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Free at Sea - NCL - Specialty Dining - Is it worth it?


Longwood50
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I have a cruise on the NCL Jade which includes two Free at Sea offers.  I chose the drink package and am considering the specialty dining.  For those that have used the specialty dining, is it worth it?  Are the meals noticeably better than the formal dining room? 

 

With NCL "nothing" is truly Free at Sea.  You get hit with a gratuity on the "retail" value of the Perk which for my drink package was $336.00 per person.  The Specialty Dining will be about $75.00 per person. NCL valuing their drink package at $99.00 per person is ridiculous.  You are limited to drinks of $15.00 or less which means you would have to drink 7 drinks of $15.00 per day to break even.  It is so cheap it doesn't even included bottled water.  

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4 hours ago, Longwood50 said:

I have a cruise on the NCL Jade which includes two Free at Sea offers.  I chose the drink package and am considering the specialty dining.  For those that have used the specialty dining, is it worth it?  Are the meals noticeably better than the formal dining room? 

 

With NCL "nothing" is truly Free at Sea.  You get hit with a gratuity on the "retail" value of the Perk which for my drink package was $336.00 per person.  The Specialty Dining will be about $75.00 per person. NCL valuing their drink package at $99.00 per person is ridiculous.  You are limited to drinks of $15.00 or less which means you would have to drink 7 drinks of $15.00 per day to break even.  It is so cheap it doesn't even included bottled water.  

First of all" for most it is worth it, but we are satisfied with the MDR as well. As for nothing truly free: guess what? nothing in life is truly free. If you go to a bar and they have a special on drinks for just one hour, do you not tip regardless of whether the drink is free or not? I certainly hope you do tip. And do you think when your favorite bar runs another special you can order any drink you want regardless of the cost of the booze for say $5. We go once a week with friends to our nearest bar for a couple of drinks. they are on special, $2 for drink, $3 for wine, but the quality of both are not what we would normally drink. I do agree the bottled water should be included.

 

We are about to take cruise on an upscale line where liquor is included: our choices? one type of red wine; one type of white. My hubby who is a scotch drinker will need to purchase an upgraded liquor in order to get a decent scotch. He can't just pay the difference like you can with NCL. 

 

I have to wonder, why do people continue cruising a line if they think they are getting ripped off? There are lots of other choices. 

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4 hours ago, Longwood50 said:

I have a cruise on the NCL Jade which includes two Free at Sea offers.  I chose the drink package and am considering the specialty dining.  For those that have used the specialty dining, is it worth it?  Are the meals noticeably better than the formal dining room? 

 

With NCL "nothing" is truly Free at Sea.  You get hit with a gratuity on the "retail" value of the Perk which for my drink package was $336.00 per person.  The Specialty Dining will be about $75.00 per person. NCL valuing their drink package at $99.00 per person is ridiculous.  You are limited to drinks of $15.00 or less which means you would have to drink 7 drinks of $15.00 per day to break even.  It is so cheap it doesn't even included bottled water.  

You've pretty much hit the nail on the head with the promo.

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Is it worth it? Everyone is different, to us yes the drinks, Specialty dining is something we enjoy.

 

OP 335.00 (2 people ) for gratuity on drinks isn't that bad. $170.00 divided by 15.00 is only 12 drinks for a week per person.. Or pay the $99.00 x 7 days x 2 people = $1386.00

 

I'll pay the gratuity every time 

Edited by beerman2
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Yes. I think paying the gratuity charge on the specialty dining package is worth it. Our last NCL cruise was on the jade and we were not impressed with the food in the MDR. We enjoyed the specialty dining and alternative complimentary dining options much more.

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So 1st ? I am assuming 17 day cruise is this right since I don’t see a 17 day sailing on the jade

 

but if it is 17 days you get 5 meals @ $154.8 per person retail value so the gratuity would be $30.96. Not sure how you got $75

 

but is it worth it is a personal preference so think the mdr food is fine some like the specialty dining and treat it like a date night 

 

is free at see really free No but as with everything there is a cost to play.  So cost difference between sail away no perk and your rate with perks is what it cost for perks plus perk of picking your own room

 

as a TA we just did a apples to apples comparison 

NCL to RCCL and adding in dining and drink package to RCCL guess what the RCCL was $1200 more in the end 

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5 hours ago, Longwood50 said:

I have a cruise on the NCL Jade which includes two Free at Sea offers.  I chose the drink package and am considering the specialty dining.  For those that have used the specialty dining, is it worth it?  Are the meals noticeably better than the formal dining room? 

 

With NCL "nothing" is truly Free at Sea.  You get hit with a gratuity on the "retail" value of the Perk which for my drink package was $336.00 per person.  The Specialty Dining will be about $75.00 per person. NCL valuing their drink package at $99.00 per person is ridiculous.  You are limited to drinks of $15.00 or less which means you would have to drink 7 drinks of $15.00 per day to break even.  It is so cheap it doesn't even included bottled water.  

 

How many days is your cruise??  Cost of beverage package is $99 per person per day and the 20% would be 19.80 per person or $39.60 per couple per day.  The average cost of a mixed drink is about $11.00 so if you each have two drinks per day ($44.00) you come out ahead.  Yes the drink package is worth it for most cruisers.

 

I love Cagney's, LeBistro, and Teppanyaki so I love the dining package and I think it's well worth the gratuity charge.

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48 minutes ago, beerman2 said:

Is it worth it? Everyone is different, to us yes the drinks, Specialty dining is something we enjoy.

 

OP 335.00 (2 people ) for gratuity on drinks isn't that bad. $170.00 divided by 15.00 is only 12 drinks for a week per person.. Or pay the $99.00 x 7 days x 2 people = $1386.00

 

I'll pay the gratuity every time 

 

I truly think if they raised the cost of the cruise $500 pp all the gullible people would start clamoring about how the drinks are really 'free' now.

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2 minutes ago, ray98 said:

 

I truly think if they raised the cost of the cruise $500 pp all the gullible people would start clamoring about how the drinks are really 'free' now.

One must remember "nothing" is ever free, yes the cost "must" be built in somewhere. It's pretty simple economics, people just need to think and do the math.

 

Always get a kick out of the "is it worth it threads". There isn't anything hidden, to some YES to others NO. Pax just need to assess what's good for them.

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Like an above poster, I am not sure I understand the length of the cruise or your math.  As to the drink package, the base cost is buried in your cruise fare, so you only have to decide if it is worth paying the gratuities or not.  At this point you seem to be paying them so I suspect you have done the math and know the drink package is to your advantage.  Non drinkers or extremely light drinkers opt out.  I am among them; I would not even drink the value of my gratuities, even considering the nonalcoholic offerings.

 

Now on to the second perk.  We tend to like the specialty dining. On a long cruise especially, we find it is a nice way to break up the routine.  The settings are nice and tend to be quieter than MDR.  The service is quite good.  The menus tend to be more interesting and the food is better. Mind you, I would not pay full price for those specialty restaurants (I think they are wickedly overpriced), but personally I do pay gratuities to get the specialty dining package when perks are included in our fare.

 

One might opt out of specialty dining as your second and final perk if you just want a different perk more.  Some people would just rather have the excursion credit or the internet package.  If you intend to take NCL excursions in multiple ports, I can under how the excursion credit could appeal.  If you are booking independent excursions, that does not apply.  

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13 minutes ago, beerman2 said:

One must remember "nothing" is ever free, yes the cost "must" be built in somewhere. It's pretty simple economics, people just need to think and do the math.

 

Always get a kick out of the "is it worth it threads". There isn't anything hidden, to some YES to others NO. Pax just need to assess what's good for them.

 

 

Yup....the total price is all that matters.  Just ignore the marketing games.

 

....but as long as we have people who will:

view a fare of $500 and drinks for $400 with a takeaway of "wow those drinks are overpriced" only to move to the next fare of $900 with drinks included where their takeaway is now "that is a good deal with the free drinks".

 

....this is what we get.

Edited by ray98
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36 minutes ago, ray98 said:

 

 

Yup....the total price is all that matters.  Just ignore the marketing games.

 

....but as long as we have people who will:

view a fare of $500 and drinks for $400 with a takeaway of "wow those drinks are overpriced" only to move to the next fare of $900 with drinks included where their takeaway is now "that is a good deal with the free drinks".

 

....this is what we get.

I would agree with you if NCL's prices were more than the other cruise lines.  I have found them to either be in line or less than the others that do not have any perks included.  I booked a March cruise out of New Orleans on NCL.  I live in Houston so I shopped Galveston and New Orleans cruises.  Here is what I was finding.  All 7 Days Western Caribbean cruises in a Balcony with two adults and two kids.

 

RCCL Liberty of the Seas - $4012 (drink package would be $1058 more with gratuity)

CCL Glory - $3202 (drink package would be $872.76 more)

CCL Vista - $4270 (drink package would be $872.76 more)

NCL Getaway - $2742 (Gratuity on drink package is $277.20 more)

 

The Getaway already had the advantage for being cheaper without the perks but I added all the perks and my cruise came to $3059.  I couldn't book fast enough on the Getaway once I saw this pricing.  

 

My wife and I can each easily drink 5-6 drinks a day(me definitely more but I am not driving the boat).  Even at 5 drinks per day averaging $11 with tip, we are at $770 in drinks for the 7 days.   I just saved another $500 with NCL and its an even bigger advantage now over the others where I would be adding that amount to our bill at the end.  

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To the OPs question,  yes the dining package is worth it.  If you are getting 5 specialty meals and only spending $31, its a no brainer.   Go to Cagney's one of the nights and you are already at the break even point.  

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1 hour ago, Liljo22 said:

To the OPs question,  yes the dining package is worth it.  If you are getting 5 specialty meals and only spending $31, its a no brainer.   Go to Cagney's one of the nights and you are already at the break even point.  

Plus go to Teppanaki's and enjoy a wonderful and fun dinner for 2, then book Le Bistro. You have some great meals for little money.

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Not free at all, is it? However if you are going with two perks the drink package and specialty dining are the two to get. No other perk even comes close. Yes, it is totally worth it. I had one meal alone in Le Bistro where they brought me the a la carte receipt, and the total was $150 ... but zero with the package. That one meal made it all worthwhile. You don't even have to tip (but it was so good we tipped extra anyway.)

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I did not like the MDR food at all.  We did Specialty Dining or the buffet.  We are probably pickier than average LOL.  It’s really a personal choice - on our next cruise we will do 50/50 Specialty and buffet is my guess and not set foot in the MDR

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Having read all the posts on this topic I'm totally confused.  I have opted for the 5 meal speciality dining and the drinks package for our next cruise with NCL.  I then paid for a 5 meal package and drink package for the third adult travelling with us.  So far so good,  do we then have to pay gratuities on all those meals and drinks AND the dsc.  If anyone can explain this to me in simple terms I would really appreciate it.

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16 minutes ago, Seaside maid said:

Having read all the posts on this topic I'm totally confused.  I have opted for the 5 meal speciality dining and the drinks package for our next cruise with NCL.  I then paid for a 5 meal package and drink package for the third adult travelling with us.  So far so good,  do we then have to pay gratuities on all those meals and drinks AND the dsc.  If anyone can explain this to me in simple terms I would really appreciate it.

 

You pay gratuities on all those packages plus the DSC.

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