Friday, July 10, 2009

NCL Freestyle Dining - Secret Announcement

NCL Freestyle Cruising®
Shh! Program Changes Coming Soon

I've spoken about Freestyle Dining in several past articles. You can search this blog to read them if you need additional details. As a quick refresher, guests have several dining options which range from the traditional dining room setting to specialty restaurants that offer a more intimite setting with personalized attention and additional cost.

The other aspect of Freestyle Dining is the ability to select the time that you wish to dine. As you might imagine you don't always get your first choice since you are competing with your fellow passengers for that time slot. Currently it is possible to make reservations but only 24 - 48 hours in advance. For those that truly want to make last minute decisions, you can check availability with the various restaurants or on some ships, you can check a status board to determine what choices are currently available (much like you would do at an amusement park).

Having cruised for over 25 years, I'm used to the traditional dining where I request either early or late seating and the table size. Usually, I request early seating and a large table size so that I have the opportunity to meet new people.

In 2001, when aboard the Norwegian Sun for it's inaugural, I was dragged kicking and screaming into the new world of Freestyle Dining. To be honest, I didn't like it. But to be fair, the program was in its infancy. It has grown up quite a bit since that time. I still prefer traditional dining, but there are times when Freestyle Dining has worked out very well for our evening plans.

It seems you either love Freestlye or hate it. Those that are used to traditional dining may be like me, kicking and screaming about the new dining methods. There are others that will object to the extra cost. They will ask, isn't food included in the price of the cruise? Why do I have to pay an additional charge to go to the steakhouse, for example?

My answer, to all that ask, is "you have a choice". In fact on most NCL ships you have around 13 choices or so. All I can suggest is try it some time and see if you like it.

Norwegian Cruise Line took a risk when they broke from the traditional dinner pattern and it has paid off for them. Other cruise lines have added additional dining options. You know what they say about imitation...

NCL is about to make yet another tweak to their Freestyle Dining program. The change is in response to passenger suggestions over the years. Remember those comment cards that you fill out every cruise? This change proves that NCL does listen to their passengers and are willing to try different things.

The change that is about to be implemented will be welcomed by all those past guests that have made the suggestion. NCL has not officially announced the program, but they have leaked advance notice to their elite agencies. I cannot share the information publicly, but I can provide details if you send me an email or give me a call. Watch this column for the official announcement - I expect it within the next couple of weeks.

Note: As of August 27th, NCL has still not publicly announced this program change. There are some technical aspects of the program that still need to be resolved before it can be implemented. Stay tuned for further updates.

For the inside scoop - call or email me

No comments: