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ERIN123

Specialty Dining - Reserving Early

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I noticed that you can make reservations through your profile on NCL for specialty restaurants now (and MDR), even though our cruise is 2+ months away. I also noticed most of the more popular times 7 pm to 8 pm, are not available at most of them for our table size (2). Any idea why that is? Have that many people booked this far in advance or do they hold a certain number of tables for walk in passengers?

 

I haven't done "freestyle dining" before and worry if I don't book in advance we'll be waiting around a lot so am thinking of reserving some of our dinners, but prefer not to eat at 5 pm but also not 9 pm or later.

 

Any thoughts on how this works or if it's better to book onboard?

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Posted (edited)

The booking window opened up at 120 days before sail date.   Book now or do it as soon as you board the ship.

Edited by Sauer-kraut

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Posted (edited)

Reservations opened up 120 days out, so some times may have booked up.

 

However, they only offer a proportion for online booking, so you should be able to book the times you want when you get onboard (do it quite early after boarding).

 

As for walk ups, you just can’t tell. People will make bold statements about you either being able to do it, or not a chance. In my experience it depends from cruise to cruise.

 

If you want to be sure then make a reservation now at the times you can get and then once you board go to the reservation desk and see if you can change them to a better time. That way you won’t miss out if they are very popular and you are delayed boarding.

Edited by KeithJenner

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2 hours ago, ERIN123 said:

I noticed that you can make reservations through your profile on NCL for specialty restaurants now (and MDR), even though our cruise is 2+ months away. I also noticed most of the more popular times 7 pm to 8 pm, are not available at most of them for our table size (2). Any idea why that is? Have that many people booked this far in advance or do they hold a certain number of tables for walk in passengers?

 

I haven't done "freestyle dining" before and worry if I don't book in advance we'll be waiting around a lot so am thinking of reserving some of our dinners, but prefer not to eat at 5 pm but also not 9 pm or later.

 

Any thoughts on how this works or if it's better to book onboard?

You waited too long and the restaurants are sold out. 

 

If the times you want are not available, you need to book on embarkation day (as soon as you board since those tables will also sell out). 

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You can book your reservations as soon as you board the ship. Usually they hold pretty close to 50%of the spaces for booking after people are on the ship. You may not get exact times, but you will get close to the times you want. Good luck. As for MDRs don't worry about that. The wait now days is very short as a rule. If you do have to wait, get on the list and head to the bar for a before dinner drink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$%0% orad i

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We have 3 nights of specialty dining for our October cruise on the Escape, and when I tried to book reservations online (90 days out), all I could get was 9pm at 2 restaurants and most of the other's that we were considering said we had to book onboard.

 

A lot of people say to book as soon as you get on the ship on embarkation day. If you go directly to the restaurant, will someone be there that you can book with or do you have to go to the reservation desk (which I'm assuming will have a huge line)?

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Also, haven guests can book dining 130 days ahead.

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk

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Get the NCL app for all your smart phones before the cruise & you can make all your dinner reservations in the cruise ship terminal while you're waiting to go aboard!  As a previous poster pointed out they "hold" about 50% of the available seats until the ship actually sails so use the app & make your dinner reservations ASAP.  HINT: we eat early & we've NEVER had a problem with making a reservation before 6PM.  You're choosing a time (7-8PM) which is during their peak period.

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45 minutes ago, tomk3212 said:

Get the NCL app for all your smart phones before the cruise & you can make all your dinner reservations in the cruise ship terminal while you're waiting to go aboard!  As a previous poster pointed out they "hold" about 50% of the available seats until the ship actually sails so use the app & make your dinner reservations ASAP.  HINT: we eat early & we've NEVER had a problem with making a reservation before 6PM.  You're choosing a time (7-8PM) which is during their peak period.

Tomk....just to clarify - You said to get the app and book reservations while in the cruise ship terminal but then said to book reservations ASAP. If I download the app now, would I use it at the terminal to book or book reservations now? Also, do you know if the app would have availability at a time that was not available when I booked via the NCL website or does the app and website give you the same thing?

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I have only cruised NCL once.

 

I'm sure my experience was a fluke, but we could not get a restaurant that we wanted on the night we wanted.  Even when we first embarked.  They were having a group dinner there.  This was a birthday dinner for mom.  We had to switch. 

 

Lesson learned.  Have a plan B.

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Thanks for the info. I was able to book or 2 included specialty restaurants at 8:30 pm. A little later than we hoped but it will still work. We can always try to move them to an earlier spot when we get onboard I suppose.

 

I thought the idea of freestyle dining was go when you what but I guess if everyone wants to go between 7-8 pm that idea doesn't really work.

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8 minutes ago, ERIN123 said:

I thought the idea of freestyle dining was go when you what but I guess if everyone wants to go between 7-8 pm that idea doesn't really work.

That is basically the idea of freestyle. You decide when and where you want to go. Some people take it to mean that you should be able to go where you want on a whim, but it has never really meant that.

 

In practice, you get to decide what you want to do, but it is subject to things actually being available. It couldn't really work any other way unless they doubled (or more) the size of the public areas and had most of them empty all the time.

 

You should be able to tweak your reservations onboard.

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@ThxMomnDad You can use the app on your smartphone prior to sailing but all you're doing is basically accessing the ncl.com website through the app.  You're not directly accessing the ship's reservation system.  Remember that the OP tried to make their dinner reservations in this way & couldn't.

 

My experiences with the app are based on sailing out of the NYC cruise ship terminal.  If you're sailing out of another port your experience may be different as to whether you'll be able to access the ship's WiFi network while you are waiting to board.    Wherever you are I'd suggest being as close as physically possible to the ship (near a window or next to a wall) so that the WiFi signal is clear.  In NYC I sit next to the window & can clearly see the ship through the windows.

 

1) You must set your cell phone's WiFi to connect with the ship's WiFi network while you're in the cruise ship terminal waiting to board on the day you're sailing.  The name of the ship's WiFi network is usually something like "NCL_SHIP's_NAME".

 

2) If I remember correctly you'll need your reservation number and/or your "ncl.com"'s login credentials in order to authenticate yourself to the ship's WiFi network & then access your reservation.  I also seem to remember having to input my birthdate but am not certain.  Just follow the prompts you're given on the app.

 

3) Once you've authenticated yourself & accessed your reservation the app's UI is pretty good so you should be able to make your reservations; dinner, shows, tenders, etc. easily.

 

Oh, and my saying, "book them ASAP" meant while you're sitting in the terminal waiting to go aboard.  The OP was concerned that all the available seats might be taken for the time the OP wished to book (7-8PM I believe).   Sorry if I didn't make that clearer.

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We struggled to get a reservations on board, first time NCL.

 

I suspect as many said, presailing they don't release all the tables and release  % of capacity at fixed periods up to sailing.   It's to their benefit to make sure it is sold out, but they are smart enough to know demand and many customers don't plan that early not leaving spots open to last minute cabin / sailing bookings would be stupid business.

 

Book early if you can, but because you can't find slot/time doesn't mean it won't open up later, there should be capacity released up to sailing and always there are cancellations up to the afternoon as well.

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@tomk3212 Thanks for all of that information! I actually am also sailing out of NYC, so I'm going to follow your steps for setting up and using the app. Appreciate the help!

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6 hours ago, *Luv2Cruz* said:

Also, haven guests can book dining 130 days ahead.

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk
 

That is what we have done on our past Haven cruises.  We have one coming up in mid December and I was told NCL no longer offers that to Haven guests.  That reservations open up to everyone at 120 days.   If anyone knows different please let me know because we all know how NCL reps are never on the same page. 

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11 minutes ago, trician24 said:

That is what we have done on our past Haven cruises.  We have one coming up in mid December and I was told NCL no longer offers that to Haven guests.  That reservations open up to everyone at 120 days.   If anyone knows different please let me know because we all know how NCL reps are never on the same page. 

There was someone posting on here yesterday because they had been told the same thing by NCL. They then posted a bit later to confirm they were able to make the reservations at 130 days.

 

Usual standard from the NCL phone reps. 🙂

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