I love the concept of eating whenever I want and with whoever I want. The main negative was that it was hard to get the same servers. Recently we began requesting the servers that we liked and found that it works 99% of the time. Often we even get the same table. So far it is working for us. When we travel with a group, however, a set seating seems the best.
Freestyle Dining - Is it for you?
On NCL Dawn to Bermuda in 2013 we had no trouble with the dining options, I kinda like the Freestyle. On the previous two Princess, we chose open dining and again we had no real trouble. I'm not sure I will like the set times, as we are on vacation and with the exception on noting the departure times from the dock......... We don't bring watches.
I like your idea of not paying attention to watches except for departure times of course. We usually always do open dining but on our HAL Grand Journey, this is not an option, too bad. I wonder if eventually all cruise lines will offer open seating? It seems to be becoming more popular once passengers realize that they can still get their same servers.
I think that this option is gaining a following. At least that is what various cruise lines are telling us. The number of diners choosing this option is growing, they say. It seems like the way to go - especially if they are making smaller dining options rather than MDRs, at least one cruise line is doing this.
Someone I worked with had recommended the Dawn years ago. I was dead set against Freestyle, as we liked having the same server for the week. Then we ended up on the Spirit, and I was pretty sure my first thoughts were confirmed. We weren't thrilled. Due to my wife's medical issues, we started leaving almost exclusively from NY, so we booked the Dawn. The Dawn was much better than the Spirit. Since then, we have been on the Gem 3 times and the Breakaway, and several others out of NY. We have come to love the relaxed dining options of Freestyle Dining.
Other ships are now doing something similar. My Time/Your Time Dining and such. Funny, because in the beginning, NCL was getting slammed by everyone for creating this style of cruising. Now it's becoming the norm. It takes a little getting used to I admit. Some hate it though.
It took some time to get used to Freestyle but by the end of our cruise on Jewel, we were convinced Freestyle dining is way better than the traditional set times. Mostly because, we get to try different restaurants and we can eat at different times (some days we wanted to eat early, others we wanted to eat late).
I understand the point about not having the same servers...it is a downside. On Disney, the servers move around with you - so they figured out a creative solution.
BAK1061 - you are totally right. All the others seem to be adopting this dining style. I guess imitation is the best form of flattery .
We did the Freestyle a few years ago on the Pearl and did not like it. The first few days the restaurants had waits, and after that, the wife required me to wake up every morning to make reservations at 7am. I was not alone as there was always a line a few dozen deep when i hiked upstairs to make these reservations.
Some regular NCL cruisers on the ship did say that the wait times and apparent disorganization at the restaurants was out of place, but that one experience left a bad taste in our mouths.
Further, we still say service is better when you have the same waitstaff for multiple nights. I can't say any night on the 9 day Southern Caribbean cruise on NCL Pearl we received xceptional service. Even though we paid a few nights for specialty dining as we thought that we would get better food (we did) and better service (we did not).
We are interested to see how Dynamic Dining will work on RCI. We have booked all our reservations for our January 2015 sailing on Quantum of the Seas and our January 2016 sailing on Anthem of the Seas.
I do like the idea of trying different restaurants and choosing your menu for the evening. The flexibility to dine at different times is nice, in theory. Looking at the showtimes and activities we want to do on the ship, we booked dinner between 6pm and 7pm every night of the cruise.
Those reservations basically put us at the same time as the traditional dining time we normally do on a cruise anyway! LOL!
I guess you can't teach old cruisers new tricks!
On many cruise lines you can request the same servers on the My Time Dining option and get them. We have done this on Princess, Carnival, Celebrity and it worked well. Often we even get the same table. It is first come, first serve so if the MDR is already crowded when you arrive, your chances are not so good. We like to try different servers until we find ones that we like, then we stick with them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us, EatSleepCruise.
Freestyle is good if you are traveling with a group of friends and pick different options every night. For traveling with just one other person I prefer regular dining so you have people to talk to every night at dinner. The last few long cruises I have been on we ended up going out after dinner with some of our table mates. I also think you get better service with the same staff every night. Worst service I have had on a cruise ship was the MDR on a freestyle cruise felt like since they did not get extra tips they did not care about the service.
I guess having choices makes for a successful cruise. For excellent reasons, some of us like fixed dining times while others, for equally good reasons, want flexible dining times. Thanks everyone for chiming in. I enjoyed reading all your responses. Anyone one else want to offer an opinion?