Norwegian Cruise Line
by George Leppla of CruiseMaster.com
I sailed on a 7-night cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line as a member of
a group of travel agents it was my first chance to experience how
the "Freestyle" program worked. In a nutshell... it worked
far better than I thought it would.
basis of the program is to give passengers a number of dining
options. For dinner, you can dine at a number of different
restaurants within a stated time frame.
dining rooms have traditional table service. You can dine anytime
during the operating hours, but you must enter the dining room by a
certain time. If you prefer traditional dining schedules, the maitre
d' will assign you a specific table, waiter and time for every night
of the cruise. The people I talked with said that not many
passengers do this. We ate at various times, arriving at the dining
room as early as 5:30 and as late as the cut-off hour and the
longest we had to wait for a table was 5 minutes. The maitre d' may
ask if you would like to be seated with other people, but all
requests for specific sized tables were granted without fuss.
There is now only one formal night on 7-night cruises; however,
contrary to what many expected, this doesn't mean that people
"dress down" on the cruise. For the most part, I found
that people dressed a little better for dinner than usual and on
formal night most of the men in the dining room were wearing
jackets. NCL requests that shorts not be worn on the ship after 6
PM. One man told me the was turned away from the dining room for
wearing shorts with the suggestion that he utilize the buffet.
Tips are now pre-paid at the rate of $10 per day per person. This is
automatically added to your on board account so, at the end of the
week, you need not tip anyone. You can adjust this amount any time
you want at the "Reception" desk and if you want, you can
personally tip anyone an additional amount in cash. The crew that I
talked with said that they were getting the money and it seemed to
be working well. The standard 15% is still added to your bar orders.
Freestyle cruising has changed other aspects of the cruise
experience. You no longer have a purser's desk... instead you have a
Reception Desk and an Accounting Desk. On disembarkation day you no
longer have to get up before the sun to have breakfast. Buffets and
waiter service breakfasts are available from 6 AM to 9 AM and you
can even order room service Continental breakfast if you wish. You
do not have to be out of your cabins until 11 AM so you can go have
an early breakfast, sit by the pool, and then return to your
cabin to clean up and change before you leave the ship.
In short... I like Freestyle. I like having the options of eating
when, where, and with whom I want. I enjoy having a table for 2 so I
can have a quiet meal with a friend or sharing a table for 8 with
members of a group or just meeting new people.
NOTE: Updated on