by Don McCann
In my recent post on the new Norwegian Breakaway I mentioned the dining would be featured in a separate blog. Perhaps the easiest way to explain the need for this is that the Breakaway is all about the dining! Yes, the ship has Norwegian’s signature entertainment of excellent quality and, yes, it has a great sports deck with a wonderful water park, but (for someone like me), it’s all about the dining. Norwegian Cruise Line introduced “Freestyle Cruising” several years ago and one of the primary pillars of this program is the unstructured dining. They felt that the traditional ‘early sitting & late sitting’ assigned dining times did not fit with the concept of a vacation and that you should be able to decide what time you wish to dine. So they introduced Freestyle Dining where you not only have the option of choosing what time you will dine, but also where you will dine, as well. They still have the traditional ‘main dining room’ with a continental menu, but great specialty dining options such as Italian, a Steakhouse, french Bistro, etc. Several of these are all included in your cruise fare, but some have an additional surcharge and that does not seem to deter their popularity (many book up all their tables on virtually every sailing).
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Onboard Breakaway I found the food to be of very good quality in both the included options as well as in the specialty additional charge venues. The main dining room, Manhattan, it has a large dance floor in the center of the two level room so it has a decided supper club feel and is one of the most impressive I’ve seen on any ship. Our table was just around the corner from the live orchestra, so this was perfect for me – great music, but not close enough to be too loud. The impressive menu choices are presented in a tall menu with a the Empire State Building on the cover, so the Manhattan theme is carried out effectively and tastefully. The same menu choices are also offered in both “Taste” and “Savor”, two smaller dining options which have a more intimate feel; a very nice idea in that you can dine in what feels like a “specialty” venue, but there is no additional charge.
During our short two night agent preview cruise, we were able to get reservations to sample two of the ship’s most unique specialty dining choices: Moderno (churrascaria) and Teppanyaki. Moderno features the same experience as it’s landbased counterparts with a great salad bar and roving gouchos serving you almost any cut of deliciously seasoned meats of which you can think! The woven placemats set the stage right from the moment you are seated that this will be a unique dining experience and what followed was as great as expected and then some.
If you are not quite sure what Teppanyaki is, then simply think “Benihana”. Here we were seated with four others around a large grill area where the master Asian chef not only creates a wonderful meal, but provides an impressive culinary show in the process. Choices are decidedly Asian, but include both steak & lobster, as well as a tofu option which someone at our table ordered and loved. All of the food is so freshly prepared that is outstanding, but it’s the entire experience of the entertainment mixed with the social aspect that really makes this a dining event.
Other dining choices include Cagney’s Steakhouse, LeBistro (for French cuisine with great Paris artwork and even a ’sidewalk’ dining option), O’Sheehan’s Irish Pub, LaCucina Italian, Shanghai’s Noodle Bar, and Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian. Some of these even feature the choice of dining al fresco at The Waterfront, an exciting possibility to dine on deck overlooking the ocean! Whether you elect to dine at a complimentary dining location, or splurge a little and pay for the specialty venues, the choices for dining on Norwegian Breakaway are almost endless during your 7-day cruise.
Norwegian Breakaway sails year-round from New York, calling on Bermuda in the summer and Caribbean in the winter. Her brand new twin sister, Norwegian Getaway, will be introduced early in 2014 and she will sail year-round from Miami to the Caribbean.