Five Incredible Culinary Experiences You Wouldn’t Expect on a Cruise Ship

Words: Crush

Are you curious about cruising but don’t want to skimp on an exceptional culinary experience? Thankfully, today’s modern cruise liners offer much more than just an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Instead, you can expect most floating hotels to serve up a truly diverse food and beverage offering. Unique and immersive culinary experiences go beyond a satisfying meal and a decent drink or two. They’ll whisk you around the world in one sitting, giving you a taste of the destinations at which you’re disembarking and many other global culinary hotspots, too.

Cruise these 5 culinary experiences

With Freestyle Dining onboard Norwegian Cruise Lines, you can dine when and where you want, with no fixed dining times or pre-assigned seating. Choose from a selection of global cuisines and experiences.

Dine under the stars and around the world at a trendy food hall norwegian prima

Where: On board Norwegian Viva, launching in August this year, or her sister vessel, Norwegian Prima, launched in August 2022.

Where you’ll sail: The Mediterranean, the Greek Isles, Northern Europe, the Bahamas, the Caribbean and transatlantic cruises.

Culinary highlight:

For the trendiest laidback international dining, you’ll love Norwegian Cruise Line’s Indulge Food Hall and Outdoor Lounge – a first for the cruise line and the industry. Food markets and trucks have become a firm foodie favourite in the world’s coolest dining spots, and now you can enjoy this experience at sea too. Pull up a chair at a table or bar or nestle into a hammock or cabana on board Norwegian Viva and nibble on small plates as your tastebuds tour the globe, from Thailand and Italy to China to Greece. Leave some room for a sweet treat from Coco’s to finish off your global meal.

Enjoy Slice after slice of The best gourmet pizza at La Cucinanorwegian dawn-la cucina

Where: On board Norwegian Dawn, coming to South Africa in early 2024.

Where you’ll sail: Qatar, Mauritius, Madagascar, South Africa, Namibia and the west coast of Africa.

Culinary highlight:

You would be forgiven for thinking you’re sitting in Mama’s kitchen in Florence. Seated in La Cucina, a speciality restaurant, you can enjoy an elegant evening of living la dolce vita and feasting on the best Italian favourites.

In reality, you’ll be cruising the best of the southern African coastline, travelling up the relatively undiscovered west coast of Africa or the east coast up to the United Arab Emirates. Don’t miss the chance to try out a premium contemporary cruise product close to home. The bonus? No visas, shore excursions are priced in South African rand, and there’s no need to endure lengthy overseas flights.

Read all about our Mediterranean Cruise onboard Norwegian Escape

A little Food Theatre as Fresh guac is prepared tablesidelos lobos norwegian viva

Another culinary highlight on board most NCL vessels and itineraries is watching fresh guacamole prepared at Los Lobos, an NCL Mexican speciality restaurant offering traditional flavours with a modern twist.

Speciality restaurants promise culinary adventures on board, offering more than just a memorable meal but also a delightful culinary show, theatre and art.

Tip: Be sure to reserve your table in advance when dining at speciality restaurants as seats book out quickly!

Dinner and a show: the best of Asian cuisinechin chin asian restaurant

Where: On board the newly revamped Norwegian Jewel.

Where you’ll sail: Asia, Alaska, the Caribbean and the Mexican Riviera. There are Asia cruises from 10 departure ports. These cruises will sell like hotcakes for South Africans, as many Asian ports of call are visa-free, and there is good air connectivity from SA to Asia.

Culinary highlight:

The incredible food you’ll find around every street corner is one of the many highlights of a trip to Asia. You’ll get to immerse yourself in the destination on board a cruise too. Norwegian Jewel, for example, offers a complimentary (included in your cruise fare) Asian restaurant called Chin Chin, specialising in mouth-watering, freshly prepared noodles, delicious wok-fried dishes, authentic soups and more – all inspired by the various ports of call you’ll visit during your cruise.

Alternatively, book a table at speciality dining restaurant, Teppanyaki, and enjoy the show. A chef will whip up steak, chicken or seafood in an incredible performance as you prepare to feast on the freshest Japanese fare.

No rules, just the freedom to choose

Where: On board Norwegian Spirit.

Where you’ll sail: Alaska, Hawaii and the South Pacific.

Culinary highlight:
On a bucket list trip, such as visiting Alaska, you’ll be wowed by every view from your window or on deck. The food and beverages you enjoy on board should be no different. Alaska offers breathtaking wildlife experiences, and immersive local cultural experiences – a foodie’s dream.

Traditionally, cruise times and dining venues are set to accommodate the number of passengers on board. But Norwegian Cruise Lines offers more freedom – on every vessel in their fleet. Although speciality dining is fine dining, and a must-have experience, some evenings, you may want to relax and enjoy the freestyle dining concept, allowing you to dine when and where you want, with no dress code. This is a hit with South Africans who enjoy casual dining and the freedom to choose.

However, wherever and whenever you choose to dine at sea, the diversity of culinary options on today’s cruises will leave your mouth watering for more than just your next cruise holiday!


As the innovator in global cruise travel, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has been breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising for 56 years. Most notably, the cruise line revolutionised the industry by offering guests the freedom and flexibility to design their ideal vacation on their preferred schedule with no assigned dining and entertainment times and no formal dress codes. Today, its fleet of 18 contemporary ships sail to nearly 400 of the world’s most desirable destinations, including Great Stirrup Cay, the company’s private island in the Bahamas and its resort destination Harvest Caye in Belize.

NCL not only provides superior guest service from land to sea, but also offers a wide variety of award-winning entertainment and dining options as well as a range of accommodations across the fleet, including solo-traveller staterooms, club balcony suites, spa-suites and The Haven by Norwegian®, the company’s ship-within-a-ship concept.

For additional information or to book a cruise, contact a travel professional or visit the below. | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | TikTok

We cruise the Mediterranean onboard Norwegian Escape. Read all about it!

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