Norwegian Heightens Dining Experience
Included dining will soon offer reservations, new menus, a wide variety of new dishes and Chocoholic specialties
Norwegian Cruise Line just announced that it will be looking out for the people who take their cruises and maybe can’t afford to go to one of the many enticing specialty dining rooms every night. Beginning this summer diners in the regular “included in the cruise fare” dining rooms will have more menu items to choose from as well as the ability to make reservations in the regular dining rooms.
The company chalks up these new enhancements to a new company initiative called “NEXT,” focused on bringing “new enhancements, experiences and transformations” to all the ships in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet. The new enhancements to be brought to the older ships in the fleet are inspired by the most successful ideas from the line’s newest ships: Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway. Cruise lines often refer to this practice (putting “new ideas” from newer ships onto their older ships) as “rolling back.”
The first culinary enhancement coming to the NCL fleet is numerous new menu items for main dining rooms, offering an increased variety of selections and “contemporary dishes.”
But most exciting is the announcement that every ship will soon have a dedicated “Chocoholic Night” on one evening during each cruise. The concept will include “specialty” chocolate-based desserts in each restaurant with a choice of up to seven signature chocolate desserts in every restaurant one evening per cruise. Dishes will range from delectable warm chocolate volcano to decadent chocolate Nutella pot de crème and the white chocolate strawberry mousse.
Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO, said “These enhancements are bringing our complimentary dining venues to new heights.” The new dining room dinner menus will be regionally-focused and will vary by ship according to the itinerary. Dining choices will also change each night of each cruise to provide a wider selection of dishes throughout the cruise. Soon guests will have the ability to make main dining reservations for this evening up to 90 days in advance by going to the cruise line Web Site and accessing the user interface for their upcoming cruise.
The menus themselves will also be re-designed to reflect the new approach to complimentary dining. They will feature a “sleeker” design and come with recommended wine pairings as well as anecdotal culinary histories for each dish. The new menus will display several sections – starters, classic dishes, main courses, chef’s signature dish and dessert.
Most importantly, diners will have an increased variety of dining options to choose from, with up to 12 starters and up to 15 entrees per evening. The menus were developed by Norwegian’s culinary team to balance popular traditional dishes like prime rib, chateaubriand, rack of lamb and escargot with more contemporary dining trends including a much larger selection of seafood such as grouper, barramundi, sushi and crab dishes, and new “contemporary” dishes like mojito shrimp ceviche, seared Atlantic scallops with fennel puree, and braised beef short ribs with Cajun shrimp. Lunch menus in the main dining rooms will also get an upgrade.
Complimentary dining on the newer Norwegian ships was immediately better when they were introduced with O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill on board Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic featuring popular dishes like fish and chips and customized breakfast omelettes all night and day. That venue was also added to Norwegian Jewel. But this complimentary dining venue is about to get even better when the line introduces exclusive specialty dish nights, such as prime rib, all-you-can-eat baby back ribs, and chicken and waffles. These specialty dish nights will offer guests an alternative dining venue in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.
In keeping with the line’s Freestyle Cruising, Norwegian is also making it easier than ever for guests to further customize their vacation experience by offering the ability to make reservations for complimentary dining rooms up to 90 days prior to the cruise date. Reservation time options include 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm, 7:30 pm, and 8:30 pm. The new system provides guests the option of selecting a dining time during any evening of the cruise for a party size of up to 12 guests.
“After a trial on Norwegian Breakaway, the main dining reservation option has been met with overwhelming support from our guests,” said Frank Weber, vice president of product development for Norwegian Cruise Line. “The program has been extremely successful because it allows guests to select their experiences ahead of time if they wish to, or they can choose to simply walk up to the restaurant they wish to dine at once onboard. It’s another way to offer more freedom and flexibility to our guests.”
The new menus and concepts will be available on most of Norwegian’s fleet by July 31, and onboard Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Sky and Pride of America by early 2015.
For more information on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian NEXT program, visit www.ncl.com/next. To book a cruise, contact a travel professional, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784), or visit www.ncl.com.