As a first time cruiser, question..... the meals are an important part of the cruise experience, and so I would like my experience to be as perfect as possible. I can't see myself making a reservation as I never know what I'll be doing at a certain time, or if I'll be hungry at that time. I don't mind eating a little later than most. My question is are the specialty restaurants full at 8:00 or 9:00? Can I usually get a table for two with good service at that time? Any advice or recommendations? I would rather eat a little later and have a great experience than eat at 6:00 or 7:00 with 1,000 other people.......
When we went, we ate at 8pm both nights...once at the french restraunt and once at the steak restraunt. Felt as though we were the waiter's only table. The only thing that me and my husband thought was a big mistake was not booking the french restraunt for more then one night....it was AWESOME!
DOLPHIN OCEAN BREEZE 1993
CARNIVAL CELEBRATION 1999
CARNIVAL GLORY 2004
NCL JEWEL 4/9/2006
DISNEY WONDER 6/15/06
NCL SUN 1/23/07 (girls trip!)
NCL PEARL 3/30/07
RCCI MAJESTY OF THE SEAS 8/27/07
NCL Sky 8/31/09 (Mom's Bday Cruise)
Disney Magic 10/17/09 with the baby!!
Next Cruise...NCL Dawn 6/6/10 NYC to Bermuda ;-)
WE agree with Kimbo. The specialty restaurants were worth the extra cost and we had superior service. It seems that since NCL went to Freestyle, the main rooms have had a decline in service and the specialty rooms have picked up the slack.
Most of the restaurants that we ate in (Le Bistro, Cagney's and the Oriental Restaurant) seemed to have tables available even though they were fully booked by the 3rd day of the cruise. The service people were very attentive and there were more people per table waiting on us. The food is a step above the normal fare and we were especially impressed by Cagney's. We spoke to some people who were from NYC and they said that it was better than most of the steak houses that they have eaten at in New York. The surcharge there is $20 and includes a jumbo shrimp cocktail and your choice of steaks or lobster. For an additional $5 you can get Surf and Turf or a 24 oz. steak. We just went with the standard size NY strip and it was more than enough.
The Oriental restaurant was a real treat also. They have a variety of foods from Tai to Japanese to Chinese. They also have a Sushi bar and (I am not sure what you call it) a bar where you sit and watch the chef prepare oriental food on a long hot counter in front of you as you sit facing the counter. This takes a seperate reservation however.
When I was on the Dawn I made reservations the first day of the cruise for the almost all of the specialty restaurants. I found that may have been a bit premature because on most nights, except for La Tratorria and Le Bistro the restaurants were far from full.
Most of the time we made reservations for around 7:00 p.m..
This does not mean that on all sailings that the reservations will not be full. We also found that if you wanted to change your reservation within 24 hours there was no problem so booking early may be the best way to go.
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Like Mike, we booked the first afternoon. It was ok, but think I would have rather booked on a daily basis. We too, don't care too much when we eat. On NCL, with all the choices, if we get a little hungry before we are ready for a big meal we can always find a place to grab a snack. The only times we haven't booked early in the cruise we have had to wait til about 9 to eat; that's fine and the service was wonderful.
For those who comment on the restaurants never seeming full, and yet reservations are hard to get: reason: the number of wait people compared to the number of guests: the service is supposed to be flawless, thus there are always open seats. NMnita
Does that make any sense? i don't think I worded my comments too well. 8)