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greeba

Food on the Dawn

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I have heard a lot of complaints about the food on NCL lately and we had a much different experience of it. We live in Manhattan, so we're pretty spoiled when it comes to good food, but I was pretty happy with the selection and taste of most of the food we had on the Dawn's 1/22 sailing.

 

We ate breakfast and lunch most days in the Garden Cafe unless we were on land.

 

Seemed like there was something for everyone at breakfast: Eggs, custom-made omelettes, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, lots of fresh fruit (very juicy grapefruits!), waffles, toast, big assortment of cereal, even peanut butter for my English muffins, and other stuff I'm forgetting, I'm sure. We didn't eat in the bigger restaurants for breakfast, although we did last year. It was easier for us all to meet at the same table each morning after going to the gym or just waking up or whatever. I also loved the variety and the ability to choose whatever I felt like having at the moment.

 

Lunch in the Garden Cafe was much the same: Lots of choices and my old stand-by veggie buffet with very good Indian food! The only complaint is that the lettuce is always iceberg, but I think that might be the easiest to keep fresh on the ship. The best lunch we had was in Cozumel at Coconuts, but that's another story!

 

Dinners - We mostly ate in the Garden Cafe. As with breakfast, it was the simplest thing for us to do since there were 5 of us and we were all doing our own thing. There were always good choices for desserts as well. My husband loved the German Chocolate Cake and my father loved the ice cream!

 

We ate at Le Bistro one night and it was fun and very good and a nice change. It made the last night more bearable too, because it was like we were STILL on vacation even though we were returning to NYC the next day. The people who had steak loved it and better than Cagney's the year before. I am a vegetarian and there was also plenty for me to eat.

 

We had dinner in Aqua one night and I would have to say this was the only bad food experience we had. We waited a while for a table, which was fine, but when we finally got a table, we were rushed. I JUST sat down and opened my menu and was asked what I wanted. The waitress just stood there until I decided. I suppose I should have just asked for more time, but it didn't seem like an option at the time. The food was okay, but I missed the variety in the Garden Cafe.

 

The one bad day in the GC was the Asian night. It was pretty bad, but I think by day 10 we were also getting sick of eating in the GC.

 

So I don't know if we just weren't expecting much or if the food was just the sort of stuff we like or we just got lucky or we're not as picky as I thought we were...it is subjective, but it does seem as though there IS something for everyone.

 

Greta

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Good to hear that the Garden Cafe is still doing Indian food at lunchtime. We usually have at least one Indian meal a week when at home so we begin to miss the spicy-ness when we are away for any length of time.

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Forgot also to say that we loved the sushi bar! The waiter, Nestor and the sushi chef, also named Nestor, were wonderful. The second time we went there, the sushi chef made special rolls and cones for us until we had to beg him to stop! Best Miso soup I've had ever. VERY GOOD.

 

Greta

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I'm just back from the Dawn and, overall, the food was just OK. Some meals/dishes were execllent - we ate in Cagneys twice and both meals were perfect. Shrimp were much bigger than I expected they would be (I've had better, but these were very good for a cruise), the crab cakes were full of fresh crabmeat and were very tasty, the salads were very fresh and perfectly dressed and the steaks were cooked to perfection, both nights. I'm not a big dessert fan, so I wasn't blown away by the desserts, but others said they were great!

 

Keeping with the positives, Salsa was good. The nacho chips & tortillas were very fresh, the margaritas were very tasty (and not too weak) and the food was nicely spiced. Have I had better Tex-Mex, absolutely, but for a cruise this was pretty good.

 

Another stand out dish for me was the french onion soup in Le Bistro - probably the best I have ever had! However, that's really the only good thing I have to say about Le Bistro. My filet mignon was overcooked (no big deal, that happens in even the finest of steak houses) but when I politely tried to send it back the waitress was quite rude in telling me that it was dark in the restaurant and I couldn't see the steak properly. I am an avid steak eater and am lucky to dine in many high-end restaurants (and I've worked in a first class steakhouse), so I don't need to look at the color of my meat to know whether it's cooked properly - my knife tells me all I need to know. Furthermore, I knew they could do better as I had a perfect medium rare filet the night before in Cagneys. Anyway, moving on, the waitress brought back another steak that was still slightly overcooked

but as I was hungry I told the waitress that it still wan't right, but that it was ok and I would eat it. The waitress then proceeded to try and take my plate away and cook it further - she condescendingly told me that I didn't understand what medium rare was. I told her it was a little overdone in my opinion, but would still keep it and she stood over me and watched me eat a couple of bites. This kind of service is just not acceptable, especially in a specialty restaurant with a cover charge. And, to top it off, the chocolate fondue I was so looking forward to was cold & the waitress said "that's no problem, I willl just put it in the microwa..." needless to say, she just barely stopped short of telling me they were going to microwave it! I asked her, in a frustrated but trying to be polite tone, to please not microwave the fondue. She then looked at me like I was crazy and said of course not, they have a 'machine'. When it came back (less than 2 minutes later - the same pot of fondue) I asked her to please be honest with me and tell me if it was microwaved. She said "of course not". Well, anyone who knows anything about microwaves knows that liquid (all food really) heats from the inside out & when not microwaved enough you will have some pockets that are very hot and others that were ice cold...well, you guessed it. A quick stir would generate a lot of steam, but then dip in some fruit and the chocolate was nearly chilled. I don't mind people making mistakes or food not being perfect - anyone who has worked in food service knows that things go wrong in even the nicest of places. I do mind being patronized and lied to. Unfortunately, there was no maitre'd at the host stand when we left. I stopped at reception to make a complaint a couple of days later and noone ever got back to me. I stopped by on the last sea dea to see if anything had come of my complaint and even though the (very friendly & helpful, in fairness) girl promised that someone would contact me, still noone did. I found this extremely disappointing. I went back on the last day and the manager of Le Bistro then contacted me and told me there was nothing he could do. Eventually he gave us a bottle of wine, and although it was a nice gesture which I appreciated, it was unfortunate that it took nearly a week to get a response.

 

This probably sounds much more bitter than I actually am about the situation, in no way did we let this minor incident take away from what was otherwise a great vacation. But, the way we were treated just wasn't good enough on this occasion. As I told the receptionist and the manager, we got much better, kinder and friendlier service in all the other restaurants (with the exception of the Blue Lagoon where a lot of the waitstaff did not have great English!).

 

Anyway, back to the food review. I found the selection in the buffet for breakfast and lunch to be pretty good. Again, however, the food didn't stay hot & you could easily tell that they weren't using great ingredients, but it was OK. Once I found the NY Deli, I stuck to hotdogs & pastrami - both of which were perfectly fine. One suggestion I would make would be to have a more expansive salad bar. This would be a fairly cheap addition and I think would be very popular. My best from the buffet would have to be the waffles at breakfast and the endless supply of (pretty decent) provolone cheese!

 

I thought the barbeques were great - only downside was that there weren't enough of them!!! We only made it to 1 of the BBQs and ate so much we were worried if we would be able to eat dinner (of course, we managed just fine with our dinner as well!). The selection was great - burgers, hot dogs, italian sausage, chicken, ribs, salads, bread and a massive wok of paella. The BBQ was one of our better meals.

 

As for the main dining rooms at lunch/dinner, I found the food quite bland, nowhere near hot enough (and I don't even like my food too hot!) and rarely did the dish resemble the menu description. It wasn't all terrible, but it could (and should) have been much much better. My mother had the 'lobster' on lobster night which was a crucified tail covered in some kind of sauce she had never encountered before. One positive from the dining room was the talapia at lunch on embarkation day - very tasty and perfectly cooked - I would recommend having this if you like fish. Also on the plus side, I found the servers in the Venetian and particularly in Impressions to be fantastic. They were very friendly and so accomodating. We never ate in Aqua so I can't comment, but I would imagine they would be along the same lines as the other restaurants.

 

So, as I said in the beginning (of this insanely long review - didn't intend to write this much!) overall the food was OK. Some great, some awful and a lot mediocre. Don't get me wrong, I still managed to gain about 5 pounds and never went anywhere near hungry, but a few minor changes would probably make a big difference.

 

As has often been said on these boards, go with an open mind and don't get bogged down by the small stuff. If you're unhappy with something, let it be known but try not to let it ruin even 1 hour of your vacation. The food is far from perfect, but when you think about the fact that there are 2400 passengers and 1300 crew to be fed 3+ meals a day, you can't expect fine dining all the time. Finally, as has also been said on these boards a million times, food is subjective, so it is very likely that others disagree with my review - all opinions and all valid.

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One word:

 

Venetian. :)

 

Like the forward hot tub, it seems that fewer folks know about it (or how to find it) as it becomes popular on the latter days of the cruise.

 

Grab a table by the windows and watch the wake fly by as you dine. There's some rumble as expected and it's a bit warm especially with a suit on, but overall the dining experience is above average.

 

Question: Does anyone know if the "models" in the chocolate buffet are made weekly or are they stowed and brought out? They appeared quite shiny as if treated with a conformal coating to preserve them.

 

Cheers,

 

Norman

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I think I just wasn't expecting superb food. We didn't have anything really horrible and were mostly happy. Some things were very good, which was a nice surprise.

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I enjoyed the food very much - but I realized one thing once I got off the ship. Ship food is SO bad for you!! (not being funny either!) I'm not kidding you here - I weighed 18 pounds more - yes that's right 18 pounds more the day we got home than I did when we left! I knew I'd gain some weight, I always do. I also knew I'd be dining on ship food for 2 weeks this time instead of one, so believe me when I tell you I excersized my butt off on that ship!! I did 6 - 8 laps every other day around the promenade deck. I swam laps in the lap pool on the alternating days, and I can literally count the number of times I took the elevator. I did so many stairs my legs and calves just ached my 3rd day on board. (we were on deck 5 - kids crew, pool, garden buffet, spa on deck 12)

When we got back I'm like, there is no WAY it is humanly possible to gain that much FAT in that amount of time! Long story short, between last Tuesday and wednesday I lost 9 pounds overnight! LOL! I'm a medical miracle! I've also lost 2 more pounds since then, so I guess that brings my total gain to 7 pounds for 12 days, and that's not so bad I guess. Anyway, where I was going with this..........

The food was tasty, but everything was filled with oil, fat, sugar, sauces, oh my goodness and the salt! (Obviously) I ordered an egg white omlette with veggies the 1st morning at the garden cafe. Gonna be good right from the get-go right? Good grief it was so greasy I was like - what's the point? Blech!! however - I thought the muffins, particularily the bran muffins were delicious - I could eat 3 in one sitting!

We did mostly the garden cafe for breakfast since we never managed to get up before 9:00. Lunches varied, but mostly garden cafe. As far as dinner - we made it to all of them except Cagney's.

Pro's and con's

Garden cafe - has a vegetarian buffet line (I'm not a veggie - but I thought that was pretty cool!) the lentils were excellent

Hamburger buns were too big and dry

Deli sandwhiches great

loved the corned beef hash on the breakfast line each day

what's up with the baked beans on the breakfast line each day?

Yummy creamy oatmeal - yummy waffles and french toast

Always bread pudding which was excellent

Dinner selections I thought were very very good. Didn't eat there much, took kids there before kids crew to eat. They always had a ceasar salad station, made to order pasta, and a huge selection of desserts.

Best advice is to make sure you just don't walk to the first line you see and think that's all there is. There's usually at least 4 lines open and they're not all the same! And if you've got a hankering for french fries - there's always some at the little kids buffet!

main dining rooms We tried them all, and had very good service in every one. The salads all get an A-plus! the soups were a little too, ummmmmmm wierd for lack of a better word, so I stayed away. The appetizers, well, ok lots of weird ones, like baked potato with caviar.

The entrees I had were quite good - sometimes I got 2 because the portions are (thankfully!) small enough that you can do this without wasting a whole lot. Didn't care for what they did to the lobster on the 1st formal night - not that it wasn't good, I was just expecting a tail with a side of butter and lemon, not that goofy brown sauce. Disapointed there wasn't more lamb - what there was, was very good. The steaks are not thick. but tasty. Order them slightly undercooked and it will be perfect. Loved being able to top each meal off with a cappucino! Best advice - remember you can always get caesar salad, grilled chicken, baked potato, and excellent steamed veggies (ie: broccoli, cauli, and carrots). AND - in case you weren't aware - you can also get a steak if you ask nicely, and they won't even roll their eyes at you and act like it's a huge imposition!

Le Bistro Sorry, but we were absolutely not impressed with this. I think maybe I'd read so many reviews about it I was all jazzed up for this unbelievable dining experience! The service was not good. the fillet was ok. Cooked right, but it was just a mediocre steak, size, texture, flavor. Mushroom soup very good, and anyway the fondue - big fat let down. It was not warm, and it was very thin. We were very disapointed, so I made some last night for our valentines dinner! the lady next to us got that fire star thing. They wheel over this tableside cart, and underneath it is this HUMONGUS fire extinguisher. The waiter lit this thing on fire for about 4 seconds then poof! It's out. Her and her husband looked at us, and we all just busted out laughing! I mean a full fledged belly laugh at this goofy looking thing dangling in front of them, the big production with the cart and the giant fire extinguisher. Oh man it was too funny.

Trattoria - what's that salad with tomatoe, basil, and fresh mozzarella? Can't think of the name, but it was ok. What'cha gonna do with wintertime tomatoes.... The calamari was excellent. The carpaccio was made differently than I 've had it before, but good. I had steak and a side of pasta with bolognese sauce. Both very good. No dessert. Just cappucino. (I had some baklava stashed in our room!)

Teppanyaki if you love Bennihanna you will be disapointed with this. The sauces are different. The one tasted like there was mayonaise in it. But if you HAVE eaten at a Bennihanna, you know what they serve, and it was the same thing here minus the automatic shrimp appetizer. A good show, good food. Again - loved the salad!

Salsa - only complaint is that the chips are from a bag, but that's ok because having a deep fryer on a ship (which actually I think they do in the Blue Lagoon) could be seriously dangerous. the ribs here were very good - get a double order, as a "full slab" is in actuality a half slab in real life.

Blue Lagoon Potato skins, chicken wings, won ton soup, stuff like that, Fast food ala Norwegian Dawn. The food we tried there was good, the variety was a very strange mix!

Poolside Bar-B-Ques Do not, and I repeat do NOT miss out on these! Oh my good the food was so good! there were always like 5 meat selections, several salads, and a big wok full of something always so very good! Oddly enough, the last bar-b-que was my totally favorite meal of the cruise, and I'd kill for that pasta recipe!

The fish and chips in the pearly king pub were very good - not greasy at all. Late night snacks in the casino pretty tasty too!

I've said it before, the coffee was nasty - but the baklava is some of the best I've ever had!

Anni

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Anni - thanks for the food rundown!

 

In answer to gaining so much weight onboard, and losing it quickly afterward - there's a way to minimize this: Figs every day at breakfast! ;) Trust me on this one!

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We recently found the food in the main restaurants not up to the standards of our previous cruises on the Dawn. The menus were certainly much less varied than we had experienced previously.

We did enjoy Cagney's and Salsa's but La Trattoria was disappointing with the Pizza to order and the Fruit de Mare & pasta we had really enjoyed on previous cruises were now very undistinguished.

The one area of dining on the Dawn which we felt had not diminished was the service which remains high especially for breakfast in Venetian and dinner in Impressions.

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:)

We recently found the food in the main restaurants not up to the standards of our previous cruises on the Dawn. The menus were certainly much less varied than we had experienced previously.

We did enjoy Cagney's and Salsa's but La Trattoria was disappointing with the Pizza to order and the Fruit de Mare & pasta we had really enjoyed on previous cruises were now very undistinguished.

The one area of dining on the Dawn which we felt had not diminished was the service which remains high especially for breakfast in Venetian and dinner in Impressions.

 

I agree....menus much less varied.

 

Cagney's and Le Bistro still great.

Salsa's we have eliminated since our last cruise on the Jewel:(

 

La Tratorria...I'm not Italian but my sauce is much better;)

 

Impressions for dinner (non-pay) we still enjoy:)

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Yes - they had ribs at the BBQ - there was practically a stampede for them! :)

 

Anni my mom spoke to one woman who works on the ship who said she always gains 15 pounds because there is so much salt in everything to keep it

 

Andy [heart] in the gym said most people gain 1 pound a day on cruises.

 

I'm thinking the only reason I didn't gain a lot (other than exercising every day) is that I didn't eat the high salt stuff.

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We took our 3rd cruise on the Dawn on Jan 22.

 

NCL has started to skimp on many items, and this was unofficially confirmed by one of the managers in the Garden Cafe. Case in point - smoked salmon (lox). On the previous 2 cruises, lox was available on the buffet in nice-sized piles. This year, it was nowhere to be found. We asked someone behind the buffet and were told they had none. About the 3rd or 4th day, we were able to corral a food service manager, and asked about the lox situation - he told us that it WAS available BY REQUEST. We asked why, and after having to carefully re-word questions to make it off-the-record, he did sort-of-acknowledge that cut-backs had been made. We did ask during future breakfasts - apparently the staff hade been alerted to the situation - and we were given enormous portions.

 

Regarding the dining rooms, the Venetian used to have a slightly different menu from Aqua/Impressions. Not any more. Now 3 identical menus. And the food was totally unimaginative compared to previous years. The dishes of the night for the most part consisted of one vegetarian, one pasta, boring chicken and fish renditions, and a meat choice. The best night was when chateaubriand and lobster were both on the menu. Both were well-prepared and tasty, and requests for multiple portions were no problem.

 

Specialty restaurants -

Le Bistro is still great. Of course the highlight of the meal is the chocolate fondue - ours was served at an appropriate temperature and when we asked for additional fruit it appeared immediately.

At Salsa, we asked for the tapas selection, and were originally told that it was available only for parties of 6 or more. Since that was ridiculous, we insisted, and magically it appeared. The meal itself was fine, unless you cannot handle even minimal spiciness. Almost everything on the menu "carried a kick".

In my opinion, there's nothing special about Bamboo, but at least it gives you an opportunity to avoid the dining rooms if you don't like the menu that night.

We find no reason to try Cagney's, and the La Trattoria menu is simply boring (and they serve chicken parm in the main dining room).

 

A big peeve: on previous voyages, the premium restaurants were half-price on sailaway night. That discount has been eliminated.

 

NCL says they're building one new ship a year. It looks like that's being partly financed by downgrading the food on existing ships.

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Will be on the Dawn 11/26. Have never sailed NCL before. Looking forward to freestyle. These boards are so helpful. My questions is: at the breakfast buffet, waffles are mentioned. Are they precooked & in the casserole dish for you to pick out, or are they cooked to order, like they do on (should I mention this?) Celebrity?

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Waffles are made to order. I would advise asking for 'well done' as they tend not to cook them enough. Once I asked for well done, they were perfect!

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Food is SUCH a subjective thing and everyone has different tastes, experiences and standards in these matters. We are fortunate in that we live in New York and have many excellent restaurants which we frequent on a regular basis. We are used to a high level in terms of food quality and service. We went on the Dawn with LOWER expectations because friends (and even our own travel agent) "warned" us about what we would find as far as far as food on the Dawn. We were not surprised to find that, as far as we are concerned, the food was not to our liking at all. That doesn't mean that others may find it absolutely delicious - Garden Cafe and all........

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Such as "mess hall grub" then I think you will be pleased. Sheesh, I cruise with chaps that will eat *ANYTHING*...

 

Whether the food is to my liking or or not I do expect good service. I was never disappointed. Your mileage will always vary.

 

Cheers,

 

Norman

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Such as "mess hall grub" then I think you will be pleased. Sheesh, I cruise with chaps that will eat *ANYTHING*...

 

Whether the food is to my liking or or not I do expect good service. I was never disappointed. Your mileage will always vary.

 

Cheers,

 

Norman

 

Do they have vegetarian Indian food in the army? Cool!

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I wonder how many others gained as much as I did? Thankfully I've now lost most of it - but I'll tell you I felt really crappy for about the first week. I even went and got one of those herbal detoxifying body wraps! Lol (A bit much I know - but I felt better) I was on weight watchers 2 years ago and lost 50 pounds, so we do eat very healthy now. I just ate like a pig is all - couldn't help it! My advice to all is wear a travel outfit with elastic waist. I couldn't zip my skirt up all the way when we left! Ack!

By the way - my apologies about the humongus post above. Jeeze - I guess I can't just say it in 50 words or less! (I don't' really talk that much in real life!)

Anni

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We just came off the Dawn. We only dined in the speciality restaurants.

 

All were about the level that cruise ships served in their main dining rooms years ago. Not bad but average.

 

We checked the main dining room menus each day and decided not to take a chance.

 

Never ate in the Garden cafe except for a cup of coffee and a cookie. Two luinches and one breakfast at the Venetian and other lunches at the Blue Lagoon and at the ports .

 

I guess the best way to judge the meals on the Dawn would be to ask yourself if you had the same food at home at a local restaurant and paid for each meal , would you go back again and how long would the restaurant stay in business.

 

Our answere would be no and no...

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NCL led the way when they brought the Dawn to New York. She proved to be a very popular ship with many repeat cruisers. Hopefully, NCL will not squander the good will they built up with the Dawn during the past few years by letting the quality of their product decline. It would not require a major effort for NCL to return to the standards we appreciated in the past. At a time that other cruise lines are coming to New York in increasing numbers, NCL cannot afford to do any less.

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NCL led the way when they brought the Dawn to New York. She proved to be a very popular ship with many repeat cruisers. Hopefully, NCL will not squander the good will they built up with the Dawn during the past few years by letting the quality of their product decline. It would not require a major effort for NCL to return to the standards we appreciated in the past. At a time that other cruise lines are coming to New York in increasing numbers, NCL cannot afford to do any less.

 

I've been sailing on NCL ships for years, and I haven't seen any degradation of service or food in the main restaurants. Yes, the menus have changed over the years, but that doesn't mean the foods are worse.

Change is good! Many complain about the seeing the same shows over and over, and I did read some posts last year complaining about the same food.

So, NCL changed the menus. Now many are posting wishing that NCL hadn't changed the menus.

 

This proves you just can't please everybody all the time.

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