Norwegian's Morphing of Freestyle Into Paystyle

In the midst of today's christening of its new ship the Getaway, Norwegian has also launched a new way to eat on board, calling it the Ultimate Dining Package.

A cynic might call it Paystyle Cruising.

That's a play on Freestyle Cruising, the revolutionary concept Norwegian introduced about 15 years ago. It eventually spread to all Norwegian ships…and then to ships around the world, in one form or another. We were among the early advocates on Freestyle Cruising, which essentially offered cruise passengers an opportunity to eat dinner at any restaurant at any time.

The Ultimate Dining Package is a spinoff…except it comes with a price tag, as you may have guessed.

Passengers can now sign up to eat at a ship's speciality restaurant every night of the cruise, on any of its ships. The cost varies from $59 per person for short cruises to $349 per person for cruises longer than 36 days.

The bridge between Freestyle Cruising — which was free — and the Ultimate Dining Package is the arrival of specialty restaurants. All the cruise lines have them ncl_Epic_Rsrnt_Cagneys.psdand you pay a fee that varies, depending on the restaurant and the line. In Norwegian's case, there are five restaurants that are now fleet-wide:

Cagney's (above), the signature steakhouse
The French Bistro…think coq au vin, creme brûlée, etc.
The Italian Restaurant, which is self-explanatory
Asian Fusion, for dishes from Japanese to Pan-Asian
Moderno Churrascaria, a Brazilian spot for meat lovers

For the traditional 7-day cruise, the price is $119 per person. Norwegian says "every night of the cruise" so presumably that would mean seven nights, or two of the restaurants twice. Since an average price for a specialty restaurant would be in the $25 to $30 range, that's a good deal.

It is, however, a large step from FREEstyle Cruising.

Norwegian Jewel
7 nights
March 30, 2014
New Orleans (return): CozumelBelizeRoatanCosta Maya
Inside: $589
Cost per day: $84
www.ncl.com

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