Category Archives: Cruise Ship Dining

WindSurf: photo follow-up

by Don McCann

In our last post, I promised to post photos of the WindSurf from our recent cruise in Italy & Croatia.  The photo link is below, but I also want to add a few comments…

Although WindSurf looks unlike a traditional cruise ship from the outside, the interior is very much like many ships.  It is very comfortable for someone looking for the Lounge, the Dining Room, or a Specialty Dining alternative.  It’s very stable; we had only one night of ‘some’ motion and the winds were such that I’m sure ANY cruise ship in the area had motion, as well.  The cabin is designed to look like more of a yacht-type accommodation, than a cruise ship, but you’ll find all of the same amenities, but with maybe more storage (the storage was really great).  What you don’t find is a crowd.  With only 310 guests, it’s very relaxed, with no lines, no competition for best seats in the lounge, etc.  If you’ve only cruised on large ships, it’s difficult to imagine how much better the experience can be on a smaller vessel (maybe ask someone who’s taken a river cruise).

Regardless of which of the Windstar Cruises’ yacht ships you might select, you’ll have an upscale experience – trust me!

Now for those photos……

Camera icon click here mod

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Filed under Croatia Cruise, Cruise Ship Dining, European Cruises, Italy Cruise, Mediterranean & Europe Cruises, Mediterranean Cruises, Our Cruise Stories, Our Cruises, River Cruises, Uncategorized, Windstar Cruises, Windsurf

Technology – It’s a Thing!

by Don McCann

Last week we received a preview video of Holland America Line’s new Koningsdam, which will be introduced next Spring. The ship is, as you might expect, quite impressive and I’m sure it will be a wonderful addition to the Holland America fleet. However, equally as impressive to me is the technology of the video itself! We see many of this type of ‘preview’ videos these days, but I continue to be amazed at the ability of the digital ‘renderings’ to come to life in such a way that it’s difficult to remember that this is not ‘real’ just yet!

Take a look at this short 3minute video and see if you agree that this visual technology is quite a ‘thing’! ……

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Filed under Caribbean Cruises, Cruise News, Cruise Ship Dining, Holland America Line, Mediterranean & Europe Cruises, Mediterranean Cruises, New Ship

Navigator of the Seas: Revitalized!

by Don McCann

When a ship goes into dry dock for some updating, or refreshing, we call it “refurbished“, but when a redo is this dramatic, we have to say the ship was “revitalized“!  Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas had an extended dry dock earlier this year.  Much more than the usual new carpets and perhaps new bed covers, this operation included such features as:

  • New Panoramic Oceanview cabins added up on Deck 12
  • The addition of a new Modern Mexican Specialty Restaurant, Sabor
  • Asian Specialty Restaurant, Izumi
  • A Flowrider surf simulator added to Sports Deck
  • Select interior cabins converted to “Virtual Balcony” cabins via a floor to ceiling digital video screen
  • Giovanni’s Table, Italian Specialty Restaurant in former Portofino
  • New Diamond Lounge for Diamond level Crown & Anchor members

We were treated to a one-night agent cruise last weekend so that we could experience some of Navigator’s amenities first-hand.  My first impression was how much the ship seems to feel virtually ‘new’.  The ship was built in 2002, but you’d never know it by taking a look around.  The cabin’s have been refreshed with new soft goods and all areas I was able to see seemed in very good condition.  The facilities and features of this ship are simply overwhelming for anyone who is boarding for the first time.  I was able to visit most areas of the ship and some of my photos are below.  Take a look and let us know if a voyage with Navigator of the Seas might be of interest to you!

Navigator of the Seas sails year-round from Galveston on 7-night cruises to the Western Caribbean.

Navigator of the Seas: Solarium on Deck 11 for adults only

Solarium on Deck 11 for adults only

Navigator of the Seas:  Viking Crown Lounge overlooking Pool Deck

Viking Crown Lounge overlooking Pool Deck

Navigator of the Seas: Izumi

Izumi – Deck 14

Navigator of the Seas: Izumi Asian Specialty Restaurant

Izumi Asian Specialty Restaurant, with stunning views of the sea from Deck 14!

Navigator of the Seas:  Giovanni's Table Italian Specialty Restaurant on Deck 11

Giovanni’s Table, Italian Specialty Restaurant on Deck 11

Navigator of the Seas: Chop's Grille, Steakhouse Specialty Restaurant on Deck 11

Chop’s Grille, Steakhouse Specialty Restaurant on Deck 11 (an outstanding dining experience!)

Navigator of the Seas: Chop's Grille Deck 11

Chop’s Grille, Deck 11

Navigator of the Seas: Royal Suite

Royal Suite. 1,336 sq ft + 266 sq ft balcony. Although most of us will never get the opportunity to stay here, it is very nice to have a look!

Navigator of the Seas:  Standard Balcony Cabin

Standard Balcony Cabin: 184 sq ft + 50 sq ft balcony

Navigator of the Seas:  Standard Oceanview Cabin

Standard Oceanview Cabin: 160 sq ft

Navigator of the Seas:  Interior Cabin with Virtual Balcony

Interior Cabin with Virtual Balcony: 150 sq ft. Provides live view of current location, complete with sound! (yes, it CAN be turned off if you prefer)

Navigator of the Seas:  Promenade Cabin

Promenade Cabin: 160 sq ft., overlooking the interior Royal Promenade

Navigator of the Seas:  Family Panoramic Oceanview Cabin

Family Panoramic Oceanview Cabin: 406 sq ft. Can accommodate up to six with a bath and a half.

Navigator of the Seas:  Sapphire Dining Room

The three level Sapphire Dining Room (stunning from each level!)

Navigator of the Seas:  Sapphire Dining Room

Sapphire Dining Room on Decks 3, 4, & 5

Navigator of the Seas: Sabor Modern Mexican Specialty Restaurant

Sabor: Modern Mexican Specialty Restaurant. The food here was varied in selection, nicely presented, and DELICIOUS!

Navigator of the Seas: Sabor, tableside guacamole preparation

Sabor, tableside guacamole preparation! Mild, spicy, or HOT – just tell him; a fun twist to a very nice dinner.

Navigator of the Seas:  Royal Promenade

Royal Promenade: the heart of the ship’s activities

Navigator of the Seas:  Cafe Promenade

Cafe Promenade, 24 hour complimentary pizza, sandwiches, and snacks

Navigator of the Seas:   Vintages Wine Bar in Royal Promenade

Vintages Wine Bar in Royal Promenade

Navigator of the Seas:   Bolero

Bolero, just off the Royal Promenade (great Mojitos are found here!)

Navigator of the Seas:  Schooner Bar

Schooner Bar on Deck 4; same design as all of their other ships, but never gets old!

Navigator of the Seas:   Royal Theater

Royal Theater on Decks 2, 3, & 4; home to varied and exciting entertainment options

Navigator of the Seas:  Cosmopolitan Club in Viking Crown Lounge

Cosmopolitan Club in Viking Crown Lounge, Deck 14; expansive views of the sea and pool decks below

Navigator of the Seas:  Johnny Rockets hamburger diner

Johnny Rockets hamburger diner, Deck 12

Navigator of the Seas:   Sports Court on Deck 13

Sports Court on Deck 13

Navigator of the Seas:  Rock Climbing Wall

Rock Climbing Wall, Deck 13 (not for me, but enjoyed my many others)

Navigator of the Seas:   Flowrider Surf Simulator

Flowrider Surf Simulator, Deck 13; great to watch the successes and wipeouts which occur here!

Navigator of the Seas:  Royal Promenade

Royal Promenade below (note Promenade view cabins on either side)

Questions?  Please ask us!

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Filed under Caribbean Cruises, Cruise News, Cruise Ship Dining, Navigator of the Seas, New Ship, Our Cruise Stories, Royal Caribbean, Virtual Balcony Cabin

Freestyle Dining on Norwegian Breakaway

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).

(click on images below to enlarge)

Norwegian Breakaway Manhattan Dining Room

Manhattan Dining Room

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.

Norwegian Breakaway Moderno

Moderno Churrascaria

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.

Norwegian Breakaway Teppanyaki


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.

Norwegian Breakaway Cagneys

Cagney’s Steakhouse

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.

Waterfront on Norwegian Breakaway


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.

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Filed under Caribbean Cruises, Cruise Ship Dining, New Ship, Norwegian Breakaway, Our Cruise Stories