NCL Joy Included Food Review

Sep 11, 2023
garden cafe

NCL Joy Included Food Review


Byte Size Cruises here and welcome back! Here at Byte Size Cruises we look to share all the information on cruising so you can plan and go on your best cruise vacation. If this sounds interesting to you, we would love for you to check out more of our posts! Recently we went on a cruise on the NCL Joy and in this post we are going to review all of the complimentary dining options on this ship (this is all of the food that is included in the price of your cruise.) So, if you’re interested in cruising on the NCL Joy in the future, read on!

We had a great time on the cruise overall. It was very crowded, which was one of the only downsides that definitely impacted the available seating at the complimentary dining options. The first one we will review is the Garden Cafe. The Garden Cafe is the buffet that is open for each meal and has several food station areas within it. (Photo 1) We do wish this buffet was a bit larger for the size of the ship. We have encountered this issue on a handful of the Oasis class ships. It’s not that we ever had a problem getting food, it’s the fact that it was consistently challenging to find seating due to the size of the dining area. (Photo 2)

Another thing we missed on the NCL Joy is the outdoor seating option at the buffet. Because of the way this ship is structured, there are only indoor seating options available here. However, because of the location of the Garden Cafe, you can grab your food and go down to the observation lounge if you would like to sit outside. (Photo 3) The food in the buffet is very good. It serves a variety of styles and types of food for each meal and offers something for everyone. Again, the only downside here was the crowds and the general pushing and shoving of people rushing to get their food and find a place to sit. 

Next, let's look at Taste and Savor. These are the two main dining rooms, which were also both packed throughout our cruise. (Photos 4 and 5) We rarely feel cramped and claustrophobic on cruises, but with the amount of people at the buffet and in the dining rooms, we were starting to feel that way. Like the buffet, the food was good. We think Norwegian does complimentary food very well. We had no issues with temperature, flavor, options available, etc. They also are very accommodating; if you have a food allergy, special requests, etc. they absolutely will attend to that and the service was great. Again, the only issue we had was that it seemed that there were far too many people for the amount of space. 

Another restaurant with included meals on the NCL Joy is the Local. (Photo 6 and 7) Now, they recently changed the restaurant Oceans to the Local Grill as the third included dining option and the vibe is very different. Oceans had a more small town bar type of feel that was far more cozy, whereas Locals is done in cooler tones and overall has a more modern look. The food here we love. You can go pretty much 24 hours per day to get anything from full meals to bar type snacks. We ate there several times while on our cruise and the food was great. Highly recommend checking this place out. 

There are two other restaurants on the ship for included meals on your cruise. The Manhattan Room (photo 8) has the exact same menu as Taste and Savor, it’s just in a bit more of a formal dining space. The Manhattan Room on the NCL Joy is different from the Manhattan Room on NCL ships. On other ships, they often have some kind of singing or dancing in there in the evening or other entertainment. Due to the way this ship is structured, this Manhattan room on the Joy is just a large dining room and does not have the dance floor in the middle like other NCL ships.

The last place we will mention for complimentary food while on your cruise is the Observation Lounge (photo 9). In the Observation Lounge, they have snacks available morning, noon and evening. It is not by any means full meals, however it is included in the price of your cruise. For lunch they had finger sandwiches, at breakfast they had things like fruit and oatmeal; so again, not full meals but substantial snacking foods with variety available for you. This is a great spot if you want to eat a light meal and relax as it is rarely crowded. 

Those are the complimentary options on the NCL Joy! Like we said, the crowds were an issue but the food and service was great. Have you been on the NCL Joy? What were your thoughts? We would love to hear from you.


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