Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What is Freestyle Cruising?

Do you like to dress up?

If you answered no, then freestyle cruising is for you.

Some people really like to dress up, but I hate it. I work from home, and I don’t have to interact with clients face-to-face, so my wardrobe consists of t-shirts, jeans, and sweatshirts. I’m convinced the desire for this loose, laid back attire is the reason I became self-employed. The free-to-do-what-you-want-when-you-want-and-sleep-in stuff is all well and good, but it’s really about the clothes.

Since I don’t get excited at the idea of shopping for clothes (I know, I’m an embarrassment to womankind all over the planet), I wouldn’t even know how to shop for formal attire. I have this vision in my head of walking into some fancy-smancy place and getting kicked out, just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, but alas I don’t have Richard Gear’s no-limit credit card to save me.

But I digress (actually I’m not sure I ever was on topic).

This post is about freestyle cruising and what that means.

Basically, freestyle cruising means you don’t have to go to the set dining times that are arranged on most cruise ships. You aren’t assigned a table, and you don’t have to get to know the same people every night if you don’t want to. You can go to eat whenever you want. And best of all, you don’t have to dress up.

Oh, you still can if you want to, but nobody is going to stare at you or make you feel awkward if you stroll into the dining room in shorts, flip flops, and a tropical shirt. (To me, I can’t imagine wearing much else on a Caribbean cruise vacation!)

Besides, I haven’t factored shopping for new clothes into the money I need to earn to pay for my first cruise.

So, in short, freestyle cruising means:

  • no dress code (no formal attire needed)
  • no restrictions on when you dine

The cruise line that’s famous for its freestyle cruising policy is Norwegian (can you guess who I’m looking to book with?).


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Anonymous said...

Freestyle Cruising was created solely as a money-saving measure. Rather than having two seatings each night, they turn their tables over about 3 times each night. This allows them to have fewer waiters and kitchen staff.

Those unwilling to waste their time making reservations each day, will face a long wait for a table. This combined with the fact that most people want to eat around the same time, forces many to pay extra to eat in the specialty restaurants...which was the intention all along.

Having a different waiter each night doesn't seem to provide the same level of service as on other lines. On most cruises, passengers tip their waiter at the end of the cruise on top of the included gratuity.

In the main dining rooms on NCL ships, most passengers don't tip their waiters each night, so the waiters on NCL earn considerably less than on other lines. Since they know there isn't a big tip coming at the end of the cruise, the service clearly suffers. Also, since waiters on NCL make considerably less than on other lines, they are generally not as good.

You have to hand it to NCL though. They managed to spin a money saving measure, which includes forcing many passengers to pay extra for their food, into a selling point.

Anonymous said...

We just took a cruise on NCL and it was a great experience! We went in knowing full well what "Freestyle" means!

As for the comment by Anonymous we did not experience LONG WAITS for tables anywhere on the ship, In fact there was NO WAIT AT ALL! If you wanted to dress up that was your choice, If you choose the specialty restaurants that cost Xtra thats your choice too (There were only 3 on the ship anyway) We did not view them as some gimmick to trick people into paying for the privelege to dine in style! We didnt even visit the more ritzy restaurants but never got around to it and there was one nice sit down that was included. The $12 per day per traveler gratuity that the ship charges goes to the crew - NO NEED TO TIP ANYONE! NCL's brochure clearly states this and that tips are not necessary unless you feel someone has gone above & beyond and you feel moved to do so. My husband and I are very critical when it comes to dining...the service was as expected, SUPRISINGLY there were crew members that knew our names without having been introduced and when we ate at the sports bar (although almost a different time every late night) We had the same server all but our last night but he was there!


Anonymous said...

My experience with Norwegian's freestyle approach during a cruise with extended family a couple of years ago makes me wonder why I would ever go any other way. We seldom waited to be seated, even with our group of fourteen at a peak holiday period. Service at the restarants and throughout the ship was exemplary. The daily service fee freed us from having to worry about whether to tip or how much and from even having to carry cash around on the ship. A couple of the restaurants on rotation each evening required reservations. The dress code was "cruise casual", so there were no cutoffs and t-shirts, and also no tuxes. It may be true that freestyle is a cost-saving measure, but it made for a relaxing, carefree time on board.