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Getting into specialty restaurants with no reservation


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The key is are you able to eat dinner around 5;15 to 6;15. Most specialty restaurants have loads of empty tables at this time.I think the most cancellation and no shows are between this hour. If you show up or call with no more than 2 to 4 people you have a very good chance to be seated. I have try it with a good response from hostess at the largest seating restaurants.I hope this helps the people who say the specialty restaurants are all booked up.

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Good advice. 
 

What some don’t understand is that if you have a 6:30 reservation at a restaurant, your table will sit empty from the time the restaurant opens until the time you show up at 6:30. You can’t seat someone at 5:00 and kick them out at 6:30 because the next shift has shown up. 
 

So, yes, at 5:30 a restaurant may look empty, but it is not necessarily no shows or tables available for walk ins.
 

And, the concierge has the ability to oversell a restaurant for suite guests. What that means is that during prime time dining there are more reservations than tables available because of suite guests. And the restaurant managers, are counting on no-shows so that the can seat everyone with reservations before considering walk-ins. 

Edited by BirdTravels
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The other consideration is staffing.  They know the bookings and so when they have to have staff available.  If you want to eat at a "slow time" they may have filled up the spaces that the staff can deal with and so the restaurant may look "empty" with lots of space if you turn up on the 'off chance".

The best advice is always to make a booking ahead of time.

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I understand about 6;30 being the start of rush hour dinner time. But I have gone down to specialty restaurants at 5;15 or 5;30 and been seated and finished eating by 6;30. Because its slow it only took one hour to eat and leave. I have notice that the restaurants do not get full till 7;00pm

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13 hours ago, BirdTravels said:

Good advice. 
 

What some don’t understand is that if you have a 6:30 reservation at a restaurant, your table will sit empty from the time the restaurant opens until the time you show up at 6:30. You can’t seat someone at 5:00 and kick them out at 6:30 because the next shift has shown up. 
 

So, yes, at 5:30 a restaurant may look empty, but it is not necessarily no shows or tables available for walk ins.
 

And, the concierge has the ability to oversell a restaurant for suite guests. What that means is that during prime time dining there are more reservations than tables available because of suite guests. And the restaurant managers, are counting on no-shows so that the can seat everyone with reservations before considering walk-ins. 

I don't know about most people but my wife and I can easily eat dinner is 90 minutes Lol, sometimes even 60 

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We often find we are able to eat at specialty restaurants with no reservation. The key is to be flexible about when you eat, and willing to change plans. Obviously, it helps if you're doing this outside of the "normal" busy dinner hours, and willing to try a couple of different restaurants to get in one of them. It also helps to eat during the theater show times.  

 

Of course, it helps the most if you're in the Haven and can use the concierge to ring down to the restaurant!

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We've yet to not able to book specialty dining onboard, almost get it done on embarkation day and sometimes on day 2 - being flexible helps, especially with a larger group size in smaller venue like Moderno on the mid-size ships; all DIY, without trying to pull ranks on priority reservations or finding the concierge (if & when, not everyone has access to them or staying in a suite/Haven 👴 )   The "Cruise Norwegian" App is what I go to, works 95% of the time in the last 2 to 3 years - for a large party, split them into 2 reservations for the same time slot first, then, go to the desk/kiosk when they aren't busy and most of the time, they can merge & combine tables - a table for 7 or 8 at Moderno usually meant the host/ess need to override their internal system to book it anyway. 

 

DW likes to eat dinner early these days and those tables for 2, 3 or 4 are easier to find.  Staffing is a challenge with NCL's resources management, we sat in Cagney's last week, watching 2 to 3 empty tables with dirty napkins, plates that went uncleaned and idle for easily 15 to 20+ minutes, not an assistant or helper around to clear & set it up for the next round/cycle of diners ...  Apparently, they called in someone from the buffet or "downstairs" to come up, quickly tasked with straightening out the mess - they clearly cross trained the crew properly - and, subsequently ... 4 clean tables were ready.  

 

If their services and the speed of the gallery (kitchen) can be better managed & consistently paced, then I'm sure they can efficiently do 2 to 3 rounds each evening, without rushing ... or put us thru a 2+ hour dinner ordeal on a simple 3 course meal ...  Starter was a soup, easy ... right; entree were the usual porterhouse; and, dessert - absolutely no excuse to drag that out, not that we're in a hurry to catch the late show in the theater, nevermind the early ones.   Two nighs later, we did a walk-up dinner late in the smaller MDR (Magneta) and even with 4 items, skipping dessert - we're in & out of there in 45 minutes, turbo speed ... what/why/how, it was near their closing time; we all laughed along, everyone including the servers wanted to get out of there.  

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4 hours ago, waterjock said:

I understand about 6;30 being the start of rush hour dinner time. But I have gone down to specialty restaurants at 5;15 or 5;30 and been seated and finished eating by 6;30. Because its slow it only took one hour to eat and leave. I have notice that the restaurants do not get full till 7;00pm

 

4 hours ago, Laszlo said:

I don't know about most people but my wife and I can easily eat dinner is 90 minutes Lol, sometimes even 60 

Yes. You can eat a lot quicker than the 2 hours blocked by the reservation system. 
 

But a restaurant can not count on people shoveling down the chow. They have to plan for an average dining time when booking tables. 
 

So, if the book a table for 6:30, they won’t book that same table at 5:00 assuming people will shovel it down (and the restaurant will look empty). And they won’t book that table again until 8:30, giving people the average time to dine. 

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  • 1 month later...

the only restaurant on any ncl cruise we have taken that we couldnt get into was the teppanyaki. this seems to not only be the most popular, but they only have 2 or  3 seatings, and only a limited amount of tables. just to make yourlife easy, if you call down in the morning for cagneys, moderno or la cuncina, you can probably get a table for that day

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The only people that have issues with reservations are the pickiest cruisers who come with groups of 10-20, MUST eat together as a group every day, AT exactly the time the people want, and AT the exact restaurant they want that night, etc.

 

A little flexibility will go a long way, but if you're in a big group and you have a laundry list of preferences...forget it.

 

I have never had issues getting into a specialty with a smaller group and time flexibility.

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  1. When we were on our TA, there were 2 of our *specialty* dinners that we never got to use because we could never get in to any of the restaurants. (and yes, we were polite!) We didn't care for Maderno's so we didn't try that one. I didn't know to make sure to book ahead of time, so it was my own fault. No biggie, but I learned to always book when the date opens up!
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to avoid the stress and avoid potential wasted dinners, we just book online as soon as stuff opens up.  you may be able to get in at 5pm or 9 or 930, but you'll rarely be able to walk in particualrly to Cagneys or LeBistro between 6 and 9.  and forget Teppanyaki.  that must be booked ASAP.  

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I had a La Cucina reservation for Friday but we wanted to go Thursday instead.  The restaurant was half empty at any point during any night of the cruise.  When I asked if they had any openings at 6:30 on Thursday the hostess told me only at 9:30 even though it was half empty.

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