Been on a few cruises but never on a Free Style Cruise.. How do they compare to Carnival or Royal Carribean. I will be sailing on the Nowegian Sun and would like to here from former sailors of this ship.....
What is the best ship is a personal preferance, for us, NCLs freestyle makes it our favorite line. We do cruise all lines and will continue to look for the itinerary, timing and price that fits us best, but when all is equal we go back to NCL.
Carnival does have larger cabins and the entertainment is similar. I do not happen to be a fan of RCI but many love the line.
Fressstyle offers so much freedom. OK, others will say you can't always eat where and when you want. That is partly true: if you head for the dining room at 7pm just like everyone else or a large majority, only want a table for 2 by the window you may have to wait. This is rare. 7 freestyle cruises and only once did we wait. We were a group of 20 plus (with reservations) we still had to wait about 15 minutes or so.
You will have your choice of both free and fee restaurants with East meets West, the steak house the most expensive. The price is $20 sur charge and $15 if you want a whole lobster or a 24 oz rib eye. Our favorite is Le Bistro, $15 or $20 for their specialty meal. These as well as the Italian restaurant and the Habachi table need reservation which can be made the day of or day before. The Habachi table only seats 16 and can be very hard to reserve as they do only 3 seatings or so per evening.
In total there are 10 restaurants. Another advantage to NCl, you can stay in your cabin on debarkation day until your color of tags are called. No more seating in the lounge, hallways etc.
We have cruised the Sun twice, she is clean, has an outstanding, relaxed and friendly crew and a pretty good casino. If you drink be sure and do the Martini clinic, sharing the drinks I should add.
Try Las Rambles for tapas at least once.
My only complaint about the Sun and a few other NCL ships from the same general time :ugly decor in the state rooms. Why they have blue carpeting with green spreads in some cabins and green carpet with blue spreads in the others? I don't mean color coordinated either.
Well NITA I want to thank you for your input, I found it very interesting. I also like the idea of not haveing to dress up if you don't want and will not look out of place if you don't go to the Captain's Dinner. Thanks again for all the information about the resturants.....
I have sailed NCL 2 times in the last year, and I have to say my second cruise was better than the first. I like the concept of freestyle cruising but I dont like freestyle cruising. I have sailed 6 times, on various lines, and I must say the 2 cruises that had the worst service was NCL. The waitstaff knows they probably will never have to seat you again and there have already been tipped through your automatic tipping on your card so they just dont go the extra mile in my opinion. Now if you eat in the specialty restaurants the service was usually better, because the expect to be tipped because your charged to eat there. So its like a regular restaurant at home. My family and I liked the variety on NCL, but hated spending the extra money. Thats one of the things I like about cruising is the price can include virtually all your food. Food on NCL can be very expensive, and personally I didnt think it was worth it.
All this being said I enjoyed both my cruises on NCL. We sailed the Spirit, and she was beautiful. Without a doubt the nicest ship I have ever been on. Check her out. She doesnt have all the glitz of most cruise ships because she was built Superstar Leo, and meant for Star cruises in the orient. She looks like it. If you have any questions about NCL or the spirit let me know.
/scott, I think your view of NCL is very reasonable even if I disagree with you on some parts, mainly the dining. Yes, if you choose to eat in the specialty dining rooms every night you can run up quite a tab yet I know many who have enjoyed the food in the main restaurants, the snack restaurant (Blue Lagoon) or whatever, depending on the ship and never spent an extra penny. For those who choose to dine in specialty restaurant on other ships the cost is much higher in most cases. Several of the sur charge restaurants recently have raised their prices to $30.00. so far NCL has stayed between $12.00 and $20 depending on the ship and dining room. I have never known any other line to offer 1/2 price in specialty dining rooms. NCL nearly always offers it for someplace one night.
Now, if you really don't like the food in the main dining rooms, yes, you will get tired of the extra charges and as for extra charges, one thing I hate about NCL is the price of Bingo. All lines are expensive but nothing like NCL. Thank goodness we are not Bingo players. On the other hand NCL was the first line to offer a players card in the casino and I think thier slots are looser than Carnival and RCI. I know they are looser than HAL. This doesn't mean any of us will win overall, but our money will last a little longer.
again, I think your comments are very objective even if I don't totally agree with you. Nita
Freestyle dining: It has its good and bad points. They promote the fact that you can make your choice instead of being told "when and where" to dine, but for us, we do not necessarily mind being told when and where. Having said that, the choice of where is a plus, though you will want to make your reservations in advance. If you wait til the day of, you may get boxed out. Out of all of the dining options, I HIGHLY recommend the French resturant. It is the best on the high seas! Stay away from the hibachi (been there, done that on land), and the sushi (very average menu, not for the true sushi connoisseur).
Entertainment: about average.
Optional formal nights: this is where NCL and I have a disagreement. You can dress up for formal nights if you want. For me, I HATE that. Call me old fashioned, but part of the glory of cruising is formal nights for me. To be one of the only men on board actually wearing a tux on formal night made me feel like an outcast. I totally hated that feeling.
Other than that, I have no problems with NCL, and will be on the Star in November. Enjoy the NCL Sun, she's a great ship!
Hi Scott. Nice to hear your thoughts on Norwegian Cruiselines... Now I have a brother who has taken prolly 25 cruises on all the other lines and says he most recent cruise was the best because of the Free Style. So I guess everyone has their own opinion on this fact. I am going with my Nephew and Neice who have never cruised before so I want this to be an impressive trip................
Minnetonka, I asked that one time on the Carnival Forum and had 150 responses to the TOP DECK Question....... Since this is your first cruise your in for a great time and a lot of surprises. All I can say is I'll bring the sun screen and meet you up on the Top Deck.... How will I know it's you when I get there though.......... HAPPY SAILING
Let me fill you in on the Sun. We have cruised her twice and loved the experience.
Topless deck? NOpe, topless and NCL normally don't mix. I only know of one mass marketed lines that have a topless deck or one that is advertised: that is Carnival.
a couple of things about the Sun, if you like casino life, the slots are a bit looser than other lines: this doesn't mean you will win but you shouldn't loose too much:
If you decide on only one sur charge dining experience: I recommend Le Bistro.
Be sure you try Las Rambles for tapas at least once. We actually make a meal out of the tapas. It isn't quite enough to last us through the night so we end up either enjoying the light buffet in the casiono starting at 11pm or go to the sports bar for fish and chips or a sandwhich.
I think the eggs benedict on NCL ships are the best at sea.
If you are a drinker make sure you take part in the Marini clinic. It is super fun and a great way to meet people. You can actually choose to share the marinis. You not only save money, you won't stumble out or the bar.
If you have any more questions I would love to answer them for you.
Freestyle has its advantages and disadvantages. This is from my review of my last cruise on the NCL Star ...
What sets Norwegian apart from everyone else is the Freestyle dining. As I mentioned, there are ten dining areas. Six are free, four cost extra, and only three do not require reservations (Aqua, Versailles and the Blue Lagoon). It is noted that Norwegian does not allow blue jeans, tank tops, shorts, T-shirts or beachwear in any of the restaurants after 5:00pm. It is also noted that Aqua and Versailles (the two main restaurants) get very busy between 7pm and 8pm.
The advantage of Freestyle dining is you can eat when you want. However, that is only true in three of the ten restaurants. All the other restaurants require reservations. What is the difference between making a reservation and having a set dining time? Also, for groups this can be a problem. In traditional dining you show up at your table at the assigned time. You know the rest of your group will either already be there, or will arrive soon. With Freestyle dinning, your group has to decide where it wants to eat and when. If you have ever tried to get a group to agree on anything, you know what a chore this can be. Also, if your group is large enough, you can guarantee that someone will show up at the wrong restaurant at the right time, or show up at the right restaurant at the wrong time. For me, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like having to take time out of my day to make a reservation. The whole idea of cruising is to have a carefree vacation. I believe that having to make reservations takes away from that experience.
good points, but of course NCL just changed their dress code policy; we can now, for better or worse wear jeans in the dining rooms after 5. No t shirts, tank tops, shorts etc but jeans are accepable. We all knew it would come sooner or later.
First of all thank you Nita for all your good comments on Norwegian Cruiselines. How did you find out about the jeans policy ? Also is it reccomended you book all your dinner reservations on the first day of the cruise ? Are all the themed resturants an additional charge ? My brother sailed on a Freestyle cruise after years of sailing on the other cruiselines and loved it, thats why I choose to try it. Also I heard Norwegian sends out the documents after the cruise is paid in full, is that true? I will be on deck 9 front of ship hope it's a good location.......
the dress code was announced on NCLs wedsite as well as all travel agencies got or should have an email about this.
As for booking the restaurants in advance: this policy was changed about 3 months ago. When the reservation system was put into affect about 5 years ago you could only book the day of or day before the time you wanted to eat. People complained they were having trouble getting reservations. Thus NCL changed the policy: you could book the day you got on the ship. It was great, but then people complained. This took away from the true meaning of freestyle. Now, it is back to booking only the day before or day of. People are complaining.
How do you make everyone or even the majority happy? Who knows.