No assigned dining times - you eat when you want to
Within reason you can dress whatever way you want to ( no compulsory formal dressing up). However you are expected NOT to wear shorts or t-shirts in dining rooms in the evening.
Embarkation: You can wait for your colour to be called in your cabin rather than a lounge area
I think it has been explained pretty well, but here it is again: you can dress as formally or casual as you choose, but no jeans, t shirts of shorts in the dining rooms after 5pm. The dining rooms are open from 5:30 to about 10pm. You can use any of the main dining rooms at no extra charge This will give you the choice of at least 3 options, some cases more. There are also alternative dining rooms with extra charges if you want to give them a try. The other advantage is the choices of restaurants for breakfast the last day as well as the option of staying in your cabin until your color tags are called.
Each dining room operates as a seperate restaurant. I believe the specialty restaurants have seperate galleys which should provide better food. I'm booked on my third NCL cruise in February and love the freestyle concept. You never have to rush to dinner. The one downside is it can be more difficult to meet passengers as you don't sit with the same passengers every night.
Most people have covered it for the most part, but let me add the main thing so far omitted. The problem with free style dining is that if you generally dont eat or go to the main dining room by say 5-530 or eat late, lines tend to build up and you can wait for 45- to an hour, sometimes longer to get a table. Then cause of this, you basically are just wasting time standing and doing nothing. sometimes your lucky, the time you want isnt busy , but sometimes it is and you will have to wait which makes the whole dining experience unpleasant.
On two previous freestyle cruises, the Dream on 11/01 and the Star in 9/03, I didn't encounter any long wait times. I'm not an early bird when it comes to dinner either. On the Star, I do remember 10 to 15 people waiting outside one of the dining rooms, but the other dining room was no wait. I didn't understand that since both dining rooms had the same menu. I will admit that neither of these cruises was sold out.
We have cruised freestyle 3 times and usually eat about 6:30 or 6:45. We have never waited more than 3 or 4 minutes. Yes, if you are a large group or want to eat about 7pm it's just like on the mainland; there will be a wait of up to 1/2 hour or so, but this is rare!! NMnita
We just got off of the Pride of Aloha and it was the first time with free style cruising.
I really didn't think I'd like it (I have always enjoyed the traditional dining) but I must say I enjoyed it. We were very pleased with the regular dining rooms and never did feel the need to eat at any of the speciality dining rooms. I wore what I wanted, sometimes we would dress up an sometimes not. It was great not having to follow a dress code ....
formal, semi formal, casual, costume etc.
I think free style cruising is going to be the thing of the future... I believe more lines will be slowly going to some form of free style. (When I first started cruising, we had a huge mid-night buffet nightly.... at least on RCCL, it is only 1 or 2 nights now. I don't miss them at all)
The hardest thing about free style dining is to remember to read the daily paper to see what dining rooms were open.... Go and enjoy!
I have also been on 3 ncl cruises and have experienced very little waiting time. I found that the reason some people waited so long was due the a specific request for a special table or to sit alone. I have waited longer to eat and Olive Garden, Appblebees etc than I did on the cruises. I'm all for freestyle. Not having to eat a an assigned time is great. In your daily life you are on such a schedule wo why be on one on vacation.
freestyle means you go get in line to eat just like a restraunt on land
you get to select one of several restraunts and can change each meal that is if they are all open NCL star had it where restraunts were for pesent dinning or you could choose to pay a cover charge and eat first class..The service was exclenet even if the food wasnt always but it was usually fine.
you can go anywhere on the ship in shorts and T shirts before 5pm including all the dining establishments. If you are wearing a bathing suit you need to have a cover up to enter the dining room but the buffet is "anything goes"