Spoke with an agent from NCL in reference to the Gem. He explained the freestyle crusing concept. The wife liked the idea of eating when you want (we are now trying to decide between RCI Explorer of the Seas and NCL Gem/both to the Bahamas out of NYC area). Can anyone give some insight from their experiences with freestyle?
Also: which ship do folks look at as the better bang for the buck (Gem or Explorer). Again, we are a couple in our early 50's celebrating our 25 wedding anniversary. Thanks for the input.
Norwegian hyped the freestyle concept extensively starting a few years ago but the truth of the matter is you can eat when you want on any mainstream cruise line, including Royal Caribbean. They all have a 'my time' dining which is separate from assigned seating. You can make a reservation for a specific dinner time, or you can just show up and they will normally have a table for you after a short wait. Of course, if you show up at peak time and had not made a reservation your wait might be longer. This is also true for Norwegian, although I suspect the guy you talked to didn't mention that part.
Although 'freestyle' is still part of Norwegian's presentation they are not promoting it as actively as they used to, instead they are now pushing their 'cruise like a Norwegian', which frankly is a bit strange to me.
Wally7261.....The NCL Gem is one of My Favorite NCL ships (NCL Dawn is the other), We enjoy Norwegian immensely and make no bones about saying so! We do and have cruised many different lines over the years but prefer the more relaxed overall style of Norwegian.You really can dine at your own time whenever and whichever dining facility You like and you do not need to dress formally on the "elegant" nights...Resort casual is always "in-style"....I own three dinner jackets (tuxs) but with airline baggage costs rising I/We prefer to keep the weight down, dress relaxedly and enjoy cruising "Like a Norwegian"!!
It is so different for everyone and for me the Gem was beautiful and the entertainment was great and service the same. What I was not used to with The Gem was having to pay for so many things. I felt nickel and dimed (sorry) but that is how I felt. I love the dinner time on my cruises and on the Gem it was not special like on Celebrity it was just going to dinner and some times being handed a buzzer and having to wait. I did miss having the same waiters take care of us and knowing everything we liked and having a relationship with them. On the Gem we paid for many extra, even Sushi and to have Mexican. I felt like Free Style meant no pampering and sorry but when I do go on a cruise I enjoy the pampering..it is part of the cruise for me. I think that is why we are so fortunate to have a cruise line to fit everyone :OD
Well, I thank everyone for their comments. We booked the Gem for our anniversary cruise (The Explorer of the Seas itenerary did not fit our schedules). We ended up with a balcony room instead of the Mini Suite (budget reasons). Now I'd like to ask if there is any advice folks can give me in reference to the Gem. What to look for?, Where to eat, Drink and be merry?lol
Wally...to be honest...all of the restaurants aboard the NCL Gem are quite good but, as You can guess,there are personal favorites. For instance, on Deck 8midships,there is The Blue Lagoon, for comfort food any time of the day and thru many hours of the evening and night. The Garden Buffet is large and rooomy for Breakfast,Lunch or Supper,and, if You proceed Aftto the Stern...there is a smaller quick serve Buffet called "The Great Outdoors"for outside patio style dining. The Main Restaurant, The Summer Palace is on a par with the dining rooms of many of the Great Cruiseliners of the past while the other Main Dining room...Indigo...is somewhat smaller and more intimate and quite cozy for late night dining.
For Specialty Restaurants...give "Le Bistro"a try(Do the Chocolate Fondue for 2)....French Dining on a par with some of the best French Restaurants on shore and a bargain for the $20pp cover charge! The Japanese Teppanyaki Grill is a lot of fun for all and is not crowded but be prepared for a $25pp cover also!!
The Ncl Gen is a mighty fine ship and offers some of Norwegian's finest features.The crew is very much "on the ball", Relax,have fun...after all...You're on a cruise and it is an anniversay!!
When I was on the Gem Nov 6-13th the Japanese Teppanyaki was full every night. It was the first restaurant to show no openings on the computerized restaurant board that shows all the restaurants openings.
I do agree I loved the Japanese Teppanyaki, I would make my reservation as soon as you get onboard. I also like Cagney's becasue I love to have a nice Filet Mignon. I did go to Blue Lagoon for fish & chips a few time...just can't get the New England out of me :OD
Have a fantastic time !!! I also purchase a 1 time use of the SPA that was so very nice too.