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First time on NCL


bcwife76
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We have sailed Disney several times but now as our kids are getting older, we want to branch out. Just booked NCL Bliss for March 2022 out of Los Angeles. I just have a few questions pertaining to dining and entertainment.

 

-speciality dining I can book starting at 120 days out from the cruise, correct?

-main dining rooms (looks to be 3 of them) no reservations correct? just show up and hope for a table?

-we also have to book tickets to the shows (but that's not an extra cost I believe). Is that also at the 120 day mark?

-luggage tags - are they mailed to you (that's what Disney does)?

 

I've been lurking around the boards for a while so I think I've gleaned a good amount of info so far, but those were the main questions I had, thanks in advance 🙂

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@bcwife76

Yes to 120 days out for specialty restaurant reservations unless you booked a suite; then it's 130 days out.

Main dining rooms do not take reservations but your hopes for a table are usually good within 15 minutes or better of arrival.

Shows that take reservations also can be booked at 120/130 like the specialty restaurants.

Luggage tags are mailed to you.

Enjoy the Bliss!

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1 hour ago, mtrancher said:

@bcwife76

Yes to 120 days out for specialty restaurant reservations unless you booked a suite; then it's 130 days out.

Main dining rooms do not take reservations but your hopes for a table are usually good within 15 minutes or better of arrival.

Shows that take reservations also can be booked at 120/130 like the specialty restaurants.

Luggage tags are mailed to you.

Enjoy the Bliss!

Thank you so much for your quick and helpful response!

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7 hours ago, bcwife76 said:

We have sailed Disney several times but now as our kids are getting older, we want to branch out. Just booked NCL Bliss for March 2022 out of Los Angeles. I just have a few questions pertaining to dining and entertainment.

 

-speciality dining I can book starting at 120 days out from the cruise, correct?

-main dining rooms (looks to be 3 of them) no reservations correct? just show up and hope for a table?

-we also have to book tickets to the shows (but that's not an extra cost I believe). Is that also at the 120 day mark?

-luggage tags - are they mailed to you (that's what Disney does)?

 

I've been lurking around the boards for a while so I think I've gleaned a good amount of info so far, but those were the main questions I had, thanks in advance 🙂

Welcome, Disney cruiser,

NCL's main strengths are its flexibility in dining and its great entertainment.

 

Yes, you can book prior to the cruise, but book as soon as bookings are open, since they fill up quickly.  NCL tends to only allow a fraction of the opening for early booking, so you may not be able to book what you what, when you want early.  It can be frustrating.   If you miss the early booking, as soon as you board the ship go directly to the office for booking restaurants, etc.

 

The luggage tags you get from NCL amount to paper that you can print on your own printer at home and tape to your luggage, not plastic ones like Celebrity gives out.

 

 

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1 hour ago, mjkacmom said:

Luggage tags haven’t been mailed in a while, you print them out.

Not sure what you define as quite a while. Mine were mailed to me for my Feburary 2020 cruise; which since they haven't cruised since March....seems to be pretty recent.

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For the luggage tags, it can depend on the type of cabin you've booked.  When in a suite/haven, we'd receive ours in the mail but if not in a suite print them off.  

That has been quite a while.  I'm thinking  2015/16. 

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2 minutes ago, All-ready2cruise said:

For the luggage tags, it can depend on the type of cabin you've booked.  When in a suite/haven, we'd receive ours in the mail but if not in a suite print them off.  

That has been quite a while.  I'm thinking  2015/16. 

Again, our experience was different; and I have no idea why. We had a group, some in the Haven and some with standard balcony rooms. Everyone had their luggage tags mailed to them. We all booked direct through NCL, not sure if that makes any difference. We all had the choice to print them; but all received ones in the mail as well.

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1 hour ago, 4774Papa said:

as soon as you board the ship go directly to the office for booking restaurants, etc.

Or avoid the lines and use the touchscreens at every elevator bank, on every deck to book the dining and activities.  If you have a tender port, you can also use that screen to book your tender ticket.

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1 hour ago, hallux said:

Or avoid the lines and use the touchscreens at every elevator bank, on every deck to book the dining and activities.  If you have a tender port, you can also use that screen to book your tender ticket.

Agree-   If you haven't booked dining or entertainment before the cruise, the touchscreens by the elevator banks are a good way to go.   You do not need reservations at the complimentary dining, but they might be advisable for large groups,

 

There will also be a 'wait' line at the shows to fill reserved seats that are still vacant a few minutes before the show.    We have found you can often get in to a totally booked show this way, especially at the second show of the day.

 

If you want to make or change specialty dining reservations  it's also easy to that the day you board.   There is usually a designated place to make or change reservations.  On the day of boarding, it was in Teppanyaki on Encore & Bliss with 3 or 4 different host stations set up to help you.

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This thread is so different from my humble NCL experience. I never made reservations for anything except shore excursions, which I strongly regret since that money looks gone down the toilet in the endless refunding with short expiration fuses. I was able to book at least one tour while onboard OK, and wouldn't care much if they were sold out anyway.

 

Shows were easy to see with no reservations, but the main dining room was exasperatingly full with few lulls to shoehorn in even at open or closing time. Wow, I save so much complexity and money by not being a drinker. Well I did order one fancy drink when a bar gave free drinks for a special occasion, but found it was considered bad manners to order anything but a simple beer when there were a hundred freeloaders waiting.

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Wow, lots to chew on in these responses! Thank you! We are in a balcony (not club or suite) so assuming that means we'll print the tags at home, no biggie. Had no idea about the touch screens by the elevators for making reservations, what a very cool concept. Thanks all!

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11 hours ago, mtrancher said:

@bcwife76

Yes to 120 days out for specialty restaurant reservations unless you booked a suite; then it's 130 days out.

Main dining rooms do not take reservations but your hopes for a table are usually good within 15 minutes or better of arrival.

Shows that take reservations also can be booked at 120/130 like the specialty restaurants.

Luggage tags are mailed to you.

Enjoy the Bliss!

I have been able to make main dining reservations 90 days out.

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36 minutes ago, dumbth said:

Shows were easy to see with no reservations

If you were not on one of the larger ships, this would be your experience.  The smaller ships may not even do reservations for shows.  On larger ships, such as the Bliss that is the interest of this thread, show reservations are needed.  There are (or were) two theater shows, Jersey Boys and SIX!, with each playing two shows on two days (four show days).  The theater has a seating capacity of 900, with a ship capacity of 4,000+ there aren't enough seats for each passenger to see each show.  This is why reservations are needed.

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2 hours ago, Crazy planning mom said:

I have been able to make main dining reservations 90 days out.

Wow, I was unaware main dining provided any reservations. Always learning something new. Thanks

 

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4 hours ago, bcwife76 said:

Had no idea about the touch screens by the elevators for making reservations, what a very cool concept.

 

Another trick is to use the app and login via the ship's wifi while sitting in the terminal. You can make reservations on embarkation day before you even set foot onto the ship.

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22 hours ago, bcwife76 said:

speciality dining I can book starting at 120 days out from the cruise, correct?

Another point is that the availability online of specialty dining reservations doesn’t actually resemble capacity. In other words, it’s not like NCL puts the 50 reservations for a restaurant  online, no when they’re gone they’re gone. Reservations are held back for Haven guest, and guest booking on board, so don’t get frustrated.  

 

Even then, once onboard restaurants with zero availability via the reservation desk will sometime be able to seat you as a random walk up on the ship. It’s hit or miss, and a bit nonsensical. 
 

And one more note... the NCL food overall might be a bit of a step down from Disney. You’re not getting crab legs in the buffet on NCL 😉

 

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5 hours ago, AstoriaPreppy said:

You’re not getting crab legs in the buffet on NCL 😉

 

I remember on Carnival, in the MDR on formal (elegant) night, Maine lobster tails. No limit on how many you could order; just ask your waiter to keep them coming.

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4 hours ago, farmersfight said:

 

I remember on Carnival, in the MDR on formal (elegant) night, Maine lobster tails. No limit on how many you could order; just ask your waiter to keep them coming.

I had the same experience on Royal.  We didn't even need to ask, they just kept coming with more and more plates of them.

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On 1/19/2021 at 9:07 AM, mtrancher said:

Again, our experience was different; and I have no idea why. We had a group, some in the Haven and some with standard balcony rooms. Everyone had their luggage tags mailed to them. We all booked direct through NCL, not sure if that makes any difference. We all had the choice to print them; but all received ones in the mail as well.

The last time we received luggage tags in the mail was 2005. We cruised NCL 4 times after that, the last time in 2016, and none were mailed, and we booked directly with NCL. Folks on CC have posted the same.

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6 hours ago, farmersfight said:

I remember on Carnival, in the MDR on formal (elegant) night, Maine lobster tails. No limit on how many you could order; just ask your waiter to keep them coming.

NCL is (in)famous among the mass market cruise lines for pulling lobster from their menus a few years ago as a cost cutting measure. It used to be a MDR food, then moved to specialty restaurant menus only, and now solely exists as an extra up charge on top of the specialty restaurant up charges. 

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3 hours ago, AstoriaPreppy said:

NCL is (in)famous among the mass market cruise lines for pulling lobster from their menus a few years ago as a cost cutting measure. It used to be a MDR food, then moved to specialty restaurant menus only, and now solely exists as an extra up charge on top of the specialty restaurant up charges. 

 

Yeah, I had heard about that. Probably not unique to NCL; CCL & RCL probably have done similar things to cut down on those expensive lobster costs.

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