Traditional vs. Freestyle Cruising


I am currently sitting in snowy Virginia so I really wanted to work on a blog post that would warm me up!

I haven’t done a ton of cruising, but I have done both traditional and freestyle and often ask which I prefer. I have a favorite, but it wasn’t because one was necessarily better than the other, but just more what my personality is like. I pulled together some pros and cons to help you better make a decision!

And ultimately, the only real difference is meal time. But if you’re anything like me, much of a vacation revolves around that! Haha

Traditional Dining:

This was the only option when cruising first became popular years and years ago. You would dress in your best formal wear and be seated with others who are also on your cruise ship. You would be wined and dined by the best servers, who remember specific details of how you like your meat cooked, your drinks made, and so on.

While much of that has been toned down on many cruise lines, the basis remains. Traditional dining is rich in cruise ship history, but also is just what people are wanting out of their dining experience when vacationing this way.



You have a specific dinner time each and every night and are therefore able to work your schedule around it.

You have a chance to meet new friends.

You will be well taken care of by your server who will quickly get to know your preferences.

Formal and classy.


Since you have a specific dinner time, you will miss it if you are late.

You may not be particularly fond of your table mates

Freestyle Dining:

Freestyle is a much more up and coming form of cruise ship dining. The dress code is much more laid back, compared to traditional dining, and the dinner times are flexible. That brings much change with all the things spoken about above though. Other than the dress code everything is much less formal. I didn’t put the lack of formality on either pros or cons list because that is a complete opinion and based on what you want your experience to be like.



You can eat where you want, when you want.

Many restaurants on freestyle cruise lines take reservations if you do want to choose a dinner time ahead of time.

Flexible dress code


Because everyone is eating like that you often have longer wait times or can’t even get into some restaurants some nights.

It’s not as “luxurious” of an experience

And above all else it comes down to what you are more like and what kind of experience you’re looking for overall. Do you wanted to feel like you’re being waited on hand and foot and really step up the class? Traditional may be more an option for you! Are you someone who makes plans and decisions on a whim, someone who doesn’t have a planned out itinerary while on vacation? Freestyle would probably be better for you!

Either way, I’ve done both, and they have been wonderful experiences!

Happy cruising!


Don’t forget to pin for later!



P.S. Are you following along with And Then Life on Facebook?

P.P.S. Did you see my Top 5 Posts of 2017?!






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