A newcomer to the Australian cruise scene this past summer was Holland America Line’s MS Noordam. Taking over from MS Oosterdam, its much loved sister ship, MS Noordam has quietly but quickly developed a reputation as one of the classiest ships to call Australia home. On the larger end of the mid-size scale, Noordam packs a punch for selection with the vessel featuring a plethora of choice for today’s hungry cruiser, with cuisine truly at the heart of the design of the ship, and no less than seven dining options at your disposal.
Food is so important aboard Holland America Line that a dedicated Culinary Council of high profile chefs and restaurateurs from around the world plays a large role in the F&B direction of the brand. Sydney based chef Mark Best is one of six global kitchen wizards brought in by the line to develop menus and dining experiences, with Noordam providing the perfect setting to execute these menus and concepts.
Vista Main Dining Room
We start our look at Noordam’s dining options in the multi-story Vista Main Dining Room. The two storey space offers two traditional set seatings at 5.45pm and 8.00pm each evening on the lower level, while on the upper level, guests choosing the line’s ‘As You Wish’ flexible dining will happily be accommodated whenever they turn up between 5.15pm and 9pm each evening. The venue also plays host to lunch and breakfast on a open seating basis, while a “light bites” afternoon tea is also served on sea days and selected port days.
The menu for each lunch and dinner service varies with new offerings every night of your voyage, while part of the menu features staple items like a steak or a chicken breast and is available to order every night throughout the voyage.
Dining in the Vista Dining Room is complementary, with tips for wait staff covered by the daily gratuity added to your onboard account each day.
If formality isn’t your style, you most likely will be inclined to head to the ship’s causal dining option, the Lido Restaurant. More of a buffet than an actual restaurant, it sits high on the ship’s Lido deck, offering views out to sea and over the horizon. The casual eatery lacks a dress code in the evenings but is a great and relaxed way to enjoy dinner, the venue offering exclusive dishes and also selected main courses from the Vista Dining Room menu, with waiter service providing a touch of elegance to your more casual evening. Alfresco dining can also be enjoyed in the Lido area, great for balmy nights in the South Pacific.
Food selection is varied with dishes from around the world appearing each day, while on longer voyages, theme nights such as Italian or Asian see the menu naturally gravitate towards those specialities.
The Lido Restaurant is another complementary venue, with extended opening hours for dinner from 5pm to 11pm.
Canaletto Italian Dining
Occupying a small side portion of the Lido Restaurant each evening, Canaletto provides an affordable alternative dining option at a small US$10 per person cover charge. The menu is traditional Italian, with dishes designed to be “Spartire” which is the Italian word for sharing. Think dishes such as Grilled Chicken Cacciatore and Tiramisu and you will get the vibe for the hearty Italian fare on offer.
Canaletto is a more relaxed option than the main dining room, so think of this as an upscale casual eatery. Pre-booking through Holland America’s pre cruise planner is recommended as Canaletto is especially popular on voyage with regular Holland America Line ‘Mariners’.
The Dive-In at Terrace Grill
By far the most casual option on Noordam, the Dive In Grill is a poolside eatery, serving burgers, hot dogs and tacos as the flavours of the day. Dressed in anything more than pool attire, you may feel overdressed at this complementary dining option, which is located in one corner of the pool deck. The casual eatery is open from mid-morning until the evening with guests able to dine under the ship’s retractable roof, should the weather prove inclement.
The Pinnacle Grill
As the name suggests, the most luxurious dining option aboard Noordam. The Pinnacle Grill offers a formal setting and indulgent menu for a US$29 cover charge. Guests’ tastebuds are effectively pampered with some of the finest service at sea and a menu featuring exotic delights such as Roasted Jidori Chicken and Steamed Alaskan Crab Legs with French Butter. The dress code is formal, with a decor and style to match the dress code. The Pinnacle Grill is one of the most popular alternative dining options afloat so booking prior to departure is imperative. For a more detailed look at Pinnacle Grill, check out our recent review.
A Night at Le Cirque
Famed New York City eatery Le Cirque hits the high seas with Holland America Line in what is a night your taste buds will likely remember. An experience appearing only once on each voyage, a night at Le Cirque sees The Pinnacle Grill transformed into the famed restaurant with the menus a direct replication of the award winning New York experience. A cover charge of US$49 per person sees guest favourites transformed into dishes such as Wild Burgundy Escargot and Chateaubriand among the most popular choices.