No question about it – cruise ship vacations are fun. You will struggle to find someone who does not want to do a cruise at least once in their lifetime. What however puts some people off and can be a blot to an otherwise unforgettable time is the formality and strict procedure that characterizes the days on board.
Specific meal times go hand in hand with a specific table throughout the cruise. You have to dress for the occasion – no wandering into the dining area in slippers, shorts and a t-shirt. One of the largest cruise companies in the world, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) identified this inflexibility and decided to try out a new form of cruising where patrons were under no obligation to adhere to specific dining, accommodation and entertainment rules.
In a traditional cruise, what you pay for covers the major meals each at a specific time of the day. If you do not make it to the restaurant within meal times, you effectively forfeit the food you ticket paid for. In addition, each guest’s meals are limited to the same restaurant (even though there may be several other restaurants on board) and the same table throughout the cruise. Freestyle cruising on the other hand adopts a dine-as-you-please philosophy. You can eat anytime and in any restaurant on the ship.
In a conventional cruise, you must dress up for formal nights. There is no such rule in a freestyle cruise. You can be jeans and a t-shirt even if everyone else chooses to don a tuxedo or an evening dress. The third difference between traditional and freestyle cruising is in the variety of entertainment. Freestyle cruises will have multiple partying and clubbing spots with some open to guests throughout the day.
Whereas NCL have been the pioneers and the cruise line that is best associated with freestyle cruising, other shipping lines such as Princess Cruises are coming up with freestyle packages too.