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  #1  
Old January 31st, 2008, 05:52 PM
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cosmo cruiser cosmo cruiser is offline
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Default Norwegian VS Carnival ?

We are huge fans of Carnival and have only sailed with Carnival. Our 10th cruise (Platinum) is coming up in only 22 days. We are however considering doing a 9 day Norwegian Jewel cruise in November 2008 because of the ports of call and the avalibility of a nine day sailing. I am concerned about what the differencs between the two lines are? I dont really understand the "freestyle" dining? If any of you have done both lines and would be willing to share your opinions of one verses the other it would be greatly appreciated. We always have a table for two late dining on Carnival and really enjoy it very much. I'm not sure if you have to make reservations every night to be able to have a nice meal and also is there a sur-charge for all of the different dining? I just want to get more information before I make a firm decision. Thanks for any information you are willing to share.

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#20 Liberty E Caribbean3/2/2013
#19 11/25/2012
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  #2  
Old January 31st, 2008, 06:38 PM
F5Loar F5Loar is offline
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I've done both many,many times. Freestyle works for those that want to eat when they want to and for those that want to eat at the same time everynight. You do make reservations. Last time on the Pearl you could make it 2 nights out. So the next night you make the next night and so forth.
You can even request the same table with the same waiter each night if you eat in the same DR each night. Otherwise you be seated most anywhere but can request the private table for 2.
The reason is you will probably want to change around to the half dozen or so resturants that do not charge a surcharge. Yes some do, most don't.
That's a myth with NCL. Some of the better resturants do not charge extra.
It's a unique cruising experinence on some great looking ships. Activities very similar. Food IMO probably better if you go to the free theme ones like the Mexican, the Italian, etc. The main DRs are fine too. Since you are an experience Carnival cruiser you will have no problem adapting to the NCL ways of Freestyle cruising.
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  #3  
Old January 31st, 2008, 07:15 PM
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skylock skylock is offline
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Freestyle dining is like going out to eat at home. Some of the restaurants require reservations and some don't.

Out of 10 places, 5 may need reservations and of those 5, 3 may be an extra charge.

The menus are usually located at the pursers area for the places that require reservations. It has a phone right there. You can make reservations 24-48 hour ahead.

You simply choose which place you want to eat at that night, walk up anytime between open and close, usually 5-10pm, ask for a table for 2 and be seated. I have never had more than a 10 min wait and that was only when I requested a certain wait team.

I take all of my meals in the dining room. If I like someone, I will ask where they will be that night and go there.

The 2 "main" dining rooms will have very similar menus only prepared in different ways. Example, one may be baked chicken and the other grilled chicken.

Along with the 2 "main" rooms you can choose to eat Italian or Chinese, or the buffet. Depending on the ship, these is also a blue lagoon which is sort of like a johnny Rockets. You can get hamburgers, stir fry, onion rings, etc. It is open 24 hours.

There is no 24 hour pizza or ice cream, but you can order a very nice personal pizza from room service any time you want pizza. Beats standing in line. Ice Cream is available at certain times during the day and it is the scooped kind OR soft serve. There are usually about 6 varieties to choose from. They also have an area with lots of toppings.

NCL has LOTS more daily activities than carnival that do not cost extra.

I find the shows on NCL WAYYYYYY better than Carnival's. I almost always go see each one twice. I have never regretted going to see a show on NCL, but I have regretted it more than once on Carnival. I also like their show times better. Usually one at 7 and one at 9.

It is best to avoid the prime dining times between 6-8. You may have a wait at those times depending on where you want to eat that night. So go between 5-6 or 8-10.

I find the wait staff to be more attentive on NCL because they usually do not have full sections like they always do on Carnival. They seat people thru out the dining room just like a place at home does.

One last thing, no shorts/bathing suits in the dining room because unlike Carnival, they will turn you around.

Any other questions, just ask.
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  #4  
Old January 31st, 2008, 07:40 PM
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I will be going on my 2nd Carnival cruise (first was in 1990 so I cannot compare) this summer after cruising NCL 5 times in the past 4 years.

The Jewel is a newer ship built for freestyle. I agree with the other posters about the dining times. We have never had to wait for a table. We usually eat between 5:30-6:30 and if we need to eat later, we have a reservation.

If you are considering sailing in an NCL suite you will be in for a nice treat. The VIP perks for suite passengers are fantastic. We have stayed in suites on our last 2 cruises and we received incredible service and VIP perks. We enjoyed all of our NCL cruises but the VIP extras made for a totally stress-free and relaxaing vacation.
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  #5  
Old January 31st, 2008, 07:44 PM
kids1stcruise kids1stcruise is offline
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Default freestyle

been on 2 ncl cruises and freestyle worked out great for my family.
it was really nice to hang out by the pool or explore the ship w/o worrying that we have to rush for dinner.
my boys would ask what time we are going to eat and we would leisurely get to the cabin to get ready. when we would get to the dining room we would tell them 4 and usually we were seated right then.
the day we noticed people complaining was lobster night. usually between 6;15 AND 6:45 WERE lines but nothing terrible. i really did enjoy freestyle hope you do too
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  #6  
Old January 31st, 2008, 07:56 PM
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We have cruised both lines. Like the other posters have said, dinner is the big differnce. When DW and I cruise alone, we like the traditional dinning better. Get to know our tablemates and wait staff better. If we are cruising with a group of friends, the freestyle dinning is great. You can eat a little later on port days and not be rushed to get back from port. NCL dinning room service is good, but you miss the little extras that your traditional wait staff will do for you such as what you like to drink and how you like your steak etc. NCL does have a larger selection of dinning venues. Asian, Italian, etc. The Jewel, you will like. It is a nice ship
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  #7  
Old January 31st, 2008, 11:26 PM
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Default Prefer Carnival

We found on the 2 Norwegian ships we sailed that everyone wanted to eat at 7. Either you had to stand in line or take a beeper. We prefer to go to the dining room and get seated at a set time. Also, we found the wait staff to be dispirited since they did not get a chance to know anyone. We made a big point of sitting with Donald on Wind's last cruise but you would have thought we were asking for the moon and did not get him a couple of nights despite our best efforts. Food was better by far on Glory (1-12-08) than we ever had on Norwegian.
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  #8  
Old February 1st, 2008, 08:20 AM
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I have not cruised with NCL but thought about doing it. I have read some horror stories of the "freestyle" dining and have been afraid to go on a NCL ship because of it. For a first time cruiser of NCL, what would be some good advice about dining?
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  #9  
Old February 1st, 2008, 09:44 AM
soozles soozles is offline
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I'm going on my first NCL cruise after about 12 or so Carnivals, 2 Celebrities, and one Princess, I think. My numbers might be off. When we were on Princess, we had the Anytime Dining, and it was great, no rushing to get to dinner, eat whenever you want, with whomever you want. I don't really care about getting to know the waitstaff, it's not really that important to me when I cruise, I much prefer eating when I want, which is why I think I'll like Freestyle dining.

So when I come back from the NCL Gem in March, I can let you know how the 2 lines compare. I'm getting so excited!
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  #10  
Old February 1st, 2008, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deefar View Post
I have not cruised with NCL but thought about doing it. I have read some horror stories of the "freestyle" dining and have been afraid to go on a NCL ship because of it.
And I'm just the opposite... Taking my 1st CCL cruise this summer and I'm dreading the assigned times, tables and formal nights. I like the relaxed atmosphere on NCL and never had to wait more than a few minutes for a table.
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  #11  
Old February 1st, 2008, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deefar View Post
I have not cruised with NCL but thought about doing it. I have read some horror stories of the "freestyle" dining and have been afraid to go on a NCL ship because of it. For a first time cruiser of NCL, what would be some good advice about dining?
We LOVED the freestyle dining. Food is so subjective so I don't know how to explain if one line is better than the other. But in terms of the freestyle dining, we never encountered a problem at all. Making reservations was a breeze....I did them all on the first day on the ship. It was great.

We never waited for a table...but I will say we ate rather early in the evening 5:30-6:00pm arrival time. Coming out of the dining room after our meals was rather crowded though so I guess it depends on what time you like to eat. We usually eat late but were cruising with out then 3-year old so eating earlier worked better for us.

The surcharge restaurants we dined at were totally worth it. The Teppenyaki was only $12.50 per person (at home it's like $25-30 per person for the food alone) and it was hibachi the way we get near our house...full menu selection including filet mignon (which I had, and which was cooked perfectly) and all the bells and whistles of high-flying spatulas, onion volcanoes, and food acrobatics. The Bistro restaurant (French) was $15.00 and we ate there twice because the food and atmosphere were lovely and we had a 2 for 1 coupon to boot (chocolate fondue highly overrated though).

The rest of the main dining rooms (the Dawn had three) were great but we were partial to Impressions because it was a bit smaller and had these big awesome crescent-booth tables. By the way, the food in the main dining rooms was always good. It was nice to have a different atmosphere each night, or not, if you didn't want it.

I will say this: if you aren't into sitting with the same group of people each night that you've never met before, you might prefer this dining experience. There are many who do enjoy being assigned a large table and get to meet and mingle with other cruisers and that's fantastic. We just aren't those people. When cruising with Carnival or Celebrity, we request a small table. Now that we have our daughter (who will be five), we continue to request a small table so as not to disrupt the dining experience of other cruisers who might get stuck with us at a large table. The only time we ever had a large table on NCL was for breakfast...and that was only twice on the week-long cruise. They were always incredibly accommodating about finding a 4-top for us (not being an entitled-pain-in-the-neck is helpful in that regard too).

We look forward to taking another NCL cruise because we really did enjoy the freestyle aspect of it. But we continue to enjoy Carnival as well!

If you haven't yet, post your thread on the NCL board too and see what kind of feedback you get!
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  #12  
Old February 1st, 2008, 11:41 AM
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Thank you so much for sharing. This will give us "food" for thought. I'm still not sure this is the right line for us but your comments will help us make a decision. We do not go on a cruise to meet new people or make life long friends like many people do. We have fairly stressful jobs and we cruise to relax and reconnect with each other. Having a private table for two is a pretty important part of the experience for us. We do cruise with friends on our February cruise each year but the other one or two cruises are always just the two of us, by choice. Because we have no issues with a set dining time and I enjoy not having to worry about making reservations I'm not sure this would be as enjoyable/relaxing for us. The variety sounds like a nice option but honestly we never seem to have an issue finding variety on Carnival in the main dining room or at the supper club which we usually visit once during a week long cruise. I will share your comments with hubby and we will make a decision soon as I don't want to not have a cruise booked to look forward to. It's what gets be thru the weeks and months between cruises.
Thanks again for sharing.
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  #13  
Old February 2nd, 2008, 01:58 PM
WXbriefer WXbriefer is offline
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Hi,

have done 3 on Carnival, then 2 on NCL and now going back to Carnival. While I agree on some parts on the freestyle discussion I want to bring up one thing. On Carnival you do have the same wait staff, and, so far, we were lucky that we had good ones in each cruise, by the middle of the trip we were pretty much on a friendly first name basis. On NCL, you basically have different wait staff each night, this of course all in the main DR, so you never really got to know who is serving your table. So it boils down to preference, we did not like the freestyle, plus overall, I think service was better on Carnival, although do have to give high marks to NCL on embarkation, theirs is so much faster.

Jim
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  #14  
Old February 2nd, 2008, 05:17 PM
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In December we sailed the Pearl which does the same route as the Jewel and then a week later sailed on Carnival Victory.
I enjoyed both cruises however NCL was far better than the Carnival Victory.
The food was much better on the Pearl. We really enjoyed the adults only pool and spa pools on the Pearl and this was strictly enforced.
The demographics of the people was also very different. We also found the crew to be far better overall on the Pearl. Having said all that we still made the best of the Victory and enjoyed the larger staterooms and yes we would sail Carnival again especially for the price but definitely wouldn't sail over a holiday as we found the children to be totally out of control which I wont go into as there have been many threads on this.
We had no problem making reservations and it works well especially if you are prepared to do some forward planning.
I decided we wouldn't pay for any of the extra paying restaurants but once on board changed our mind and they were fantastic and worth the extra $$
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  #15  
Old February 2nd, 2008, 05:34 PM
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PINEVIEW01 PINEVIEW01 is offline
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I have done both and did not care for "freestyle" cruising. I have to stand in line for resturants at home and do not want to on vacation. I really like having the same staff and not haveing to go thru everynight what I need. The first night on Carnival I let them know and am good to go for the whole cruise.

We couldn't get the same table same time everynight. If we didn't go very early, we had 45 minitues to 1 hour wait. We would try the share table so as to meet people just to have no one willing in the line at that time wanting to share.

We did have a great CC group and found people in the group to dine with on a few nights.

I have had very attentive staff on Carnival on most cruises, the Victory being the one that wasn't. Carnival doesn't allow swimsuites in the dinning room and shorts only for breakfast/lunch.

I found the entertainment much better on Carnival and they have activites going on all the time.
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  #16  
Old February 2nd, 2008, 06:01 PM
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lunyma lunyma is offline
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I've only been on one NCL cruise (Pearl, last January), and will DEFINITELY go on another. We really liked going to a different restaurant every night, sitting by ourselves, and I didn't even mind paying the surcharge as much as I thought I would. The food was delicious and we had no problems getting reservations at any of the restaurants. We did have to wait a half hour or so one night past our reservation time, but we wrote it off as no biggie since we were on one of the first few sailings. One thing we REALLY liked was the casual dress. No formal nights required! Ok... They're not *required* on any line... You can always dress casual and go to the buffet, but on NCL, we ate at the Italian restaurant on the *optional formal night*, had our lobster and other wonderful goodies, and didn't get glared at for wearing jeans (which were very common dress for dinner on any night, in any of the restaurants we ate at).
I still love Carnival though, and will be taking my 10th Carnival cruise this Monday. I still enjoy dressing up for formal night occasionally, having the same waiter all week, and sitting with a bunch of interesting strangers . I also enjoy Royal Caribbean, but for different reasons. I suppose it depends on my mood.
Bottom line is... I say GO FOR IT! It certainly can't hurt to try something different. You only live once!!!!
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 08:52 PM
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We're considering Carnival for a future cruise, so I can't compare to that, but we have sailed once each on Norweigan and Royal Caribbean. My DH and I much preferred RC. The only real difference in "freestyle" was the evening, but on RC we enjoyed the familiarity we got with our waitstaff. Also, everyone in our group agreed that RC food quality was far superior. We did, however, enjoy the no surcharge Italian restaurant on the Norweigan Spirit.
We're considering Carnival Glory for June - Eastern Caribbean. It was encouraging to me to read the post here that someone preferred the Carnival Glory's food to NCL.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 08:57 PM
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I just got off of my first freestyle NCL cruise this past January. We had a WONDERFUL time. that being said, I think that traditional dining is more for us. I like knowing who my waiter is going to be every night, and being able to have them get used to us, and vice versa. As a soda drinker, I dind't like having to hunt down people every night on NCL to be able to get a diet coke (or three ) with my soda card.

There are just certain nuances that I liked better about traditional. That being said, you will probably have a good time on NCL. As you said - the ony bad cruise is one that ends.
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Voyager of the Seas - May 2004
Celebrity Zenith - December 2001
Sovereign of the Seas - June 1994 & 1995
Other cruises pre-1994:
The Big Red Boat (back when it was Disney Cruise Lines) - the Oceanic, etc - each ship once
The Regal Empress
Carnival Tropicale - First Cruise in Summer of 1986
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  #19  
Old February 2nd, 2008, 09:32 PM
scperk's Avatar
scperk scperk is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Collierville, TN USA
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We did a 14 night on the Pearl last October and I did not care for freestyle ding..We won't go NCL anymore....The service we got in the Italian and main dining room was the worst I have ever had...We ate in the buffet most of the time after going by and looking at the menu of the night. The food and service is MUCH better on Carnival...Dennis
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NCL Seaward 11/88, RCCL Sovereign of Seas 6/91, NCL Norway 2/92, RCCL Majesty of Seas 6/93, NCL Seaward 10/96, Celebrity Horizon 2/98, NCL Norwegian Sea 11/99, NCL Norwegian Sea 5/00, RCCL Enchantment of Seas 7/00, Carnival Triumph 10/00, RCCL Explorer of Seas 3/01, Carnival Triumph 7/01, Grand Princess 9/01, NCL Sun 4/02, Carnival Inspiration 11/02, Star Princess 2/03, Carnival Conquest 6/03, Carnival Destiny 9/03, Carnival Legend 11/03, Carnival Conquest 2/04. Star Princess 10/04, MSC Lirica 2/05, RCCL Grandeur of the Seas 4/05, Carnival Valor 9/05, Carnival Victory 2/06, Carnival Victory 3/06, Carnival Conquest 6/06, Carnival Glory 9/06, Carnival Sensation 10/06, Carnival Liberty 2/07, Norwegian Pearl 10/07, Carnival Miracle 2/08, Carnival Spirit 10/08, Carnival Liberty 2/09, Carnival Liberty 3/09, Carnival Glory 7/09, Carnival Valor 10/09, Carnival Dream 2/10, Carnival Elation 4/10, Carnival Elation 8/10, NCL Spirit 10/10, Carnival Conquest 1/11, Carnival Spirit 4/11, Carnival Triumph 9/11, Carnival Triumph 9/11, RCCL Mariner of the Seas 10/11, Carnival Magic 1/12, Carnival Spirit 9/12, Dawn Princess 10/12, Carnival Dream 1/13, Carnival Breeze 1/13, Carnival Legend 9/13, Carnival Legend 9/13, Carnival Legend 9/13, Carnival Legend 10/13, Carnival Sunshine 1/14, Carnival Legend 8/14

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  #20  
Old February 3rd, 2008, 08:30 AM
sjl513 sjl513 is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sa_girl View Post
In December we sailed the Pearl which does the same route as the Jewel and then a week later sailed on Carnival Victory.
I enjoyed both cruises however NCL was far better than the Carnival Victory.
The food was much better on the Pearl. We really enjoyed the adults only pool and spa pools on the Pearl and this was strictly enforced.
The demographics of the people was also very different. We also found the crew to be far better overall on the Pearl. Having said all that we still made the best of the Victory and enjoyed the larger staterooms and yes we would sail Carnival again especially for the price but definitely wouldn't sail over a holiday as we found the children to be totally out of control which I wont go into as there have been many threads on this.
We had no problem making reservations and it works well especially if you are prepared to do some forward planning.
I decided we wouldn't pay for any of the extra paying restaurants but once on board changed our mind and they were fantastic and worth the extra $$
You mentioned the staterooms are larger on the Carnival ship. We are trying to decide between the NCL Pearl and the Carnival Valor. I am wondering how the balcony cabins compare. Any ideas?
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NCL Sky 1/31/11
Carnival Miracle 3/12/10
NCL Star 3/14/09
NCL Pearl 3/7/08
NCL Pride of America 3/24/07
Carnival Destiny 3/05/06
Voyager of the Seas March 04
NCL Sun May 02
Song of America 96
NCL The Norway 90?
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