on the port side of the ship. With a lack of signage, it's hard to find -- and that's important, as it’s the go-to spot for late-night eats, with hours that run from 5:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.

Observation Lounge (Deck 17): Not a dining venue per se, but the Observation Lounge offers up lighter fare for breakfast and lunch and acts as another pseudo overflow seating area for the Surfside Café & Grill.

What Restaurants Cost Extra on Norwegian Viva?

Cagney's (Deck 6), $$-$$$: Norwegian's long-running steakhouse offers up timeless classics aboard Norwegian Viva, with a menu that doesn't seek to reinvent the wheel -- and that's okay. Superb cuts of Angus beef reign supreme here, supported by a cast of favorites that include crab cakes and Norwegian's legendary truffle fries.

Food Republic (Deck 17), $-$$: Cuisine from a wide array of Asian cultures is on the menu in this top-deck restaurant situated across from the casual Surfside Café & Grill buffet on Deck 17. Pick from a menu of sushi, sashimi and dishes like Vietnamese Pho, Japanese ramen, dumplings, spicy Korean fried chicken, or fusion dishes like Tuna Poke nachos. One downside: it's weird that this Asian hotspot lacks any Asian beers.

Hasuki Teppanyaki (Deck 7), $$: The only one of Norwegian Viva's specialty restaurants to come with a fixed price (the rest are all a'la carte), Hasuki Teppanyaki offers up Japanese hibachi-style meals (and entertainment), paired with an attractive setting that's among the more spacious we've seen on a ship. If you've done Teppanyaki before, don't expect to see any new surprises here, but the quality of food makes a trip here well worth it.

Le Bistro (Deck 7), $$-$$$$: Norwegian Cruise Line's longest-running specialty restaurant, Le Bistro is a celebration of classic French-inspired cuisine. Escartgots a'la Bourguignon, Steak Tartare, Coq au Vin, and Homard Thermidor are all on the menu here, and can be paired with a. glass (or a bottle) of Veuve Cliquot if price is not an object, or any one of a selection of fine wines by the glass or bottle (the bottle selection is, in some cases, a very good value). The only downside: our visit was marred by a nearly hour-long wait to enter the restaurant, despite having a confirmed reservation.

Los Lobos (Deck 8), $-$$: Norwegian Viva's place to be for Mexican eats, Los Lobos proved to be a popular spot for a more casual, yet still instantly special, meal. Pro tip: ask for a seat on the extensive outdoor promenade seating area; it tends to be a little quieter than the main indoor portion of the restaurant.

Nama Sushi (Deck 7), $-$$: Fresh sushi and sashimi are the name of the game at Nama Sushi, an attractive and intimate specialty restaurant tucked along the starboard side of Deck 7 aft. Go here for all things Japanese, though we wish Norwegian would make this eatery open for lunch on sea days.

Onda by Scarpetta (Deck 8), $$-$$$: Arguably one of Norwegian Viva's best specialty restaurants, Onda by Scarpetta continues to offer superb Italian cuisine and some of the best pizzas at sea. Upscale rather than casual, this is the place to be for a group dinner or intimate couple's evening. Bring your appetites; the food here is exceptional -- and filling.

Palomar (Deck 17), $$-$$$: Norwegian's first foray into Mediterranean cuisine. A menu choked full of Greek and Italian specialties awaits diners, with items like grilled octopus, Greek salad, Livraki and Festoni. It's still more American than authentically Mediterranean, but the quality is there for those who are looking for something different from the standard cruise ship dining fare.

Cruise Critic Restarant Picks on Norwegian Viva

It's tough to beat Onda by Scarpetta for sheer quality and ambiance: the Italian dishes here are sublime, and the pizza is some of the best we've ever had at sea. Paired with the venue's extensive wine menu, this is one meal that is well worth the cost of admission.

On the free side of things, we were endlessly impressed with the cuisine at Indulge Food Hall on Deck 8 aft. Dishes here are light bites that run the gamut from Indonesian to Indian to American-style BBQ, and are perfect for sharing -- and savoring. Dishes change between lunch and dinner, while breakfast is a small but effective American-style breakfast buffet.

Dietary Restrictions on Norwegian Viva

Dietary restrictions don't pose an issue on Norwegian Viva, with servers asking passengers for allergies and intolerances right off the bat before orders are even placed.

A good selection of vegetarian options are available, though gluten-free dishes could be harder to come by.

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