just read Cathy Gehm's article on NCL's Sky re Freestyle cruising--we did Sun's 12 day Canadian cruise in October and found similar problems--- big design flaw on the ship in that the pool rea did not have a detractable roof to be covered in inclement or cool weather---therefore, when inside seating at the cafe became crowded, people would either eat outside in jackets or spill over into the bars or alternative restaurants----one side of the food line backed up to the ice cream bar laine also---we tried both main diningrooms- waiters did not introduce themselves and service was fair at best-- we ended up eating every other night in either the French or Mediterranean restaurant which meant a $20 charge most dinners---but we had the same waitress/bus person so developed a relationship with them-- of course at the end of the cruise, as we had tipped them in addition to the surcharge, we did not pay the $10 per day per person tip automatically added on but also paid our room steward in cash --we noticed that those wishing to dress casually ate at the cafe or dining rooms and the alternative restaurants were more dressy---also, as Cathy pointed out, most people do end up eating around the traditional times of 1st and 2nd seating causing lines---we feel they need to try not charging the surcharge again to allow people to spread out and allow reservations more than just 2 days in advance
Read some of these posts, some folks think it is the greatest thing to come to cruising. I for one experienced this "newthink" and was hardly impressed. The long lines, the poor service. The "reservation" system? Doesn't that defeat the whole idea of eating when/where you want to? What kind of stupid joke is that? I for one will never sail on NCL again.
I agree with cruisenut, NEVER again on NCL. The food was mediocre, the service was unexceptional and our room was the size of a broom closet.
I look forward to meeting my dinner companions! We have met some really great people and formed a bond over the length of the cruise. With freestlye, it was like going to restaurant (which I can do on land any day of the week),
We were on the Sky to Alaska and had a wonderful dining experience. We were traveling with other couples so we always had pleasant tablemates if we choose to eat together. In fact met a new couple who we have become great friends.
Our experience has been totally positive the food and service were generally quite good and although we only ate in the French restaurant one night - (would have been more) we loved the food and service in that restaurant as well. The only bad dining experience would be that we wanted a table close to the window one night and they did not accomdate us - (we were willing to wait). We seldom had any lines at all and the waiters were efficient and professional.
I could see if traveling alone that you might miss out opportunities to get to know other people - our favorite part of cruising but you could always hookup with someone and go to dinner again if the chemistry is right.
Alright, one good response! Makes me want to go! NOT!
Sorry, no NCL and their freestyle dining. I can go to a restaurant anytime on land. I like the dining room and bonding with our dinner mates. After Celebrity, RCCL and Princess, I will never go on another NCL.
couldn't agree more with you!
The ambiance and the style presented by a cruiseline's ability to present a stylized dinner is one of the great things about cruising.
I believe that NCL sees a need to expand the potential customer base while not being overly concerned about the extablished base by expanding Freestyle to all ships except the Norway.
Well I have cruised traditional, and will again. But I did love freestyle.
We did not have any problems with it. We met many more people then if we had had the same table mates every night. We were able to experience more dining choices and the food and service were good. Not great all the time but good.
As for our room, it was a great size being that is was to accommodate the handicapped. But I did see other rooms and although not as large as some it was better then the claustrophobic Nordic Empress.
This was my first NCL cruise and after reading all the negatives I was surprised, pleasantly so.
We were on the Sky to Alaska this summer and LOVED freestyle. We will never go back to traditional! We are going on Princess in Feb - because they have personal choice. We were seated with 2 other cruisers at our first dinner on the Sky - thank goodness we didn't have to do that again! We did experience mediocre service in one dining room, and found the other to be better - we stuck with that one. We only had to wait once - lobster night at 7:15. I couldn't imagine that we would NOT have had to wait at that time. It was about 3 minutes - we'd have waited longer on land. We did the french diningroom one night - service was not good. Food was though. We'd do NCL again - if their cabins were bigger. It was OK for the 2 of us, but with our son along - one of us would end up overboard!!!!
For us - Freestyle type dining - or pick another ship.
Sounds like this is a new concept that has "kinks" to be worked out before it works well. Been on NCL (the Dream and Norway) before this came up (at least for the Dream). But anyone can figure out that Freestyle dining is going to require more restaurant space to work well than the two-seating dining does. And the Dream had a rather crowded dining room as it was. And it sounds like the new NCL ships have used the needed extra dining space for "extra cost restaurants". Oh well, we all need to remember that NCL is classified as a "budget" line. All its ships have rather crowded passenger to space ratios, and many of the rooms are mere closets. And their passenger to staff ratios are nothing to write home about either. You save a couple of hundred compared to HAL, RCI, etc. --- and many hundred compared to Radisson, Seabourn, etc. --- and it shows is crowding and diminished service.