Dining on the Norwegian Encore
The Norwegian Encore is Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ship, and I got the chance to experience it during its inaugural sailing out of Miami. One of the things that I look forward to on a cruise is all the delicious food options, and the Norwegian Encore definitely impressed during our sailing with all of its dining options.
There are plenty of dining options included on the Encore. For all occasions, there's the Garden Cafe, which is the ship's buffet serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We stopped by there for lunch one day and enjoyed the wide variety of options, everything from burgers and pizza to a spread of Indian dishes, as well as plenty of desserts and ice cream. Breakfast features omelet stations, pancakes and waffles, fruit, bacon, sausage, and lots of other options.
For table-service dining, guests can visit Taste and Savor, two of the complimentary main dining rooms. They offer dinner each night, and at least one restaurant also serves breakfast, and sometimes lunch as well. The Encore's third complimentary dining room is the Manhattan Room, which features its own unique menu for dinner. If you're looking for more options, you can also stop by The Local, open 24 hours and serving up pub-style food, often with entertainment taking place on the stage below.
One of Norwegian Cruise Line's signature offerings is their wide variety of specialty dining options, with something available for just about every taste. The Encore is no different, boasting nearly a dozen specialty restaurants onboard serving everything from seafood to Texas barbecue. We only had time to try out a fraction of them, but we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner experiences at the majority of them. During the inaugural, I got to eat at four of the specialty dining restaurants.
First up is Le Bistro, which offers up delicious French cuisine, and is one of the stand-bys of Norwegian Cruise Line's specialty restaurants. They have excellent versions of the dishes we always crave at a French restaurant, from escargot to French onion soup. This restaurant also had one of my favorite desserts of the trip, a hazelnut napoleon.
The next restaurant we got to try is a new addition just for the Norwegian Encore, Onda by Scarpetta, which serves up a menu of Italian specialties. My favorites that I tried were the octopus appetizer and the mezzelune pasta, and overall this meal was my favorite of our dining experiences on the Encore.
Cagney's was the last restaurant we got to try, and is another specialty restaurant that is present on pretty much all Norwegian Cruise Line ships. The menu offers up traditional steakhouse fare, including shrimp cocktail, prime rib, and, of course, many different cuts of steak with various sides. This one seemed to be in very high demand, so be sure to make reservations if you'd like to dine here. (This advice can go for any specialty restaurants, since they have limited seating).
The other specialty restaurant we tried was American Diner, a more casual restaurant up on the pool deck with a 1950s diner theme and a menu to match. This one was mostly a miss for us - two of our group were unhappy with the dishes we got, and for the rest of us our meals were just okay. We had access to a similar menu with better offerings at the Garden Cafe, at no additional cost, so I'd recommend going there instead.
Lastly, while not really a 'specialty restaurant', we also visited the Encore's onboard Starbuck's. Like the specialty restaurants, the Starbuck's also comes at an extra cost, with a la carte pricing for drinks and pastries. Unlike some other cruise ship coffee shops, this one is a fully licensed Starbuck's, including all the seasonal drinks you'd expect from a Starbuck's on land. This will definitely hit the spot for Starbuck's fans.
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