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Old 07-18-2007, 07:30 AM
MiketheKid's Avatar
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What are people's thoughts about this? Do many prefer it?

I recently spoke with a friend who went on a freestyle cruise (Norwegian, I think)....she didn’t like it at all...she said that there were many different specialty restaurants to choose from (all very good), but to eat at them you had to rush and make reservations at each of them on the first day of the cruise....so, basically you have to plan your entire cruise around your dinner reservations, which is the same thing as having a set dinner time with traditional style cruising - except you have the stress of trying to make all those reservations and possibly not getting the time you want

anyone else experience something similar?
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:51 AM
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HAL has recently announced that they're going to go to an anytime seating along with traditional. I think eventually all major lines will go to that. We have done the any time dining on Princess for 3 cruises now and absolutely love it. They still offer traditional, so the whole ship is not trying to book reservations. The way Princess does it, you can either make a reservation or go to the restaurant. If there is a wait, they give you a buzzer like in any resturant. You go to the nearest area you wish to visit, ours is the lounge and wait. It's normally not more than 15-20 minutes. We like it because you get to meet more people on board, we share a table. You can also request not sharing a table, but I like meeting people. The only downside, to me, is you don't get to know your tablemates as well or your wait staff. Other than that, we really enjoy not having to rush to be somewhere at a specific time. That's just my 2 cents.
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Old 07-18-2007, 12:54 PM
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I did freestyle dining on the NCLA. I hated, hated, hated it. IMPO, the food quality suffered b/c the galley was fighting against several opposites which were not knowing when people would eat and not know what people would eat, not know how much of any one thing peopel would eat, trying not to have 2 hours or more sit down dinner because other freestyle diners are going to need the table. Therefore the people have to be served in relatively short time so as to keep the meal moving along. Unlike a restaurant that may serve a hundred more or less, a cruiseship has to have enough for the entire passenger load, most times over 3,000.

In my experience on PoAm (NCL), the only meal that was decent was in the japanese restaurant where they cook the food right in front of you. All of the rest of the food was pretty bad.

Also, dining in the dining room is where you get to have indepth conversations and meet people. Without the structure of 10 people sitting together to eat for 90+ minutes, the ship continues throughout the cruise of 3,000 or so pretty much strangers just passing each other by with little or no recognition or comraderie.

Just my take on freestyle dining.

I am sure there are good things about anytime dining but for anytime dining, I have no problem going to the buffet. I think it is unrealistic to believe that the ship can serve a decent multi course meal in a formal sit down environment whenever you and 3,000 other people decide to pop in.
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Old 07-18-2007, 05:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by MiketheKid:
She said that there were many different specialty restaurants to choose from (all very good), but to eat at them you had to rush and make reservations at each of them on the first day of the cruise....so, basically you have to plan your entire cruise around your dinner reservations, which is the same thing as having a set dinner time with traditional style cruising - except you have the stress of trying to make all those reservations and possibly not getting the time you want
That's not true. You can only book restaurant reservations up to 48 hours in advance anymore.
The latest reservation you can make on the first day of the cruise is for tommorrow night.

You can change the times you dine from night to night, for example 6 pm one night, 8 pm the next, throughout your cruise. For the Main Restaurants, you don't need to reserve a table if you don't wish to, all you have to do is show up.
So you are free to dine when you wish, unlike Traditional Dinning, when it's 6 pm or else.
Or else means dining at the Buffet, or pleading with the Maitre d' for the second sitting.

The one thing you will experience is a line. With Traditional Dining, you show up at the time designated and just sit at your assigned table. The only line you'll experence is on the first night when you learn where your table is when the waiter/waitress escorts you to it.
With Freestyle Dining, you'll experence the same line every night, because you could end up at a different table, different waiter/waitress, or different dining room every night. Just like your neighborhood restaurant in your hometown, there will be times when you must wait for a table to be cleared.
If you dine early, or later, that problem shouldn't arrise.
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Old 07-18-2007, 06:47 PM
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Ron Clark is correct on his post. As avid cruisers of NCL and Platinum Lattitudes members we have NEVER experienced a problem with the "freestyle cruising" concept. We eat when we want, where we want. We choose from the specialty restaurants or the main dining rooms. You may experience a 10 minute wait if you dine at peak times....6:00PM to 7:00PM but very rare to do have to wait. Having a large number of restaurants to choose from also helps eliminate over crowding and waiting as the ship is able to spread the passengers out over a large number of seats in the restaurants. We have never experienced a bad meal, as far as waiting to be served, or the quality of food or service. Most of what you read here is rumor, and most NCL passengers are very happy once they experience "freestyle cruising" themselves. I am sure there are instances when delays may occur, but they are very rare. NCL has this concept well organized and efficent. Give NCL the opportunity and cast your judgement after your cruise, and please let us know the dining experience. Overall I really don't think you can beat this concept, and that's why other cruise lines are adapting it as mentioned in the post above/ NCL is setting the pace for "freestyle cruising".

Richard & Mary
Las Cruces, New Mexico USA

NCL Pearl (3rd time in 9 months)Sept 24th, 2007
Diamond princess Dec 3rd, 2007 15 days to Hawaii
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Old 07-19-2007, 09:25 AM
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I really the the idea of anytime dining because I enjoy sharing a table with new people each night.
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Old 07-19-2007, 03:20 PM
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I found this posted on the internet, don't know the original source.

Restaurant Reservations
The goals of this policy are to: 1) provide more choices to the guests with regards to dining times; 2) space the reservations so that there is a smoother flow of service; 3) Assist the galleys with preparation planning and reducing overproduction.
All components of this policy apply to all ships with the computerized restaurant reservation system (Aloha, America, Hawaii, Spirit, Jewel and Pearl). The manual handling Guest Requests and Reservation Locations components of this policy apply to all vessels in the fleet.

I. POLICY
The computerized Reservation System software has been upgraded so that the display screens will only reflect what is actually seated in the restaurant.
Reservations are not necessary for any of our dining rooms or restaurants; however if guests choose to they may make reservations for the day of or the next day. In the main dining rooms, reservations may be made for parties of 1-49. In the specialty restaurants, reservations may be made for parties of 1-20. Reservations may be made by phone or in person at the designated reservation desk. Pre-paid group reservations will still be handled according to Group Dining Reservations.
The designated reservation phone line will be staffed with crew members from 7:00 am – 4:30 pm on a daily basis, with the exception of embarkation day. On embarkation day, the reservation phone line is to be staffed with a crew member from 12:00 pm – 4:30 pm. From 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm, the reservation phone line is to be staffed with one crew member on a daily basis. The reservation phone line number and hours of operations are to be listed in the Freestyle Daily. The designated reservation desk is to be staffed from 7:00 am – 4:30 pm on a daily basis, with the exception of embarkation day. On embarkation day, the reservation desk is to be staffed from 12:00 pm – 4:30 pm. Extra crew members are to be staffed to assist with reservations. The location of the reservation desk and hours of operation are to be listed in the Freestyle Daily.
Reservations can also be made at the desired restaurant in the evening when the phone line and reservation desk are closed. The computerized reservation system has been set-up to maximize covers, increase table turns and maximize in each of the restaurants. Reservations will be accepted in 15-minute intervals. .

Specialty Restaurant Cover Charges:
Bistro = $15.00 per person
Bistro Tasting Menu Option = $20.00 for two people
This is a full menu option for 2 people that include a starter, upgraded food selections such as Chateaubriand and Rack of Lamb, and a dessert selection.
If two guests order dinner in the Bistro and ALSO order from the tasting menu, then they will be charged a total of $50.00 ($15.00 per person cover charge plus $20.00 for the Tasting Menu)
Steakhouse = $20.00 per person
Steakhouse Specialty Menu Option=$10.00 per person
This is a menu that offers upgraded food items such as Surf and Turf, Whole Lobster and Porterhouse Steak. The guests still have the option of ordering appetizers, sides and desserts from the regular menu.
If a guest orders dinner in the Steakhouse and ALSO orders an item from the specialty menu, then the guest will be charged a total of $30.00 ($20.00 per person cover charge plus $10.00 per person for the upgraded food item)
Asian and Shabu Shabu = $10.00 per person
Sushi = $15.00 per person
Teppanyaki = $20.00 per person
Italian = $10.00 per person on Pride of Aloha and Norwegian Sun (cover charges do not apply to any other vessels that have an Italian Restaurant)
Cover charge for children 12 and under is ½ the cover charge as specified in procedural steps 1.0 though 6.0.

Group Restaurant Reservations:
MAIN RESTAURANTS
Groups of 1-49 will be permitted to make group reservations as often as requested during the course of the cruise.
The seating times will be either 5:30pm, 6:00pm, 8:30pm, 9:00pm or 9:30pm.
The guests will be offered the regular menu.
The Corporate Restaurant Manager or Manager Restaurant Operations will confirm time(s) and restaurant venue(s).

Groups of 50-99 will be permitted to make group reservations as often as requested during the course of the cruise, except for Lobster Night.
The seating times will be either 5:30pm, 6:00pm, 9:00pm, or 9:30pm.
The guests will be offered the regular menu.
The Corporate Restaurant Manager or Manager Restaurant Operations will confirm time(s) and restaurant venue(s).

Groups of 100-199 will be permitted to make group reservations as often as requested during the course of the cruise, except for Lobster Night.
The seating times will be either 5:30pm or 9:30pm.
The guests will be offered the regular menu.
The Corporate Restaurant Manager or Manager Restaurant Operations will confirm time(s) and venue(s).

Groups of 200 or more will be permitted to make a group reservation on two nights during their cruise, except for Lobster Night.
The group will be split between the two Main Restaurants.
The seating times will be either 5:30pm or 9:30pm.
A set menu must be used for this purpose.
The Corporate Restaurant Manager or Manager Restaurant Operations will confirm times and venues

SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS
Groups of 1-20 will be permitted to make group reservations as often as requested during the course of the cruise.
There are no set seating times.
The guests will be offered the regular menu.
The Corporate Restaurant Manager or Manager Restaurant Operations will confirm the time(s).

Groups of 21-40 will be permitted to make group reservations as often as requested during the course of the cruise.
The seating times will either be 5:30pm, 6:00pm, 9:00pm, or 9:30pm.
A set menu must be used for this purpose.
The Corporate Restaurant Manager or Manager Restaurant Operations will confirm the time(s).

Groups of 41-60 will be permitted to make group reservations on two nights during their cruise.
Groups of this size will be broken into smaller groups of 20 which will be seated in thirty minute intervals at either 5:30pm, 6:00pm, 6:30pm, 8:30pm, 9:00pm, or 9:30pm.
The guests will be offered the regular menu.
The Corporate Restaurant Manager or Manager Restaurant Operations will confirm the times.

Groups of 60 or more will not be able to be accommodated in one particular specialty restaurant. They will be split into groups and/or different restaurants and handled as specified in procedural steps 2.2 and/or 2.3. Groups with confirmed reservations for the Bistro, Steakhouse, Asian, Sushi, Teppanyaki and Italian restaurants with a cover charge need to pre-pay the cover charges prior to the start of the cruise. These cover charges are non-refundable.
All Dining Requests must go through the Ship Coordinator for approval.

If a guest is onboard for a site inspection for a future cruise and he/she makes any requests, then this individual is to be instructed to contact the appropriate group coordinator in the Corporate Office to submit these requests. Onboard management is not authorized to agree to any special requests.

Two For One Promotion for Specialty Restaurants with Cover Charge
Everyday of each cruise the vessel will feature a Two for One Cover Charge promotion. Ships sailing a European and Mediterranean itinerary will offer the special from 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm. All other vessels will offer the special from 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm.
Aloha – 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm (Hawaii itinerary)
America – 8:30 pm - 9:30 pm (Hawaii itinerary)
Crown – 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm (Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean and South America itineraries)
Dawn – 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm (Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean, and Canada, New England itineraries)
Dream – 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm (Europe and Mediterranean itineraries)
8:30 pm – 9:30 pm (Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean and South American itineraries)
Gem - 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm (Europe and Mediterranean itineraries)
8:30 pm – 9:30 pm (Bermuda, Bahamas and Caribbean itineraries)
Hawaii – 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm (Hawaii itinerary)
Jewel – 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm (Europe and Mediterranean itineraries)
8:30 pm – 9:30 pm (Bermuda, Bahamas and Caribbean itineraries)
Majesty – 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm (Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean, and Mexico itineraries)
Pearl - 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm (Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean and Alaska itineraries)
Spirit – 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm (Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean and Canada, New England itineraries)
Star – 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm (Alaska and Mexico itineraries)
Sun - 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm (Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean and Alaska itineraries)

This policy applies to the following Restaurants:
Bistro – All NCL and NCL America ships
Steakhouse – Sun, Star, Dawn, Spirit, Jewel, Gem, Pearl, America and Hawaii
Asian – Star, Dawn, Spirit, Jewel, Pearl, Gem, America and Hawaii
Pacific Rim – Soho-Star and Pacific Heights-Aloha
Italian – il Adagio-Sun and Kahili-Aloha
This policy does not apply to the Sushi menu, Shabu Shabu menu, Teppanyaki menu, Steakhouse specialty menu or Bistro tasting menu.
The promotion is to be featured and advertised every day of the cruise in the Freestyle Daily and on the TV Scroll/ITV.

The standard cancellation policy will apply to the reservations made for these two time slots.
The 50% discount only applies to the cover charge for the regular Menu. The Steakhouse specialty menu and Bistro Tasting menu do not apply for the discount.
The 50% discount does not apply to pre-paid groups that have booked their reservation through the Corporate Office.
This policy cannot be altered

Reservation Cancellation Policy
Guests have the opportunity to cancel their reservation up till 5:00pm on the day of their reservation. We will hold a table for a reservation for 15 minutes, after 15 minutes have passed, the guest is to be considered a no show and the table is put back into circulation. Guests that fail to show up for their reservation will be assessed a fee equivalent to double the cover charge of the specialty restaurant in which the reservation was made for up to a party of 2.
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Old 07-20-2007, 08:46 AM
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and the record for the worlds largest post goes too....


jk, very informative
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Old 07-20-2007, 12:29 PM
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On our 11 day Wind cruise, we found waiting times for the two main dining rooms 35 - 45 minutes almost every night. The Wind had only one alternative restaurant - Trattoria - which is where we went all but two nights. There was never more than a 10 minute wait there. There still was the rushing and fluster of wait staff and noise of tables being bussed all through dinner - and while we were never shooed from the dining room, we did feel the need to free up the table for next diners. We definitely prefer a set dining time with set dining partners and set wait staff. Much more relaxed and enjoyable.
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Old 07-20-2007, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by MiketheKid:
and the record for the worlds largest post goes too....

jk, very informative
I doubt it was the longest post ever.
But I hope it shows how complicated NCL Freestyle Dining reservations can be, just on paper.

And like all things put down on paper, it can get very dull. Now you know why many ads and contracts have a lot of fine print.
 
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