Cruise TipsDiningNorwegian Freestyle Cruising

Norwegian Freestyle Cruising

Several years ago, Norwegian Cruise Line decided that they were going to give their passengers a new approach to cruising. They developed “Freestyle Cruising” where you are free to do whatever you want wherever you want.

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What makes Freestyle Cruising so different from everyone else?  The other cruise lines have set dining times.  When you book your cruise, you can choose either an early setting or the late setting.  You have a set time for dinner and you eat at the same time every night.  You have the same waiter/waitress, and you sit with the same  table mates.

Freestyle gives you choices.  There are no set times for dinner, you just head over to one of the main dining rooms when it’s fits into your schedule. While you will have a different server each night, you will get a table with just your group.  Jeans are also welcome in EVERY restaurant on NCL, and many of them even let you wear shorts.  There are no formal nights on Norwegian, although they do have an optional “dress up or not night”.

There are several different restaurants that you can choose to dine at.  While most of them are included in your cruise fare, there are a few specialty restaurants that have a surcharge for you to dine at.  Shorts are not allowed in the specialty restaurants and due to the popularity of them, you usually will have to make a reservation.  Make you reservations early, the prime times can fill up fast.

Since you will likely have different waiters/waitresses each night, passengers are charged $12 a day to their onboard account for gratuities.  This $12 covers all your servers, room steward etc.  If you would like to give an additional tip for exceptional service, you may do so with cash.

Norwegian created Freestyle Cruising when they realized that being seated at a table for dinner with strangers kept many from ever taking a cruise.  While many do love traditional cruising and meeting new people at dinner, many would rather have a table to themselves.  Most of the other cruiselines have recently added a form of Freestyle.  Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have added “My Time Dining”  along with their early and late seating.  This allows passengers to eat dinner anytime within a 4 hour time period

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise TipsDiningNorwegian Freestyle Cruising


  1. I had booked a Southern Caribean cruise for Nov 2011. I was diagnosed with cancer and had to cancel my cruise. Since i was “Paid in full” I asked Norwegian to just keep my money and let me cruise at a later date.
    They said they could do this but, It would cost me $1032 to change sailing dates.
    I no longer think very much of Norwegian. A fee to keep money already paid to them?
    I am extremely upset over this.

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