Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NCL Dawn Bermuda - Freestyle Dining

I've talked about Freestyle Dining before, but in case you have forgotten, NCL is the only cruise line that offers up to 13 different restaurants on board a single ship. You can dine where you want and select from Steak, sushi, Teppanyaki, tapas, French, Mediterranean, Asian Fusion, Italian, Tex-Mex, buffets, pizza.

In addition, you can dine when you want from 5:30 PM to midnight with seating until 10:00 PM. You have the option to decide last minute or make reservations 24 hours in advance. Certain cabin categories allow you to make reservations further in advance.

When we boarded the Norwegian Dawn, we made our dinner reservations for Monday night at Teppanyaki. This is a Japanese style restaurant where your food is prepared in front of you. If you like restaurants like Benihana, you'll love Teppanyaki. Let's take a closer look...

You'll be seated at a table for 10 with a large cooking area surrounding you. The waitress takes your drink order and brings you a salad. While you are eating your salad you decide what you want to eat. Choose from Chicken, Jumbo Shrimp, Filet Mignon, Lobster, Calamari, Scallops or various combinations of these items.

Next you'll be given your cup of soup along with various dipping sauces for your meal. The fun is about to begin as the chefs enter the room. Knives and other cooking utensils are tapped on the cooking service or twirled as the show unfolds before your eyes. The chef begins by making a vegetable appetizer for the entire table. Items like onions, squash, carrots, peppers are sliced and cooked. He divides the food into individual servings and moves onto the next dish.

More acrobatics as he makes fried rice with scrambled eggs and all the trimmings. Of course he doesn't simply crack the egg, anyone can do that. How about catching the egg in his chefs hat and then cracking it open after that. Who knows what your chef might do to entertain you. Every dinner could be entirely different. They thrive on your involvement and really seem to enjoy their "work".

After verifying each dinner entree order, the main cooking begins. Our table had a mixture of chicken, shrimp, steak, and lobster. Each meal is cooked to order as you continue eating the vegetables and fried rice. If you had a combination meal, such as shrimp and steak, the chef will prepare part of your meal and place it on your plate while continuing to cook the rest of the food.

When everyone has received their complete meal, the chef bids farewell with some flare as before, to the applause of an appreciative audience. The waitress reappears to clean up and to settle your bill (there is an extra gratuity for this freestyle venue). Since you have been entertained, I would say that they earn the gratuity in this case.

We enjoyed our meal at Teppanyaki. The choice is yours on your cruise. Since, as NCL says, you are free to whatever - that includes dining with whom you want, where you want, and when you want (obviously within limits).

Next time, I'll start discussing the various attractions we visited in Bermuda.

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