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Norwegian bundles refurbs, dining upgrades, private islands into $400m 'Edge' program

Expanded menu choices and additional optional à la carte priced items in the main dining rooms (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)
Norwegian Cruise Line pulled together a number of initiatives including ship refurbishments—two already completed, private islands and elevated service and culinary standards into an encompassing program. It's called 'The Norwegian Edge' and represents a $400m investment over two years, begun in 2015 and extending through 2017.

Norwegian president Andy Stuart hopes the new standards will entice travelers to 'return again and again to ships that will look and feel as if they were just delivered, with all new menus and new dining experiences, visiting incredible exclusive destinations that reflect the quality finishes, amenities and outstanding service found across the Norwegian fleet.'

The refurbishments aim to transform many spaces on nine ships to more closely resemble the line’s newest additions. They began in October with Norwegian Epic, followed by Norwegian Gem in November.

Seven additional ships, as previously reported, will go into drydock for guest-facing and technical enhancements: Pride of America and Norwegian Sun this spring and Norwegian Dawn this summer. Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Pearl are set for drydocks in winter 2017 and Norwegian Jade in spring 2017.

New for 2016, all Norwegian ships now offer upgraded complimentary dining room menus and additional optional à la carte priced items in the main dining rooms, such as grilled lobster tails and surf and turf entrees. The complimentary menus give a greater variety with a focus on balancing popular traditional dishes like prime rib, chateaubriand, rack of lamb and escargot with current dining trends. New offerings include more seafood selections such as fresh grouper, along with contemporary dishes like shrimp ceviche, seared Atlantic scallops with fennel puree, and braised beef short ribs.

Beginning Jan. 31, Norwegian will expand the new specialty dining menus that debuted on Norwegian Escape across the fleet. These are at Cagney’s Steakhouse, Le Bistro and La Cucina, plus there are new offerings at Moderno Churrascaria and Teppanyaki that give more options and new flavors. The menus include traditional French favorites at Le Bistro such as Bouillabaisse, pan-seared jumbo bay scallops and veal medallions with sauce morrel, and a more robust menu at La Cucina featuring antipasti, risotto and traditional secondi courses like Osso Buco alla Milanese or pan-seared sea bass filet.

These new menus will be offered on Norwegian Breakaway as of Jan. 31, Norwegian Getaway on Feb. 14, Norwegian Epic on March 6, Pride of America after its drydock on March 15, Norwegian Gem on April 1 and Norwegian Dawn its drydock in June.

Also on the dining front, Norwegian is expanding training and certification for its culinary and dining teams. All executive chefs, executive sous chefs and other culinary staff are certified by American Culinary Federation. In addition, the line is working toward a certified service training program to include all guest-facing positions, and three new training and development centers have opened across the globe to help train crew prior to their working on board.

Norwegian said existing partnerships with culinary experts for food and beverage outlets are to be expanded, with more information after each ship's drydock.

When it comes to private islands, the line is developing Harvest Caye, Belize, which will have an expansive pool, exclusive beach, shallow lagoon for water sports, luxury cabanas and more features. As recently reported, the destination's opening has been delayed nine months, until mid-November.

New features are in store for Great Stirrup Cay. They'll be detailed later this year and are said to complement experiences found on the ships, including private spaces, luxury relaxation areas, multiple food and beverage outlets and interactive activities. This follows 2014 upgrades to Great Stirrup Cay.