For those who have never cruised, one might think of cruise ship dining as über traditional with assigned seating, formal dress, and dated food. Luckily, in the 21st century, cruisers have the luxury of cruising in ways like never before that include better food in a far more relaxed atmosphere. After all, it was Norwegian Cruise Line that introduced Freestyle Dining “with no fixed dining times or pre-assigned seating, you’ll have more freedom throughout your entire cruise vacation. With so many different places to eat on board, you can experience all kinds of dining options – perhaps a different one every day.”
In this post I’m covering the two main dining rooms (MDR) that I visited during my 4-night Bahamas cruise on the Norwegian Sky. Three of the four nights I dined in Crossings Restaurant located on deck 5 aft. To get to the restaurant, you have to go to deck 6 aft and then either walk down a flight of stairs (as seen in the first picture) or ride down one flight in the elevator. Apparently guests find this restaurant harder to locate according to the hostess, but it really isn’t difficult to get to once you decipher the layout of the ship. With seating for 574 guests and wonderful views of the sea and sky throughout, guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner in Crossings.
For my first night onboard, the menu selections in Crossings Restaurant were varied and I have to say, quite delicious. My dining companion is let’s say, something of a carnivore, so throughout this post you’ll see meat and non-meat options.
Click on each of the pics for a bigger picture and description of each item. The soups were all tasty, but the Onion Soup shouldn’t be confused with French Onion Soup as the bread and cheese are placed at the bottom of the bowl and the soup ladled over top. The Cream of Mushroom Soup was indeed mushroomy and creamy and the Cream of Broccoli soup was bright green and full of flavor, but more of a broccoli soup than a broccoli and cheddar soup.
The Roasted Garlic Polenta Cake was quite tasty and beautifully presented and I enjoyed the Moroccan Sweet Potato Rice Cake far more on the Norwegian Sky than I did more than two years earlier on the Norwegian Epic, which you can read about here. The cake was crispy and there was a substantial amount of the chickpea salad, which made it an overall hearty vegetarian entree. The steaks throughout the dinner service were cooked to order, but for one night when it was definitely too rare when ordered medium. In addition, the baked potato is always served with about a tablespoon of sour cream so if you like more, you probably should ask at the time you place your order.
Dessert options always include a sugar free selection, fruit, cheese, and ice cream. Alongside dessert, you can order coffee, which I was told was the Norwegian brand of coffee that is somewhat clear and not full bodied. This could be intentional as they do try to upsell you to the Lavazza brand and specialty coffees like a cappuccino or espresso. On this night both a fruit plate and the Key Lime Pie were ordered and both were devoured.
On night two in Crossings, our meals began with soup again, this time the Cream of Broccoli, which was definitely much greener on this night than the first night. The Black Bean soup was also well received although I wished they would have prepared it without ham for non-meat eaters. I also ordered the Roasted Pumpkin, Fennel and Arugula Salad with orange vinaigrette and I have to say it was my favorite selection on the entire cruise. Somehow it all worked together and it was so incredibly tasty although I would have liked more of the fennel and pumpkin on the plate.
The vegetarian entreé on night two was a Zesty Vegetable and Bean Burrito and although I appreciated that there was a non-meat option, I couldn’t bring myself to have a burrito for dinner. Instead I opted for the Penne Pasta with creamy cheese alfredo, which was not a healthy choice by any means. It did have the strangest and almost sweet taste to it, which was probably for the best as I tried it and then pushed it away. My dining companion opted for two steaks for dinner and declared the Latin Style Grilled Sirloin Steak with chimichurri sauce the best steak of the entire cruise. For dessert, the sugar free Red Velvet Cake was well, sugar free and a little light on taste.
For night three, dinner was at the pretty in pink Palace Restaurant located mid ship on deck 5. Although offering the same menu as Crossings, the atmosphere was definitely different and much more subdued than in the other main dining room. Not sure if it was during that particular dinner service that the waitstaff was extraordinarily quiet or if it is always like that. With seating for 532 guests, it is slightly smaller than Crossings, but you really wouldn’t be able to tell that it’s smaller. Palace Restaurant is open only for dinner nightly from 5:30 pm – 10 pm.
Starters on this night included a Roasted Corn and Cheddar Cheese Soup, which had a strange hue to it, but tasted good and a simple, but delicious Greek Salad. My dining companion ordered the Sundried Tomato and Sweet Onion Quiche with Mixed Greens and Lime Dressing, which didn’t work on any level. Unfortunately, the quiche was overcooked and appeared as two parts on the plate and the dressing was as bland as bland can be.
Again I opted for something with far too much dairy and shouldn’t have, which was the Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Three Cheese Sauce (Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Fontina Cheeses). Unfortunately, the cheese sauce had formed a skin and congealed when presented at the table, which was a strong indicator that the plate had been sitting for a while before served. Additionally, while the three cheeses mentioned in the menu description are mild in flavor, you could clearly tell that a strong flavored cheese like a blue or roquefort cheese had been added, which was overpowering to the otherwise delicate ravioli. Let’s just say I left dinner hungry that evening. The other entrees that evening included a Louisiana Blackened Snapper over a Seafood and Andouille Gumbo, which might have been salvaged had it been served over a bed of rice and had more seafood and sausage as advertised. In fact, there was no discernible seafood to be found in the “gumbo” which was an otherwise brown sauce served with the fish. The Rib Eye Steak looked a little anemic as if it had been steamed instead of grilled and tasted as such. Overall, the meal in Palace left us hungrier than when we first arrived.
The only saving grace in Palace Restaurant was the Kahlua Tiramisu Cake, which was light and airy, but don’t confuse it with real tiramisu. Still it was a delicious ending to an otherwise less than satisfying meal.
For the last night of the cruise, I returned to Crossing Restaurant where our server was Pluto, a friendly and chatty young man from India. I started my meal with the Potato and Leek soup, which was creamy and delicious. The Caesar Salad, on the other hand, was a plate full of greens and far too much Parmesan, but some people probably like that. The typical starter plate with empanadas comes with one empanada, but Pluto took care of my guest by providing four empanadas.
My entreé on this evening was the Potato Gnocchi and Portabello Mushrooms with sage and pumpkin sauce, which was light on mushrooms and the sauce was . My dining guest had two entreés consisting of the Roasted Pork Loin, which was dry and fatty and the NY Strip Steak, which was the steak that appeared at the table far too rare to consume. Pluto took it back and brought a correctly prepared medium rare steak.
For anyone thinking that you can’t have a great meal onboard a Norwegian Cruise ship unless you dine in a specialty restaurant and pay a surcharge, I would have to disagree. There are plenty of options for the average cruiser in the main dining room and with an open mind, you can certainly have a pretty good meal while at sea. While I wouldn’t say that the food on the Norwegian Sky is fine dining, I do think that most guests will enjoy not having to cook dinner and will enjoy the massive steaks, salads, soups, and desserts. While healthier selections are indicated on the menu, I do wish that Norwegian Cruise Line as well as other cruise lines would focus on offering more non-meat options with substantial protein such as tofu, tempeh, Gardein, etc. instead of fillers and carbs. I would definitely prefer quality over quantity any day of the week.
More posts still to come on the Norwegian Sky including other dining options as well as bars and lounges.