i'm going on the 5/18 trip from new york on the ncl dawn....i'm pretty excited about the freestyle dining, now from what my T.A. told me about the restaurants on the ship, i got that your not paying for dinner at all except for some of the restaurants that have cover charges. is that right? does anyone know how this works really ? maybe some one can explain it to me who has been on ther ship already? we have already spent alot of money for the cruise, so i want to try to not spend so much on the boat. also what about the tipping of the ones assigned to take care of your cabin and such? i think i read that their tip is automatically billed to you towards the end of the cruise. how much does that actually come out to? would anyone have and idea?
i have looked into this a bit. There are a few specialty restaurants that charge a cover-charge to eat there. If you go to these restaurants, tip as you would any normal restaurant back home. As for automatic tipping, its usually figured at 15% - it is added automatically to your shipboard account --it usually covers - room steward, waiter, assistant waiter, head waiter and maitre-d. You can adjust the amount or remove it totally and tip the old-fashioned cruise ship way with envelopes at the end of the cruise. Visit NCL's web site they have a list and description of all the restaurants including the ones that charge extra.
We have sailed NCL and enjoyed freestyle dining. There is a surcharge in one dining room (at least on the Majesty). The food was supposed to be superior but I really didn't see much difference. There was a $10 pp charge unless you got the lobster which was more. The tipping was NOT included, according to our waiter, in this one restaurant. (I have never been sure if this was correct). The other gratuities were added to our shipboard account. I don't believe that room service added gratuity, either.
The freestyle dining worked for us because with kids we were not sure who would be hungry at what time. As it turned out, they filled up on pizza and burgers on deck and we were able to dine alone both nights. We never got to know our servers or other table mates but for that cruise, it was fine.
The optional formal night was a joke. There would be one table dressed in cocktail dresses and suits and the next table of folks would have on very casual. I'm not sure the full "formal" night atmosphere was there.
I'm the family cruise editor here. My contact at NCL gave me some answers.
The NCL Dawn has 10 restaurants. of these, Le Bistro is a cover charge of $12.50 per person; Cagney's steak house is $17.50 per person and Bamboo is either a $10 cover or an ala carte menu, depending on if you want sushi or the normal menu.
As for gratuities, they are $10 per person per day and cover wait staff and cabin stewards. Children three to 12 years are charged $5 per day; under three no charge.
Hope this helps!
Luisa Frey GAynor