Norwegian Cruise Line....

I’m currently off the coast of South Carolina cruising down to Fla. followed by a few other Island stops. It’s been about 10 years since the last time we cruised, while the ship (Breakaway) is huge and beautiful, the formal dinning has been a huge dissapointment.

Cruise dining use to be one of the highlights of the trip, thus far it is by far the least satisfying. Also the cruising dining dynamic has changed with additional charges upgrade dining, which I’m experiencing tomorrow, but the standard formal dining sucks.

The buffet and small burger type places are fine, but so far very dissatisfied with the quality and variety of options offered.

Any more request cruisers have any advice?

We did a 4 day cruise with Norwegian last year when we visited America.

We’ve previously cruised with P & O from the UK but would now find those cruises too formal for our tastes. So, the relatively casual nature of Norwegain appealed but we werent quite sure what to expect foodwise.

We did two nights in the formal dining rooms. They were OK but no better than OK. The food wasnt as good quality as my local bistro type places, so we found that disappointing.

One night we ate in the buffet. Quality was fine but it was something of a bear pit with slow moving queues, which impacted on how hot your food remained. It was better at lunch.

The final night we ate in one of the premium restaurants. Frankly we thought it was poor quality and not worth a premium price.

Dinner is always a high spot for us when we’re on holiday and I doubt whether we’d repeat a Norwegian experience. Certainly not for a longer voyage.

Cruise itself was fun and we have no regrets about doing it.

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The caution: Buyer beware has been around for a century or more; but the forces that manage world economies today, have ground we consumers into the ground with “fees”. Sad that fair profit for service rendered is so far in the rearview mirror.

We’re sailing this coming Sunday on the Celebrity Silhouette. We’ve always liked the food on Celebrity, so we’re expecting more of the same.The specialty restaurant Murano is excellent!

Do you get free room service on Norwegian? Breakfast on the balcony is fun when you’re sailing into port.

We’ve done some cruises and overall found the food was LCD - lowest common denominator. In the main dining rooms. The specialty restaurants we’ve dined in have been quite pleasant. When in the MDR we never take the whole meal, just pick and choose. And if there’s something we know we like we’ll order two (say a particular soup or caviar) with a salad and maybe dessert. I like their buffets for lunch and have made myself great salads.

Choose a different cruise line or pay for specialty dining. Norwegian is notorious in the cruise community for having terrible food in their main dining room - they want people to spend money in the upcharge restaurants. We have sailed Celebrity several times and found the food in the main dining room adequate, if not terribly exciting. We chose a higher cabin class with its own “spa cuisine” restaurant for one recent cruise, and did a specialty dining package for another. Both offered a significant upgrade to the MDR. Princess is also known for somewhat better food in the MDR than the other mass market lines.

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Food quality definitely varies among cruise lines. NCL and Royal Caribbean are about the same with average to decent food choices, usually better in the up charge dining venues. As you move up the chain to Princess, Holland, Celebrity the food gets better. From there up to Azamara, Oceania and beyond into super premium lines like Regent, Silversea, Seabourn and others you get into really stellar food offerings and service. Also, you do get nickled and dimed in proportion to the initial cost of the cruise. Hotels do the same when they add on “resort fees” instead of just upping the per night room cost.

We have a celebratory event coming up in a couple of years and the plan is to throw some money at.

It’ll involve driving from south to north through California. Then picking up an Alaska cruise ship from either Seattle or Vancouver (I’ve spotted ones that depart Seattle and return to Vancouver, which would be perfect). Final bit will be a couple of days on the Rocky Mountaineer, through to Calgary (?) before returning to the UK.

I am very formal-averse in these matters. I have no wish for the formality of suits, etc that are requirements of some cruise lines (I don’t even own a jacket). Some of the more upmarket lines like Azamara and Silversea seem to offer, erm, an upmarket but “smart casual” experience, which sounds ideal. Great food will be a requirement.

By the by, hotel “resort fees” did piss me off on our last trip to America. An extra charge for stuff that you expect in a hotel and, in Europe, would be in the room rate.

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The cruises we’ve been on have formal nights and generally enforce at least a sports jacket. If you don’t want to dress even that much you can go to the buffet. You can pick up a used jacket at a thrift store in CA and then redonate it when you’re done. When others are dressed to the nines, it’s offputting to many to see the dressed down.

For Azamara and up lines it would be useful to bring a jacket but certainly no tie required. As an aside the dining rooms can be on the chilly side so might find it useful in that case. For “non-formal” nights resort casual is the norm. You’re not alone–resort fees piss many people off. Just raise the damn hotel rate and be done with it.

I agree, we don’t like to deal with formal wear on a cruise. Celebrity has done away with formal nights - the dress code is now smart casual most nights, with two “Evening Chic” nights or some equally silly title. On our recent cruise, those nights were a mixed bag - a fair number of cruisers still dressed formally, but most stayed smart casual. A good time was had by all, I think! You might consider Celebrity for your Alaska cruise, although Princess is generally touted as being the best line for Alaska (they have permits to certain areas that other cruise lines don’t, which means you can get closer to the best glacier activity).

I have no interest in wearing second hand clothes. I work to the basis that, if somewhere is so archaic as to still require men to wear jackets, then it is not a place that I want to visit. The question crops up more in research for restaurants in America than it does in Europe (and, in the UK, I can only think of a tiny number of places that require jackets - maybe a dozen or so in the country - not even the Michelin 3* places). As to whether many might be put off by my wearing casual clothes, I really couldnt give a flying fuck for them.

Last night I paid for “upgraded” meal in the normal dining room, they offered 1.50-1.750lbs Maine Lobster, so we ordered them. The lobsters came out minus claws, neither one had any claws. I asked to see the menu again to make sure I didn’t misread the “Maine” Lobster, because the only clawless lobsters I’m familiar with are warm water, not Maine.

Sure enough it said Maine so I asked about the claws, the waiter initially insisted Maine lobsters don’t have claws, but later the Maitre D’ came to tell us he spoke with the chef, there was an error and comped the meal charges.

Tonight is an upgrade dinner at the steakhouse, keep your fingers crossed for me!!

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Er, it’s not a matter of their being “put off” but rather denying you entrance. Again you can eat at the buffet or pay for one of the specialty restaurants. Also most cruise lines these days offer free room service. It’s not like the dining room fare, more burgers, chicken nuggets, etc.

This is what you said. This is what I responded to.

Nothing about being denied entrance. If you want to discuss that aspect of restaurant/ship dress codes , then please say so (although my views on “jacket required” are already on my earlier post). Other than that, please stop trying to take the piss.

Wearing a jacket is archaic?


Restaurants requiring a jacket is archaic.

Huh. I think requiring a jacket implies an expectation of a fine dining experience. Not that many places ask for one anymore…tis a shame.


I can eat any number of “fine dining” (hate that phrase) experiences without being required to wear a jacket. As you indicate, few places require it - more in the States than this side of the Atlantic.

I offer you the dress code from the Michelin starred place we ate at on Monday (where, as usual, the staff were the most formally dressed people in the room) - “our dress code is smart and informal but no sports wear, ripped denim or shorts.". And from the “very fine” 2* place where we celebrated my 65th birthday last year - “Our dress code is smart casual.”. There were a few quite elderly men wearing jackets but they were a very small minority. Or the 3* star place where we celebrated our 40th anniversary - "Our restaurant dress code is “elegantly smart”. We do not require gentlemen to wear jacket and tie but we do not permit jeans, shorts or sports wear.” With a handful of exceptions, restaurants are now in the 21st century over this.

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I have been on cruises that strongly encouraged (but did not take a hard line on) jackets for formal night in the upscale restaurant, as well as eaten at 4-star restaurants that require a jacket, and frankly, I enjoy the occasional need to dress up, look nice, and act like an adult at a nice restaurant. I would never think to avoid a restaurant that asks its diners to think of their meal as a formal experience. Hell, if a restaurant charging me $250 for my meal asked its patrons to wear tuxes or silk hats, that’d be pretty snazzy. Dress up can be fun.