Norwegian vs. Carnival: How do they compare?by Fran Golden | August 31, 2016
Norwegian has one of the industry’s largest selections of onboard restaurants, with as many as 25 dining choices. Complimentary choices include decent buffets, sexy supper clubs, and fairly standard pub grub. But, if you’re willing to pay a fee, you can choose from Japanese teppanyaki grills, steakhouses, Italian spots, Brazilian restaurants, French, sushi bars, and Asian noodle houses – some with outdoor dining. The newer ships have even more exciting and well-executed specialty restaurants: Norwegian Escape has Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville and a restaurant by Iron Chef Jose Garces as well as a truly creative fusion spot, Food Republic. (Buffalo shrimp maki, anyone?) Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway have Ocean Blue, a lovely "sea-to-table" seafood restaurant.
Carnival has fewer choices, but also some very good ones that don’t come with a surcharge. You pay extra for some specialty restaurants (steakhouse, sushi, Italian, Asian, seafood) but in a lot of cases we’re just as happy with what’s included. The impressive lineup of complimentary choices include decadent burgers (which are hand-ground and served on just-baked buns) created in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri, a poolside Mexican taco bar where everything from the fresh-from-the-fryer tortilla chips to the battered fish is made to order, a new barbecue restaurant from Guy Fieri, and (on newer ships) truly excellent pizzas. One splurge we recommend: The new Carnival Vista has a seafood market where you can order the catch of the day by the pound and have it prepared any way you like in any dining room on board.
Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.