Free Style Dining NCL Style

Free Style means, well, free style. You show up for dinner whenever you want just like you would at any other restaurant. For at least Norwegian Cruise Lines, the days of assigned seating times for dinner is over. You will normally be asked if you want to share a table which is probably because some people prefer to share a table. It’s a good way to meet others. Some folks, of course, prefer not to share. In either case, our experience has been that seating is done almost instantly, depending on the time of your arrival. As with any restaurant, you can expect a wait time if you show up during peak times.

Specialty restaurants accept reservations. Like regular restaurants, this reduces the wait time significantly. We generally make our reservations before we board the ship. This not only helps get us the times we want, but contributes to our budget stability. We know the expenses of these meals and their impact on our final bill before we even board the ship. It reduces the “surprise” bill at the end of the cruise.

What about dress codes? Which nights are “formal”? Traditionally, cruise lines in the past have had a dress code during the evening meal. This was true for the one or two formal dining rooms, and usually there was a less formal buffet for those who didn’t feel like dressing up. The trouble was, if you wanted the really good food, you needed to go to the more formal dining room and have dinner with 8 or 10 strangers around a common table, all dressed up in attire that you normally wouldn’t wear. Some people like doing things this way. Others, not so much. Now you have a choice.

Norwegian Cruise Lines was the first to introduce the Free Style dining concept aboard major cruise lines. At the same time, they began to relax their dress code to the point that nearly any casual dining attire is acceptable. The one exception is that in their more formal dining rooms, tank tops and shorts are not allowed after 5:00 PM. There are nights periodically that are announced as being more “dress up” than others, but the degree of formality is still up to the individual.

Not all cruise lines are this lax in their dress codes, so be sure to check with an individual cruise operator if this matters to you.

Aboard the Norwegian Star and other ships in this class operated by NCL, there are two main dining rooms; The Versailles and The Agua. These are the more formal facilities that support mostly the dinner meal. On any given day, one dining room will support breakfast and the other will serve lunch.

The buffet style restaurant is called the Market Cafe. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is rarely a time when normal people are awake that you can’t get a full meal there.

There’s a 24 hour restaurant called the Blue Lagoon in case the mood strikes you at an odd hour or if you just want something different, and there’s room service available 24/7. Pizza delivered to your room is an extra $5.00 (US).

There are several specialty restaurants aboard ship. They range from French cuisine to steaks, sushi, Italian, and a Brazilian style steakhouse. These restaurants normally carry a small extra charge per meal ranging from $15.00 to $30.00 per person. Reservations are highly advisable at these facilities because they are extremely popular.

Whether it’s a formal affair or a quick meal after a dip in the pool. Or a fun family feast after a day excursion in port, Norwegian has taken the hassle out of eating aboard their ships. Casual dining is what lots of folks want these days and they’ve responded well and kept up with changing tastes.



Leave a Reply