Norwegian Jade cruise review
Norwegian Cruise line's "Freestyle Cruising" theme emphasizes choices--above all, in the dining options available to passengers. On Norwegian Jade, you can choose from more than a dozen places to eat.
Eight restaurants are "complimentary"--i.e., included in your cruise fare--while the others are "specialty dining" venues with cover charges or a la carte menus. (At specialty restaurants, you'll also pay an 18-percent service charge.)
Our favorite restaurant on Norwegian Jade is the , which NCL bills--without exaggeration--as "a first-class dining experience in the grand tradition of the luxury liners of yesteryear."
The Grand Pacific has high ceilings, tall windows, works of art that pay homage to Hawaii (where Norwegian Jade sailed in its Pride of Hawaii days), and excellent food.
A typical dinner menu in the Grand Pacific dining room includes a choice of daily specials, along with "classic dishes" such as steaks, chicken, fish, spaghetti, and lasagna. Appetizers, salads, and soups are also on the menu. (Menus are available in at least half a dozen languages, and kids under 12 can order from a children's menu.)
The dessert selection changes daily, but NCL's justifiably popular "Warm Chocolate Volcano" was always available during our cruise.
, Norwegian Jade's other main dining room, is smaller than Grand Pacific (with only 258 seats) and it feels more like a New York eatery with its side-by-side tables and banquettes. Menus in both dining rooms are identical.
Theis Norwegian Jade's buffet-style restaurant. It's open for all three meals, and separate serving stations for hot dishes, grill items, Asian foods, desserts, etc. minimize queuing. A area near the entrance has child-sized tables and chairs.
To maintain food quality, the Garden Cafe's cooks make dishes in small batches that are replenished often. Not every item was perfect (we weren't impressed by the hamburgers, for example), but on the whole, Norwegian Jade's Garden Cafe struck us as being a notch up the quality scale compared to buffets on other mainstream cruise ships.
, an alfresco extension of the Garden Cafe, has outdoor tables and a more limited buffet menu. It's a great place for breakfast and lunch if you can score a table under the canopy.
We also recommend visiting The Great Outdoors late at night, when you can sit by the stern railing and enjoy a glass of ice water, iced tea, or lemonade under the stars.
Other complimentary dining options include(a 24-hour "comfort food" restaurant overlooking the Atrium), ("Asian Fusion" cuisine), (burgers and other light meals in Deck 13's suntan zone), and Topsiders Bar & Grill near the pool.
You can also orderin your room or on deck 24 hours a day. The food is free, but a delivery charge may apply.
We had dinner inand were favorably impressed--especially with our steaks, which were grilled to a perfect degree of doneness. (Cagney's is also used as a private breakfast and lunch restaurant for suite guests from The Haven.)
On another night, we dined in, a Brazilian-style "churrascaria" steakhouse overlooking the atrium, across from Blue Lagoon. During the meal, passadores or "meat waiters" took turns visiting our table to serve sausages, beef, lamb, and other meats until it was time for dessert.
Other specialty restaurants on Norwegian Jade include(French cuisine), (pastas and pizza), (similar to Benihana of Tokyo), and the a la carte in Jasmine Garden.
Ice water, ice tea, lemonade, coffee, and tea are free, and you'll never be treated as a cheapskate if you prefer teetotaling to tippling.
You'll pay bar prices for soda and alcoholic beverages, unless you buy wine by the bottle. (You can bring your own wine on board, but you'll be charged a corkage fee.)
Thirsty passengers can buy a variety of soda, beer and wine, and all-inclusive beverage packages at prices that range from less than USD 5 to more than USD 50 per day. These packages cover drinks in all restaurants and bars on Norwegian Jade.
The restaurants offer meat-free options. For example, in the Grand Pacific and Alizar dining rooms (where we dined most nights), the menu featured dishes such as ""Red 'Dal' Lentil Curry with Tamarind Rice and Poppadum" or "Spinach Beignets with Okra Ratatouille and Tomato Concassé." The Garden Cafe always had a good selection of salads, Asian stir-fries, and other dishes for herbivores.
If you have special dietary needs or food allergies, let the cruise line know at the time of booking, and preferably at least 30 days in advance. Later, after you're on board, you can sit down with the culinary staff and discuss menu options during your cruise.
NCL recommends booking tables online before you leave home. Once you're on the ship, you can reserve tables at specialty restaurants, but it's "first come, first serve" in the main dining rooms if you don't have a reservation. (We booked our dining times in the Grand Pacific and Alizar restaurants before the cruise, so we never had to wait more than a minute or two at the mâitre d's desk.)
To help you find a table onboard, Norwegian Jade has real-time monitors throughout the ship that use red, yellow, and green symbols to show which restaurants are most or least busy.
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