I am sorry if I am a Newbe to this, but please help!!! We have been on 7 cruises to date, all with 2 formal nights and the regular pomp and circumstance. My wife likes
us both dressing to the nines a couple of times. We are booked on the Dawn next March, and after for the first time reading this, I am now searching for another cruise and trying to get out of a killer air deal.
1. Are we going to get what we are used to in the Main dining areas???
2. We usually have a $500.00 bar tab and $400 in pixs... Do I need to figure on another $500 to eat???
3. are there any "formal" nights??
Please help asap as my window to change is very short!!
You will not have the same experience as you would on traditional lines. You will have a different waiter nightly, you may have to wait to be seated. You will sit at a different table with different tablemates. You might notice a lower level of service (we did). There were no set "formal" nights that I recall as everything seems to be "optional" but there were those who did dress up for dinner. From what I understand the "alternative" dining venues are legion on the newer NCL ships. So I guess you could rack up quite a food bill in a week if you tried as many as you wanted. If you want to experience what you have in the past in the way of traditional dining and true formal nights, then you might want to consider avoiding NCL altogether as they seem to be taking a different path.
I was on the Dream for a twelve night cruise through the Baltic capitals. The regular dining rooms were not acceptable, in my opinion. The service was hurried, chaotic, and uncaring. The main dining rooms' food was inferior to any cruiseline I know of.
We opted to eat at "Le Bistro" nine of the twelve nights. It was much more quiet, had far better food, and the service was very attentive. This added $180 to our end-of-the-cruise tab. The breakfast in "Le Bistro" was free, so-to-speak. The brekfasts there were far better than any I have had on a cruise ship. I was amazed. The buffets were loud, chaotic, and of poor quality. We again opted to eat at "Le Bistro" nearly every morning because it was so good.
There was no place to escape for lunch, other tham the two main "mess halls" and the casual lunch fare up top. In port, we dined in local restaurants and were glad to have that option.
Dressing-up was very optional and most people did not do so. We took suits and sport coats and never wore them at all. I guess that part is a mixed blessing, depending on your wishes.
Don`t worry. The other 2 replies have nothing to do with what you will find on the Dawn.
I have cruised 3 times on the Star - the sister ship of the Dawn. The Star has 11 restaurants, plus pool BBQ and room service. Three restaurants have a cover charge. That leaves 8 free restaurants plus pool BBQ to try in 7 days. They told me that the Dawn has even more restaurants planned.
My only complaint on the Star was that there was not enough time to try all the restaurants in 7 days. You really need two weeks.
By the way, the cover charges in the three restaurants was less than I normally pay the valet to park my car at restaurants at home. Quite a good deal if you ask me.
If you approach freestyle with the right attitude you will probably love it. Yes, you can dress up, at least one night. As for a huge bill for dining, even if you choose to eat elsewhere than the main dining rooms $200 will be the most your bill will increase. We never ate at the same restaurant twice. As for waiting to be seated, yes, if you decide to eat at 7:30 each night you may have to wait, if you eat at 6:30 or 8pm you will most likely not wait a minute. The two nights we ate in the main dining rooms we found the service great one night and a bit rushed the other, but have heard if you get a great wait person you can request him/her nightly. Again, for this you may have to wait. The service in the Italian restaurant as well as Le Bistro and East/West was wonderful. Drinks were about what they are on any ship; $4.25-$5.25 for a mixed drink and $3.50 to $5.00 for wine. A bottle of wine will run about $20-$30.00. Of course they have the special glasses which will make the price go up and you can spend $100 on a bottle on wine if you want. As for pix, after so many cruises and watching the price go up on ships we just do not buy pix at all anymore. Well maybe one or two. We paid $15.00 for 3 postcard size pix complete with 2 NCL small photo albums. We were fine with that. Don't let a few influence your decision. It's the ones that gripe the loudest that we hear. Many of us who are happy just go on our marry way........
My experience on NCL(Wind) Sydney to Auckland to Tahiti to Hawaii was excellent. There were formal nights for those who wish but, as a fellow passenger remarked (as for picture taking with the Captain) you don't have to "kiss -the-ring " if you don't wish to. I found the food extremely good and the voyage to everyones delight. The Pacific was extraordinary! I would do it again in a minute but they don't make this voyage anymore. The Carribean I am less interested because of the short cruises.
I know that $200 is not that much, but here is the problem... I go on a cruise to relax and enjoy. We are taking two older children and it has been a joy to allow them to eat anything.. No hassle that we are paying an extra $10.00 to get a plate of lobster.. etc. I want to feel that when I am in the Main Dining room, that $1500 per person for 7 days was giving me the best they had.. Not wondering if I spent an xtra $40 ..would I get better. I have been to all- inclusives where 1 price got you 6 differant buffets, but if I wanted differant I had an up-charge. After reading about and thinking about, this undermines why we go.. 1 price to get all you need or want in the way of entertainment and food. A chance to be "forced" to dress up and be with 2000 other people dressed up to feel that what you are doing "is" really special.. We have cancelled our cruise and re- booked on RCCL. I am sure freestyle is for some.. But it eliminates the true mystique and adventure we love...
Jim, everyone has to decide for themselves and I have said many time freestyle isn't for everyone, but I also feel very strongly that it's the wave of the future. Almost all ships now offer at least one or two alternative dining experiences at a small extra fee. I can remember when you couldn't even go into any dining room with out a shirt, tie and suit or suit jacket. Then we had formal for 2 nights on a 7 night cruise. The remainder men could dress in nice sport shirts and gals in sun dresses, then it was slacks for the gals and golf shirts for guys. Meals used to be the feature of all cruises, not so much anymore. Things change, some for the better thank godness and some perhaps not. Anyway enjoy RCL, I liked them even if we had lousy customer service. I would sail on them again anytime if the price was right. Happy cruising.........Nita
I have experienced freestyle as well as traditional cruises. On the whole, the traditional is preferable for meal service. An assigned table, repleat with a waiter who knew me, was superior to lines and uncertainty.
However, the freestyle disembarkation was wonderful. Passengers could await disembarkation in the comfort of their own cabins, rather than crowded public areas.
Guests could select their departure time on a form handed to reception, earlier in the cruise.
One aspect of freestyle which must be eliminated in the automatic tipping. I strongly disapprove of having gratuities in a preset amount added to my bill. Tips should remain completely within the control of the guests------the amounts of which would be determined by the guest, and distributed to the employees who served them well.
Cruising has become my favorite style of vacation. I look forward to many more.
As I have said before Freestyle is not for everyone even if I do not want to travel any ohter way again. I do miss the same wait person each night, but would rather have a different wait person than be at a table with table mates you have nothing in common with. I have talked to lots of cruisers and very few have made long lasting friends just because of who they have sat with at dinner. You may make friends from other ways on ships and when you go to any resort do you usually sit with the same people or have the same wait person or even eat in the same restaurant each night? The tipping policy has been adopted by many lines, and is not simply a freestyle policy. It too has it's ups and downs.
FreeStyle Cruising left a lot to be desired. Sailed on the Sun Aug 31 2002. The food served in the two main dining rooms was just fair. Limited selection with meager presentation. Wait staff was quite green, but tried hard. Example,server had to call for help to open wine bottle saying she was not expert at removing corks. There was one so called formal night. There were more men in shirt sleeve than with jackets. A very small smattering of formal ware in the dining room. This was my fifteenth cruise and I believe this was the poorest food and presentation I have had on a cruise ship. The two buffetts were just what y ou would expect.
The ship was immaculate every where. The housekeeping was superb.
The entertainment was good. The production show excellent.
Unless you were a diver or snorkler the shore excursions left a lot to be desired.
Embarkation and Debarkation was a snap,. No problems there.
I feel a great deal of the service problem was caused by the mandatory gratuity added to ypur statement. Yhe staff has no incentive to earn there gratuity. They get it automaticaly.
I would probably sail with NCL again providing the price was right and the ports of call were more interesting..
They had one formal night . There were many more men in their shirt sleeved than with jackets. If you and your wife are looking for the old fashioned cruiose experience this is not the vruise for you.
The food and service in the two main dining rooms let a lot to be desired. Very limited selection with poor presentation served by a very green staff. Did not see a Maitre D or captain in either dining room. Only a man in formal attire at the reception podium. Our server did not know how to get the cork out of the wine bottle and asked a sever from a different table to remove the cork.
The ship is beautifully maintained, it is spotless. Entertainment quite good. Prts of call ,not much unless you are a diver or snorkler.
If you wish fine dining and service this is not the ship. Try celebrity ot Hollanbd American.
We have been on three free-style cruises and loved them all. One night is still formal in one dining room. If you don't want to dress formal, you just eat in the other dining room, the buffet or room service. There are always plenty of options. For us it's just the flexibility of being able to set our own schedule and not have to rush to dinner at a certain time.
As for the automatic tips on your onboard account, you can visit the Pursers desk at any time and have those changed or taken off if you prefer to hand out your own tips in the traditional way. We prefer the automatic tipping and if we feel someone has done an exceptional job, we just slip them an extra bonus.
Our service has always been good and we just go with a "vacation" attitude so have not found much to complain about on any cruise. It sure beats being here sitting at the computer,
I was on the Wind a 3 week cruise and didn't learn my lesson took the Dream (nightmare) 4 weeks around South America. "Freestyle standing in line" is not for me.
Formal night are a farce. I am trying to think of somethig good about NCL you don't need all this negative. Have a good cruise!
Of course I disagree with Ben 100% but that's why there are many cruise lines for many tastes. I do believe, even if freestyle dining isn't for you, you better get used to it cause as I and many are now saying it's here to stay. Many lines are adopting some form and will soon be more like NCL period. They did this with the private island thing, NCL was the first. As for comparing the Dawn, Sun, Sky or Star with the Dream and Wind, no way. The 4 newer ships were designed for freestyle. We never stood in line for more than 10 minutes and that was the buffet line. RCLs buffet lines take 20 minutes just to reach the food, or did when we sailed them. The food in the main dining rooms may not be the very best yet many we spoke with chose to eat only in the main dining rooms as they were quite satisfied. As for the formal nights, this will be a bit different and maybe not to your liking. I was fine with it as I get tired of lugging all the dress up, party clothes, but not more than, maybe 50% will be dressed to the nines for one formal night and less for the second. You will not stand out, but you are going to experience the same paump and circumstance you have on other cruises. Nita