Saturday, October 20, 2007

NCL Freestyle Dining

On September 10, 2001, a new era of cruising was begun with the inaugural sailing of Norwegian Sun. This was the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to be specifically designed and built for Freestyle Dining. My husband and I were aboard the Sun for that initial sailing.

As one might expect, the first time for anything can be a bit rocky. We were veterans of the traditional dining experience and were skeptical about Freestyle Dining. On past cruises, we actually looked forward to the structure of the traditional dining - having a set time and location for meals every evening. We'd met intersting table mates and received good service from the wait staff since they became familiar with our likes / dislikes and tried hard to make sure we had a pleasurable dining experience.

Our first night onboard the Sun in 2001 proved to be a little taxing at dinner time. There were long lines, which equated to long waits to be seated for dinner. We met another couple from New York, and asked if they wanted to dine together. After that first night, the rest of the cruise went well, since we would plan in advance and make dinner reservations with the other couple. We also found our favorite wait staff and requested that we be seated in their section. Problem solved!

Well, I'm happy to report that we've just sailed on Norwegian Pearl for our National Conference and NCL Freestyle Dining has come a long way since 2001. The key to a pleasant experience is still planning.

TIP!! You'll want to make dinner reservations for your favorite restaurants 24 - 48 hours in advance.

The next big improvement is a Restaurant Seating Guide which can be found in several locations throughout the ship. If you haven't already made a reservation, you can see how long the wait is in all of the restaurant venues. This is a great improvement from the 2001 days where you had to physically check out each restaurant or call to check availability.

In my next post, I'll talk more about the various dining options aboard the Norwegian Pearl.

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