Prefers Freestyle Cruising

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Thank heaven for Norwegian Cruise Line and its imitators who have initiated Freestyle Cruising (Aug. ’03, pg. 33). I enjoyed Freestyle Cruising on my 12-day cruise from Dover to St. Petersburg, June 3-15, ’03, aboard the Norwegian Dream, booked through Grand Circle Travel (800/221-2610).

Gone is the 3-times-a-day, permanently assigned seating with six to eight people, usually all strangers. A 7- to 10-day cruise had meant meeting these folks for meals 21 to 30 times, and how long does casual conversation suffice? Some diners would bolt for a lido or sports deck buffet or eat ashore while others suffered with trivial comments on the weather and, heaven forbid, health stories. No longer!

One of my friends thinks Freestyle Cruising is a “slippery slope” to sloppy attire; she hasn’t cruised this way and I have, and I disagree with her mightily. Don’t worry. Wild savages with ripped jeans and torn shirts featuring ribald slogans don’t amble in barefooted to dine aboard the near-regal cruise ships now angling for middle- and upper-middle-class tourist dollars.

On the Norwegian Dream, Freestyle Cruising offered several restaurants with linen tablecloths and napkins; gracious waiter service, and 4- or 5-course gourmet meals. I would have a buffet breakfast, then make a choice among the other restaurants for lunch and dinner or return to the lido/sport buffet.

Tables for two, four, six or eight were typical, and I was asked at the maître d’s desk if I were willing to share. I would eat alone or with three others or five others or at a table for eight if that were my wish. I met great folks and strange folks and okay folks, and they probably thought the same of me. I never even considered the thought of staying in my cabin and having room service.

Not only does Freestyle Cruising save dining angst, it saves suitcase room. Dress clothes and accessories (mainly shoes) can take up massive amounts of room for such minimal use. People often spend too much money to buy elaborate dresses or tuxes that they won’t use again at home. Freestyle Cruising saves money that one can spend on other things, such as travel treasures or pampering in the salons. Best of all, there are no formal nights.

NCL’s Dream does have an elegant French restaurant requiring reservations plus an additional $12.50 per person for the delight of being “special.” I imagine other Freestyle ships offer this option.

I hope the idea of Freestyle Cruising, with its simple dress code, not only continues but expands to other cruise lines or at least to selected ships. My bet is that those lines will prosper.

CHLOE WINSTON
Redding, CA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Thank heaven for Norwegian Cruise Line and its imitators who have initiated Freestyle Cruising (Aug. ’03, pg. 33). I enjoyed Freestyle Cruising on my 12-day cruise from Dover to St. Petersburg, June 3-15, ’03, aboard the Norwegian Dream, booked through Grand Circle Travel (800/221-2610).

Gone is the 3-times-a-day, permanently assigned seating with six to eight people, usually all strangers. A 7- to 10-day cruise had meant meeting these folks for meals 21 to 30 times, and how long does casual conversation suffice? Some diners would bolt for a lido or sports deck buffet or eat ashore while others suffered with trivial comments on the weather and, heaven forbid, health stories. No longer!

One of my friends thinks Freestyle Cruising is a “slippery slope” to sloppy attire; she hasn’t cruised this way and I have, and I disagree with her mightily. Don’t worry. Wild savages with ripped jeans and torn shirts featuring ribald slogans don’t amble in barefooted to dine aboard the near-regal cruise ships now angling for middle- and upper-middle-class tourist dollars.

On the Norwegian Dream, Freestyle Cruising offered several restaurants with linen tablecloths and napkins; gracious waiter service, and 4- or 5-course gourmet meals. I would have a buffet breakfast, then make a choice among the other restaurants for lunch and dinner or return to the lido/sport buffet.

Tables for two, four, six or eight were typical, and I was asked at the maître d’s desk if I were willing to share. I would eat alone or with three others or five others or at a table for eight if that were my wish. I met great folks and strange folks and okay folks, and they probably thought the same of me. I never even considered the thought of staying in my cabin and having room service.

Not only does Freestyle Cruising save dining angst, it saves suitcase room. Dress clothes and accessories (mainly shoes) can take up massive amounts of room for such minimal use. People often spend too much money to buy elaborate dresses or tuxes that they won’t use again at home. Freestyle Cruising saves money that one can spend on other things, such as travel treasures or pampering in the salons. Best of all, there are no formal nights.

NCL’s Dream does have an elegant French restaurant requiring reservations plus an additional $12.50 per person for the delight of being “special.” I imagine other Freestyle ships offer this option.

I hope the idea of Freestyle Cruising, with its simple dress code, not only continues but expands to other cruise lines or at least to selected ships. My bet is that those lines will prosper.

CHLOE WINSTON
Redding, CA