We sailed on the Majesty in April. We ate at Le Bistro one night. They charged $12.50 to eat there, but if you ordered the Steak and Lobster, they charged more. I think it was $20. It was well worth the extra money, though. We really enjoyed it.
It depends on which ship, which restarant and what you want. Of course you will not get Steak and Lobster for a $10 per person cover charge, nor will you be charged an extra price for say, Steak Diane. As stated above the specialty restaurants are worth every penny and are the wave of the future on all ships. I think one ship is charging $25 per person period. So far we have cruised botht he Sun and Sky and only paid the basic $10 per person plus we did give an extra tip for the outstanding service.
I read on one site that a person went to a specialty restaurant (on the Dawn I think)and was told the lobster was $20 extra. But that night the rest of the ship was having that in the other free dining rooms. He declined to pay it and that was accepted by the staff. Funny, isnt it???????
Rita, that could be very true, infact it probably is. That's why diners need to know which night is Lobster night in the main dining room and fore go the specialty rooms that night if Lobster is their thing. The one thing I certainly do not know and that is "is the Lobster in the specialty restaurants the same size and quality?" Of course another issue with Lobster night in main dining versus alternative dining rooms is service. The service in the specialty restaurants is every bit as good as I have had in 5 star restaurants throughout the world. You are paying for that as well as food. I just make sure I know ahead of time what night is Lobster night in the main dining establishments and plan our special nights around that. Just a thought. That way no one should get upset. happy cruisin NMNita
What IS funny is the fact that the guest did not know or appreciate the difference between a whole fresh LIVE Maine Lobster and frozen Australian Slipper Lobster Tails that most of the cruise lines are serving.
One of the best features about Freestyle Cruising is CHOICE. It allows one to go to a premium restaurant on "Lobster Night" and choose to have the First Class Lobster for a relatively small surcharge, or the economy class lobster for free.
Bruce, you are so right. I should have picked up on the whole Lobster versus, the Australian tails or whatever. That's what we are having tonight with our steak for dinner and do not expect the same as a main lobster. Price is right (on sale and I am doing the cooking) DH is soooooooooooo spoiled..........
We just got back from cruising with the Star, and was offered without charge, the lobster on "lobster night" and it was absolutely the best I have ever had. Was in their Ginza specialty restaurant, which ended up being our favorite, returning there several times. Service and food was suberb!
Not being a lobster expert but coming from New England I just assumed lobster is all the same-fresh till cooked. Never thought of the frozen tail thing.
I don't usually spring for the alternative dining but did on the Celebrity Millenium to see the walnut panelling from the incredible Olympic dining room(sister to Titanic). I understand the service and quality of the food and felt as if I could NEVER afford it on land. Everyone should try it but I wonder if it becomes the norm will the experience always be soooooo wonderful? And are all these complaints about the regular dining rooms and the inconsistant service a by-product of too little staff there. All the great servers are saved for the upscale restuarants. Too many indians and no cheifs? Dining is the key to cruising. There is much to lose if people go away unhappy if they don't pay extra for meals. Personally, I have always had good luck for the most part but I read alot of complaints. People are unrealistic. They want so be served a five course meal in less than 90 minutes. That would be fine if there wasn't 700 others expecting that also.
Can't wait to sail the Dawn 8/31.
Rita, my sentaments exactly. We do Le Bistro and usually 1 other specialty restaurant when out at sea. On the Sun we did three cause I was with daughter and we could split the bill, but for the 2 of us we feel we can only do one or two. Yes, the experience is one we very rarely splurge for at home and yes, I do think the service in the main dining rooms suffer a little, but really, we had great wait staff most of the time. Also agree with the time it takes to serve a 5 or more course meal. That's why I wonder about bringing the pre schoolers on cruises unless you plan to have most of the meals at the buffets. Personally, unless I have something earth shaking to do (which doesn't happen often on cruises) I love the 90 to 120 minutes meals. That's what dining should be all about. Happy cruisin
I totally agree with both of you. This will be our first NCL cruise (Star, 7-27), but when we cruised with Royal Caribbean to Alaska, I LOVED sitting in the dining room until 10:00 and then going to the clubs...what fun!
We always choose the late seating - and this will make me sound like a cranky old lady - because there are likely to be less families eating that late. I love my grandkids, but wouldn't want to eat dinner with them at 8:00...they'd be holy terrors!!!
Becky, you are too funny cause that's why we used to opt for late seating. One time we did take a last minute cruise and had no choice but to take early seating, the ship was filled to the brime. We got stuck at table with a couple who probably didn't say 20 words the entire week, a whinny 12 year old son who ate nothing but hamburgers. Acutally his whinning was a least some kind of sound compared to the parents and the 16 year old daughter. Then across from us mommy, daddy, grandma and grandaddy and 3 little ones, under 5. These same little ones were at the show running up and down the aisle every night. That's why I like freestyle cruising. I do not have to sit with the same passengers the entire cruise or hurt someones feelings and I can tackle dinner a little before 8pm if I want.
Well, I have to admit, that my first cruise spoiled me for everything else. We went to Tahiti on Renaissance (now Oceania) and the level of luxury and service is something you just won't find on the big ships. RC has free-style too, but since we had gone on that cruise with friends, we ate in the main dining room every night. Hubby accused me of having a big crush on the waiter and his assistant... They WERE cute, and it was the assistant's first time away from home (they were from Turkey).
haven't been on the Star, but all NCL ships have Le Bistro. That's a must. Too funny about the Turkiest wait staff cause when we took our grand daughters (my daughter and I) about 3 years ago on RCL we had a waiter from Turkey. He was adorable, but not really that good. Forgot our expresso one night, got our orders messed up at least once, just lots of little things. When it came time to tip DD and I had one cabin and grand daughters (teen agers ) another. Also at our table a friend with her 2 teen age daugters. Well we decided to tip our cabin steward a little extra as he was very good and leave a little less for our waiter. the girls were allowed to tip as they saw fit. Can you imagine where most of their tips went? Our little friend from Turker made out quite well from our table full of teen age young ladies.
I'm curious about the free lobster dinner at Ginza. I'm sailing on the Star on 9/1. Did you get a full Maine lobster? Was there normally a charge on other nights? Did the main restaurants server a full lobster or just tails.
Yes, yes, don't know, and no. Big full tail in the Ginza, and did not even have to ask about the charge on Lobster night, as they offered it right away. There is a charge for it on other nights, though I am not sure they offer it on the other nights, as it is not on thier menu normally, that I remember. Do not know what the lobster situation was in the main dining rooms. We only ate there during the "formal night", and for breakfast. One bad breakfast and ho-hum-so-so service and food for the dinner. Wished now that we had stuck to the "pay" restaurants. No, cannot make dinner reservations, that I know of before you board the ship, unlike the shore excursions. However, since we were in a penthouse suite, our concierge gave us a form to fill out to reserve nights for the whole week, which we did. We were not that impressed with Le Bistro, but could be due to our waitress coped an attitude for the evening, when we inquired about vintages that they do not list on their wine list. We had second reservations for later in the week for them, but changed it to our favorite: Ginza. Soho was also absolutely wonderful..don't miss it!
The Dawn was our first "Free Style" dining experience in over a dozen cruises......but here's my long winded view:
Make sure you try the Teppanyaki Room in the Bamboo restaurant....it cost between $10 & $12pp depending on what you order. It's like your local Japanese grill restaurant where you sit around the cooking surface and they entertain you while they cook your meal. The shrimp & filet mignon was excellent....the room (2 grill tables) only hold 18 people total and they have seatings at 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30 so reserve early!
LaBistro (Extra charge-reservations required & good service) was excellent the escargot, the cream of mushroom soup served in a sour dough bread bowl....yummy....We thought the filet mignon was a tad better at LaBistro than at Cagney's, but both were good...The whole lobster at Cagney's (also, extra charge-reservations required & good service) was difficult to eat, and I feel you are better off getting the tails at LaBistro and getting chops or filet at Cagney's. The Caesar salads were good, different depending on the restaurant (a little garlic flavor in Cagney's)
For an afternoon or late night snack be sure to try the fried rice bowl in The Blue Lagoon (No extra charge there) , it was very good. Also walking through The Blue Lagoon and grabbing the great cookies they always have out on the counter was a good bet any time (They are open 24 hours) ! Also, the grilled sausage by the pool was good, as was the stir fry and the ribs out there. The hot dogs up at the Bimini pool bar (deck 14) in the afternoon were a waste, no taste, don't waste your hard earned calories on them! Also, their pizza wasn't so great. (I only saw it on the afternoon buffet) , but I'm a thin crust fan.......Salsa's (No extra charge, but reservations requested) (we tried it twice) was a big disappointment....we love Mexican food, and were really looking forward to eating there. The first time we had the shrimp fajita and it had very small shrimp and was quite tasteless. The poppers were fine and the chili was ok. The fried onion appitizer was a crispy on the outside mushy onion on the inside blob...I think I was expecting it to be more like a "bloomin' onion" from our local Outback chain! We had heard so many good reviews about Salsa's that we figured it must be us and we tried it a 2nd night.....not any better. (Maybe it is us) We enjoyed the Mexican buffet they had one evening in the Garden Cafe much more than Salsa's...it was great and they had a huge selection..
We ate in the Venitian (No extra charge - no reservations required) on Lobster night and the Filet Mignon was good, the Lobster was so-so (but I think the only half way decent Lobster I ever had on a cruise ship was on a Celebrity Cruise quite a few years ago)......The service everywhere (except Blue Lagoon) was good, and somehow we didn't think it would be...we had read bad things (on three different cruise message boards) about the service speed and quality and we were pleasantly surprised.....but we always had a table for two...I heard many larger groups dining together complaining about slow service....and the term "Butt Numbing" experience used to describe dinner in the 3 main dining rooms......
We ate at Aqua (No extra charge-no reservations required) once (Pretty good) and never made it to Impressions or the Italian Restaurant (Actually part of the buffet area coverted in the evening to an Italian Restaurant) Impressions had the same menu as the Venitian and I liked the decor in Venitian better.....it seemed like a small scale of a tradition cruise ship's dining room with a nice big aft window. Aqua was a similar menu nightly to Impressions and the Venitian. Many nights I wasn't very impressed with the menus at those 3 locations, so we would go to one of the pay extra specialty spots those nights.
A good idea is to go to the reception desk and ask to see the looseleaf binder that holds all the menus for the duration of your cruise. We did that, then decided which nights we didn't care for their offerings and reserved one of the specialty restaurants for those nights. We were lucky to have concierge service so we never had trouble getting reservations when and where we wanted......non concierge passengers had to go to a little table set up in the main atrium and reserve the same day & were only allowed to reserve one day ahead for specialty restaurants.... many times the more desirable dining times were gone or nothing was available and they were turned away........
As far as tipping...I found that awkward. They add tips to your final room bill and the extra fee for the specialty restaurants (I believe) is supposed to be the gratuity for the servers there, but we always felt we needed to leave something everywhere we ate. Your servers will bring you your bar beverages also, so at the end of the meal you will get a check for that and we would add something to the bar bill for the dinner servers (the bar bills all have 15% added to your beverages already). When we carried our own drinks from another bar and didn't have a bar bill at the table we would leave a little cash for the server. We saw others doing that too...handing it to the servers. For better service some folks pre-tipped when they sat down and that always assured them the best service. Most places we left an extra $5 in cash and if the servers felt we were cheap we'll never know.......it made me feel better to leave a little something!
I know this will sound petty, but I did miss certain little touches that we've had on other cruise lines....like someone handing you your tray at the buffet line with your utensils and plate already on it...along with a linen napkin & place mat (NCL had paper napkins that would blow away and no placemats) and having the staff take your tray to a table for you.....Sometimes your food would get cold as you looked for an available clean table. A few times I would get a little way down the food line and realize I didn't have a bowl or soup spoon or something else I needed....On the Dawn I felt like I was in a High School cafeteria..... I told you this was petty..... I have rambled enough..... and this was WAY more than you asked for.........
PS: When you are at the reception desk looking at the dinner menus be sure to order the map of your cruise for $10. It's the best souvenier, it's a map with your cruise charted on it and signed by the Captain. They will charge it to your room and deliver it to your cabin the last day of your cruise. Much better than the usual cruise keepsakes and easy to pack!