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KeithJenner

Updated Speciality Restaurant Booking Guide

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Great info.  Didn't realize we could book in advance with the dining pkg but I don't think we've done the dining pkg before.   Got my favorite set up--Teppenyaki.  BUT Cagney's is only showing booking for 1, 4 or 6 people.   Guess we'll wait to board for that one.   Not sure what other one to do. . .    

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1 minute ago, mizLORInj said:

Great info.  Didn't realize we could book in advance with the dining pkg but I don't think we've done the dining pkg before.   Got my favorite set up--Teppenyaki.  BUT Cagney's is only showing booking for 1, 4 or 6 people.   Guess we'll wait to board for that one.   Not sure what other one to do. . .    

 

How many guests do you need for Cagneys? If it's an odd number, just book for a higher number of guests. You can adjust once aboard. 

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yes, just tried for 4 but only could get 9:30pm each night.   I'll book once onboard.  Not eating steak at 9:30pm.  Like a lead sinker in my stomach!  LOL

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45 minutes ago, mizLORInj said:

yes, just tried for 4 but only could get 9:30pm each night.   I'll book once onboard.  Not eating steak at 9:30pm.  Like a lead sinker in my stomach!  LOL

 

Keep an eye on the reservation request link, sometimes unavailable times suddenly become available. 

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Looks like I can start booking dinner and entertainment reservations this Saturday. I plan on doing that but do you happen to know when they open up....is it at midnight, first thing in the morning or when?  Thanks so much for your help!

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Is it customary to tip in the specialties?  I ask because a few years ago we sailed on the Pearl and our waiter at Cagneys  was "put out" that we did not leave a tip. We will be sailing again in December and want to do the right thing.  Thank you  

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4 minutes ago, Upforfun said:

Is it customary to tip in the specialties?  I ask because a few years ago we sailed on the Pearl and our waiter at Cagneys  was "put out" that we did not leave a tip. We will be sailing again in December and want to do the right thing.  Thank you  

 

Whether it's customary or not...  We always do still tip.  I know we paid "gratuities" on the SDP in the first place but it just seems right to tip the waiter directly for good service.  We'll typically still do whatever 15-20% would have been on the bill.  So if it was $100 total at Cagney's, then we'd usually leave $15-20 for the waiter.

 

In my opinion, they work hard and they still deserve to see a tip on the receipt to show your appreciation for their work directly.

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On 10/23/2018 at 2:42 AM, Lydia B. said:

Looks like I can start booking dinner and entertainment reservations this Saturday. I plan on doing that but do you happen to know when they open up....is it at midnight, first thing in the morning or when?  Thanks so much for your help!

 

I believe that it is midnight, Miami time. I can't say for sure though, as I've never rushed to do it straight away. I usualy do it sometime the next day and have never had any problem.

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2 hours ago, Upforfun said:

Is it customary to tip in the specialties?  I ask because a few years ago we sailed on the Pearl and our waiter at Cagneys  was "put out" that we did not leave a tip. We will be sailing again in December and want to do the right thing.  Thank you  

 

It is totally up to the individual. If you have the dining package then you have probably paid the 20% on top (although not always, we don't pay it in the UK if we get it as a promo).

 

Personally, I usually leave a small extra tip, but I don't feel any requirement to do so. I've never felt that the staff are expecting it.

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2 hours ago, Upforfun said:

Is it customary to tip in the specialties?  I ask because a few years ago we sailed on the Pearl and our waiter at Cagneys  was "put out" that we did not leave a tip. We will be sailing again in December and want to do the right thing.  Thank you  

Some tip extra and some don't.  With the SDP, you are charged 20% gratuity/service charge and if you dine without a package, 20% gratuity/service charge will be added to your bill, so in actually the tip will be included.  I always get the SDP and tip an extra $5-$10 in cash, if I feel the service was above and beyond.  Do what you feel comfortable doing and if is to not tip, ignore any server that is "put out".

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wow...this information is very detailed.  we are platinum members and we also have the 3 SDP, so this is good stuff to know 👍

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On our last cruise on Getaway we had the 3 day SDP. We also had 2 additional Specialty Dining dinners for being Platinum. While dining on the SDP we were able to order 1 entrée and as many appetizers as we liked. When using the coupons that were placed in our suite for the Platinum Specialty dinners were told we could only order 1 appetizer. I contested this and the server brought us what we requested. But on reviewing the coupons it clearly stated that the Platinum coupons only allowed 1 appetizer. I offered to pay but wasn't charged. 

Things have changed over the years. We were on the Windward in 1996 (before it was stretched and renamed Norwegian Wind) and they were offering the first specialty restaurant at sea. It was called Le Bistro and the upcharge was $5. The menu today is very similar to the menu in 1996. I remember boarding the ship after port calls and they were almost begging passengers to try it. Once we did (and found we could order as many escargots as we liked) we ate there several times on the cruise. We've now sailed with NCL 14 times and it's probably our favorite restaurant on any NCL ship. 

Edited by dincus

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Hi, Keith. Do you know which restaurants we can use our Platinum Certificates for on the redesigned Joy?

Can we use it at Q?

Thanks.  

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6 hours ago, oregonian123 said:

Hi, Keith. Do you know which restaurants we can use our Platinum Certificates for on the redesigned Joy?

Can we use it at Q?

Thanks.  

I haven’t seen any specific reports from the Joy, but I’m the Bliss they have been giving a choice of La Cucina, Q or Los Lobos for that platinum voucher.

 

I don’t think that The Joy has Los Lobos, so I imagine it will be a choice between La Cucina and Q.

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On our last NCL cruise, the Dawn for NE and Canada, we picked the specialty dining as one of our perks.  Also, we are Platinum.  I went to book the dates and times for our dining, which was for our group of 6.   We had difficulty booked good times, had to book either too early, 6:15 or late, 8pm for most of our meals.   After called NCL was told that rebooking dining was limited to 1/3 of available spots and more would open up once aboard.

 

As soon as we boarded, we all went to the desk for booking dining and were able to make changes for two of the evenings dining.  It wasn't perfect, but generally worked out.   Not sure why NCL doesn't open up more spots for dining for pre boarding.

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20 hours ago, KeithJenner said:

I haven’t seen any specific reports from the Joy, but I’m the Bliss they have been giving a choice of La Cucina, Q or Los Lobos for that platinum voucher.

 

I don’t think that The Joy has Los Lobos, so I imagine it will be a choice between La Cucina and Q. 

Keith. Thank you.

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On 7/9/2018 at 12:58 PM, KeithJenner said:

It is way beyond time that I updated my previous guide to booking speciality restaurants when you have the SDP or latitudes platinum (or above) meals.

 

I previously wrote a guide back in 2016, and it was quickly out of date due to the changes to the latitudes program introduced in February 2017. I did update the guide in the comments section, but it can be a bit confusing. Hopefully this updated version will be clearer.

 

Under the new rules, if there is at least one person in a room who is Platinum, Platinum Plus or Ambassador level then a voucher is received which gives two meals for two people. One is for a meal for two plus a bottle of wine in either Cagneys or Le Bistro and another meal for two in either La Cucina or Moderno.

 

If there are more than two people at the required level in the room then an additional voucher will be received, so that at each person gets two meals.

 

At least one of the people who have qualified for the voucher must go to the meal, so you can’t officially give your voucher away, but one person can take someone else. For example, I have on occasion used a voucher with my son (who has no status) rather than my wife.

 

The selection is slightly different on some ships. The Spirit doesn’t have Moderno, and therefore the second meal can only be used in La Trattoria (the Spirit’s version of La Cucina). The Bliss is also missing Moderno, and the voucher can be used in either Q or Los Lobos as well as La Cucina.

Bookings for restaurants open up online 120 days out (130 if in a suite). Whilst you can prebook MDR’s, I have never seen the reason to do so and this guide is specifically for the speciality restaurants.

 

Note that you can prebook your latitudes meals online before boarding, despite what some NCL reps have told people. They are booked in exactly the same way as any other bookings. You can also book meals that you intend to pay for with a SDP which you haven’t yet purchased (maybe because you want to use OBC to buy the package)

 

If you have no dining package at the time of booking then you are required to pay for the meal when booking. However, for those restaurants which are a la carte, the prepayment required is zero (they don’t know how much you will spend).

 

The introduction of Moderno as a option for the latitudes meal complicates things somewhat, as this restaurant has a fixed charge. Therefore, the system will charge you the cover charge when you try to book (assuming you don’t have the dining package - I will cover that later). Whilst I haven’t done this, I believe that they refund the charge as OBC when onboard if you use your latitudes meal after prepaying. This may be a problem if you already have lots of OBC or aren’t planning on spending much onboard.

 

In this case, I would wait until boarding to book Moderno, but do it soon after boarding to get the most choice of times. Obviously, if you don’t have the latitudes meals and just intend to pay the Moderno cover charge then this is less of a problem.

 

A question which is often asked is how you make bookings for meals if you intend to eat with friends who are staying in other cabins. Some people have gone to the effort of linking bookings in order to be able to do this, but it is not necessary. When you make a booking you just state the number of people, but don’t have to say who they are. You can book for more people than you have in your room. You can make a booking for yourselves and your friends in a different cabin easily, although if it is somewhere with a cover charge then you will be charged for everyone in the booking.

 

If you have the dining package then the system will be aware that you do. Therefore, someone with a three meal SDP will not get charged when booking for the first three meals they book, even if there is a cover charge. This is very useful, but you do need to be a little careful to book things in the correct order.

 

One thing to note here is that the system assumes that if the person who is making the booking has a SDP credit for the meal then so does everyone they are booking for. So, if we take the example where you are booking for yourself and friends in another room, no payment will be required when booking, regardless of whether your friends have the package or not. For this reason, make sure that the booking is done by someone with the SDP if possible. Anyone without the package will be charged onboard after the meal.

 

Things get a little more complicated when you book more meals than you have the SDP for. This could be because you decide to have 4 meals but only got the 3 meal promo for example. Perhaps the most common cause of this would be when you have platinum meal vouchers as well as the SDP.

 

In these situations, it is important to remember a couple of things.

 

Firstly, the system knows you have the dining package but it doesn’t know about any platinum vouchers you may be entitled to.

 

Secondly, whilst the system assumes the first meals you book will be covered by the SDP, this isn’t the case onboard, so you can use your SDP, platinum voucher or charge to your account as you wish. You tell the staff at the restaurant at the time.

 

Why is this important? Well, you need to book restaurants in the correct order to make sure that you don’t end up paying in advance for a meal which you shouldn’t be charged for.

 

For example, you have a three meal SDP but want to book five meals. The meals (in the order that you want to have them) are Cagneys, Le Bistro, Moderno, La Cucina and Teppenyaki.

 

This may be because you plan to use a platinum vouchers for two of the meals or that you only have a three meal plan and intend to pay for two others. Even if you will be paying for the extra meal it is often helpful to avoid prepaying (for example if you have OBC to use for it).

 

If you go online and book those meals in the order you intend to eat them then the system will assume that the first three are covered by the SDP and won’t charge you for them. The last one you book (Teppenyaki) will be charged for as you have no credits left. You will have to get your credit card out.

 

However, if you book Moderno and Teppenyaki first then the system will assume that you will be using a SDP credit for them and the fourth and fifth ones you book (for example La Cucina and Le Bistro) will be the ones that are chargeable. The payment required in advance for those restaurants is zero, so your credit card stays in your pocket.

 

When you get onboard, you can allocate the SDP credits how you wish, so the fact that the system assumed that you would use a SDP credit in Moderno or Teppenyaki doesn’t mean that you have to do so.

 

There is an added complication on some of the smaller ships, such as the Spirit, in that Teppenyaki doesn’t open up for online booking. In this case, you will have to wait until boarding in order to be able to book. If Teppenyaki isn’t available on these smaller ships (with limited spaces in Teppenyaki) then it doesn’t mean that it is sold out, but that it was never opened up for online bookings.

 

Another complication are the restaurants which have an uncharge or discount if you use the SDP. For example, Ocean Blue and Bayamo are usually a la carte, but you can use a SDP credit and pay a surcharge of $10 rather than the a la carte cost. Alternatively, if used at the dinner show then you are charged a reduced cover charge.

 

I am no expert on these, having never been to Ocean Blue or Bayamo, and only using the SDP for Cirque once many years ago however, this is my recommendation.

 

In Ocean Blue/Bayamo, I would book other restaurants first (assuming that you are booking more restaurants than you have credits for). In that case there will be no upfront charge to pay as the system will assume that will be paying the a la carte prices. You can then pay the upcharge and use a SDP credit onboard.

 

For Cirque, you first need to decide whether you are going to use the SDP for this. There are differing opinions as to whether it is worth it or not. If you plan to use the SDP then book it first so you just pay the smaller charge. Otherwise, I’m not sure when would be best to book it. Perhaps others have better advice on this. I would be worried about any complications onboard if I was to book it first and then not use the SDP, so would probably book it last and pay the full amount. I may be wrong on that though.

 

Finally, a word on which meals it is best to use the latitudes meals on and which to use the SDP. There is no definitive answer to this, as it depends on what you will order. However, there are some things to take into account.

 

The latitudes meals are more restricted than the SDP. You are limited to one appetiser, one entree and a dessert. There is also a limit of $20 on the value of the entree (you pay the difference). The SDP is just limited to one entree (and some specific items in Ocean Blue are also excluded I believe), even though some staff members try to suggest other limits.

 

The $20 limit can be quite restrictive in Cagneys, so you may get better value in Le Bistro. However, I enjoy the soup and a starter in Le Bistro, so often use my latitudes meal in Carneys instead. It is largely personal opinion.

 

It is worth looking at the menus to get an idea what you are likely to spend before deciding.

 

Hopefully that clears up some of the confusion regarding these bookings. The various options can make things quite complicated, especially with the restaurants with upcharges. I will almost certainly have missed some variations, so feel free to ask questions below and I’m sure that people will have answers and suggestions.

The price for entree included in Latitudes Dinner is now $25.00. so, maybe that helps with Cagney’s.

Thanks Keith for all the good info. Helps many understand their benefits.

Edited by phissy

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4 hours ago, phissy said:

The price for entree included in Latitudes Dinner is now $25.00. so, maybe that helps with Cagney’s.

Thanks Keith for all the good info. Helps many understand their benefits.

Thanks for pointing out the increase, especially as there have been reports or people still getting vouchers with $20 on them. Hopefully they have used up those stocks by now.

 

It doesn’t help the decision massively because they have also increased the price, so it is still quite possible to go over.

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When using the SDP at La Cucina, is the limit of one entree specific to the menu section titled "entrees" or "secondi" or does in also refer to the sections for pizza and pasta? Menu layouts scoured on here and elsewhere on the net vary quite a bit depending on ship and, presumably, how long ago they were posted. 

If two of us each got an entree such as osso bucco, and a pasta dish, on the SDP would we be charged for extra entrees?  What if we also decided to share a pizza as well?

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This is a great thread!!!  I have booked a cruise in March and it will be my first one as Platinum and my first one with the specialty dining package.  So this has really been most helpful!  :-)

 

I was wondering if anyone knew how it works with the sushi restaurant on the Epic (Wasabi) - can I use my SDP for that and how would that work?

 

Thanks so much!!

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On 5/25/2019 at 9:54 PM, ciabelle said:

When using the SDP at La Cucina, is the limit of one entree specific to the menu section titled "entrees" or "secondi" or does in also refer to the sections for pizza and pasta? Menu layouts scoured on here and elsewhere on the net vary quite a bit depending on ship and, presumably, how long ago they were posted. 

If two of us each got an entree such as osso bucco, and a pasta dish, on the SDP would we be charged for extra entrees?  What if we also decided to share a pizza as well?

Anyone??

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Thanks Keith for all your information. Very helpful.

 

If we have 4 people in a stateroom with speciality dining packages for 2 people and one person is platinum, can we use the platinum voucher for 2 people and the dining package for the other two? The platinum person is Person 1 on the booking. I know the vouchers are not transferable, but if we are altogether in a group (our group has 3 staterooms), will they allow this?

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On 5/26/2019 at 2:54 AM, ciabelle said:

When using the SDP at La Cucina, is the limit of one entree specific to the menu section titled "entrees" or "secondi" or does in also refer to the sections for pizza and pasta? Menu layouts scoured on here and elsewhere on the net vary quite a bit depending on ship and, presumably, how long ago they were posted. 

If two of us each got an entree such as osso bucco, and a pasta dish, on the SDP would we be charged for extra entrees?  What if we also decided to share a pizza as well?

I don't know from experience, as I have always just ordered one app, an entree and dessert in La Cucina.

 

However, in some places, the reference to a restriction of one entree specifically just states Carneys and Le Bistro, so it can be argued that there is no limit in La Cucina anyway.

 

Unfortunately, all we can really say is that the T&C's suggest that you wouldn't get charged any extra if you ordered as suggested. When you get to the restaurant you may be told something different, and even then your bill may not tie in with what you were told. I think that you will be fine, but it isn't guaranteed.

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On 6/20/2019 at 1:40 AM, hazelnut68 said:

This is a great thread!!!  I have booked a cruise in March and it will be my first one as Platinum and my first one with the specialty dining package.  So this has really been most helpful!  🙂

 

I was wondering if anyone knew how it works with the sushi restaurant on the Epic (Wasabi) - can I use my SDP for that and how would that work?

 

Thanks so much!!

I don't eat Sushi, but the T&Cs say that the SDP covers 4 menu items in Food Republic, Pincho, Sushi and Wasabi.

Edited by KeithJenner

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