When Norwegian Cruise Line introduced the "Freestyle Cruising" concept there were certainly many traditional cruisers who were aghast at the idea that they wouldn't necessarily be sitting at the same dinner table, with the same companions, and being served by the same wait staff every night.
Other cruisers, like Cruise Diva, felt liberated. No longer would we have to suffer in silence as our tablemates played the "Have You Been To...?" game in one-upmanship style. Nor would we be waiting for chronically tardy dinner partners, or the ones who couldn't get through a meal without bickering.
The traditionalists had some valid concerns, though. They wondered if the food and service in the main dining rooms would suffer due to the introduction of reservations-required, extra charge restaurants serving specialty meals. They also scoffed at the idea that passengers would actually pay for food on a cruise ship.
Those concerns and attitudes proved to be without merit. Cruise Diva has found the food on NCL's "Freestyle Cruising" ships to be better than it was previously, especially in the dining rooms and buffets. And the specialty restaurants, while requiring some planning in terms of reservations, are extremely popular.
So, let's go out to dinner on Norwegian Epic and try some of the no-charge options as well as the dining with an international flavor. Pictured above is the dining room Taste, which serves traditional and contemporary cuisine. The design with that high, high ceiling and spectacular chandelier is quite dramatic.
Norwegian Epic's second dining room, the Manhattan Room (below) is probably my favorite with panoramic ocean views from the two-story, floor-to-ceiling windows. The dance floor gives it the feel of a New York City supper club, although it's uncertain how many diners will actually take a spin on it between courses.
Moving along to the specialty restaurants, Cruise Diva has three favorites that are featured on Norwegian Epic.
Cagney's Steakhouse & Moderno Churrascaria
Cruise Diva loves the traditional steakhouse and wonders why no one else has ever fused it with an Argentinean-inspired Churrascaria. It's a natural fit. While the meals are served in what North Americans would consider the usual way in Cagney's, in Moderno the waiters come to your table with knives and a skewer, on which are speared meat grilled to order.
As good as the food is in this popular restaurant, the chef is the star of the meal. The contemporary Asian décor and 24 oversized Hibachi grills set the stage for some amazing dinner theater.
One of Norwegian Cruise Line's signature dining venues, Le Bistro has been Cruise Diva's favorite since first dining there on Norwegian Dream more than a decade ago. Aboard Norwegian Epic, the décor is contemporary and the French-inspired dining in the less fussy atmosphere is a great way to celebrate a special occasion.
"Fresh & Freestyle, Pizza 24/7"
After a long day of doing whatever you want, you may not feel like dressing up to go "out" to dinner, so do what we do at home. Order pizza! That''s right, pizza delivery service is offered 24 hours a day aboard Norwegian Epic. You can get a piping hot pizza with your favorite toppings delivered directly to your table, your stateroom, poolside, or your favorite bar or lounge. Just ask a server or call room service to place your order.
Photos Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line