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Boston Mom

NCL Newbie Here - "Must Try Foods" Recommendations?

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We will be taking our first NCL cruise (7 day Western Caribbean on the Breakaway) in a few weeks and are looking for recommendations as to what experienced NCL cruisers consider "must try foods" in their main dining rooms, buffet, and specialty restaurants.

 

So far we have three specialty restaurants booked (Ocean Blue, Cagney's, and Teppenaki), and also plan to hit the Manhattan Room, Taste, Savor, and O'Sheehan's.  We are not big "buffet people" and prefer a sit down meal, but if there is something wonderful to try on the buffet I am up for giving that a try too.

 

Looking for recommendations on what you have liked for any meal, any course - and any other dining tips would be much appreciated also.  Really looking forward to trying something different and a whole week of not having to cook!

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Find the crepe station in the buffet after dinner for dessert. 

Otherwise just be advised that all the main dining rooms will have the same menu, so no need to run around to see what each one will have each night. 

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If you go to Le Bistro a “must try” would be the mushroom soup.  

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we second the crepes in the buffet for dessert....😎😁

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Posted (edited)

I have my personal favorites:

 

  • Escargot & mushroom soup in LeBistro (also has the BEST filet mignon on the ship - better than Cagney's in my opinion!)
  • Onion rings & the apple dessert in Cagney's
  • Volcano Nachos & Key Lime Pie in Margaritaville
  • Warm almond croissants (if you are in the Haven)
  • Pot stickers, dumplings & spring rolls from Shanghai's Noodle Bar

However, if you are looking for a good list of "classic" NCL favorites that everybody seems to like (e.g. Royal's kummelweck sandwich), here's the start of a list based on what others have shared (and folks will hopefully jump in and expand!)

 

  • Pretzel rolls (found at the buffet and maybe also in dining rooms?)
  • O'Sheehan's wings (various flavors)
Edited by pcakes122

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1 hour ago, ndame4nd said:

we second the crepes in the buffet for dessert....😎😁

 

That's because most of the desserts on NCL ships aren't good.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Boston Mom said:

We will be taking our first NCL cruise (7 day Western Caribbean on the Breakaway) in a few weeks and are looking for recommendations as to what experienced NCL cruisers consider "must try foods" in their main dining rooms, buffet, and specialty restaurants.

 

So far we have three specialty restaurants booked (Ocean Blue, Cagney's, and Teppenaki), and also plan to hit the Manhattan Room, Taste, Savor, and O'Sheehan's.  We are not big "buffet people" and prefer a sit down meal, but if there is something wonderful to try on the buffet I am up for giving that a try too.

 

Looking for recommendations on what you have liked for any meal, any course - and any other dining tips would be much appreciated also.  Really looking forward to trying something different and a whole week of not having to cook!

 

Wow!

I would say: "Do this if you want to miss the best of the Breakaway!"

 

A few things to know about the Breakaway:

1. This is currently the best NCL ship - congratulations on your choice!

2. Mega ships are not for "ritual"  dining. You need to be prepared to combine different venues for your breakfast/lunch/dinner. The food will not be coming to you (this is not a gourmet cruise line). You will have to be flexible and walk to get it. 

3. A regular way of dining on NCL is specialty dining. 

4. The two dining venues that make NCL experience special: Moderno and Le Bistro.

5. Don't waste your time on the Manhattan/Taste/Savor. Try the Manhattan once for "atmosphere" and "to complete the experience".

6. #1 dining venue on cruise ships is the buffet.

7. Watch for "special events" in the buffet and O'Sheehan's. 

8. Smoked salmon for breakfast - MDR only.

 

Your "must do" list on the Breakaway (aka "Cruise loke Norwegian"):

Moderno 

Le Bistro

Any specialty restaurant of your choice.

MDR (Manhattan) - one time.

Other three nights - touring the buffet, the pub, enjoying the ship, and the "free style". Don't hesitate to stop at MDR just for one item - search the menus daily. Sit down enjoy your appetizer (main, or dessert..) and go!

 

NCL dining now is not what it used to be.

But there are a lot of things to enjoy ... if you want to.

 

Don't forget to book a thermal suite pass.

 

Happy cruising!

 

Edited by ronbe65

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We love the Lobster Rolls at the walk-up window at Ocean Blue.  These are only available on 'At Sea' days usually from noon to 2pm and cost about $10.   

Also, on some cruises Breakaway will have a complimentary themed lunch buffet available in Moderno.    We sailed on Breakaway twice in the last year and loved this on  one cruise but were disappointed they weren't doing it on the other cruise.  Just keep an eye on the Dailies to see if/when available.  

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Clam chowder at Ocean Blue.  On the Getaway, they "assemble" it at the table.

IMG_1573.JPG

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10 hours ago, Sauer-kraut said:

 

That's because most of the desserts on NCL ships aren't good.

 

Worst at sea, IMO. 

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My favorites (some already mentioned):

Escargot and Mushroom soup at Le Bistro

Carrot cake (only place I've had it is the "suite" lunch at Cagney's on the Star...and I've had it a lot.  Actually a waiter who shall remain nameless would also get it "smuggled" into our cabin)

Bread pudding (Garden Cafe)

Cooked to order Omelet (Garden Cafe or Haven Breakfast)

Fruit salad at breakfast (Garden Cafe)

Ribs in "Q"

8 oz Filet Mignon rare at Cagney's

Salad bar in Moderno--specifically the olives, hearts of palm, proscuitto 

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Ocean Blue has gone down hill.  I would go with a different place to eat.  I have eaten at Ocaen Blue 3 times.  First time food was ok so when we where on the Bliss wife wanted to try it again.  Best meal ever.  So next cruise was the Breakaway and food was back to being very poor.  On the Encore next so decided not to try

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For me, it's the dover sole at Le Bistro. That's something I really look forward to every cruise. 

Cagney's wedge salad is good, the steaks are good, too. My husband liked the mac and cheese a lot (at the buffet and I think at Cagneys).

Somewhere (MDR? Cagneys?) I had raspberry creme brulee which was delicious I thought.

And buffalo wings at O'Sheehans late at night. (Also the fajitas at O'Sheenans are pretty good. I've only ever had the chicken, but they were nice.)

 

Bon appetit!

 

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Any lamb dish is usually wonderful. Occasionally in the evening you can find oatmeal raisin cookies in the buffet. 

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I really enjoy the salad bar at Moderno.  This may be weird, but I love the muesli on the breakfast buffet! NCL may not have the best food but I haven't been on any other cruise line with muesli 😄

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On 8/2/2019 at 10:04 PM, ronbe65 said:

Wow!

I would say: "Do this if you want to miss the best of the Breakaway!"

 

A few things to know about the Breakaway:

1. This is currently the best NCL ship - congratulations on your choice!

This is all subjective, of course. People really like the Escape and Bliss as well.

 

On 8/2/2019 at 10:04 PM, ronbe65 said:

4. The two dining venues that make NCL experience special: Moderno and Le Bistro.

Le Bistro is decent to good, and while I haven't eaten at Moderno, I have not read many great things about it on this board. I believe they are not including it on any new ships going forward.

If you've never had the rodizio experience, then it is worth trying, however you may be disappointed by the quality/selections of the meat and how well it is cooked. The salad bar and grilled pineapple are supposed to be good. If you've done rodizios before, especially something like Fogo de Chao, you may be disappointed.

 

On 8/2/2019 at 10:04 PM, ronbe65 said:

Don't waste your time on the Manhattan/Taste/Savor. Try the Manhattan once for "atmosphere" and "to complete the experience".

 

For the OP, these are the main dining room(MDR) options. If you're not dining in a specialty restaurant or one of other complimentary options, this would be another option. Certainly worth trying, you may enjoy it as much as the specialties.

 

On 8/2/2019 at 10:04 PM, ronbe65 said:

6. #1 dining venue on cruise ships is the buffet.

 

Not sure if you mean it's the best or the most popular.

There are certainly standout items to be had, but the one sea day lunch I tried it, I found it to be very lack luster. To be fair, it was a sea day and I went late (around 2pm).

 

On 8/2/2019 at 10:04 PM, ronbe65 said:

7. Watch for "special events" in the buffet and O'Sheehan's. 

8. Smoked salmon for breakfast - MDR only.

 

100% agree with these.

 

I have not sailed on the Breakaway, but I did sail on the Getaway, which is the sister ship to the Breakaway. I'm not sure if I would call it their best ship, but it is a great ship. I like water slides, mini-golf, and rope courses much more than laser tag and go-karts. Everyone has their opinion, so here's mine:

 

Complimentary options - honestly, try them all and decide for yourself, you're not out any extra money. The only one I tried was O'Sheehans, which was fine although service was slow and subpar. O'Sheehans has bar food, Manhattan/Taste/Savor are the MDR. As ronbe65 said above, look at the menus for the week and decide which night looks the best to you. Shanghai's is supposed to be decent as well. One thing to avoid - most of the desserts from the buffet. Not worth the calories. The desserts from the Specialties were mostly decent.

 

Specialty options - I'll start with the ones I actually ate at.

 

Margaritaville - volcano nachos were a cold mess, other apps were ok, burger was messy. Best fries on the ship and the key lime pie was excellent.

 

La Cucina - decent Italian, on par or maybe a little better than Olive Garden.

 

Le Bistro - decent French food, portions a bit small but that wasn't a problem because I was never hungry during the cruise. Everyone recommends the fillet, which I had, and it was good.

 

Ocean Blue - my favorite specialty on the Getaway. Pretty much everything was good to great. I added a lobster tail since I had OBC and they give me 2, which was fun.

 

The rest - this is my impression from these boards:

Moderno - as stated above, not great to ok, good buffet, good pineapple

Wasabi - decent, if you use an SDP credit here I believe it becomes all you can eat

Cagney's - very polarizing on these boards, seems to be great or terrible, so you might be flipping a coin. Also tends to be one of the busiest on the ship, which puts a lot of pressure on the cooks and staff to deliver a good experience.

Teppanyaki - food is ok to decent, you're mostly paying for the show. May be worth trying if you've never done Hibachi before

Raw Bar - see Wasabi

 

In summation, try to enjoy your cruise, take what people on the internet say with a grain of salt, a lot of these places are great on one cruise and terrible on another, look at menus and prioritize what you want to eat. If you want seafood, eat at Ocean Blue, if you want steak, eat at Cagneys, etc After a few cruises you'll figure out what you like and don't like. It's your first NCL cruise, don't overthink it like I did :classic_tongue:

 

Finally if you want more in depth reviews of what I ate on the Getaway, here's a link to my review.

 

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I agree with what a lot of people have posted here, but food is always subjective.  


Here are our thoughts for specialty restaurants.  Our favorites are Le Bistro and Teppanyaki.  Le Bistro's Mushroom soup as everyone says is the winner, along with the filet entree.   The filet from Teppanyaki I think is nice as well, and I also like the "Wasabi" cocktail from here if you drink.  

 

We also enjoy La Cucina and Moderno, but we'd say those are more "second tier" and can have foods that are hit-or-miss.  The burrata at La Cucina was quite nice, but some of the pasta wasn't too special (hence, I agree with the Olive Garden comment).  That said, they had the best bread on the ship.  Moderna I also like the salad bar as I'm not a big meat eater, and you really can't pick the cook of meats nor predict when which ones will come around.  But it's still enjoyable and a lot of it is very good.


Overall, our least favorites are Cagney's and Ocean Blue.  Better steaks elsewhere on the ship, and we're from Boston - better seafood on land.  If you count O'Sheehan's as a specialty, we haven't had the wings recently, but we found we didn't really enjoy the food there very much on our recent visit.

 

Regarding food in the buffet, we don't eat there very often, but we do really like the pretzel rolls and an occasional ice cream treat after a meal.  And I agree - don't bother with the desserts here, you'll have enough elsewhere!  If you like Indian food though, the chefs tend to make very good Indian food on a daily basis for the buffet.

 

For the MDR, all the food tending to be solid overall, with the fish dishes on the recent menus particularly being some of the best tasting.

 

Hope you find this helpful!

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I love the Reuben sandwich at o’sheehans!!

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Thank you all so much!  Food is of course totally subjective, and we intend to try as many different venues and as many different dishes as we can, but it does help to know what others have enjoyed, and what foods NCL is "known for".

 

Good to know about the crepes as my husband does enjoy dessert.  I am more of an appetizer person than a dessert person, although if any of you are ever on Carnival you have to try the warm chocolate melting cake with a scoop of peanut butter on the side, and the huckleberry cheesecake if you are ever on Royal Caribbean.  Desserts that are definitely worth the calories!

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I agree about the crepes! I also love the Main Dining Room lunch menu. It never changes but has some great options, including a fish sandwich on a pretzel roll (as others have mentioned, Pretzel Rolls are GREAT), and my personal favorite NCL dessert - Peanut Butter Cheesecake with chocolate sauce! They used to make a great hummus at lunch too, but recent menus do not seem to have it anymore 😥

 

At dinner in the main room, I really like the leg of lamb and caesar salad. The ice creams are good too.

 

As for specialties, we love experiencing different ones, but service and taste seems to vary ship to ship as you'll often read in reviews on here. As previously mentioned, escargot at Le Bistro is great, and there is also a seafood sampler there with puff pastry that I enjoy upgrading to an entree. I usually try to choose different things each time I visit the other specialties. I usually book 5-7 of them each longer cruise and am never disappointed.

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On 8/3/2019 at 9:45 AM, dpepper64 said:

Ocean Blue has gone down hill.  I would go with a different place to eat.  I have eaten at Ocaen Blue 3 times.  First time food was ok so when we where on the Bliss wife wanted to try it again.  Best meal ever.  So next cruise was the Breakaway and food was back to being very poor.  On the Encore next so decided not to try

We went to Ocean Blue on Bliss - worst food ever for a steep and the most expensive cover charge of all, above and beyond dining package!  Not worth it at all - so we will skip it as well!

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Speaking of favorite desserts.....I love having the warm Souffle in the MDRs.  They usually have at least one night for a 7 week cruise.  Current menus usually show a Banana Souffle with Butterscotch sauce on the 6th night.   In the past we have enjoyed an Apple Souffle with Cranberry sauce too😋

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12 minutes ago, buddylover said:

We went to Ocean Blue on Bliss - worst food ever for a steep and the most expensive cover charge of all, above and beyond dining package!  Not worth it at all - so we will skip it as well!

The most recent reviews are showing that they are no longer adding an up charge for Ocean Blue.    I believe this started with the July cruises.  BirdTravels has an excellent review going with updates on all the restaurants.

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For me I'd say the things I remember most from my NCL cruise were:

 

- The profiteroles dessert at Le Bistro

- The Jerk chicken wings at O'Sheehans

- The salad bar at Moderno (all kinds of olives, cured meats, cheeses, marinated veggies, pickles, etc)

- Smoked salmon (anywhere you can find it, I always enjoyed it)

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Remember you can eat lunch in the MDR upon embarkation.  Much easier than fighting the buffet.  Items from the lunch menu I enjoy are the cajun shrimp salad and crab salad stuffed in potato skins (appetizers), bacon wrapped meatloaf with grilled eggplant (it has a very spicy BBQ sauce, which I love, but I ask for the sauce on the side) and the orange chocolate mousse.  This mousse is delicious and very creamy.  It easily beat any desert we tried in the MDR.  I like to finish with a coffee and a shot of Jameson whiskey and make my own Irish coffee covered under the UBP.  

 

The buffet did a seafood night one night with platters of shrimp cocktail that were good (although the shrimp were still slightly frozen).  I also liked the various takes on eggs benedict in the breakfast buffet.  

 

We enjoyed everything we ate at Le Bistro (liked it so much, we ate there three nights).  We have Brazilian steak houses at home, so didn't try Moderno.  At the Epic casino one night we saw snacks, like small sandwiches.  We didn't spend a lot of time in the casino and only saw it one night, so I don't know if it is a nightly occurrence or not.  The bars also offer salty snacks when you order a drink.

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