I just recently had the pleasure of cruising with my family onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America in Hawaii. The Pride of America is a very unique vessel since she is the only U.S.-flagged cruise ship that can travel around the Hawaiian Islands without calling on a foreign port.
From Under the Toque: Pride of America Culinary Review is continued below…
One benefit of this itinerary is the fact that you have an overnight stay in Maui and Kauai, which allows guests to experience the food and culture of each of the islands. Even though there are many culinary adventures to be had in port, the Pride of America offers her guests many culinary options onboard from the complimentary like Cadillac Diner and the main dining room to the specialty like Cagney’s Steakhouse and Teppanyaki.
Cadillac Diner is a very unique option as this is a 24-hour venue where guests can enjoy a wide variety of menu offerings. A venue like this is really great for this type of ship because with extended stays in port one might get back on the ship later at night, and this one offers a full menu at all hours. The restaurant delivers classic diner fare such as potato skins, cheeseburger and fries, chicken tenders, home-style meatloaf, tuna on rye, and of course, customizable milkshakes. What would a diner be without a milkshake, right?
The main dining room occupies the aft section of two decks, and each level is themed differently. Even though the menu offerings are the same, you can dine in either the Liberty dining room, which has a colonial theme with American historical elements, or the Skyline dining room that offers a 1930s Manhattan art deco feel. The menu in the main dining room has a wide variety of classic options like French onion soup, Caesar salad, prime rib, and decadent chocolate cake. I thoroughly enjoyed the prime rib dish because it was cooked to proper temperature and seasoned well, and the vegetables that were served with it were perfect.
If guests are looking for a variety of foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they can head to the Aloha Café located on deck 11. Even though this venue isn’t as large nor does it offer as vast an amount of food options as lidos on other ships, there is still something for everyone. Since I wanted to get off the ship to explore the islands, I would often grab a quick bite here for breakfast in the morning instead of going to the main dining room or Cagney’s. Here guests can enjoy traditional American breakfast, eggs benedict, omelets made to order, and a variety of griddle cakes (pancakes, French toast, and waffles).
The Pride of America also offers a large variety of speciality restaurants, which is actually quite surprising, especially because of the smaller size of the vessel. These restaurants are the French-inspired Jefferson’s Bistro, Cagney’s Steakhouse, Teppanyaki, East Meets West, the Italian-inspired La Cucina, and Moderno Churrascaria. I liked how streamlined the reservation process was for the restaurants, as well as the fact that they had the dining availability for the day displayed on video monitors in the main common areas.
If guests are looking to experience flavors from the Far East, they can visit East Meets West for sushi (pictured in the header above) and Pan Asian cuisine or Teppanyaki for traditional Japanese hibachi. I really love a good hibachi restaurant because food always seems to taste so much better when it is cooked on one of those seasoned flat tops, and who doesn’t love dinner and a show wrapped into one. The chefs at Teppanyaki do a good job delivering the classic hibachi dishes like filet mignon, shrimp, onion volcanoes, and garlic fried rice with that signature flashy show element.
The other specialty restaurant that we were able to enjoy was the Brazilian steakhouse, Moderno Churrascaria, which has a prime location in the back of the ship that offers beautiful views. Moderno is a classic churrascaria that offers guests a salad bar with a wide variety of cold salads, as well as ample ingredients for one to build their own salad. When you are ready for the main course, which is a wide variety of grilled and barbecued proteins, flip over your card to the green side to signal the servers that you are ready to begin your meat course. If you plan on dining at Moderno, make sure that you come with an empty stomach and are prepared to eat a substantial amount of food.
There are a few shortcomings when it comes to the cuisine onboard Norwegian’s Pride of America. I noticed that many dishes, especially in the Aloha Café, were generally under-seasoned, and the flavors weren’t fully developed. As a chef, I personally believe that having a wide variety of restaurants is great, but it’s important to make sure that all the dining rooms are serving consistent quality as well.
Overall and particularly for the price, Norwegian Cruise Line’s culinary department does a good job providing multiple food options and venues to all of their patrons onboard Pride of America.
Until next time, ciao and remember to enjoy life one bite at a time!
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: JASON LEPPERT