My husband and I were on the NCL Dream about four years ago and at time freestyle was a new concept. We were very disappointed in the long lines to dine and did not care for the cruise. Now speed ahead to 2005. NCL has a new ship - Star -we decided to give it a try. This ship was built expressly for this venue. Well, we once again were very disappointed with NCL and in fact will not cruise with them again.
Let me list some of the problems we faced: If one wanted to dine in the main dining room (dinner), one had to get in line about a half hour before the dining room opened, or you were faced with about a 45 minute wait to get seated. We tried to get a set time and table assigned, but told that could not be done. So we waited. The market cafe - the buffet on deck 12 - was like a cafeteria (ie Furrs), noisy, crowded, no small tables to seat at - just tables of 6 or 8. The food was tepid, very processed, and more like an IHop or Denny's. Children were not kept under control at the buffet area, and the noise level, mess level, children running around etc was annoying. The ship was very commercial. Announcements about every l5 minutes hawking sales in the shops, photos, lottery type tickets, etc.
In the Reception area was a table making reservations for the speciality dining rooms and had plastic samples of the food that was offered. We found this tacky.
The service on the ship was mixed. We found that the dining room stewards performance was bad to inept. The tables in the dining room were so close together that they had to serve in front or over you as they could not get around the tables. Also you got constantly bumped by people going by. Very uncomfortable. The entertainment was so/so. The cabins were small, but adequate.
I could go on and on about this trip, but lets just say that the freestyle concept and NCL are not for us. We prefer a traditional setting and will continue to book ships that offer that service.
Good luck and hope your cruise is successful and fun.