I also do not care for the NCL system of dining. I prefer the old way & will return to other cruise lines for that reason. I have travelled with other folks who loved the freedom of freestyle dining.. To each his own I say...
We were also on the Sky last summer - and it's Freestyle (or Princess' Personal Choice) for us or nothing! We just came back from Princess Golden and the service was better than NCL, but we will NEVER go back to traditional dining - I don't want anyone telling me WHEN, WHERE and WITH WHOM I will be dining.
FreeStyle seems to be something people either love or hate. I think it will be more interesting to watch Freestyle in the coming months, now that NCL has two ships which were actually built for FreeStyle, as opposed to ships they had which were built for "traditional" and forced to adapt.
Of late I know the NCL Sun has been drawing rave reviews.. one of the reason I chose it for our CruiseMates Thanksgiving Group Cruise.
It'll be my first personal experience with FreeStyle. I0 different restaurants onboard, sounds like it coule be very interesting!
Never tried it but have heard of many problems with it. If you do the math, you'll see that while the Star (for example) has over 2000 guests possible, the regular (no extra charge) dining rooms will only hold about 800 -900. This doesn't allow for the obvious -- that most of the guests REALLY want to dine around 7:00 PM, plus or minus a little. I recently cruised with another line that had a very different form of "freestyle". The dining room was open for dinner between about 6:30 and 9:30 PM, you chose the time. BUT, this ship had the same number of seats as it guests. Most guests preferred to dine in the 7:00 to 7:30 time frame, and this ship was prepared for this.It worked out great.
You are right, it stinks. The service is a joke compared with the traditional dining experience. Food and service have never been a huge deal with me, but the NCL cruise we took sure did open my eyes to the difference! Never again will I step on an NCL ship.
Why do they call it FREE style ? I heard they actually charge EXTRA to eat food that used to be standard fare , & to get good service! Was on the Royal Princess for 10 day cruise & they didn't even have filet mignon , & service was VERY poor , which was a surprise , as i had read good things about Princess? Probably because Royal is one of their old ships. I used to like NCL till they started this FREE style junk! I also hate this new scam of charging for service (TIPS) BEFORE you even sail? where is the incentive to provide good service?? Sure some people say ,if you don't like it you should go to purser!! WHY don't they make it OPTIONAL , if you can't figure out how to tip , let them take your money,if you would rather waite till end of cruise when you will KNOW how service was then you can tip as YOU wish ! We won't go on Princess or NCL again. Celebrity & H.A.L. will get all our money from now on.
The tips are charged after you board, on a daily basis and they ARE optional. All it takes is one visit to the purser's desk.
Of the 8-10 restuarants on Norwegian Sun, Star and Sky - I think about 3 (maybe 4) are extra charge. The included formal dining rooms - every bit as stylish as dining rooms can get, serve menus that are every bit as good as I've seen on 26 sailings.
Perhaps you should actually read the information about freestyle and Princess' personal choice. I think you'll see that a lot of your concerns are misplaced.