Dining options abound on Norwegian Jade, with cuisine to fit just about any palate: Asian, Italian, French, steak, burgers, pizza, pub grub, salads and everything in between.
Norwegian is known for upcharges, but we didn't find them to be overkill, and there was plenty of variety to be had at the ship's fantastic free venues.
Despite the ship's Freestyle dining concept -- which means you eat dinner where you want, when you want and with whom you want, without set dining times or waiters -- service was friendly and attentive across the board. Although reservations aren't required, they're encouraged, particularly if you plan to eat during peak times.
The staff is happy to accommodate special dietary needs -- gluten-free, vegetarian, low sodium, etc. -- with advance notice. (Gluten-free pasta and bread options are available.)
Alizar (Deck 6 mid): Colorful and casual, Alizar is one of Norwegian Jade's two main dining rooms. It's on the small side, and the primary color scheme is a bit overwhelming, with red and blue as the predominant hues. Colorful artwork adorns the walls. Tables can be rearranged to seat large groups, and tables for two are also available.
Alizar is open for dinner only; the menu consists of appetizers like French onion soup, smoked salmon tartare and shrimp; entrees like grilled salmon with shrimp, sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce, and ricotta and leek cannelloni; and desserts that include warm chocolate volcano cake, citrus cheesecake, ice cream and a spiced poached pear.
Grand Pacific (Deck 6 aft): The second of the ship's two main dining rooms, Grand Pacific can be hard to find at first. Because galley space separates Grand Pacific from the rest of Deck 6, passengers will have to go up to Deck 7 and back down the aft stairs to reach it. Although getting there can be a challenge, the payoff is a 1920s Gatsby vibe and a slightly more upscale atmosphere than you'll find at Alizar, with which Grand Pacific shares a dinner menu.
Grand Pacific is also open daily for breakfast (eggs, bacon, pancakes, waffles, fruit) and on sea days for lunch. The lunch menu might include duck pate, shrimp mojito ceviche, beef sliders and cream of tomato soup for appetizers; lemon-pepper tilapia, Asian sweet and sour pork, crab and fish cakes, rotisserie chicken, and beef lasagna as entrees; and bread pudding, tiramisu and carrot cake for dessert.
Garden Cafe (Deck 12 mid): Although its separate island-like stations make the traffic flow somewhat chaotic, Garden Cafe boasts some of the most variety we've ever seen at a cruise ship buffet. Stations change throughout the day, but they include things like pizza, a carvery, made-to-order pasta and omelets, Asian, soups, salads, hot entrees, a bakery area, fruit and desserts.
At breakfast, diners will find scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, pancakes, waffles, cereal, yogurt and fruit, as well as made-to-order omelets, a make-your-own-parfait area and a for-fee juice bar with ingredients that include carrot, celery, orange, melon, grapefruit and apple ($3.25 for a regular, $3.75 for a large).
For lunch, there's an array of options like soups, salads, sandwiches, meats and cheeses, as well as hot dishes like pizza, burgers and hot dogs, meat from a carving station, Asian selections and sides like potato salad and coleslaw.
Dinner might consist of soups, salads, a carvery, made-to-order pastas, jerk salmon, meatballs, okra stew, Caribbean dumplings, a selection of sides like mashed potatoes and green beans and desserts like a chocolate fountain, sweet yam pie and coconut orange cake. Another stellar offering is a made-to-order crepe station, where you can choose your fillings.
Toward the aft end of the buffet, just before you step outside, you'll find a free soft serve ice cream machine that offers do-it-yourself vanilla, chocolate and twist cups and cones from early until late.
Unfortunately, there's not much seating. If you can't find a spot inside, dine on the pool deck or all the way aft, near Great Outdoors. (One morning, a crew member even sat us in La Cucina due to lack of space.)
Great Outdoors (Deck 12 aft): This outdoor buffet offers breathtaking views of the ship's wake, as well as tasty nibbles to squash your hunger between regular meals. We stopped by one afternoon to snag delicious slices of thin-crust pizza and mini-fajitas. It opens early and stays open late.
O'Sheehan's (Deck 8 mid): O'Sheehan's is Norwegian's 24-hour Irish sports bar and restaurant, where you can order pub grub like shepherd's pie, fish 'n' chips, chicken wings and spinach-artichoke dip around the clock. This venue also serves light breakfast fare for those wanting a quick bite outside of the buffet.
Jasmine Garden (Deck 7 mid): Jasmine Garden is Norwegian's fee-free Asian eatery, serving a selection of soups, rice and noodle dishes, and desserts. Specialty items like sushi and seafood can be ordered for a fee. (Rolls range from $5 to $7.50, ginger steamed Chilean sea bass is $15.99, and shrimp Cantonese is $24.99.) We stuck to the free food; although the menu doesn't have much choice for vegetarians and it took a while for us to get our food, the service was great and the meal tasty. It's open for dinner only and located between Teppanyaki, the Sushi Bar and Sake, making for an entire enclave of Asian food and drink.
Topsiders Grill (Deck 12 mid): This lunch-only pool deck grill serves up hot dogs and hamburgers with condiments and toppings like lettuce, tomato, onions and cheese. There are also sides from which to choose, including coleslaw and potato salad. Try the brownies for dessert; they're to die for.
Pit Stop Grill (Deck 13 forward): The Pit Stop, new to Norwegian's fleet, is a 1950s-style diner venue with black and white checkered flooring, red vinyl chairs and tables with license plates screenprinted on the top. It serves mainly as a bar, but, on select sea days at lunchtime, it also provides sustenance in the form of hot dogs and burgers.
Room Service: Free Continental breakfast is available via room service by filling out a paper order form and hanging it on the outside of your cabin door before bed the night before. You'll choose a time and the items you'd like to order. Choices include fruit, muffins, croissants, Danishes, yogurt and cold cereal, as well as juice, coffee, hot chocolate, tea and milk. Although it's free, it's polite to tip a dollar or two to the person who delivers it to your room.
Moderno Churrascaria (Deck 13 mid, $24.95): Moderno Churrascaria, Norwegian's Brazilian steakhouse concept, has relocated on Norwegian Jade from Deck 8 to Deck 13, where it now resides across from Cagney's and offers ocean views. A flat fee gains you access to all-you-can-eat meat (beef, pork, lamb, chicken and fish) in addition to sides (rice, black beans, garlic mashed potatoes, fried plantains and Brazilian cheese bread) and items from the salad bar. Desserts include papaya ice cream, coconut flan and mango rice pudding. The food is excellent, and there's a lot of it, so come hungry. This is not the place for vegetarians. Reservations are highly recommended.
Moderno is only open for dinner, but it also serves as a breakfast venue for cruisers booked in suites. For those passengers, breakfast menu items include pancakes and waffles, eggs Benedict, crab cakes Benedict, smoked salmon frittata, lobster and scallops in toasted brioche with a poached egg, omelets, and steak and eggs. Note: The Tahitian vanilla challah French toast with berries and mascarpone is simply outstanding.
Teppanyaki (Deck 7 mid, $29.95): Those who enjoy hibachi-style Asian food shouldn't miss a trip to Teppanyaki. All meals start with miso soup and seaweed salad, followed by a show put on by a chef who does tricks and cracks jokes while cooking up your choice of entree tableside. Select from chicken and noodles; veggies with noodles; shrimp, scallops and calamari; filet mignon; veggies with tofu; or a combination thereof. All are served with garlic fried rice, teppanyaki vegetables and two sauces: onion and creamy mustard. Dessert is your choice of green tea cake with cashew nut brittle or fresh exotic fruit sashimi. Seating is extremely limited, so reservations are essential. Note: Don't miss your chance to become an origami expert by following the directions on your menu to fold it into fun creatures like whales, swans and insanely complicated seahorses.
Sushi Bar (Deck 7 mid, a la carte): Located in the same area as Teppanyaki, Jasmine Garden and Sake, the Sushi Bar offers individually priced rolls that range from $5 for a spicy tuna roll to $6 for a California roll to $7.50 for a sashimi himachi poblano roll.
Le Bistro (Deck 6 mid, a la carte): Le Bistro is Norwegian Jade's outpost for French cuisine. Five courses are offered with items priced a la carte. Examples of appetizer selections are grilled asparagus with shiitake mushrooms, escargot, and steamed mussels. A soup and salad course follows, offering French onion or cream of mushroom soup, or salad with smoked duck and walnuts. Next is shrimp, scallops and fennel in puff pastry; a 32-ounce rib eye steak for two; or shrimp with artichokes and potatoes. Entrees include grilled swordfish, Atlantic salmon, fish soup, beef tenderloin, lamb, Burgundy chicken or duck breast. For dessert, pick from vanilla creme brulee, chocolate Napoleon, chocolate fondue, a cheese plate or caramel, lemon and vanilla profiteroles. Reservations are recommended.
La Cucina (Deck 12 aft, a la carte): This rustic-looking Italian restaurant specializes in a la carte pasta (gluten-free options available with advance notice) and pizza, as well as soup, salad and appetizers like fried calamari, beef carpaccio, bruschetta and caprese salad. Entrees feature mouthwatering items like grilled shrimp with Italian vegetables, chicken Parmesan and pork scaloppini. Tiramisu, chocolate tarts, lemon curd ricotta cheesecake and rhubarb panna cotta are on the list of desserts. There's also an extensive collection of wine, showcased by a wine display case that takes up an entire wall of the restaurant. Reservations are recommended.
Cagney's (Deck 13 mid, a la carte): As the ship's steakhouse, Cagney's is a favorite among meat-eaters. The a la carte menu is broken up into starters, soups and salads, featured selections, seafood and sides. Choices might feature chicken drumsticks, wagyu beef sliders, lump crab salad and shrimp cocktail for starters; baked potato or split pea soup, or a wedge salad; smoked ribs, grilled bison steak, lamb chops or beef (porterhouse, rib eye, filet mignon, New York strip) for mains; shrimp or sea bass in the seafood category; and sides like garlic mashed potatoes, onion rings, truffle fries with Parmesan cheese, mac 'n' cheese or coleslaw. Reservations are recommended.
Cagney's is open to everyone for dinner and to suite passengers only for lunch. Standouts on the lunch menu include the beef sliders, filet mignon and a side of orzo.
Room Service ($9.95): With the exception of Continental breakfast, all room service orders incur a flat fee of $9.95, regardless of what is ordered. Breakfast items include French toast and omelets. The non-breakfast room service menu selections are extensive and include salads, sandwiches (BLT, tuna salad, subs, burgers), pizza (cheese, vegetarian, pepperoni, supreme), spaghetti Bolognese, roasted chicken, skirt steak, grilled salmon, fish 'n' chips, a selection of cakes and a special menu for kids (grilled cheese, PB&J, chicken fingers, mac 'n' cheese). Beverages (free and for-fee) are also available. Gratuity is not included in the room service charge; it's customary to tip a dollar or two to the person who delivers your order.