Norwegian Getaway Food Review
Part 2 – All About the Food & Dining
Disclaimer: Norwegian Cruise Line provided me with a discounted media rate to sail on the Getaway along with one complimentary dinner in a specialty restaurant and complimentary seating at the Illusionarium Magic Show. I paid my own way on the ship and the thoughts and words in this and future posts about the Getaway are my own.
For those who are unaware, Norwegian preaches a concept called “Freestyle Cruising”. This simply means that you can wear what you want (within reason), dine where you want and at whatever time you prefer. In my opinion it is a lot nicer than set time dining, although I have spoken with many people who don’t feel the same way.
As a brand new ship, the Getaway has just about every dining outlet Norwegian has ever conceived. Many of the restaurants on board are complimentary and included in the cruise fare, while others cost additional money. In this part of the review, I will cover everything you need to know about the food and dining aboard the ship.
The Getaway has several complimentary dining venues on board. Among them is the Garden Cafe buffet, Flamingo Grill Cuban buffet, three main dining rooms, O’Sheehans 24 hour pub, and room service.
Main Dining Rooms
The Getaway has three main dining rooms all serving the same menu at dinner. Taste & Savor are located across from each other on Deck 6 Aft while the Tropicana Room is on Deck 7 Aft. The configuration of these dining rooms allows them to all share a galley without having to block off public areas of the decks. This means that both decks 6 & 7 connect from front to back which is very convenient.
While the decor in each of the dining rooms feels very elegant, the Tropicana Room is the standout to me. The Tropicana Room has been designed to be a throwback to the supper clubs of yesteryear. It has both live music on select nights and a full dance floor which really helps to add to the ambiance.
Unfortunately while I loved the look and feel of all of the dining rooms, I wasn’t a huge fan of the food. The menu seems to have been dumbed down in order to encourage guests to eat in the premium upcharge restaurants. For example their everyday menu has items such as spaghetti with meat sauce and fried chicken. I have come to expect something a little more advanced in the dining rooms.
I did still find many items that I enjoyed in the main dining room. Their Caesar salad has always been a standout and I really loved the lasagna. Additionally many of the healthier fish options were pretty good as well. As for appetizers, we both really enjoyed the sushi, crab cakes & the empanada.
Keep in mind this is my fourth Norwegian Cruise in a little more than a year and I am simply comparing the food to what I received on their other ships. I am not sure if this dumbing down has been done across the fleet to save money or is a feature of the newer ships. Either way, be prepared to pay up to eat the far superior food in some of the specialty restaurants.
Buffet food on cruise ships is never supposed to be great, however it should be somewhat tasty. In that way the Getaway succeeds. The Garden Cafe is the main buffet on the ship and it spans the entire back part of Deck 15. Depending on the time of day, you can find a variety of foods including Asian, barbecue and a number of salad bars. They also had prime rib on several evenings during the cruise.
Most of the time the same items would be duplicated in four separate sections of the buffet. This is fine in theory I suppose, however each of the salad bars had slightly different items meaning it often took a full lap and visits to four different stations to get everything I wanted on a salad. I would rather they have two salad bars and use the other areas for something unique. The overall variety of food was rather limited.
Thankfully my favorite food item is still around in the buffet though. The Getaway does have the amazing pretzel bread that I have grown to love on other ships!
I do also want to briefly mention their lobster policy. On the Breakaway & Getaway, lobster is now served in the buffet on one night of the sailing and not the dining room. The tails served are very small and we saw people waiting 20-30 minutes in line to get lobster. In one way this allows people to get as many as they want, but I was not a fan of waiting in the long lines. (One guest told me he ate 24 lobster tails!)
The second buffet on board is the Flamingo Grill on Deck 16. It has a number of Cuban inspired dishes including black beans & rice, cheese croquettes and a variety of empanadas. The food there was very good and a nice change of pace from the Garden Cafe.
I have one final note on the Garden Cafe. On port days they would only open up one side of the buffet. While this may make sense in theory, when everyone began returning to the ship, the buffet was way too crowded. There were no seats available and it became nearly impossible to walk around. At the very least they should at least open up the seating areas on the other side.
When I am cruising I don’t typically order room service often since I prefer to be out and about on the ship. The Norwegian Getaway room service menu is pretty typical with a selection of continental items for breakfast and sandwiches and salad for lunch/dinner.
One day I did order a caesar salad and tuna sandwich from room service to try. The Caesar salad is one of my favorite food items from the main dining room and the room service version was just as good. The tuna sandwich was also fresh and tasty. Everything arrived to my cabin in about thirty minutes, which is faster than I have experienced on other ships.
Norwegian does also have a $5 pizza delivery service available. While I didn’t try it, others have told me that the stone cooked pizza is very good. While it isn’t free like traditional room service, they will deliver it to anywhere on the ship for you. That sounds good in theory, however I have rarely seen people eating a pizza out in public on Norwegian’s ships.
O’Sheehans serves as the Norwegian Getaways 24 hour dining venue. The menu consists of comfort foods like buffalo wings & fish & chips. It is located above the front desk area and looks down at the main indoor screen where a variety of presentations and game shows are held throughout the week.
The food in O’Sheehans is pretty good for a quick stop or a late night snack, however not much more than that. I would much prefer having a larger choice in the buffet or eating in the main dining rooms at breakfast and lunch.
Speciality Restaurants ($$$)
The Norwegian Getaway has a number of specialty restaurants which are available for an additional fee. Lets start by looking at a list of the venus including their per-person price.
- Ocean Blue (Seafood)- $39 per person
- Cagney’s Steakhouse – $30 per person
- Teppanyaki (Japanese) – $25 per person
- Le Bistro (French) – $20 per person
- Moderno (Brazilian) – $20 per person
- La Cucina (Italian) – $15 per person
- Shanghai’s (Noodle Bar) – A la carte
- Wasabi (Sushi) – A la carte
- Wine Lover’s The Musical – $25 per person
- Illusionarium – $25-$30 per person
Out of these venues, I had the pleasure of dining in Cagney’s, visiting the Illusionarium and dining in Shanghai’s for lunch one day. Since the Illusionarium is a banquet style meal served during a magic show, I will save my thoughts on that until the entertainment portion of the review.
Cagney’s aims to provide a high end steakhouse experience and succeeds in every way. The food is of a very high quality and the experience is equal to what you would expect to receive at an expensive steakhouse on land. Despite it being the second most expensive venue on the ship, I highly recommend dining at Cagney’s.
While we tried to save room for the main courses, my wife and I both started our meal with an Iceberg Wedge and I also tried the crab salad while she had a shrimp cocktail. The appetizers were large enough to enjoy, however not too big as to ruin the main course.
For the main course I ordered the massive 18 oz. Bone-in Ribeye while my wife ordered a Filet Mignon. She inquired if they had it available as a surf ‘n turf with lobster and while that wasn’t on the menu, they were able to get it for her. We finished off our meals with the incredible Oreo cheesecake. We loved everything. You can find a sample menu from Cagney’s here.
Shanghai’s is a noodle bar that replaces the Jasmine Chinese restaurant on other ships. My wife and I ate there for lunch one day and shared fried rice and a noodle soup. I would call the food passable. I eat at our local Chinatown often and found the food inferior to what I could find for $5 here.
Ocean Blue is the most expensive restaurant on the ship, serving gourmet seafood dinners for $39 per person. The restaurant utilizes a menu developed by Jeffrey Zakarian, which perhaps explains the price. While we didn’t dine in Ocean Blue for dinner, we did order a lobster roll for lunch one day from their window on the promenade. The lobster roll was delicious, however it did cost $10 which I felt was a little on the high side for the amount of lobster we were given.
Other Specialty Restaurants
As for the other specialty restaurants, I have eaten at most of them on other Norwegian ships. I made a point to go around the ship asking people about their experiences and I received a number of recommendations for Le Bistro and Moderno. A lot of people really loved Moderno.
The only slightly negative experiences which were conveyed to me came in regards to La Cucina. A few other guests mentioned they didn’t really love the food in the ship’s Italian restaurant. That is pretty much how I felt when dining in the Jade’s similar venue last year. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t feel that it was something that I needed to pay extra for.
Haven Restaurant & Carlo’s
As I mentioned in the first part of this review, the Norwegian Getaway has an exclusive area for guests staying in suites called the Haven. The Haven has its own restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch & dinner. The menu in the Haven Restaurant for breakfast and lunch is the same as you find in Cagney’s on Jewel class ships. (Cagney’s is used as the Exclusive Haven restaurant on those ships during the day.)
The Getaway is also home to an outlet of Carlo’s Bakery. Carlo’s is located on Deck 8 aft and has very limited hours during the sailing. Make sure to check the Freestyle Daily to see exactly when it is open. Some of the items from Carlo’s are also sold in the Atrium Cafe on Deck 6 as well. We tried one of their cannolis and it was very good.
Ultimate Dining Package
Norwegian has debuted something called the Ultimate Dining Package on their ships. People who purchase this package gain free admission to the Illusionarium on the first night of the sailing along with dinner in a specialty restaurant every other night. For a price of $119 for a seven day cruise, I think it is a great deal and something everyone should consider. The quality of the food is so much higher in the specialty restaurants.
There are a few exclusions to the Ultimate Dining Package. Ocean Blue is excluded from the package as is lunch in the specialty restaurants. People who want to enjoy either do receive a 20% discount. Also, package holders who want to enjoy the Illusionarium outside of the first night must pay as well.
Norwegian Getaway Food Review – Conclusion
Overall I was impressed with the food on the Norwegian Getaway. While I certainly felt the quality of the food in the main dining rooms has declined, it still didn’t taste bad. Never once during our sailing did I have to send something back because it was disgusting.
In the end though Freestyle Dining is about choice and dining at the specialty restaurants. Savvy cruisers will figure the cost of these restaurants into what they pay for the cruise. Too many people complain on Norwegian sailings because they don’t want to pay extra to eat when other lines include everything for free. (Even though they actually don’t in most cases.) If you are interested, here is a great resource for looking at the ship’s menus.
Most cruise lines are now shifting towards this Freestyle Dining concept since it is more in line with today’s culture and provides the guest with more choice. Based on my experiences, I believe Norwegian’s food is as good as Royal Caribbean and much better than any other mass market cruise line.
Part 2 – All About the Food & Dining
Part 3 – Entertainment, Activities & More