Question of the Week 7/21/14: Freestyle Dining on Norwegian Cruise Line

Michelle Asks: I signed up to get unbiased info about the next cruise I am taking. How can I know what freestyle cruising on NCL is really like? Is it hard to get a table at the restaurant i want on any particular night? Is it hard to just show up and get a table? I want to eat there when I don't like the menu at the main dinning rooms. I would also like to know if the menus change everyday in every dining area.

Hi Michelle,
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Advance reservations for the specialty dining restaurants on Norwegian's ships are accepted in advance and during the cruise, including the day of the meal. So, once you've viewed the menu at the main dining room and decided you'd rather explore an alternative, go ahead and visit one of the 'Dining Information' podiums throughout the ship to make a reservation. Or, if you'd rather remain flexible and make a decision on a restaurant or dining time as the mood strikes, check one of the many TV monitors throughout the public areas of the ship which display real-time restaurant availability. Each restaurant (including the main dining room and buffet) is shown, with the dinner period divided into 30-minute, color-coded blocks (green = no or minimal wait, yellow = filling up fast and red = full) so you can make an informed decision without trekking to the restaurant to find out that the wait is too long. Even though Freestyle Cruising gives you a lot of flexibility, if there's a particular restaurant you know for sure you'll want to experience, especially one of the Cirque Dreams and Dinner or Illusionarium productions on Norwegian Epic, Breakaway or Getaway, it's wise to reserve in advance of your cruise so that you know you've got a confirmed spot.

Dining Info Board on Norwegian Jade

Menus in the main dining room and buffet rotate daily, but the specialty restaurants and room service generally offer the same menu from day to day, so the dinner menu in Cagney's Steakhouse, for example, will usually be the same whether you dine there Tuesday or Friday evening. The menu at O'Sheehan's Pub varies based on the time of day, with the breakfast and dinner menus offering more choices than mid-afternoon or overnight.

All the specialty restaurants I've tried on Norwegian have been very good, so it's difficult to make a bad choice. Enjoy your cruise!

(Photo Credit : Paulo Ordoveza, Flickr Creative Commons )

Tags: Norwegian Cruise Line Question of the Week Freestyle Cruising Freestyle Dining

11 Answers

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Cagney's & LeBistro are highly recommended. If you are going on the Breakaway, the LeCirc show and dinner is an excellent choice too. Try to take advantage of the specials that NCL offers. Either a celebration package, or the, I think it's 3 for 2 special. Check the NCL website for dining packages.

hope this helps

enjoy the cruise

You already have received detailed information on your question. So nowIjust want to wish you a great cruise. I will only add that I always use my time dining on all ships if available. If you like a particular server, inquire at the hostess desk if you can be seated in that area. I you dine a little early you can usually be accommodated. We rarely have a problem once we make friends with the hostess. But, we make it a point to dine early. We notice that the later you dine the harder it is to get a particular server.

Last time I was on NCL they did not take reservations in the free dining rooms. We had to stand in line, the line was very long on formal night for the Lobster. We had not trouble getting into the extra pay restaurants even for the same day. LeBistro and Cagnney's were great, so was the sushi. I can also recommend if they do the special $ 10.00 Indian lunch, well worth the price.

On NCL to get good food you do need to go to the extra pay dining, the MDR was OK food but bad service. If your going for the free dinning try the smaller dining room, lines were shorter and service was better when I was on the Star and the Pearl.

Been on two NCL ships now and found the Freestyle Dining concept to be exactly as the line advertises. Unfortunately, not everyone's review of this form of dining is positive. All I can say is that whether on the Pearl or the Sky, dining alone, as a pair or in a group of six, I never had to wait for a table in any Main Dining Room or Le Bistro. Buffet is a different story--it can become a bit of a hike to find a free table. That's why I often combined a meal with a drink at the Garden Terrace overlooking the stern of the ship. Never a wait, limited but decent selection and usually there's some eye-candy to go along with the

adult refreshment.

Just returned from a cruise on the Epic. Luckily, I prebooked all nights in a specific restaurant. I say luckily because by the third day people were saying the choices were few. And Cagney's Steakhouse ( my favorite and our server; Krisma, was the best EVER!), only had the 9:30 time slot open.

The Italian Restaurant was the most disappointing in my opinion. Happy Cruising!

Freestyle can take a little getting used to. Less so now that all the lines offer some sort of my time dining,your time dining......few ships offer a true dining time dining. Just understand, you decide how much you want to spend. This concept eludes new cruisers.

This free style dinning doesn't sound that free. We booked a cruise on the NCL Ecapse for April 2, 2016. Why can't they offer traditional dining. All we want to do is go the the dining room at our time, at our table. No fuss, no work, no stress! Is it just a way to get travelers to spend more money at the specialty restaurants? Our travel agent stated that it is not bad and it works but can anyone comment on a recent cruise with NCL?

Great flexibility in cruise dining with alternative options

Bahamas Cruise with Restaurant

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