What a terrific job you did in presenting your viewpoint. And, you raise many interesting points.
I think that the changes at Princess and NCL can cause lots of confusion. I wasn't that clear myself when I boarded Grand Princess, even though I've written about Personal Choices. On this topic cruises must be certain of what the policies will mean for them personally.
If you want formal nights, it's obvious that NCL isn't for you, although most passengers dress up to a degree. NCL does draw a defnite line: no jeans or shorts after 6:00 p.m. But I think Princess does the best job in pleasing both traditional cruisers and those who want more flexibility in their dining. And while I'm one person who likes casual vacations, I still want to see fellow passengers dressed up a few times each week. Where else but a cruise ship can I get so dolled up?
I'm a fan of these changes. And, I personally think that someone paying thousands of dollars for a vacation should be able to dine when and with whom he/she pleases. If you like a large table of strangers and assigned dinner hours, there are dozens of ships out there.
But you are absolutely right: if they're going to make dress policies, then they have to enforce them. The staff aboard cruise ships doesn't do that and I've even seen blue jeans in the dining room at night.
The lower cruise fares have resulted in passengers who want to bring their own booze aboard ships. A drink or two each day doesn't run up that much of a tab! Maybe they shouldn't go on a ship. I think that you should plan to abide by the rules of a company if you're going to use it's facilities and services. Just budget for drinks, cut out other expenses if necessary.
Anne.. I know there tons of people out there who would rather see a dentist than wear a tie, and I have no problems at all with that.
I'm sure when I've been on as many cruises as you ( help me catch up, ) I'll probably want at least some of them to have the more casual atmosphere, where I can kick back and go laid back.
But when I do, I'll try and pick the ships that offer that experience, rather than packing my jeans and heading for Crystal <G>
As far as dining times goes.. I think my favorites were my Seabourn cruises.. eat when you want, with whom you want... but the dining rooms can accomodate everyone, even if they all show up at the same time. Then it's truely personal choice.
Kuki... now wearing a tux even when reading message boards
We were on NCL this summer and decided "personal choice/freestyle" is the ONLY way for us to go - especially if we go with our 8 yo son. We leave in 15 days for the Golden and are looking forward to eating whenever it's convenient. We did Disney with him 3 yrs ago and the set dining times were a disaster for him. Luckily it was only a 3 day and one nite he went to the kids area - though he didn't like having the staff get his tray, etc etc. I don't want anyone telling me at home when and where I have to eat - don't want it on the ship either. Happy to stick with Princess and NCL until there are additional lines offering freedom of choice.
Anne, your missing the point about drinks in the cabin. It's not the $$$. It's about convenience. I don't want to wait for room service to bring me up a flat watered down drink and have to get dressed to answer the door. (Only been cruising since '96, when fares were higher and cruisers were bringing on their own booze back then.)
Just like the cruiser's who pay thousands of dollars for their vacations should have the right to dine when and with whom they want..........they should also be able to enjoy a cocktail in the privacy of their own cabin.