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Please explain how freestyle dining works


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Hi! I'm not a newbie cruiser but considering booking our first Norwegian  cruise and don't really understand how it works. We are used to our traditional dining, sitting at the same table every night, same time, same waitstaff. So how does Norwegian work? I like not having to decide what time to eat and love not waiting inline for a table so I want to know what to expect in the main dining room as well as the specialty dining area's.

Also tell me about the entertainment. We are looking are Breakaway  in January. I've always heard that Norwegian has good entertainment so tell me about it.

We have been on 5 Royal Caribbean, 4 Carnival and 1 Celebrity, family of 3 (our daughter is 8 ) and will be traveling with friends and their 3 kids (5, 8, 12).

Thanks for the info!

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It works like any land based restaurant.  You show up to the hostess at the time you want to eat.  They will seat you at an open table or give you a buzzer that will go off when the table is ready.  It will be a different server every time.  Some people have had luck with asking to sit in a waiters section but its not always possible.   

 

Specialty Dining you will need to make a reservation for either online or 

 

There are two main shows on the Breakaway.  Burn the Floor is a latin dance show with amazing dancers and live music.  The other is Six which is a show currently getting rave reviews on Broadway.  Here is the link to the Broadway website.  https://sixonbroadway.com/

 

They have Syd Norman's Pour House which is a great rock bar.  There is a house band that puts on highly rehearsed shows a couple of nights a week and also they will have a tribute band playing a few nights.  There is also a dueling pianos show that takes place several times a week at the comedy club.  

 

There will also be live music around the ship at night either in the atrium or at other venues.  

Edited by Liljo22
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Since your traveling with young children you will want to eat early. You can book a reservation for the 8 people in your party for between 5 pm and 6 pm with no problem in the 3 main dining rooms.The specialty restaurants require you to book a exact time you want to have diner. If you book and early dining time you will have the best chance of getting a reservation but make sure you book them as soon as you board.

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6 minutes ago, waterjock said:

Since your traveling with young children you will want to eat early. You can book a reservation for the 8 people in your party for between 5 pm and 6 pm with no problem in the 3 main dining rooms.The specialty restaurants require you to book a exact time you want to have diner. If you book and early dining time you will have the best chance of getting a reservation but make sure you book them as soon as you board.

Thank you! We traditionally choose late dining even with all the kids so if you want to eat at say 7:30 can you make reservations ahead of time in the mail dining rooms or just the specialty dining?

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5 minutes ago, Luvcruisin76 said:

Thank you! We traditionally choose late dining even with all the kids so if you want to eat at say 7:30 can you make reservations ahead of time in the mail dining rooms or just the specialty dining?

Specialty are the only ones you need to make reservations for.  You may be able to reserve the MDR but there's really no reason to, especially if you want to eat at 7:30.

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8 minutes ago, hallux said:

Specialty are the only ones you need to make reservations for.  You may be able to reserve the MDR but there's really no reason to, especially if you want to eat at 7:30.

Thank you that helps a ton! How soon before you sail can you make your reservations?

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1 hour ago, Luvcruisin76 said:

Hi! I'm not a newbie cruiser but considering booking our first Norwegian  cruise and don't really understand how it works. We are used to our traditional dining, sitting at the same table every night, same time, same waitstaff. So how does Norwegian work? I like not having to decide what time to eat and love not waiting inline for a table so I want to know what to expect in the main dining room as well as the specialty dining area's.

Also tell me about the entertainment. We are looking are Breakaway  in January. I've always heard that Norwegian has good entertainment so tell me about it.

We have been on 5 Royal Caribbean, 4 Carnival and 1 Celebrity, family of 3 (our daughter is 8 ) and will be traveling with friends and their 3 kids (5, 8, 12).

Thanks for the info!

 

Like a restaurant at home, you show up when you are hungry or when it fits your schedule. You will always get a table to yourself so you can eat at your own pace (and not wait for that chatty person on the table to finally finish their meal). 

 

On the Breakaway, complimentary dining rooms include the Manhattan Room, Taste, Savor, O'Sheehan's Grill, Shanghai Noodle Bar, and the Garden Cafe buffet. There are specialty restaurants (extra fee) and the Velvet dinner show (extra fee). NCL embraces "Dress Up or Not". Short pants are allowed in all dining rooms for all meals except the Ocean Blue and Le Bistro specialty restaurant where gents are requested to wear long pants (jeans and dockers are fine). The Breakaway has had on-again/off-again requests for long pants in the Manhattan Room, so check your Freestyle Daily on the dress code on your sailing. You're on vacation and most folks dress very casually. 

 

As soon as you embark, you should book your comedy shows (early shows are family oriented, late shows are 18+) and adjust your main theater shows (Six and Burn the Floor) as needed. Then plan any specialty dining around those shows. Comedy shows are done in a small venue and sell out fast. The main theater shows will also sell out, so you should make reservations. Reservations for Specialty Restaurants are required. 

 

Group Dining: While everyone says "we will eat as a group every night", in practice, most groups break up very quickly because of the variety of dining venues and the ability to go to the complimentary restaurants when you want. 

 

Specialty Dining: if your kid is a hearty eater, then buy them a dining package so they can order what they want in the specialty restaurants. If your kid is a mac-n-cheese eater, then they can eat off of the Kids Menu for free. Most dining rooms are a la carte (like McDonalds, you pick items and pay for each item your pick - with the dining package, you get one entree with multiple appetizers and desserts). Moderno (Brazilian BBQ) and Teppanyaki are fixed price ($39) or one dining credit. 

 

Escape Room: On embarkation day, you can also book "Escape the Big Top" which is a puzzle-based escape room. Great fun! Sells out fast. 

 

Canvas by U: On embarkation day, you can book a painting session ($35). No prior experience required. You often see this at home where you do a wine-n-paint.

 

 

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Pretty much all is said, you just show up and ask for a table and enjoy your meal.

 

I do read everyone saying reservations are mandatory for specialty restaurants. That is not the case, you can show up anyway and get a table, or of course, be told its full or expected to be full. Yes, reservations are wise, but not mandatory.

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8 hours ago, BirdTravels said:

 

Like a restaurant at home, you show up when you are hungry or when it fits your schedule. You will always get a table to yourself so you can eat at your own pace (and not wait for that chatty person on the table to finally finish their meal). 

 

On the Breakaway, complimentary dining rooms include the Manhattan Room, Taste, Savor, O'Sheehan's Grill, Shanghai Noodle Bar, and the Garden Cafe buffet. There are specialty restaurants (extra fee) and the Velvet dinner show (extra fee). NCL embraces "Dress Up or Not". Short pants are allowed in all dining rooms for all meals except the Ocean Blue and Le Bistro specialty restaurant where gents are requested to wear long pants (jeans and dockers are fine). The Breakaway has had on-again/off-again requests for long pants in the Manhattan Room, so check your Freestyle Daily on the dress code on your sailing. You're on vacation and most folks dress very casually. 

 

As soon as you embark, you should book your comedy shows (early shows are family oriented, late shows are 18+) and adjust your main theater shows (Six and Burn the Floor) as needed. Then plan any specialty dining around those shows. Comedy shows are done in a small venue and sell out fast. The main theater shows will also sell out, so you should make reservations. Reservations for Specialty Restaurants are required. 

 

Group Dining: While everyone says "we will eat as a group every night", in practice, most groups break up very quickly because of the variety of dining venues and the ability to go to the complimentary restaurants when you want. 

 

Specialty Dining: if your kid is a hearty eater, then buy them a dining package so they can order what they want in the specialty restaurants. If your kid is a mac-n-cheese eater, then they can eat off of the Kids Menu for free. Most dining rooms are a la carte (like McDonalds, you pick items and pay for each item your pick - with the dining package, you get one entree with multiple appetizers and desserts). Moderno (Brazilian BBQ) and Teppanyaki are fixed price ($39) or one dining credit. 

 

Escape Room: On embarkation day, you can also book "Escape the Big Top" which is a puzzle-based escape room. Great fun! Sells out fast. 

 

Canvas by U: On embarkation day, you can book a painting session ($35). No prior experience required. You often see this at home where you do a wine-n-paint.

 

 

Thank you! Lots of good info!

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@queenc101l you can make reservations for specialty dining and (on the larger ships) main theater shows using the NCL site pre-cruise, and maybe the app.  Once on-board you can make most reservations using the app (as long as you install it before the cruise) or you can use touchscreens around the ship (on Breakaway-class ships) or the interactive TV in the room, in addition to the reservation tables set up in various places on the ship on embarkation day.

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7 hours ago, queenc101l said:

Is there an app to use to make dining and show reservations or do you have to go to each venue to reserve? Thank you!

It's best to try to do online 130 days before. Remember NCL only allows about 30% booking before cruise. You can use the App as soon a step you board ( may even work while waiting to board) or go to where they are doing reservations on board. They will have a desk set up.

You don't have to go to each individual restaurant. It would be helpful to have desired days/times ready and adjust from there.

 

We always  pre-book to get desired times.

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Frankly when we travel on other cruiselines that dont have an anytime dining package available we just go to the buffet,  (to much of a pain to do otherwise) Someone said it best, just like a land based restaurant with NCL

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