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  #1 (permalink)  
Old July 8th, 2001, 10:39 AM
Mart
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Default Freestyle/Personal Choice Dinning

We recently sailed on the Norwegian Wind in Alaska--Freestlye may work for some people, but not for us. We found lines at times and a general disinterest in the wait staff. Since the tip money is "In the bank" there is no incentive to go the extra mile to please. We have been on many cruises, and the last thing we want to think about is dinner reservations, requesting a certain waiter or lets get to the dinning room so we don't have wait in line.
In traditional dinning your waiter knows exactly what you want and will have it in place when you arrive.You always have the option of changing your table if you are unhappy.
Princess solved the time and buffet line problem years ago with their 24hr Horizon Court which also offers table service at dinner time if you chose not to eat in the dinning room.
Couples travelling alone can find Freestyle a lonely place.
Cruising should be an up-scale experience without the hassels we experience everyday--lets keep it that way.

Mart
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Old July 8th, 2001, 12:22 PM
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Default Re: Freestyle/Personal Choice Dinning

Mart..
Just yesterday I was talking to a friend who was on the NCL Wind in Alaska as well. She wasn't very pleased with free style either.
She was displeased with the level of service too.

I've, maybe oddly, yet to sail NCL at all, so haven't tried free style personally, but being a bit of a tradionalist, wouldn't think I'd care for it that much.

It seems Princess "Personal Choice" program is a bit better in that your can make a reservation for the entire cruise at the same table (same wait staff) BUT at the time of your choosing. So, in esscence you can have a more traditional set up, yet on your own timetable. I think this would be pretty effective if you're travelling with a group of friends.

The Carnival approach of 4 dining times seems fairly innovative too. I'll find out in Sept how easy/difficult it is to get the one you want.

When Celeb's CD, Jim Cannon, was a guest in our chat he was asked if Celebrity had any plans for similar changes to their dining time programs. He said they had no plans, and would stick with the traditional program.

As I said, I'll be sampling Carnival's system in late Sept, and then we'll see how Personal Choice works out on the CruiseMates New Years cruise on the Golden. After those, I'm SURE to have an opinion..
Regards,
Kuki
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Old July 8th, 2001, 01:35 PM
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Default Re: Freestyle/Personal Choice Dinning

Hi,

From what I have heard, I think I prefer traditional dining at dinner. Fortunately, our next two cruises will both be on RCI which still does things the old fashioned way.

Paul B
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Old July 8th, 2001, 01:37 PM
Ginny Schoenfeld
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Default Re: Freestyle/Personal Choice Dinning

I'm with you Kuki. I sailed Norwegian several times when they were traditional and to be perfectly honest that's the way I think I would like it.

I'll let you know when I get back from the Golden Princess how I like personal choice dining.

Until later.

Happy Cruising!
Ginny
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Old July 8th, 2001, 01:51 PM
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Default Re: Freestyle/Personal Choice Dinning

I'm a traditional kind of gal...and prefer late seating. I know where I am supposed to be and what time I am supposed to be there..... I really don't want to have to make decisions or remember to make reservations. Mgram
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Old July 8th, 2001, 02:21 PM
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Default Re: Freestyle/Personal Choice Dinning

You can't please all of the people, all of the time, and you can die trying.
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Old July 8th, 2001, 02:55 PM
Mike Mastellar
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Default Re: Freestyle/Personal Choice Dinning

Mart;
We sailed the Norwegian Sky last October and really enjoyed Freestyle. Yes, there were a couple of waiters that did not give great service but overall the staff was very good. The only really negative experience we had was in the Lido Restaurant that charged an additional fee. The service and food there was about the worst we have had on a cruise.

Take Care;
Mike
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Old July 8th, 2001, 07:24 PM
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Default Re: Freestyle/Personal Choice Dinning

Are sailing the Sky in October and looking forward to trying Freestyle - one thing I keep seeing and missing is my understanding is that on NCL you can request the same table, waiter and time so just as before you will have everything set
I have read many mixed comments regarding the service so will see in October (it will be our first freestyle) Susan
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Old July 8th, 2001, 08:58 PM
Lady Jag
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Default Re: Freestyle/Personal Choice Dinning

Guess it depends upon the ship and the cruise line. On Princess, we loved Personal Choice Dining. We had the best service! Every waiter we had for the entire week (except one) was great.
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Old July 9th, 2001, 08:54 PM
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Default Re: Freestyle/Personal Choice Dinning

There are already dining options on ships if one doesn't want to eat in the dining room, as in, traditional assigned seatings. With freestyle, there is not the option to have traditional dining, as far as I can determine.

In the same vein, there are options throughout the day to sit with whom you please and it is neat getting to meet a lot of different people. But, it has always been special to dine in the evening, knowing who your waiter is, where you will sit, and to meet up with the people at your table whom you really get to know. We have kept in touch with many very special people with whom we dined and got to know. That is less likely to happen with open seating/freestyle.

So, in other words, I think there are actually more options and there is more variety with traditional dining being maintained. All the advantages cited in freestyle can be had right now with traditional dining still offered. The only thing not available when maintaining traditional dining is dining freestyle in the dining room in the evening, although the same menu can be had in other dining venues on board with the time, dress, and seating arrangements "freestyle".

It is inevitable that once the chipping away at traditional cruising began, freestyle would arrive. The chipping away will continue. The pendulum will swing to where there is little traditional left and then it will swing back, as cruise lines seek to redefine their niches.

I like options and there are positive changes that will be made. It just really makes me anxious because once the chipping away begins, it will continue and most mainstream cruise lines will fall in line, at least initially. And that will leave us with less choices.

Guess I'm a dinosaur. I'm not really against change BUT I'm against doing away with what has made cruising a successful formula for decades. Yes, let's have freestyle as an option but DON'T do away with traditional in the process.

Sammy
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Old July 9th, 2001, 08:56 PM
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Default Re: Freestyle/Personal Choice Dinning

There are already dining options on ships if one doesn't want to eat in the dining room, as in, traditional assigned seatings. With freestyle, there is not the option to have traditional dining, as far as I can determine.

In the same vein, there are options throughout the day to sit with whom you please and it is neat getting to meet a lot of different people. But, it has always been special to dine in the evening, knowing who your waiter is, where you will sit, and to meet up with the people at your table whom you really get to know. We have kept in touch with many very special people with whom we dined and got to know. That is less likely to happen with open seating/freestyle.

So, in other words, I think there are actually more options and there is more variety with traditional dining being maintained. All the advantages cited in freestyle can be had right now with traditional dining still offered. The only thing not available when maintaining traditional dining is dining freestyle in the dining room in the evening, although the same menu can be had in other dining venues on board with the time, dress, and seating arrangements "freestyle".

It is inevitable that once the chipping away at traditional cruising began, freestyle would arrive. The chipping away will continue. The pendulum will swing to where there is little traditional left and then it will swing back, as cruise lines seek to redefine their niches.

I like options and there are positive changes that will be made. It just really makes me anxious because once the chipping away begins, it will continue and most mainstream cruise lines will fall in line, at least initially. And that will leave us with less choices.

Guess I'm a dinosaur. I'm not really against change BUT I'm against doing away with what has made cruising a successful formula for decades. Yes, let's have freestyle as an option but DON'T do away with traditional in the process.

Sammy
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Old July 13th, 2001, 03:51 PM
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Default Re: Freestyle/Personal Choice Dinning

Having sailed the Norweigan Sky in March I have to say I didn't care for the freestyle cruising. I don't believe the service was as good in the dining rooms, the waitstaff has no incentive to excel, they already have their tip assured. There is no way to tip one individual less since all the money goes into a pool. If you reduce the tip below the recommended amount the lesser amount gets split between everyone.
The service and food in the alternative dining rooms was excellent, it was just a shame that we had to pay an extra $10 per person for the service that we thought we should get without a surcharge.
I suppose I enjoy the idea of a dress code for dinner, our first night was supposed to be resort casual, the people at the next table looked liked they were dressed for a motorcycle rally, leather and ball caps.
It's back to Celebrity for us.

Harry
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Old July 13th, 2001, 04:13 PM
Teijo
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Default Re: Freestyle/Personal Choice Dinning

I just would like to add couple of considerations for this subject. I have sailed with Star Cruises in Asia previously, and also with NCL pre-Freestyle time and most lately, last March testing the Freestyle Cruising. It is good for people, which are non-Americans and don't speak English, but want to sail on the most modern cruise ships in the world. Another consideration is that many cruise lines have never honoured my wishes, how large table I want to dine in the evening, or do I want to go for first or second seating. On the Sky last March me and my friends mainly chose alternative dining areas every evening Bistro, Horizons or Ciao Chow and this $10 extra per person is not as much as what competing lines are charging from their alternative restaurants. For example, Radiance of the Seas charge $20 for its new Chops Grill and Portofino. Besides, on my last cruise on the Sky we had better service than ever before on the NCL vessel. As far as gratuities are concerned, I am glad that I don't have to run to the Reception to change my U.S dollar bills, but instead, I can pay with my credit card, and it is taken directly. I think NCL has created a good product, because it is different sometimes it is nice to carry tuxedo, but equally many times it is nice to go to vacation without any formalities. This is the reason, why I like also Windstar Cruises, Aida (German product, owned by P&O Princess) and Star Cruises.

Teijo
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