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KeithJenner

Updated Speciality Restaurant Booking Guide

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It is way beyond time that I updated my previous guide to booking speciality restaurants when you have the SDP or latitudes platinum (or above) meals.

 

I previously wrote a guide back in 2016, and it was quickly out of date due to the changes to the latitudes program introduced in February 2017. I did update the guide in the comments section, but it can be a bit confusing. Hopefully this updated version will be clearer.

 

Under the new rules, if there is at least one person in a room who is Platinum, Platinum Plus or Ambassador level then a voucher is received which gives two meals for two people. One is for a meal for two plus a bottle of wine in either Cagneys or Le Bistro and another meal for two in either La Cucina or Moderno.

 

If there are more than two people at the required level in the room then an additional voucher will be received, so that at each person gets two meals.

 

At least one of the people who have qualified for the voucher must go to the meal, so you can’t officially give your voucher away, but one person can take someone else. For example, I have on occasion used a voucher with my son (who has no status) rather than my wife.

 

The selection is slightly different on some ships. The Spirit doesn’t have Moderno, and therefore the second meal can only be used in La Trattoria (the Spirit’s version of La Cucina). The Bliss is also missing Moderno, and the voucher can be used in either Q or Los Lobos as well as La Cucina.

Bookings for restaurants open up online 120 days out (130 if in a suite). Whilst you can prebook MDR’s, I have never seen the reason to do so and this guide is specifically for the speciality restaurants.

 

Note that you can prebook your latitudes meals online before boarding, despite what some NCL reps have told people. They are booked in exactly the same way as any other bookings. You can also book meals that you intend to pay for with a SDP which you haven’t yet purchased (maybe because you want to use OBC to buy the package)

 

If you have no dining package at the time of booking then you are required to pay for the meal when booking. However, for those restaurants which are a la carte, the prepayment required is zero (they don’t know how much you will spend).

 

The introduction of Moderno as a option for the latitudes meal complicates things somewhat, as this restaurant has a fixed charge. Therefore, the system will charge you the cover charge when you try to book (assuming you don’t have the dining package - I will cover that later). Whilst I haven’t done this, I believe that they refund the charge as OBC when onboard if you use your latitudes meal after prepaying. This may be a problem if you already have lots of OBC or aren’t planning on spending much onboard.

 

In this case, I would wait until boarding to book Moderno, but do it soon after boarding to get the most choice of times. Obviously, if you don’t have the latitudes meals and just intend to pay the Moderno cover charge then this is less of a problem.

 

A question which is often asked is how you make bookings for meals if you intend to eat with friends who are staying in other cabins. Some people have gone to the effort of linking bookings in order to be able to do this, but it is not necessary. When you make a booking you just state the number of people, but don’t have to say who they are. You can book for more people than you have in your room. You can make a booking for yourselves and your friends in a different cabin easily, although if it is somewhere with a cover charge then you will be charged for everyone in the booking.

 

If you have the dining package then the system will be aware that you do. Therefore, someone with a three meal SDP will not get charged when booking for the first three meals they book, even if there is a cover charge. This is very useful, but you do need to be a little careful to book things in the correct order.

 

One thing to note here is that the system assumes that if the person who is making the booking has a SDP credit for the meal then so does everyone they are booking for. So, if we take the example where you are booking for yourself and friends in another room, no payment will be required when booking, regardless of whether your friends have the package or not. For this reason, make sure that the booking is done by someone with the SDP if possible. Anyone without the package will be charged onboard after the meal.

 

Things get a little more complicated when you book more meals than you have the SDP for. This could be because you decide to have 4 meals but only got the 3 meal promo for example. Perhaps the most common cause of this would be when you have platinum meal vouchers as well as the SDP.

 

In these situations, it is important to remember a couple of things.

 

Firstly, the system knows you have the dining package but it doesn’t know about any platinum vouchers you may be entitled to.

 

Secondly, whilst the system assumes the first meals you book will be covered by the SDP, this isn’t the case onboard, so you can use your SDP, platinum voucher or charge to your account as you wish. You tell the staff at the restaurant at the time.

 

Why is this important? Well, you need to book restaurants in the correct order to make sure that you don’t end up paying in advance for a meal which you shouldn’t be charged for.

 

For example, you have a three meal SDP but want to book five meals. The meals (in the order that you want to have them) are Cagneys, Le Bistro, Moderno, La Cucina and Teppenyaki.

 

This may be because you plan to use a platinum vouchers for two of the meals or that you only have a three meal plan and intend to pay for two others. Even if you will be paying for the extra meal it is often helpful to avoid prepaying (for example if you have OBC to use for it).

 

If you go online and book those meals in the order you intend to eat them then the system will assume that the first three are covered by the SDP and won’t charge you for them. The last one you book (Teppenyaki) will be charged for as you have no credits left. You will have to get your credit card out.

 

However, if you book Moderno and Teppenyaki first then the system will assume that you will be using a SDP credit for them and the fourth and fifth ones you book (for example La Cucina and Le Bistro) will be the ones that are chargeable. The payment required in advance for those restaurants is zero, so your credit card stays in your pocket.

 

When you get onboard, you can allocate the SDP credits how you wish, so the fact that the system assumed that you would use a SDP credit in Moderno or Teppenyaki doesn’t mean that you have to do so.

 

There is an added complication on some of the smaller ships, such as the Spirit, in that Teppenyaki doesn’t open up for online booking. In this case, you will have to wait until boarding in order to be able to book. If Teppenyaki isn’t available on these smaller ships (with limited spaces in Teppenyaki) then it doesn’t mean that it is sold out, but that it was never opened up for online bookings.

 

Another complication are the restaurants which have an uncharge or discount if you use the SDP. For example, Ocean Blue and Bayamo are usually a la carte, but you can use a SDP credit and pay a surcharge of $10 rather than the a la carte cost. Alternatively, if used at the dinner show then you are charged a reduced cover charge.

 

I am no expert on these, having never been to Ocean Blue or Bayamo, and only using the SDP for Cirque once many years ago however, this is my recommendation.

 

In Ocean Blue/Bayamo, I would book other restaurants first (assuming that you are booking more restaurants than you have credits for). In that case there will be no upfront charge to pay as the system will assume that will be paying the a la carte prices. You can then pay the upcharge and use a SDP credit onboard.

 

For Cirque, you first need to decide whether you are going to use the SDP for this. There are differing opinions as to whether it is worth it or not. If you plan to use the SDP then book it first so you just pay the smaller charge. Otherwise, I’m not sure when would be best to book it. Perhaps others have better advice on this. I would be worried about any complications onboard if I was to book it first and then not use the SDP, so would probably book it last and pay the full amount. I may be wrong on that though.

 

Finally, a word on which meals it is best to use the latitudes meals on and which to use the SDP. There is no definitive answer to this, as it depends on what you will order. However, there are some things to take into account.

 

The latitudes meals are more restricted than the SDP. You are limited to one appetiser, one entree and a dessert. There is also a limit of $20 on the value of the entree (you pay the difference). The SDP is just limited to one entree (and some specific items in Ocean Blue are also excluded I believe), even though some staff members try to suggest other limits.

 

The $20 limit can be quite restrictive in Cagneys, so you may get better value in Le Bistro. However, I enjoy the soup and a starter in Le Bistro, so often use my latitudes meal in Carneys instead. It is largely personal opinion.

 

It is worth looking at the menus to get an idea what you are likely to spend before deciding.

 

Hopefully that clears up some of the confusion regarding these bookings. The various options can make things quite complicated, especially with the restaurants with upcharges. I will almost certainly have missed some variations, so feel free to ask questions below and I’m sure that people will have answers and suggestions.

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Quick question for anyone...

 

 

I've seen the SDP+upcharge for Bayamo and Ocean Blue both listed as either $10 or $15. Which is currently correct? IIRC, it was $15 plus 20% for a total of $18.

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Quick question for anyone...

 

 

I've seen the SDP+upcharge for Bayamo and Ocean Blue both listed as either $10 or $15. Which is currently correct? IIRC, it was $15 plus 20% for a total of $18.

 

Good question.

 

I stated $10 above as that is what it says on the NCL site. Just googling it though does show a charge of $15 on another site, so maybe it has gone up.

 

It's a while since I've been on a ship with one of these, so I can't even check the dailies.

 

Anyone else know?

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This is a great guide for those of us new to NCL. Anyone have advice on solo reservations? When I sailed the Epic I had no problem making specialty reservations for one online. I have an upcoming sailing on the Sun that won’t allow me to reserve anything less than for 2. Called NCL and was told solos can only book onboard now?

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This is a great guide for those of us new to NCL. Anyone have advice on solo reservations? When I sailed the Epic I had no problem making specialty reservations for one online. I have an upcoming sailing on the Sun that won’t allow me to reserve anything less than for 2. Called NCL and was told solos can only book onboard now?

 

 

 

Just book for two and then when you get onboard change it to one person. We often have to do the same for our group of 3, we book for 4 and then change to 3 onboard.

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Is there a limit to what you can order if you have the SDP?

 

 

 

You are limited to one entree. Other courses are not limited, although some people have reported being told by the waitstaff of limits on other courses, they don’t appear to actually charge if you do order extras.

 

 

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If you have the details at hand, could you clarify what the additional costs for some some specialty venues are? When I last cruised in 2015, as far as I remember, it was just the flat rate specialty dining charge for all of the restaurants, nothing on top of that, so I'm confused.

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Just book for two and then when you get onboard change it to one person. We often have to do the same for our group of 3, we book for 4 and then change to 3 onboard.

 

 

 

Did the same thing for an upcoming trip on Sun to Cuba. For Cagney’s my dinner reservations are booked for 2 and when I get onboard I’ll adjust. Even when I called NCL and talked to CS rep, they weren’t able to change on their end.

 

For Le Bistro, seating for 1 was an option, so no issues.

 

 

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That's a lot of great info. I appreciate when someone takes the time to research and shares. I'd like to clarify one point. My friend and I will share a cabin on the Getaway in Nov. Both Platinum, we will have just the two complimnetary meals. Knowing how quick the restaurants fill up, I though we might reserve ahead of the cruise. So my understanding is there is no way to do that without paying as the system won't know?

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That's a lot of great info. I appreciate when someone takes the time to research and shares. I'd like to clarify one point. My friend and I will share a cabin on the Getaway in Nov. Both Platinum, we will have just the two complimnetary meals. Knowing how quick the restaurants fill up, I though we might reserve ahead of the cruise. So my understanding is there is no way to do that without paying as the system won't know?

 

 

Yes, you will get the two meals for two.

 

You can book Cagneys, Le Bistro or La Cucina in advance as there is no upfront charge for the a la carte places. If you wanted Moderno then you would have to pay when booking (unless you have the dining package).

 

 

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What Keith said.

Edited by tempus137
I was typing the same answer at the same time. His got in first.

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If you have the details at hand, could you clarify what the additional costs for some some specialty venues are? When I last cruised in 2015, as far as I remember, it was just the flat rate specialty dining charge for all of the restaurants, nothing on top of that, so I'm confused.

 

 

I don’t have them to hand, but the details are on the NCL website, in the FAQs for the dining package, I believe. I probably couldn’t share the link as it would be to the U.K. site which is probably blocked for you.

 

 

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I don’t have them to hand, but the details are on the NCL website, in the FAQs for the dining package, I believe. I probably couldn’t share the link as it would be to the U.K. site which is probably blocked for you.

 

 

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Thank you. I did a little searching of the Cruise Critic archives and found some posts that helped me understand how things work. From what I've gathered here's how specialty restaurants plus dining packages work:

 

Moderno + Specialty Dining Package = no additional charge, all you can eat.

 

Moderno + No Specialty Dining Package = $24.95

 

Cagney's, Le Bistro + Specialty Dining Package = no additional charge. (One entree only, extra cost for additional. As many side dishes appetizers, desserts, no additional charge, though there is some discussion over extra appetizers, sides and desserts being no charge. Sometimes there has been a charge.)

 

Cagney's, Le Bistro + No Specialty Dining Package = a la carte menu pricing.

 

Ocean Blue + Specialty Dining Package = $15 upcharge. (One entree, side dish, appetizer)

 

Ocean Blue + No Specialty Dining Package = a la carte menu pricing.

 

Link to example menu image, Le Bistro http://www.beyondships2.com/uploads/8/2/4/5/8245255/cr_235_bistro.pdf

Link to example menu image, Cagney's http://www.beyondships2.com/uploads/8/2/4/5/8245255/cr_235_cagney.pdf

Link to example menu image, Ocean Blue http://www.beyondships2.com/uploads/8/2/4/5/8245255/cr_235_ocean.pdf

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Left these out:

 

La Cucina + Specialty Dining Package = no additional charge. (One entree only, extra cost for additional. As many side dishes appetizers, desserts, no additional charge, though there is some discussion over extra appetizers, sides and desserts being no charge. Sometimes there has been a charge.)

 

La Cucina + No Specialty Dining Package = A la carte.

Teppanyaki + Specialty Dining Package = no additional charge (set menu)

 

Teppanyaki + No Specialty Dining Package = $35.94

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That looks like a pretty good summary. Just a couple of comments.

 

The package can also be used at the dinner show, with an upcharge. I’m not sure of the details.

 

Also La Cucina, on the same basis as Cagneys and Le Bistro or Teppenyaki which is similar to Moderno but I believe costs $30 without the package.

 

Regarding multiple apps and desserts in the a la carte places, it is important to note that few, if any, people have actually been charged for extras. Quite a few people have reported being told that extras will be charged, but people apparently just ignore that and state that they aren’t actually charged.

 

When I specifically asked on here if anyone had actually been charged then only one person, from memory, said they had. It seems that the NCL systems don’t actually charge for these extras, whatever people are told.

 

 

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That looks like a pretty good summary. Just a couple of comments.

 

The package can also be used at the dinner show, with an upcharge. I’m not sure of the details.

 

Also La Cucina, on the same basis as Cagneys and Le Bistro or Teppenyaki which is similar to Moderno but I believe costs $30 without the package.

 

Regarding multiple apps and desserts in the a la carte places, it is important to note that few, if any, people have actually been charged for extras. Quite a few people have reported being told that extras will be charged, but people apparently just ignore that and state that they aren’t actually charged.

 

When I specifically asked on here if anyone had actually been charged then only one person, from memory, said they had. It seems that the NCL systems don’t actually charge for these extras, whatever people are told.

 

 

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When I look at my current cruise booking dining options (on the Pearl), it simply lists La Cucina as a la carte, but Teppanyaki and Moderno have up front prices. Perhaps it differs by ship?

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When I look at my current cruise booking dining options (on the Pearl), it simply lists La Cucina as a la carte, but Teppanyaki and Moderno have up front prices. Perhaps it differs by ship?

 

 

Yes, Teppenyaki and Moderno have fixed cover charges, so require payment when booking (unless you have the dining package), whilst Cagneys, Le Bistro and La Cucina are a la carte, so don’t have upfront charges. It is the same on all ships that have those restaurants.

 

I suspect my previous post may not have been clear.

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Yes, Teppenyaki and Moderno have fixed cover charges, so require payment when booking (unless you have the dining package), whilst Cagneys, Le Bistro and La Cucina are a la carte, so don’t have upfront charges. It is the same on all ships that have those restaurants.

 

I suspect my previous post may not have been clear.

Ah, refering to Moderno, not La Cucina?

Moderno + No Specialty Dining Package = $24.95

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Question for bookings of 3 vs. 4: My fiancé and I have the SDP (3 nights of dining x 2 people), but we're also traveling with my eight-year-old son, since SDP is for two people only, and I guess NCL didn't offer me SDP for him as a minor.

 

1. Do they have kids' menus we can order from? He's not a big eater. Or can we share with him?;p

 

2. We got Moderno at 7 p.m. for one night, but for the others I'm finding that placing a reservation for just 3 people leaves us only the 9 p.m. time slot, but if I put that we're a party of 4, everything opens up. Will I get charged a penalty if I put 4 but only 3 show up?

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Yes, there is a kids menu. It is the same in every restaurant and is complementary.

 

As was discussed above, we usually make bookings for 4, despite there being just 3 of us. We adjust it once we board at the restaurant reservation desk.

 

 

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1. Do they have kids' menus we can order from? He's not a big eater. Or can we share with him?;p

 

2. We got Moderno at 7 p.m. for one night, but for the others I'm finding that placing a reservation for just 3 people leaves us only the 9 p.m. time slot, but if I put that we're a party of 4, everything opens up. Will I get charged a penalty if I put 4 but only 3 show up?

 

1. The kids' menu is the same in every restaurant and is fleet-wide. There is no charge for the kids' menu items. A few bites is not a problem but I suggest ordering his own meal either via the kids' menu or paying a la carte for him.

 

2. Just book for 4. There is no penalty.

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Thank you both. Yes, I saw about overbooking reservation numbers, but I didn't know if I'd have to pay a penalty or surcharge. Thank you for clarifying.

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Hi Keith, Thanks for posting this thread. when you wrote:

 

If there are more than two people at the required level in the room then an additional voucher will be received, so that at each person gets two meals.

 

Is this new?

 

I thought the third platinum guest was previously not eligible for the dining vouchers... the latitude rewards website still says:

 

Dinner For Two At Cagney's Or Le Bistro With A Bottle Of Wine6 (per stateroom)

 

Dinner For Two At Moderno Or La Cucina6

(per stateroom)

 

Thanks for any clarification.

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