Free Norwegian Specialty Dining


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Norwegian specialty dining is part of NCL’s Free at Sea promotion as well as something you can purchase by logging in to your NCL account or onboard any NCL ship. Any of these purchasing options gives you the opportunity to dine at a variety of premium restaurants during your cruise. You’ll notice the same restaurants appear on multiple ships but great new options have been added to refurbished ships are being added to new ships. Choosing your next cruise based only on the specialty dining options is like choosing a cell phone based on what cases are available. However, in the highly unlikely event that your Norwegian cruise is based on which specialty dining restaurants are onboard, check before you book your next cruise.

Related: How To Save Money While You’re On A Cruise

In no particular order, here are the premium restaurant options that are included with the Norwegian specialty dining program:

Le Bistro – Norwegian Specialty Dining

How many meals are included in the Free at Sea specialty dining?

As mentioned above, Norwegian specialty dining is available as part of NCL’s Free at Sea promotion. The marketing screams, “Free specialty dining!” which isn’t untrue although it is a little misleading, in my opinion. First, the free specialty dining isn’t for every meal (or even every night) onboard. The number of premium dining meals you can eat depends on the length of your cruise.

  • 3-6 Nights in any category stateroom = 1 meal
  • 7-11 Nights in a Studio, Inside, or Ocean View stateroom = 1 meal
  • 7-11 Nights in a Balcony or above stateroom = 2 meals
  • 12+ Nights in a Studio, Inside, or Ocean View stateroom = 2 meals
  • 12+ Nights in a Balcony or above stateroom = 3 meals

By the way, this is for the first and second guest in the stateroom. If you’re in a stateroom with more than two people, you’ll have to purchase a specialty dining package. More on that in a minute.

You should also know that taxes are charged to your reservation, even with the Free at Sea specialty dining promotion and gratuities are not included so don’t forget to tip your wait staff — they’ll be there all week! It’s not a big charge, but it is worth mentioning. Same thing with the Open Bar drink package. But if you purchase a package, the taxes and gratuities are included.

Why would Norwegian limit the Free at Sea specialty dining benefit? The cynic in me says to upsell you once you’re on board the ship. Don’t forget, cruise lines generate serious money by upselling and offering “special buying opportunities” like premium dining packages, and spa services — to name only a couple. It makes sense, once guests experience the specialty dining ambiance, service, and food, they’re much more likely to make reservations at the same or other premium restaurants. 

You’ll need reservations, and for the Free at Sea promotion, you won’t be able to make them until you’re on board (and only one meal per sailing at Cagney’s and Le Bistro). If you purchase a dining package before boarding, you will be able to make reservations for those meals (but not the Free at Sea meals). Unlike in the main dining room (or other included eateries), whether you’re using your Free at Sea meals or purchase a package, you can order one main course. Extra items will be charged to your onboard account at an ala carte rate.

Oh, I almost forgot! You don’t need a specialty dining package to enjoy the premium restaurants. It’s perfectly acceptable to pay whatever the cost is per person. It may make sense if there’s a specialty restaurant you want to try but you’ve already used or plan to use your allotment of Free at Sea promo or dining package meals. The prices are fair, although higher without a package than with one.

If you want to buy a Norwegian specialty dining package, the published prices are below. You may occasionally be able to catch them on sale direct with NCL, or there are instances when a travel agency is running a promotion for free premium dining options, but you should expect to pay (US Dollars) per person:

  • $89 – 2 Meal specialty dining package
  • $119 – 3 Meal specialty dining package
  • $145 – 4 Meal specialty dining package
  • $169 – 5 Meal specialty dining package
  • $189 – 6 Meal specialty dining package
  • $209 – 7 Meal specialty dining package
  • $229 – 8 Meal specialty dining package
  • $249 – 9 Meal specialty dining package
  • $269 – 10 Meal specialty dining package
  • $289 – 11 Meal specialty dining package
  • $309 – 12 Meal specialty dining package
  • $329 – 13 Meal specialty dining package
  • $349 – 14 Meal specialty dining package

You should know, I am extraordinarily cheap when I cruise. One of the reasons I love cruising is the all-inclusive nature of the prices which I consider a great value. I don’t visit the stores onboard, fool myself into thinking I’m going to win big in the casino, play Bingo, or get spa services. I also don’t purchase premium dining packages (or just show up and pay the ala carte price) on Norwegian or any other cruise line. 

With that in mind, I enjoy everything about a great meal, better than the amazing service onboard, and the quietness of the specialty restaurants. In my opinion, the Norwegian specialty dining package that comes with the Free at Sea promotion is a great value and enhances the experience onboard. I’m a big fan and think everyone will enjoy the experience.

If you’re a foodie and / or want to try cuisine that’s outside your norm while you’re expanding your horizons and think you’ll want to avoid the dining room more often than not, the dining packages are a great value.