What is Freestyle Dining on NCL?

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We have gone on 2 Norwegian Cruises with kids, so we understand a little bit of what Freestyle Dining is all about. 

Freestyle Dining:

  • No set dining time
  • No assigned waiters
  • No set dining location
  • No assigned seating
  • Casual dress code (do not have to dress up on “Dress Up or Not” nights)
  • 2 main dining rooms on every ship
  • As many as nine dining options included in your cruise fare
  • Specialty restaurants for an additional charge
  • Every ship offers steakhouses, French bistros,  and Italian trattorias (for extra charge)
  • Check out this Dining Options document for a full list of options by ship

The Freestyle dining can be a great option for families.  There is no need to rush to the dining rooms for a set dining time as many other cruise lines require.  If your child needs a nap, you can leave once they are sleeping in their stroller or wait until they are done with their nap.  If you stay onshore after dinner starts, you will not miss a set dining time.

Disadvantages of Freestyle Dining:

  • Might have to wait to be seated (especially after 6pm)
  • Might not get a “good” waiter – we definitely saw a difference with the waiters because we had kids.  Some took the kids orders immediately and others did not think to consider the kids’ needs very well.
  • Must plan ahead yourself to ensure you make it to the shows – allow enough time assuming service is decent to get to the show you want
  • Waiters do not know you – such as if you usually order alcohol, if you want a high chair, if you usually need more bread and water, etc.
  • Since you do not get to know a waiter throughout the week, the service might feel less personal than you would prefer
  • You might feel odd being dressed up and seeing people in jeans right next to you

photo credit: Cruise News Weekly

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