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Norwegian Cruise Line: The Complete Guide
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Table of Contents
About Norwegian Cruise Line sailings
Norwegian cruise line destinations, norwegian cruise line cruise prices, what is the best norwegian cruise line ship, what’s included on ncl cruises, ncl firsts in the industry: what is norwegian known for, ncl loyalty program: latitude rewards, norwegian cruise line credit card, what is ncl known for.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is one of the top players in large-ship cruising, and its fleet is seeing one of its biggest refits in decades with its new Prima fleet of ships. Norwegian Cruise Line ships are also known for their colorful hull art that makes them stand out in ports around the world.
The company dates back to 1966 when it got its start as a Norwegian shipping company. Today, it has become one of the more popular mainstream cruise brands and is part of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which also includes the Regent Seven Seas and Oceania brands.
If you’re scrolling through endless Norwegian Cruise Line reviews, let this complete guide to the cruise company give you the larger overview of what sets this brand apart from the rest. There are some interesting innovations from Norwegian that other cruise lines have since adopted, but they started here.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
NCL sails around the world with numerous routes from the U.S. to Caribbean destinations as well as around the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas.
Its loyalty program, onboard amenities and variety of cabin types offer something for every type of traveler.
Cabin types: You can expect a range of different cabin sizes and layouts ranging from solo-traveler interior studios and inside cabins for as many as four people to ocean view and balcony cabins. A wide range of suites are also available. The Prima class of ships feature the largest suites, some of which have private whirlpools on the balcony and as many as three bedrooms.
Main U.S. routes: NCL has plenty of North America sailings from U.S. ports to Alaska, Bermuda, Canada and New England. There are also sailings to the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico and the Panama Canal, among others.
Loyalty program: NCL's Latitudes Rewards loyalty program, which issues one point for every night sailed as well as bonus points for booking suites or participating in certain promotions. At each elite tier, members earn onboard benefits like discounts, laundry service and special event access. The more you travel with NCL, the more benefits you can earn.
NCL spans the globe with sailings to every continent (even Antarctica) on a wide range of ships. They leave from both U.S. coasts as well as from Hawaii — where NCL has operated inter-island Hawaiian sailing for almost two decades.
Depending on how long you want to sail and where you're going, you can find cruises as brief as two nights and as long as 21 days or more.
» Learn more: The pros and cons of cruises
You'll find lots of good deals on Norwegian, but cruise fares will fluctuate based on the destination, time of year and other variables. You’ll want to keep these factors in mind when booking a cruise, as they'll affect the price of the trip:
Time of year.
You can find cruise bargains for as low as $350 on four-night cruises, but if you want to splurge and do a longer cruise, expect to pay as much as $4,600 or more (especially if you book a suite or a Haven category room).
Of course, the fare will always vary depending on which cabin type you book.
» Learn more: The best ways to book a cruise
(Image courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)
When it comes to which NCL ship is best, that depends on what you're looking for in a cruise. If you're traveling with a family, for example, water slides, amusement park-style games and multi-bedroom suites may be important. This means you may prefer one of the line’s newest Prima Class ships: Norwegian Prima or Norwegian Viva.
If you're looking for a romantic vacation, perhaps you'll want a smaller ship or a cabin in The Haven, which is a hotel-within-a-hotel concept with more personalized service. The Haven is only available on select Norwegian ships, including Encore, Viva and Prima.
What is the newest NCL ship?
Norwegian Viva launched in the summer of 2023, making it the newest ship for NCL. It has special features like a three-tier race track, the fastest slides at sea, a food hall with 11 complimentary eateries and a sustainable cocktail bar.
» Learn more: Do you need a passport for a Caribbean cruise?
On any NCL cruise, these benefits are always included:
Accommodations in the category you select at booking.
All meals in snack and buffet restaurants, main dining rooms and, when available, the food hall.
Free non-bottled water, juice, hot chocolate, and some coffees and teas.
Fitness center access.
Shows and entertainment.
Pools and kids pool play area.
Government fees and port taxes.
If you want to partake in specialty dining reservations, Wi-Fi, Norwegian cruise excursions or upgraded beverage packages, you'll have to pay fees (sometimes bundled for greater savings).
» Learn more: Are cruises all-inclusive?
Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered many features aboard its ships, some of which other cruise lines have imitated. These are some of the special features you'll find aboard some or all of the ships in NCL’s fleet.
Freestyle dining: open-seating in restaurants with extended hours and no reservations.
Private island: Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas is a private island for cruise passengers. NCL was the first cruise company to offer access to a private island, and it spurred a growing trend in the industry.
Full Broadway theater productions.
Onboard internet cafe.
Bowling alley at sea.
Ice bar at sea.
Studio accommodations for solo travelers, with a private lounge.
Sustainability-focused onboard bar with zero waste.
Collection of NFTs from a cruise company, available for sale.
Race track at sea.
Latitude Rewards awards members with points based on each night they sail, and they can earn bonus nights when booking certain categories of suites.
Occasional promotions also offer double-night credit. You will only earn cruise points on eligible sailings where you are paying a traditional fare; promotional sailings with a heavy discount might not be eligible, although you would still receive the benefits at your tier. Also, sailings on sister lines do not qualify for Latitude Rewards cruise points.
As you accrue nights, you earn elite status that delivers onboard benefits that grow with each status tier.
Latitude Rewards levels
The loyalty program has seven levels, from Bronze to Ambassador. The full roster of onboard amenities can be found on the Norwegian Cruise Line website . There are some extra perks that come with certain tiers.
How to earn Latitudes Rewards points
Earn one point for every night you spend on a sailing and double points in suites or The Haven category accommodations.
How to redeem points
This program does not offer any points to redeem. Instead, you would earn benefits on future cruises related to your particular elite tier. Ambassador members (700+ points) earn a free 7-night cruise.
Spending on the Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard® won’t earn you Latitude Rewards points (the only way to do that is by sailing with NCL), but it will earn you WorldPoints. This currency can be redeemed for onboard credits on future sailings, Norwegian Cruise Line shore excursions and other travel experiences. The card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, making it ideal for world travelers.
With the Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard, you earn WorldPoints as follows:
3x points on NCL sailings.
2x points on eligible airfare and hotel purchases.
1x point on everything else.
Earn 20,000 WorldPoints, which is good for a $200 onboard credit or discount toward a future cruise, if you spend $1,000 or more in the first 90 days the account is open.
How to redeem WorldPoints
Each WorldPoints point is equivalent to one cent, which you can then redeem for things such as:
» Learn more: The best cruise lines
No, but you can pay for a Wi-Fi package, which starts at $29.99 per day per device.
No, but all sailings do include accommodations, activities, food and beverages, and entertainment. There is the ability to purchase extra benefits on each ship.
There are several drink package options on NCL sailings:
The Unlimited Soda package includes all fountain soda drinks for $9.95 per person per day.
The Unlimited Starbucks package includes all Starbucks drinks for $12.95 per person per day.
An adult over the age of 21 could opt for a non-alcoholic drink package, but that means everyone else on their reservation must also get non-alcoholic drink packages.
Premium offers most drinks that cost $15 and under. You can pay the difference if you choose a more expensive drink. This unlimited package costs $109 per person per day.
Premium Plus offers even more drink options, mostly premium and top-shelf category labels, bottled water, Starbucks drinks and energy drinks for a flat price of $138 per person per day.
Keep in mind that alcoholic drink packages must be purchased for all people above the age of 21 in the same reservation, and those under 21 must pay for the soda package. The policy is intended to prevent people over the age of 21 from getting alcoholic drinks for other members of their party that did not pay for the alcoholic drink package.
Norwegian Cruise Line offers sailings at different price points to a global range of destinations. It is also known for its beautiful hull art, pioneering Freestyle Dining and adding buzzworthy amenities like ice bars and race tracks to its ships. NCL cruises are fun for all types of travelers, and its loyalty program can provide added perks along the way.
(Top photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023 , including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
on Chase's website
1x-5x Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
on Bank of America's website
1.5x-2x Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
60,000 Receive 60,000 online bonus points - a $600 value - after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
on US Bank's website
1x-5x 5X points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center. 4X points on travel, gas stations, and EV charging stations. 2X points on streaming services. 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, and dining. 1X point on all other eligible purchases. Points never expire.
50,000 Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening. That's a $500 value redeemable towards travel, gift cards, cash back, merchandise and more.
Best Norwegian Cruises
Read Best Cruises Methodology
Call to plan a cruise: 1-833-468-6732
with a cruise advisor
Built in 2017, the 3,804-passenger, 1,821-crew-member Norwegian Joy was refurbished in 2020. Accommodation options include Inside, Oceanview and Balcony staterooms, as well as Suites, Concierge rooms (which come with concierge service) and The Haven cabins (which include 24-hour butler service and private sundecks).
There are 11 dining venues on board including eight specialty restaurants, the latter of which offers American, French, Japanese, Italian, Mexican and Thai cuisines. Complimentary restaurants include the ship's three main dining rooms.
Cruisers will find plenty of things to do on board, from shopping at duty-free stores and luxury boutiques to watching stand-up comedians. The ship also offers a spa, laser tag, a racetrack, a casino, mini-golf, a fitness center, two aqua parks and more.
Norwegian Joy sails from Miami , Los Angeles , New York , Panama City and Quebec City to ports across the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera, Bermuda and more.
The 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel (the namesake of the line's Jewel-class ships) has been cruising since 2005 and and underwent an extensive refurbishment in 2022. It reemerged boasting more than 25 refreshed venues. With its low 1-to-2 crew-to-guest ratio, the ship makes tailored experiences a priority.
With 14 eateries and 12 bars and lounges, every guest has plenty of elbow room. Passenger favorites include the specialty Brazilian steakhouse.
While Jewel appeals to a variety of traveler types, it's especially well-suited for families thanks to its age-appropriate kids clubs, a video arcade and waterslides. But there are plenty of diversions to keep grown-ups occupied as well, such as a full-service spa, a casino, sports facilities and an art nouveau-style theater.
As for lodging, cruisers can choose between Inside, Oceanview, Balcony, Club Balcony Suite and Suite category cabins. Those looking for even more space and luxury should opt for a cabin in The Haven, which offers multiple bedrooms and access to a private sun deck.
Norwegian Jewel sails to a variety of destinations throughout California, Alaska, Asia, Mexico, South America and more.
Launched in April 2018 and refurbished in 2021, Norwegian Bliss carries 4,004 passengers and 1,716 crew members. Cabin layouts range from one-person Studios to The Haven villas, penthouses and suites, which offer private sun decks, king-sized beds and 24-hour butler service. The ship also features staterooms and suites with complimentary access to the Thermal Spa Suites.
Onboard entertainment options are plentiful on Norwegian Bliss. In addition to enjoying standard ship amenities like pools, a miniature golf course and kids clubs, cruisers of all ages can spend days at sea zipping around the race car track, playing laser tag, riding the arcade's virtual rollercoaster and more. Meanwhile, adults will love gambling in the casino, catching a performance at the theater, and sipping cocktails in the ship's 19 bars, nightclubs and lounges.
When it's time to eat, cruisers can order room service or grab a complimentary bite in one of three Main Dining Rooms, the buffet restaurant or the 24-hour pub. Guests staying in The Haven accommodations can also dine in The Haven Restaurant. An additional 13 coffee shops, quick-service eateries and a la carte restaurants that serve specialty cuisines like Mexican, Italian and Texas-style barbecue are available as well.
Norwegian Bliss departs from ports in Los Angeles , Miami and Seattle for sailings throughout Alaska, the Caribbean, Panama, Mexico and the Pacific Coast.
U.S. News Insider Tip: While Norwegian Bliss is a large ship with a capacity for up to 4,004 passengers (at double occupancy), the vessel has an elegant feel with upscale touches like those you’d find on a smaller luxury ship. The Observation Lounge is the perfect example of an upscale space on the larger mainstream ship. – Gwen Pratesi, Contributor
Norwegian Prima first set sail in October 2022 and can hold 3,099 guests and 1,506 crew members. The latest ship in the fleet includes many of the cruiser-favorite amenities and activities that are standard across Norwegian , plus a few more exciting additions.
Accommodations include Studios (perfect for solo travelers), and Inside, Oceanview, Balcony, Club Balcony Suite and Suite staterooms. The Haven aboard the Norwegian Prima has been redesigned, with more spacious suites, upscale decor and The Haven's private sun deck. Outside their rooms, travelers will find plenty of dining options, including pub fare at The Local Bar & Grill, classic fare at the main dining room Hudson's, fine dining at The Commodore Room, international cuisine at Indulge Food Hall, casual eats at the Surfside Café & Grill and 24-hour room service, in addition to several specialty dining venues.
As far as activities go, cruisers can enjoy mini-golf, a racecar track, the water park and waterslides, plus games like darts, shuffleboard and pickleball. Those looking to relax can snag a lounge chair by the pool or book a treatment at the spa. Other options for fun include a casino, numerous bars and lounges, and a theater to enjoy musicals, concerts and The Price Is Right Live.
This Norwegian ship offers itineraries through the Mediterranean, northern Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean in the coming years.
Norwegian's newest ship, Encore, embarked on its inaugural journey in November 2019. The ship accommodates 3,998 guests and 1,735 crew members.
Encore stands out for its unmatched onboard amenities, which include the longest racetrack at sea and a 10,000-square-foot outdoor laser tag arena. Cruisers can also enjoy virtual reality games and rides in the Galaxy Pavilion, two aqua parks with waterslides, a pool, a spa and a fitness center. Nighttime entertainment options are just as abundant, with more than a dozen bars and lounges on board. Live performances include various musical acts, including the ship's top-rated show Choir of Man.
When it comes to dining, you'll have your choice of six inclusive restaurants and 12 specialty venues that range from casual American eateries to worldly fine dining establishments. Upscale options include the ship's alfresco steakhouse and Japanese hibachi restaurant, and coffee lovers will be pleased to find a Starbucks on board.
Stateroom options range from Inside and Oceanview cabins to Balcony and Suite accommodations. You'll also find Studios designed specifically for solo travelers, spa-themed cabins and The Haven staterooms, which are located at the top of the ship and feature exclusive luxuries and access to an additional courtyard, restaurant and lounge.
Norwegian Encore sails from Los Angeles , Seattle and Miami to destinations in the Caribbean, Alaska, the Panama Canal and more.
Refurbished in 2021, Norwegian Pearl shuttles 2,394 passengers and 1,072 crew members to a variety of destinations. With its diverse selection of onboard offerings, Pearl has something for cruisers of all ages.
Families can spend quality time playing basketball, video games or playing cards. Alternatively, parents can send their youngsters to age-appropriate youth clubs while they enjoy some grown-up time at the Mandara Spa or the casino.
As far as lodging goes, the Inside and Oceanview cabins are comparable to many other Norwegian ships, ranging from 138 to 278 square feet. Cruisers can find more room in the Balcony, Club Balcony and Suite staterooms or The Haven, which offer between 200 and 4,252 square feet.
Norwegian Pearl boasts seven complimentary eateries and six specialty restaurants. Passenger favorites include the specialty Cagney's Steakhouse.
Norwegian Pearl departs from ports in Miami , Boston , Quebec City , Venice and Athens . It sails to destinations in the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, Europe and Canada and New England.
Built in 2013 and refurbished in 2020, the 3,963-passenger Norwegian Breakaway pleases passengers with a lively atmosphere and family-friendly amenities.
Offerings include two Aqua Parks (one of which is especially for children), a three-level Sports Complex with a ropes course, and specialized kids and teens clubs. In addition to a smattering of daytime activities, the ship contains more than 19 dining options. Other options include three main dining rooms, a noodle bar and a popular steakhouse. Entertainment ranges from Broadway performances to dueling piano acts.
As far as cabins go, categories range from small Studio accommodations for solo travelers to Inside, Oceanview, Balcony and Club Balcony Suite cabins, as well as Spa designated rooms with extra perks. For even more luxury, guests can spring for a Haven category cabin, which offers more space, a private balcony and access to private dining and lounge areas. Even with the ship's massive size, the 1,657 crew members on board ensure that service is still a priority.
Breakaway sails from New York City , Miami , New Orleans and Rome to destinations in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Europe, Canada and New England.
Norwegian Escape debuted in 2015 and was refurbished in 2022. It carries 4,266 passengers and 1,733 crew members. Highlights include the District Brew House and Norwegian's wine bar, The Cellars. Guests can choose from a total of 18 dining venues, including 11 specialty restaurants.
When it comes to activities, the ship appeals to multiple generations. Children can play in age-appropriate clubs or in the kids aqua park, while adults can sip cocktails or get treatments at the Mandara Spa. Nighttime entertainment includes live musicals, acts at the Headliners Comedy Club and table games at the casino.
Accommodations are just as diverse, ranging from Studio staterooms designed for solo travelers to Inside, Oceanview and Balcony cabins. There are also larger Club Balcony Suites, as well as The Haven (exclusive cabins that offer elite perks like 24-hour butler service and access to a private sundeck).
Norwegian Escape departs from Miami , Orlando , New York City , Rome , Barcelona and Venice , Italy for sailings in Bermuda , Canada, the Caribbean and Europe.
Extensively renovated in 2021, the 2,340-passenger Norwegian Dawn includes guest favorites like the Los Lobos Cantina and The Cellars wine bar.
While younger cruisers can take advantage of kids and teens clubs, play in the dinosaur-themed kids pool or hang out in the video arcade, adults can relax in six hot tubs, test their luck at the casino or get treatments at the Mandara Spa.
Passengers were impressed with the variety of the 14 dining options, including eight specialty venues that range from a sushi bar to a Brazilian steakhouse. More casual spots include O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill, which is open 24 hours a day.
The ship's accommodations also received a makeover; notably, the expanded Garden Villa Suites can comfortably sleep up to seven passengers. Other lodging options include Club Balcony Suites and Balcony, Oceanview and Inside category cabins. All staterooms come equipped with flat-screen TVs and minibars.
Norwegian Dawn departs from ports throughout Europe, such as Copenhagen and Lisbon . It sails to destinations in the Mediterranean, Europe and Africa.
Completely refurbished in 2022, Norwegian Sky carries 2,004 passengers and 899 crew members. Updates include fully renovated staterooms, new dining options, refreshed bars and lounges and more. There is now a full-service Starbucks on board as well.
The ship now offers 10 restaurants, about half of which are specialty venues. There are plenty of family-friendly facilities, including youth-appropriate kids clubs, a video arcade and a dedicated kids pool. The ship also offers sports courts, a fitness center and a full-service spa.
When it comes to lodging, there are four cabin categories to choose from: Inside, Oceanview, Balcony and Suite. While Inside, Oceanview and Balcony cabins provide between 121 and 226 square feet of space, Suites span 402 to 835 square feet.
Norwegian Sky departs from Miami , Baltimore , New York City , Dominican Republic and Quebec City for sailings in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, New England and Canada.
Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship’s Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship’s Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.
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Norwegian Cruise Line Review
Friday, November 17th
2023 Cruise Line Reviews
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Best for large-ship sailing, especially in Alaska
- 18 ships in the fleet
- Ships accommodate anywhere from 1,900 to 4,000+ passengers
- Private island in the Bahamas, Great Stirrup Cay
- Exciting amenities on board, like go-kart tracks and climbing walls
- No required or recommended gratuities
- Freestyle cruising plus "Free at Sea" promos can make your cruise flexible and affordable
Norwegian Cruise Line, commonly referred to as NCL, is a popular cruise line that was founded in 1966 by Knut Kloster and Ted Arison, who also co-founded Carnival Cruise Line. Norwegian Cruise Line is headquartered in Miami, Florida, and is currently part of the Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., which also includes Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Solid option for a Caribbean cruise during spring break
Norwegian had several available itineraries in our apples-to-apples comparison, looking for a trip in March within the Caribbean and booking about a year in advance. Prices were about average, starting at $599 per person for a 5-day sailing out of Miami to Great Stirrup Cay (NCL's private island) and Cozumel, and going up to $1,319 for a 7-day sailing from Puerto Rico to Barbados, Antigua, and St. Lucia. Interestingly, a 12-day cruise out of Punta Cana and visiting Barbados, Curacao and Aruba was less expensive, with a starting fare of $1,079 per person. At the time of our review, NCL had a promotion in place offering free airfare for the second guest on the booking, which could be a pretty significant savings depending on your departure port.
Great choice for Alaskan cruises
For what it's worth, we've also heard really good things about NCL for anyone looking to sail to Alaska: among the big ships, travel agents and travelers alike say that the experience is top notch when you use Norwegian.
How about a themed cruise?
In addition to its regular cruise itineraries, Norwegian Cruise Line offers several themed cruises throughout the year. For example, the "Sail Across the Sun" cruise is a music-themed cruise that features live performances by popular bands and musicians, while the "Wine, Dine, and Music Cruise" offers guests the opportunity to sample world-class wines and gourmet cuisine while enjoying live music performances. Themed cruises on NCL aren't just for the more, ahem , seasoned travelers either: check out EDSea "as the magical world of EDC meets paradise" with immersive art, performers, themed stages, non-stop music and more - but at least when we checked, EDSea sells out quickly so you'll have to book well in advance (or join the waitlist).
Exciting onboard activities
One of the standout ships in Norwegian Cruise Line's fleet is the Norwegian Joy, which was launched in 2017 as part of the Breakaway Plus class (along with the Escape, Encore, and Bliss). The ship features a number of unique amenities, including a two-level go-kart track, an open-air laser tag arena, and a virtual reality arcade. NCL's most exciting amenities are found in the ThrillPlex activity zones, available on both Breakaway Plus and Breakaway class ships. Just be aware that some experiences come with an extra cost: $15 per session for go-karts (or pay a one-time fee for unlimited use, typically $199 for a 7-day sailing), $9.95 per session of laser tag, and so on.
Another feature that sets Norwegian Cruise Line apart from other cruise lines is its onboard entertainment. The cruise line offers a variety of shows, ranging from Broadway-style productions to comedy acts and live music. One of the most popular shows on Norwegian Cruise Line is "Burn the Floor" , which is a dance show that features world-class dancers performing to a range of music genres, including ballroom, Latin, and contemporary.
No gratuity required or recommended - but not refused, either
Unlike the majority of big-ship cruise lines, Norwegian doesn't require tipping or even recommend an amount for it, beyond the 20% automatically added for spa and salon services plus beverage purchases. But, they do point out that they encourage their staff to "go the extra mile" and that their employees are allowed to accept cash gratuities for outstanding service. So, it's up to you, but know that your stateroom attendant, the counselors in the kids' club, and your dining room servers would probably not turn down a tip.
Be sure to understand Freestyle vs. Free at Sea
Not having to pay gratuities is part of what Norwegian likes to call "Freestyle Cruising" . That also includes having no assigned dining times: you're free to choose where and when you want to eat, dress it up or stay casual, it's up to you. But, don't confuse "freestyle cruising" with NCL's "Free at Sea" promotions. Depending on when you book, you might be offered the latter as a perk, with five options you can choose for customizing your cruise experience:
- Free Unlimited Open Bar: This option offers guests the opportunity to enjoy unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages throughout their cruise.
- Free Specialty Dining: This option provides passengers with free access to Norwegian's specialty restaurants, where they can enjoy a variety of cuisines and dining experiences. (Two meals, valued at approximately $180 per traveler)
- Shore Excursion Credit: This option provides guests with credit towards booking shore excursions, allowing them to explore the ports of call and participate in various activities (typically a $50 credit per guest).
- Free Wi-Fi: This option provides passengers with free access to the ship's Wi-Fi, allowing them to stay connected and share their experiences on social media. (Usually about 150 total minutes across a 7-day sailing)
- Extra Guests Sail Free: This option provides families and groups with a great opportunity to save on their cruise vacation, with the third and fourth guests in the stateroom sailing for free.
Free at Sea Plus upgrade might be available
But wait, there's more! You may also have the option of upgrading to "Free at Sea Plus" , which would give you extra specialty dining, extra credit towards excursions, unlimited Wi-Fi, and a premium beverage package. As you'd expect, the cost for that upgrade will depend on what promotions are in place, your itinerary, and the length of your cruise, but it's safe to anticipate paying anywhere from $99 to $899 per person (the lower amount being for a three-day cruise and the higher amount being for sailings longer than seven nights).
Not the most sterling safety record
But, we give Norwegian somewhat of a downgrade for its safety record. The cruise line has had several incidents in recent years, including a fire on one of its ships in 2019 and a mechanical issue on another ship in 2018. The company has faced criticism for its handling of these incidents. While no cruise line is completely immune from problems, there are several that have never experienced a major incident and that invest heavily in safety training and technology. We wouldn't say Norwegian is unsafe, per se, but it's one area where some of its rivals outpace its track record.
Online experience leaves room for improvement
We also weren't overly impressed with the online booking experience and the NCL website overall. When we went to get more information on the Freestyle vs. Free at Sea vs. Free at Sea Plus differences, every result link we got when we searched gave us a 404 Not Found error. And, when we went to reach out for help via live chat, it took a long time to connect with an agent - and even when we did, the chat was super-slow and we waited over 10 minutes to get an answer to our one question.
Great option for most destinations served by larger ships
Still, there's a lot to love about Norwegian, especially with all of the "free" aspects of their sailings (even if it can be a chore to work out what exactly they mean by it). This cruise line absolutely offers fun for guests of all ages and adventure levels, and if there's a destination you've been dying to visit, chances are good that NCL can take you there. Don't hesitate to put Norwegian Cruise Line on your list of options if large-ship cruising - with all of the associated amenities - is what you're after.
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The 15 Best Cruise Lines
Which cruise line is the best.
Cruising is a popular way of traveling for many people, offering a unique experience that combines the convenience of a floating hotel with the excitement of visiting multiple destinations in one trip. In an average year, over fifteen million people say "all aboard" and set sail on an amazing vacation.
There are many different cruise lines to choose from, and each one offers a different type of experience. Some are geared towards families, while others are more focused on luxury or adventure. What would you like to see and do while you're onboard? Is a casino a must-have or a rather-avoid? Would a Broadway-caliber show tip the scales for you? Do you need a wide range of activities to keep the kiddos happy while the adults live it up or relax? The onboard activities and amenities can really make or break your vacation, so be sure you know what you're getting.
Cruise Line FAQ
Which cruise line is the best, what is included in the cost of a cruise, what is the minimum age to cruise, what are the dining options on a cruise ship, are cruise ships crowded, do i have to dress up, are activities included at destination ports, can i bring my own alcohol onboard.
Continued from above...
Another factor that can influence which cruise line you choose is the itinerary. Cruise ships travel all over the world, but some cruise lines may not have destinations available where you're hoping to go. You should also consider the size of the ship: larger ships offer more amenities, but smaller ships can access ports that bigger ships can't.
Speaking of amenities, make sure you understand what you'll get as part of your fare and which extras will come with an additional cost. For example, most cruises offer drink packages for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, but a few have drink stations where you can get complimentary lemonade, coffee and tea. Other amenities that might be important to you are Wi-Fi, spa services, babysitting, fitness classes, and upgraded dining experiences. You can usually get a decent discount if you sign up for an amenities package before you sail, so keep an eye out for promotions in the months leading up to your sailing.
When you take a cruise, it's almost always expected that you'll tip the crew members who have attended to your needs while onboard: your cabin steward ( who probably leaves your towels folded into fun shapes every night ), your servers at your nightly meals, and the head waiter. Cruise lines have a recommended gratuity to cover all three of those staff members, usually $15-$20 per traveler, per day; the total gratuity amount may be charged automatically to your account, or you may be given envelopes to make cash payments.
While it usually isn't mandatory to pay those gratuities - you can ask to have them removed if they're applied automatically, especially if you've received poor service - it's typically considered in poor taste not to tip at the suggested levels (because crew members' salaries, much like servers at your local restaurant, are based on the expectation of tips paid by guests). And, if you receive service that goes above and beyond, adding to the recommended gratuity is always appreciated. Be aware that tips for bartenders, poolside servers, and professional services provided in the spa or elsewhere are not included in the daily suggested gratuity and may be charged automatically at the time of service.
Now that you have a good overview of the cruising experience, which cruise line should you choose? Beyond the points we already covered, here are a few additional criteria that might make it easier to pick:
- Embarkation port. You could get a great deal on a cruise, but what will it cost you to get to the port? That could involve airfare, an overnight stay or two in a nearby hotel (so that you're less likely to be affected by travel delays), and transportation from the airport or hotel to the port. This is especially true if you're taking a cruise that departs from an international destination.
- Perks for repeat cruisers. Like frequent flyer programs on airlines, most cruise lines offer benefits the more you sail. If you find yourself absolutely loving cruise vacations, it can be advantageous to put all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Rewards programs can include casino benefits, complimentary meals at the upgraded dining experiences, exclusive sail-away parties with free cocktails and tchotchkes, early-access booking on future cruises, and much more.
- Reputation. It's a really smart idea to see what other travelers have said about their overall experience with a cruise line before booking your trip. The ads on TV may make that private island look amazing, but someone who's been there might point out that you'll pay extra to get on that waterslide. Or, previous cruisers could tell you that despite having several formal nights on the schedule, a particular cruise line has no problem with people showing up to dinner in flip-flops and swimsuit coverups. Find out if the cruise line you're considering lines up in reality with what they advertise.
Here at Top Consumer Reviews, cruising is one of our favorite ways to travel and experience new things. And with so many different cruise lines to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. But, don't worry: take a look at our in-depth analysis of today's most popular options, find the one that's the best match for your vacation ideas and your travel party, and book that trip you've been dreaming of. Bon voyage!
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20+ Norwegian Cruise Tips, Tricks, and Things to Know
Sailing aboard a Norwegian cruise? You’re no doubt excited, but might have some questions on what exactly to expect and maybe some tips to help your trip go more smoothly.
Above all, you should know that you’re about to have a great time. Norwegian is a popular cruise line, and one of our personal favorites.
But if you’ve never been on the cruise line, there things to know that can make your trip better.
Overview: What It’s Like to Sail Aboard Norwegian
Before we get into the things to know, you might be wondering what it’s like to sail aboard Norwegian Cruise Line… and how it is different from other cruise lines. For that, we have an entire guide to sailing NCL here .
In general all those things that you love about taking a cruise on any line apply to Norwegian. If you’ve sailed other lines, you will likely find the experience to be similar overall.
For instance, the ships are almost works of art (especially newer ones) and an engineering marvel. There’s a big focus on things to do on the ship, and it starts with your time around the pool, often with large pool decks, plenty of chairs, as well as things like putt-putt, sport courts, and more to keep everyone occupied. There’s also a big focus on food and drink; there’s no way that you will go hungry or thirsty on your cruise.
But while Norwegian Cruise Line might offer an experience that cruisers know and love, there are some touches that set the cruise line apart from others.
A Focus on Outdoors : While any cruise ship will have outdoor space, Norwegian seems to be on a trend toward opening up the outdoors to the indoors. For instance, some newer ships have observation lounges with tall multi-story windows with 180-degree views. Ships also focus a lot on outdoor dining, and promenades that offer seaviews around the entire ship. NCL also likes to put open promenades down closer to the ocean, putting you closer to the sea.
The Haven : If you’re a cruise passenger with a higher budget, then Norwegian offers The Haven, which is unique to their ships. Instead of just offering a suite, The Haven is essentially a “resort within a resort.” In addition to luxurious (and large) rooms, the area has private entry, its own pool, restaurant, and bar. It offers the small ship experience with larger ship amenities.
Cruise Line Size : We like to think of Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian as the “Big Three” cruise lines. They dominate the market. But when it comes to size, Norwegian is the smallest of these three. What does that mean for you? Once on the ship, it means very little. But when planning, Norwegian sails from fewer ports and has fewer total sailings than its bigger rivals, so you don’t have as many options.
Onboard Expenses: Every cruise line aims to get passengers spending on the ship, but Norwegian seems to have prices that are higher than rivals like Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Internet and drink packages — two major areas of onboard spending — are good examples. Specifically the basic drink package is $109 per person, per day . Compare that to Carnival, which charges around $60.
Tips & Things to Know About Sailing Norwegian Cruise Lines
Now that you have an idea of what you can expect on board, below we’ve pulled together some of our favorite tips and things to know for sailing on a Norwegian cruise. Use these ideas to make your trip as much fun as possible, but also potentially save money, time, and have a better vacation.
Sail on the Newer Ships When Possible (There’s a Big Difference!)
Over the last few years Norwegian has made big headlines by introducing some of the most extravagant ships at sea. Ships like the Norwegian Joy , Bliss, Encore , Prima , and Viva take cruising to another level with the public areas, restaurants, and things to do on the ship. For instance, you can even ride go-karts or dabble in virtual reality — all on a ship that’s built with a luxury feel (especially the new Prima-class vessels).
While older ships are typically cheaper to sail, we’ve found them smaller and with fewer things to do on board. Unless you only want to sit by the pool and relax, newer ships offer so much more to passengers, and the design and atmosphere is second-to-none.
So if you have the means, we recommend sailing on the newer ships.
Download the Cruise Norwegian App (It’s Free)
Everyone has an app these days, including cruise lines. The big difference? Instead of doing something silly like showing how you will look when you’re older, the cruise line apps — including the Cruise Norwegian app — are extremely useful.
Download it for free and you can use it for tons of things on the ship. It includes deck plans (so you don’t get lost), an overview of your onboard spending, the daily schedules, and you can even book reservations and excursions. Best of all, you don’t have to purchase wi-fi on the ship to use the app. It can save you a ton of time and headache.
Make Reservations Early (As Early As You Can)
These days there is a lot to do on new ships from specialty restaurants to activities onboard. Some Norwegian ships even have go-kart tracks at sea ! The thing is that with thousands of people on the ship and only a certain amount of open spots, the restaurants and things to do can fill up quickly. That’s why Norwegian has implemented a reservation system.
One piece of advice — sign up as early as you know you want to do something. Space is at a premium. You can do so through the app, through your online account, via phone, or once you are on the ship. No matter how you do it, just make sure you try and reserve a spot early so that you don’t miss out.
The “Free at Sea” Offer May Still Cost Gratuities
One of the big draws to Norwegian has been their “Free at Sea” offer . You book a cabin and you can get the regular bare-bones fare, or you can get a number of perks included for a slightly fare. The perks include everything from shore excursion credit to alcohol packages to wi-fi.
You can choose whether or not to take advantage of the deal and even which perks you would like.
One thing to watch out for is gratuity. If you select an option that typically has gratuity — like the alcoholic drink package — then you still have to pay this amount. For instance, the drink package is normally $109 per person, per day. But it also has a 20% gratuity on top of that. So even with the free drinks offer, you’re paying around $20 per day. A couple on a weeklong cruise would pay a total of about $300 in gratuities on the free drink offer.
Keep this in mind. You’re still getting a good deal as far as a drink package for $20, but it might be an added expense you didn’t realize you’d have to pay.
Know That Prices for “Free at Sea” Are Often Higher (But Usually Not By Much)
We mentioned the “Free at Sea” offer above that’s been popular for Norwegian. Depending on which cabin you cruise, you can get a number of freebies included with your cruise like free drinks or free wi-fi.
One thing to watch, however, is that you actually end up paying more for the ‘free’ perk. For instance, we did a recent search for a balcony cabin on an upcoming 7-night cruise. The headline price shown was $1,599 per person, for a “sail away” balcony. This is a cabin where Norwegian picks your room, and it isn’t eligible for any of the perks in the “Free at Sea” offer.
Want to get perks included? The cheapest balcony cabin in our example search with the free perks was $1,649 — $50 more per person . This $50 per person increase seems to be consistent in our check.
That’s not exactly “free,” but it’s a small price to pay for a drink package, wi-fi, shore excursion credit, and specialty dining.
Norwegian Casinos Are a Great Place to Learn Games
Lots of people that go on cruises love the casino. It’s a fun way to spend some time at sea whether you’re a serious gambler or just like to bet a few bucks.
Always wanted to try a new casino game but been too intimidated? That’s understandable. It’s scary to saddle up next to a bunch of pros at a blackjack table or when rolling dice in a craps game.
On Norwegian, the casino offers daily classes on games. Here, newbies can take their turn learning the rules and playing practice rounds without risking cash.
Even without the classes, cruise ship casinos are a great place to get your feet wet with new games. Limits are low , making it less intimidating for beginners.
Want to Cruise Hawaii? Norwegian Is Your Best Bet (Here’s Why)
Is Hawaii on your bucket list? Then check out cruises aboard NCL’s Pride of America. Through U.S. law, foreign-flagged vessels can’t pick up passengers from an American port and take to to another American port without having a stop in a foreign country. The vast majority of cruise ships are flagged under a foreign nation. That means to go to Hawaii, they have to put in a visit to another country along the way.
That’s why most cruise lines leave a port like Los Angeles, sail to Hawaii, and then return for a quick visit to Mexico before heading home. Given the distance, it ends up to be a lot of time at sea.
NCL, however, operates Pride of America — the only major cruise ship we know of that’s flagged under the United States. That means it can sail all around the Hawaiian Islands, instead of spending days traveling to another country to comply with the law. So instead of spending days at sea, you spend more time exploring Hawaii and simply fly back and forth from the mainland.
Dine Outside for Fantastic Views
For some reason cruise ships seem to keep getting bigger and better but continue to bring you more inside to the shops and the restaurants. One thing that Norwegian does really well is give passengers places to connect with the ocean. One example is their outside dining.
Now, you might think that sitting outside to eat during a cruise is pretty simple. Truth is, there’s a lot to take into consideration, including the sun, rain, and the constant wind as the ship is underway.
Norwegian, however, takes all this into account with covered spots to eat that are also out of the wind. The result? A number of great places where you can sit outside, sip a drink, and enjoy a meal without having to worry about a sunburn or the wind carrying your napkin away.
The Fish (Or Other Designs) Face Forward to Tell You Where You’re Headed
A quick and easy tip to help you get your bearings on the ship — the fish face forward. Let us explain…
In the halls of the ship where there aren’t any windows, it’s easy to get turned around. All the cabin doors look the same and the hallways are long. You could walk for hundreds of feet before realizing you’re going in the wrong direction. In this case, just look down.
Many Norwegian ships have carpets with a design with lots of small fish. Other ships it’s a design with random triangles. As an aid to passengers, all the of these face forward. So you are walking in the direction of the fish or the triangles on the carpet, you’re going forward. Walking the opposite direction? Then you’re headed aft.
This can save you a lot of time, frustration, and wasted steps as you leave the cabin and head to go have fun. Look down, and the fish will tell you where to go.
Get Your Spot at the Pool Early on Harvest Caye
One of the favorite stops by Norwegian ships is Harvest Caye . The private island in the southwest Caribbean is a beach-lover’s paradise. There’s ample space to lay out by the beach, a huge freshwater pool, restaurants, bars, shops, ziplines and more. And because it’s only for Norwegian cruise ships, it’s like your own personal paradise.
One tip is to head to the pool first thing on the island and stake out a spot. Even visiting on a smaller ship, we’ve found that the chairs around the pool fill up quickly. It’s by far the most popular spot on the island.
If you head over in the late morning or early afternoon, there might not be a single open chair. During our visit we didn’t hit the pool until the peak time and had to just set our stuff on the ground. Crowds are much thinner in the early morning or late afternoon when many have headed back to the ship already.
Now, we’re not saying to be a chair hog. So don’t just set your stuff down and leave. But if you know you want some pool time, try to do it early.
Head to the 24-Hour Restaurant for Fresher Food
While cruise ship buffets are on every ship, not everyone is a fan of them. Want something fresher that’s made special for you? Head to the 24-hour restaurant on the ship.
Each Norwegian ship will have a restaurant (O’Sheehans on some, The Local on others) that serves around the clock. Have a seat, get whatever you want on the menu, and you don’t have to pay anything. The nice part is that there is a variety of things to eat, and it’s prepared for you instead of being intended to feed the masses.
Are You an Investor? You Could Get Up to $250 Onboard Credit
Most of the major cruise lines are actually part of larger public companies, including Norwegian. That means you can actually own a stake in the ship that you sail. Shares of the company trade under the ticker “NCLH”. And for those owning at least 100 shares at the time of sailing, then you are eligible for a shareholder benefit.
The amount of the benefit depends on the length of your cruise, and is currently set as follows:
- $250 onboard credit per stateroom on sailings of 15 days or more
- $100 onboard credit per stateroom on sailings of 7 to 14 days
- $50 onboard credit per stateroom on sailings of 6 days or fewer
You’ll need to submit some documentation before you sail. If you want to take advantage, then you can read more about the benefit here .
No Reservation? There Might Still Be Space Available
Miss out on making a reservation before a specialty restaurant was booked up? Head down anyway. Reservations are important, but there is still a chance you can get a seat.
Often times people make reservations and then don’t show. Or other times there is still a space, even if the reservation list is full.
The best bet is to show up early or late in the dining time — not during the peak when most people want to eat. In fact, we’ve personally showed up to a restaurant that had a full reservation list and found it largely empty when it first opened, allowing us to grab dinner with no problem.
NCL Has the Youngest (Major) Fleet in the Industry
There’s no arguing that the salt and sun take a toll on anything near the coast — especially ships. At the same time, the pace of development on cruise ships is breathtaking. A ship built 20 years ago barely even compares to a ship built today.
That’s why it’s noteworthy that NCL features the youngest fleet of any of the major cruise lines. In fact, its oldest ship was built just over 20 years ago, but many more ships have been built recently. And with the addition of its Prima class — where one new ship is slated to join the fleet each year through 2027 — that fleet should continue to stay fresh.
Want a Deal? Look for the Drink of the Day
On some cruise lines, the Drink of the Day isn’t anything special. The cruise line literally just calls a drink the “Drink of the Day” to make it seem special and charges the same amount.
Norwegian is different. On their cruises the Drink of the Day is actually discounted a couple of bucks. So if a cocktail is normally $11, it will be priced at only $9. It’s a small difference, but it’s nice to get a little discount. So not only can you try something new each day, but you can also save money doing so.
Be Prepared For Higher Prices
As mentioned above, Norwegian’s “Free at Sea” offering is popular… and for good reason. For just a little more, you can get a lot of extras included with your cruise. This can be everything from wi-fi minutes to drink packages to shore excursion credit.
One thing to note, however, is that if you don’t opt for this — and even if you do — you should be prepared for higher prices than what you see on many other lines.
We mentioned that the drink package starts at $109 per person, per day plus a 20% gratuity. That’s considerably higher than most lines. Unlimited wi-fi runs as much as $40 per day. Gratuities cost $20 per person, per day for most cabins (and $25 for higher-end rooms). Then there are charges for things like the go-karts and the Galaxy Pavilion (a high-end video gaming experience) on newer ships.
Bottom line, it seems that NCL prices many things at a premium. Don’t have sticker shock.
Weather at Great Stirrup Cay Can Cause Cancellations
You wake up, the sun is shining, the sea is blue, and your day at Great Stirrup Cay (NCL’s private island) is… cancelled?
Great Stirrup Cay in The Bahamas is a must-see. It features beautiful beaches, activities, food, and more, and it’s all for the exclusive use of NCL passengers. But the ship anchors offshore and then a smaller boat (a tender) brings you in.
Unfortunately, we’ve been on a cruise where the stop was cancelled because, while the weather was beautiful, it was too windy for the tenders to operate. Instead, we spent the day at sea. To be sure, it is disappointing. Just know that since there is no dock, weather is a bigger issue on if you’ll actually be able to visit.
Sugarcane Mojito Bar Can’t Miss
Every cruise line has their own unique bars like Carnival’s Alchemy Bar or Royal Caribbean’s Bionic Bar. One of the special ones on NCL is the Sugarcane Mojito Bar.
This spot features an intimate setting that’s filled with comfy leather seats and dark wood panels that give you a Cuban vibe. But what’s special is the menu. It’s all focused on mojitos.
You can try a jalapeno cucumber mojito, or a pineapple coconut style. One that we thought sounded most interesting is the Floridita, made with Bacardi, grapefruit juice, maraschino liqueur, and lime.
Even if you’re not a huge mojito fan, the vibe and atmosphere is something you’ll want to stop and enjoy.
Bring White (or Neon) Clothing for the Party
One tip is if you are sailing the Caribbean, you’ll want to bring some white or neon clothing with you. On trips to this area, the cruise line often puts on white — or now moving to “glow” — parties on the pool deck. So you’ll head out to poolside at night, listen to some music, dance, and generally have a great time while all glammed up in either white or neon.
And after the main party, there is likely an afterparty located in the ship’s nightclub.
Wi-Fi Package Prices Fall Through the Trip
There’s no arguing that NCL likes to push prices higher. In fact, cruise line executives have said as much. That can lead to some pricey items on the ship. For example, the highest-tier of wi-fi service runs a staggering $40 per day if bought onboard, and you buy service for a whole cruise.
But there is a way you can save some money. We’ve noticed with sailing NCL that after each day you can still buy the Internet package, but the total cost reduces day by day. So if you buy the $40 service on the first day of a 7-day cruise, you’ll pay about $280 for the trip. Wait until the next day, and the price drops to around $240, and so on.
So if you can go without for a couple of days at the start of the cruise, you should be able to save some considerable money.
Boarding Early Means Waiting on a Cabin
We all want to get on the ship early and start our vacation. What we’ve noticed, however, is that boarding early (before 1-2 p.m.) usually means having to wait for your cabin to be ready. So you’ll board the ship and find that the doorways to the cabin hallways will be closed off.
You can still enjoy the ship, but you’ll either have to drop off your luggage as you board and come back later to pick it up (there is a location where they will hold bags until rooms are ready), or explore the ship with your bag in tow.
Or you can just wait to board later and be able to go right to your room as you get on the ship.
Souvenir Glasses Make Cool Keepsakes
Souvenir glasses for drinks aren’t anything new in cruising. But often they are honestly pretty tacky or gaudy. They may be fun on the cruise ship, but they are nothing you’d really use at home.
On Norwegian Cruise Line, it’s a bit different. They offer souvenir glasses you can take home, but they offer cool styles. For instance, there is a porcelain tiki glass that would be perfect for sipping something in the summer back home. Or maybe you’d rather a porcelain pineapple mug?
The point is, instead of being junky plastic cups that get tossed after a few months, these glasses are things that you’ll actually want to use back home.
Norwegian Doesn’t Allow Drinks Onboard
Something to know for those soda drinkers who might have a favorite brand — NCL as a whole serves Coca-Cola products. You won’t find Pepsi or other products from that company on the ship.
As well, Norwegian also doesn’t let you bring on beverages (other than a bottle of wine/champagne) when you board, unlike other cruise lines. So you can’t just bring on your preferred beverage for your trip.
So if you have a drink that you just can’t live without, then you’re going to have to wait until you reach a port of call.
More on Sailing NCL:
Worth It? Complete Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Drink Package Guide
- Norwegian Cruise Line Gratuities (Tips): Full Guide to Cost & How They Work
- Good Deal? Everything to Know About Norwegian’s “Free At Sea” Sale
Popular: 39 Useful Things to Pack (17 You Wouldn't Think Of)
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The best Norwegian Cruise Line ship for every type of traveler
What's the best Norwegian Cruise Line ship? Over the years, I've sailed on all but two of Norwegian's 18 vessels, and my personal favorite is the new Norwegian Prima. I love its stylish design and upscale feel, as well as its wide mix of eateries, bars and entertainment.
Still, Norwegian Prima isn't necessarily the best Norwegian Cruise Line ship for you. Whether you'll have a better time on one of the other 17 vessels in the Norwegian fleet will depend a lot on the type of traveler you are.
Norwegian has some vessels, such as Norwegian Encore, that are loaded with family-friendly attractions such as waterparks and go-kart tracks that are perfect for families with teens and tweens. To me, Norwegian Encore is an even better choice than Norwegian Prima for families with school-age kids.
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Other Norwegian cruise ships, such as Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Sun, have specific features that might make them better options for solo travelers or retirees. Certain Norwegian ships are best for budget travelers, while others are best for luxury travelers.
In short, the best Norwegian cruise ship for you will depend on a bunch of factors, and which ship is best for a trip with your family might not be your top pick for a couple's cruise or girlfriends' getaway.
Here we list our top picks for the best Norwegian cruise ships for five different types of travelers.
Norwegian Encore: Best for families
The best Norwegian Cruise Line ships for families, hands down, are the four giant, activity-packed ships of its Breakaway-Plus class: Norwegian Encore , Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Escape. Of these, Norwegian Encore is our top pick.
At 169,145 tons and carrying 3,998 passengers, Norwegian Encore is the largest ship in the Norwegian fleet. That means it has the most space for the many over-the-top family fun zones that are at the core of the four Breakaway-Plus vessels — a series of ships that was specifically designed with families in mind.
For starters, Norwegian Encore is home to some of the most thrilling waterslides at sea, as well as a kiddie splash zone that will have your little ones squealing with delight. But those are just the appetizers when it comes to family fun on the top deck of the ship.
Norwegian Encore is also the setting for one of the biggest go-kart racing tracks at sea . (Yes, this is a thing — Norwegian debuted the concept on its Breakaway-Plus-class ships and now has a go-kart track on four vessels.) Two decks high and nearly 1,150 feet long, the Norwegian Encore Speedway includes four sections that extend up to 13 feet over the sides of the vessel. The racecourse also features a middle-of-the-track observation area where your family and friends can cheer you on to victory — and even shoot you with "lasers" that'll give you a boost of power.
Related: The 5 best cruise lines for families
In addition, Norwegian Encore has a large laser tag area on its top deck (one that I can tell you from personal experience is a blast) and a massive indoor gaming and virtual reality zone called the Galaxy Pavilion. Both are tween and teen favorites.
That's all on top of dedicated children's play areas, pools and family-friendly entertainment that will keep your family busy from morning to night.
In short, there are so many family-friendly things to do on Norwegian Encore that you and your kids likely won't be able to do it all in a single, weeklong cruise.
Norwegian Prima: Best for luxury lovers
Luxury lovers recently got a new top choice in the Norwegian fleet: Norwegian Prima .
Unveiled in 2022, the 3,215-passenger vessel is the first of a new class of Norwegian ship that the line has designed to be more upscale than its earlier vessels. (A sister vessel, Norwegian Viva , is debuting this year.) An "elevation" of the brand is how executives describe it.
The upscale turn included loading Norwegian Prima with the largest variety of suites (13 categories in all) of any ship in the NCL fleet, including the largest three-bedroom suites of any new cruise vessel. If it's swanky digs you're after (and you have the money to spend), you'll find plenty of options on this ship.
Extra suite categories are just the start of what makes Norwegian Prima the best Norwegian cruise ship for luxury lovers.
Notably, the entire back of the ship is dedicated to an upscale luxury zone for the fancy set called The Haven. Rising eight decks high, it's home to 107 of the aforementioned suites, a sprawling private indoor lounge area, private outdoor lounge and pool areas, and a private restaurant — all exclusively for the use of the deep-pocketed biggies who pay up for one of its suites.
Related: The 8 best cruise lines for elegance and exclusivity
We've seen these private The Haven suite areas on Norwegian ships before but never on this scale. If it's living large on a Norwegian ship that's your goal, you're not going to find anything better than this.
Outside of The Haven, the entire ship has a more elegant feel of the sort you find in the fleets of Norwegian's higher-end sister brands, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises — albeit on a bigger scale.
The entryway to the ship, for instance, deposits you at the three-story-high Penrose Atrium, which may be the most beautiful atrium of any big ship at sea. It has a curvy, sculptural feel as if the entire space were an art piece.
It's a look that carries over to a bevy of high-end eateries, including Nama, a new-for-Norwegian sushi restaurant with a design that is as sophisticated as the sushi it serves. Also striking is Norwegian Prima's version of Le Bistro, Norwegian's signature French eatery. It's built around three massive crystal chandeliers costing nearly $100,000 that hang down to the floor — a showstopper of a design element. Gold-leaf wallpaper lines its booth seating.
Notably, the public areas that include these restaurants feel more spacious than many of the other ships in the Norwegian fleet. Indeed, they are. Norwegian Prima was built with a higher ratio of space to passengers, which itself is an upscale touch. The ship also has a higher crew-to-passenger ratio than many Norwegian ships, leading to better service.
In short, this is the Norwegian ship to book when you want to take things up a notch.
Norwegian Sky: Best for budget travelers
Norwegian Sky is the Norwegian ship to pick when you're looking for a low-cost, easy-to-do getaway — at least in the summer months.
Based in Miami for much of the year, the 24-year-old vessel operates a mix of short three- to five-night voyages to the Bahamas and longer trips to the Caribbean from spring to fall that have one thing in common: They're unusually affordable on a per-night basis.
In many cases, Norwegian Sky sailings out of Miami will start under $100 a day per person, though it depends on the week. We sometimes see the ship's shorter sailings starting as low as $249 per person for the entire cruise.
Indeed, the ship often is at the top of the list when you sort cruises by lowest price on Norwegian's website.
For would-be Norwegian cruisers, Norwegian Sky's shorter sailings out of Miami serve as a sort of "test the line" opportunity. Their short time frame and low pricing mean you're not out a lot in time or money if you don't love it as much as you hoped. These shorter sailings cater heavily to first-time cruisers and Florida locals who can book on short notice and drive into the port for a quick escape.
One of two ships in the line's Sun class that date to the turn of the millennium, Norwegian Sky is far from the snazziest ship in the Norwegian fleet. This is both because of its age but also its size. At 77,104 tons and carrying 2,002 passengers, it's just half the size of Norwegian's biggest ships and has far fewer venues, from bars and restaurants to entertainment spaces. There is no giant water park on its top deck or a go-kart track to keep the kids busy all day, so it's not the best Norwegian Cruise Line ship for families.
Related: The 8 classes of Norwegian Cruise Line ships, explained
That said, Norwegian Sky has its allures, one of which is that it has a much more intimate feel than the line's bigger vessels. It's a great choice for adults on a budget who are satisfied with the basics.
Norwegian Epic: Best for solo travelers
When it comes to the best Norwegian cruise ship for solo travelers, one ship stands out above all the others: Norwegian Epic.
Unveiled in 2010, Norwegian Epic caters to solo travelers like no other large cruise ship at sea — from any line, not just Norwegian — with an unusually large private zone for solo travelers that has its own two-story lounge for solo mixers as well as special solo cabins.
Tucked away in the middle of the ship, this "studio" zone is essentially a private escape for solos, with more solo cabins — 128 — than you'll find on any other ship at sea.
The cabins measure just 100 square feet but are superbly designed to maximize storage space. They're also clustered around the exclusive Studio Lounge, which has its own private bar and a television area where solo travelers can mingle at daily hosted happy hour gatherings.
Only solos staying in the solo cabins (via keycards) can access the Studio Lounge, meaning that you and your new solo friends will have the place to yourselves.
Related: The best cruise lines for solo travelers
Norwegian Epic was the first Norwegian ship with an exclusive solos zone, and it was such a hit the line later added them to six more vessels. But none of the latter zones are as big as the one on Norwegian Epic.
The bigger Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Bliss all have an 82-cabin solo complex, while two older ships — Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway — have solo areas with 59 cabins. The line's newest vessel, Norwegian Prima, has a 72-cabin solo complex spread over two decks.
Norwegian also offers four solo cabins on its Hawaii-based Pride of America.
Having sailed in one of Norwegian Epic's cabins for one, I can confidently declare them among the coolest solo digs at sea. I particularly love the "Jetsons" futuristic-style design and the multicolored mood lighting.
One big caveat: They're all inside cabins without an ocean view, although most have a window that looks out onto a corridor.
Related: Why a windowless inside cabin isn't so bad
A bigger caveat, perhaps, is that these solo cabins have become so popular they often sell out far in advance and at prices that aren't much better than booking a cabin for two.
Norwegian Sun: Best for retirees
For older travelers looking for a Norwegian ship that isn't filled to the gills with children, Norwegian Sun is the perfect option.
Dating to 2001, Norwegian Sun is one of Norwegian's oldest and smallest vessels, and it lacks many of the family-focused onboard attractions that are typical for the line's newer and bigger vessels. You won't find big waterparks, go-kart racing tracks or laser tag zones on this ship.
Norwegian Sun's top deck mostly comprises sunning areas, with a single pool and whirlpools, as is typical for ships built more than two decades ago.
As a result, it draws far fewer families than most of the vessels mentioned above and caters more to an older crowd of mostly couples.
Norwegian Sun also is the ship that Norwegian deploys on some of its longest and most destination-focused itineraries, the type that particularly appeals to retirees looking to see more of the world.
Related: The 7 best cruises for seniors who love to travel
Over the next two years, for instance, Norwegian Sun is sailing lots of long voyages out of such less-common home ports as Tokyo; Seoul, Korea; Laem Chabang, Thailand; Lisbon, Portugal; and Haifa, Israel.
The sailings out of Tokyo, Seoul and Laem Chabang will offer the chance to visit such Asian countries as Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand in-depth, with most departures ranging from 11 to 15 nights and packed with port stops — the sort of cruise that appeals more to older couples than families.
The sailings out of Lisbon and Haifa, both on the longer side, will offer in-depth explorations of Northern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, respectively.
Norwegian Sun is also one of the smallest and least kid-focused of the five ships the line deploys to Alaska in summer, making it a good choice for retirees wanting to visit that destination. Families with kids naturally gravitate to the two giant, activity-packed vessels Norwegian sends to Alaska each summer — Norwegian Encore and Norwegian Bliss.
Related: The 5 best destinations you can visit on a Norwegian ship
At 78,309 tons, Norwegian Sun is less than half the size of the biggest Norwegian ships, and it holds just 1,976 passengers at double occupancy. (Compare that to more than 4,000 for Norwegian's biggest vessels.) Expect a far more intimate experience than what you'll find on most of the ships mentioned above.
Note that due to the ship's small size, some of Norwegian's signature features, including a private The Haven suite complex and solo cabins, aren't found on the ship. Still, you'll find more than half a dozen eateries, including several main dining rooms, a casual buffet, a diner-style pub, a steak house, an Italian trattoria and a French bistro as well as a showroom with nightly shows, a casino, a multipurpose basketball/volleyball court, golf driving nets and a jogging track.
Norwegian Cruise Line's fleet consists of 18 ships that come in a wide range of sizes and feature differing mixes of venues and activities. Some are jampacked with fun zones that make them perfect for families, while others are geared toward couples and retirees. Some ships have attributes that make them stand out for luxury, solo or budget travelers.
If you're considering a Norwegian cruise, it pays to study not just the itineraries that are available from the line but the specific ships that are operating the itineraries. You want to make sure you end up on the best Norwegian Cruise Line ship for you.
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Norwegian Cruise Line
About Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line offers a unique style of cruising — Freestyle Cruising. Freestyle Cruising is central to the pillars of freedom and flexibility - your freedom to choose and flexibility to do what you want, when you want. Norwegian Cruise Line offers a delicious lineup of exciting restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining, thrilling entertainment, serene spaces, exhilarating fitness activities and classes, a zen spa, exceptional service and more. All of Norwegian's beautiful ships are designed to ensure the entire cruise experience provides you with the opportunities and choices you want. Book your Norwegian Cruise Line vacation today and experience for yourself how wonderfully different cruises can be.
When you're Freestyle Cruising on one of Norwegian's ships you have a world of dining options at every meal. Choose to dine in an elegant French bistro, a Churrascaria, a sophisticated steakhouse or an Italian restaurant among many others. Indulge in a romantic seaside alfresco meal under the stars along The Waterfront. Please your palate with fresh sushi, a juicy burger with all the fixings, piping hot pizza or at a wonderful tapas bar. Cap off a fun-filled evening with a bite in a classic pub. Discover a selection of main dining rooms, casual eateries, specialty dining venues and 24 hour room service. The perfect menu to suit every taste and preference is at your fingertips. Add to this, the ability to dine when, where and with whom you want, and indulge in the perfect meal.
Norwegian Cruise Line offers ideal spaces to retire after an eventful day or gear up for whatever is next on your agenda. Staterooms include family-friendly interconnecting staterooms and those that will accommodate up to 8 guests. Select a room with a view from your private balcony. Spa suites and balcony staterooms offer complimentary use of the Thermal Spa Suites and hydrotherapy pools. Club Balcony Suites, oceanview and inside cabins are among the other choices. Solo travelers will love the private keycard access Studio staterooms, available on some of the ships, these also provide exclusive access to the Studio Complex and Lounge where guests can meet and mingle with fellow solo cruisers. All of Norwegian's accommodations have upgraded linens, TV, refrigerator, safe, hair dryer, ample storage and are the perfect invitation for sweet dreams.
The Haven by Norwegian® is for those who desire the very best. This private keycard-access area features an exclusive courtyard and sundeck, pool, lounge and restaurant only available to guests choosing to spend their vacation in these sumptuous suites. Additional amenities include priority embarkation and disembarkation, a trained and certified butler, concierge, a restaurant and lounge reserved for Haven guests, priority tenders to shore and first choice of entertainment and dining times. This ship within a ship enclave offers additional luxury with its pillow-top mattresses, fine linens, pillow menu, plush robes, slippers and towels, and more. With Haven suites ranging in size up to 6,694 sq. ft. you'll find all of the space, pampering and privacy you desire.
Norwegian Cruise Line operates 17 ships on over 450 different itineraries ranging from 1 to 21 days. Enjoy worldwide cruises and cruise tours to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada and New England, Pacific Coast, Mexico, Europe, Australia & New Zealand, South America, Hawaii, Middle East, Africa, Asia, Panama Canal and Transatlantic/Repositioning voyages.
Call now or book online to receive exclusive rates, special deals and extra amenities on Norwegian Cruise Line.
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- Norwegian Sky
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Norwegian Cruise Ship Profiles, Deck Plans and Public Areas
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- Norwegian Escape
- Norwegian Gem
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- Norwegian Jade
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- Norwegian Spirit
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- Norwegian Viva
- Pride of America
Norwegian Cruise Line Highlights
Worldwide Destinations Norwegian Cruise Line offers exciting cruises to beautiful worldwide destinations. Sail with NCL to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Alaska, Europe & the Mediterranean, Bermuda, Mexico, Canada & New England, Panama Canal, South America, Transatlantic Cruises, Australia & New Zealand, Africa, Middle East and Asia. From quick weekend escapes to longer exotic cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line has a vacation for everyone.
Freestyle Cruising Norwegian Cruise Line's Freestyle Cruising is focused on freedom. Guests have innumerable options to choose how and with whom they want to spend their valuable vacation time. Select casual or formal dining, engage in fun-filled activities or cozy up with a book, relax in the spa or get in a great workout. Experience as much or as little as your mood dictates. NCL's Freestyle Cruising provides the opportunity to enjoy your cruise exactly how you wish.
Onboard Activities Norwegian Cruise Line features some of the best entertainment found at sea. During the day there are sports & speedways, bowling, crystalline pools and waterslides, shopping, a two-story Wii wall, a rejuvenating spa, games and much more. After the sun dips into the horizon NCL offers award winning Broadway shows, a high-energy casino, live music venues and comedy clubs and parties among other captivating activities. After the show, dance the night away and socialize in one of the many clubs, bars and night clubs aboard NCL's modern ships.
Dining Norwegian Cruise Line has many highlights and one of these is delicious dining options and perfect venues. NCL ships incorporate the tastes of the world and menus of renowned chefs into the incredible lineup of restaurants comprising its iconic Freestyle Dining. With a flavor for every taste and eatery for every mood, guests can be as casual or dressy as they wish. Guests may dine when, where and with whom they choose. This flexibility is why Freestyle Dining is an industry standard.
Accommodations Norwegian Cruise Line has the ideal stateroom for every want, need and budget. The Studio Complex is for solo cruisers and includes a private lounge. Choose from spacious and well-appointed accommodations including those which are perfect for family travel and a generous number of wheelchair-accessible staterooms. Select an inside, oceanview, balcony or spa stateroom. Whichever you choose, all have modern amenities, cozy bedding and ample storage. For an extra special experience, choose to stay in The Haven. This exclusive suite complex features 24-hour butler service, concierge, a private lounge, exclusive restaurant, sundeck and more.
Family Cruising Norwegian Cruise Line’s seemingly endless assortment of activities makes it a wonderful choice for family cruise vacations. Fun for all ages are the thrilling water slides, mini-golf, sports deck, shows and family oriented games, challenges and deck parties. The Youth Program provides supervised and age-appropriate fun and engaging entertainment for kids and teens ranging from 6 months to 17 years. NCL's variety of family-friendly accommodations are comfortable for everyone.
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When you live it up, you have the best stories to tell. You rise inspired, ready for a day of exploration. You never miss a sunset and revel in the electricity of night as it comes to life in a brand-new light. Welcome aboard the all-new Norwegian Viva, the next stunning ship in a brand-new class, designed for you to live life to the fullest. Stay connected to the ocean with experiences that bring you closer to the horizon. Stretch out, way out, in our most spacious accommodations to date. And look forward to first-rate service so you can live it up every second. So, whether you're taking a seaside stroll on Ocean Boulevard, swimming up to the horizon on Infinity Beach or delighting in culinary excellence at Indulge Food Hall, nothing comes between you and the sea. Join us on a new experience.
- Ship 142,500 Gross Register Tonnage
- Guest 3,099 Guest Capacity double occupancy
- Length 294 m Overall Length
- Width 41 m Max Beam
- Year 2023 Year Built
- Crew 1,506 Ship Crew
Norwegian Viva CRUISE SHIP HIGHLIGHTS
Experience The Haven
Discover unparalleled luxury in The Haven, an exclusive enclave with our most premium and spacious accommodation. Enjoy the personal service of a 24-hour butler and world-class amenities, exclusively reserved for guests of The Haven.
This space offers our most exclusive & centralised suite complex ever - all suites are within easy walking distance of private elevators reserved exclusively for The Haven guests. The Haven accommodations are some of our largest suites ever and include our first new three-bedroom suite in 15 years, and the public areas and suites were designed by Piero Lissoni, one of Italy's preeminent designers. Additionally, every public area in The Haven offers stunning sea views.
New Spa & Fitness Centre
Welcome to a place where the ocean meets the healing waters within — the breathtaking new Mandara Spa. From multiple detoxifying saunas to state-of-the-art pools to a two-story waterfall, the experience on Norwegian Viva will awaken every sense.
NEW! Starlink High-Speed Internet
Starlink provides fast Internet service at sea and is now available on Norwegian Viva. Using advanced low earth orbit satellites, SpaceX’s Starlink delivers industry leading broadband internet connectivity, which will improve the capacity, speed, and reliability of Internet on board.
Feel the rush of the fastest slides on the open ocean and then zoom around a three-level race track at sea. From exploring virtual worlds to sipping bubbly at Vibe Beach Club there's excitement for everyone aboard Norwegian Viva.
Norwegian Viva Cruise Image Gallery
- Viva Theatre & Club
- Viva Speedway
- Onda by Scarpetta
- Infrared Sauna
- Indulge Outdoor Lounge
- The Haven Lounge
- Galaxy Pavilion
- Aqua Park & Main Pool
- Syd Norman’s Pour House
Discover Her Unique CRUISE DESTINATIONS
See famous theme parks, bustling straw markets, lounge in the sun or just take it easy.
Turquoise water and white sands shimmer in The Caribbean. Experience the sublime colourful architecture of these breezy, tropical ports.
Set sail from one destination and end in another. It's the ultimate way to experience it all.
Greek Isles Cruises
Explore Greece as you stroll through sun-bleached, winding streets. Experience lively Santorini as you wander through its picturesque, winding streets.
Travel through Italy whilst indulging in traditional flavours and admiring iconic landmarks. Discover Barcelona's unique Catalan identity whilst taking in its stunning architecture and delectable dining.
Northern Europe Cruises
Experience incredible history, famous landmarks and unique culture in grand style.
Leisure days at sea, exciting moonlit nights, and nothing to distract from the journey ahead.
See Viva STATEROOMS
- Club Balcony Suite
Hidden at the top of the ship, The Haven features our most luxurious, well-appointed accommodations as well as 24-hour butler service, concierge service and private sundeck.
Finished with the finest touches, spacious suites with luxury accommodations.
Whether it's the two of you or your family, our Club Balcony Suites are accented with the finest touches. And enough room to make memories forever.
See the world like never before. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open to your very own private balcony. Stylish and sophisticated appointments enhance these modern rooms.
Experience comfort all around you. These stylish staterooms feature fine appointments, which are highlighted by nice touches and clear views of the ocean.
Relax in lively style and smart sophistication. Our modern inside staterooms are highlighted with appointments like a TV, sitting area and more.
Specifically designed and priced for solo travellers, our Studios feature a full-size bed, separate bath area and access to the private Studio Lounge - no single supplement required.
Experience WHAT’S ON BOARD
- Speciality Dining
- Bars & Lounges
- Onboard Shopping
Complimentary does not mean boring on the Viva Ship. Take in the stunning, 270-degree views and mouthwatering menu of our new main dining room, Hudson's. Or discover something new at any one of our enhanced offerings. The refined design of The Commodore Room, the wide variety of to-the-minute items at the indoor/outdoor Surfside Café, and the global offerings of Indulge Food Hall will satisfy every craving.
Bring your senses on a journey they'll never forget. Taste the essence of Greece at Palomar, our first-ever Mediterranean seafood restaurant, marvel at the hand-blown chandeliers and savoury French dishes at Le Bistro or see Teppanyaki in a whole new light at Hasuki.
Let the conversation and the cabernet flow at the outdoor bar. Sway to the gentle sea breeze as you relax on a hammock at Indulge Outdoor Lounge. Or get into a livelier groove as you enjoy a craft cocktail whilst listening to live music at The Local Bar & Grill.
Norwegian Viva, the newest Prima Class ship, is taking onboard entertainment to a whole new level. Enjoy Beetlejuice The Musical straight from Broadway, then dance the night away at Ocean Music Fest, the ultimate jam session at sea.
Capture a breathtaking photo as you walk over water across Oceanwalk, our first glass bridge. Stroll through The Concourse, a seaside sculpture garden, and explore interactive art installations that incorporate technology for stunning effects. Or swim up to the horizon on Infinity Beach. Discover new and exciting experiences for everyone aboard Norwegian Viva.
Forget to pack something? No worries! Our gift shops onboard carry everything you'll need for fun in the sun. Shop from a variety of souvenirs, cosmetics, clothing, snacks and sundry items. Treat yourself at our duty-free shops full of fantastic savings on fine jewellery, accessories, perfume, liquor and tobacco.
Read THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT
Go for the Thrill
From speedboat adventures to deep sea fishing, and even a dune buggy safari, The Caribbean is prime with thrilling activities.
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Going on a Caribbean cruise is an incredible adventure. If you've cruised before, or even if you just like to venture a bit off the beaten path, then you might want to skip the typical activities and do something a little different.
Cruise Norwegian App
Download the Cruise Norwegian app. Think of it as your travel companion, helping you experience an unforgettable cruise holiday every step of the way.
Dining On Board
From casual buffets to exquisite speciality restaurants, learn everything there is to know about dining on board.
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Is Norwegian Cruise Line Worth It? Pros & Cons
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Are you considering booking a Norwegian cruise and wondering if it’s worth it, or even the right cruise for you? Planning a cruise is not one size fits all, and there are different cruise lines to choose from.
Norwegian Cruise Line is known for its high quality entertainment, fun onboard attractions and a relaxed “freestyle” of cruising environment.
As someone who has cruised with Norwegian several times, I can share both the pros and the cons of doing an NCL cruise.
With that being said, here are the pros and cons of Norwegian Cruise Line.
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Pros Of Norwegian Cruise Line
Here are the positives of going on a Norwegian cruise:
Norwegian cruise ships are known for having amazing entertainment. Compared to other cruise lines, you can see that Norwegian invests a lot into their theatre and production shows.
Inside the theatre onboard Norwegian cruise ships, the lighting, sound and set design is among the best at sea. Additionally, Norwegian has great entertainers like singers and live bands, magicians, comedians and illusionists.
On past cruises on the Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Joy , the entertainment has been phenomenal.
When cruising with Norwegian, you will never get bored! In particular in the evening time, there are always a variety shows and musical performances happening.
Free at Sea
The Free at Sea promotion is one of the best benefits when cruising with Norwegian. This perks program, which has a free beverage package as an option, is very popular among Norwegian cruisers.
While the Free at Sea promotion changes at times throughout the year, overall the basics remain the same. With Free At Sea you can get a free beverage package, free specialty dining, free wifi (not unlimited), free shore excursion credits and discounts on 3rd and 4th passengers (on select sailings).
At times, you may even find a free air promotion. Always check with your travel agent or on the Norwegian website for current free at sea promotions and to find the best options for you.
Related: Norwegian Cruise Line’s Free at Sea Perks Explained
Beautiful Ship Design
NCL cruises are very nice looking and the cruise line has great ship designs. The interior of Norwegian cruise ships are decorated tastefully and appeal to many.
Those who cruise with Norwegian often like how the casino is in a central location and the bar areas are all close together.
Something unique on select Norwegian cruise ships is The Waterfront. This is an outdoor boardwalk area which has bars, restaurants and seating areas, where on many other cruise ships this would be a simple promenade deck.
Norwegian cruises also have many lounge areas, bar areas and activities on the upper decks. This design is perfect as there is always something to do onboard the cruise.
Norwegian’s newer cruise ships, like Norwegian Prima, continue to innovate, which amazing beautiful and unique spaces onboard. All Norwegian’s recent ship builds, as well as refurbished cruise ships, have elegant and modern interiors. The decorations, lighting and architecture give Norwegian cruise ships a very beautiful look.
Variety of Restaurants
For those who like cruise food, Norwegian has a variety of restaurants onboard their fleet. The included restaurants are the main dining rooms, buffet and the Local (pub style restaurant).
When it comes to specialty restaurants, Norwegian has a lot to offer. Specialty restaurants do have an additional cost, however they are a significantly better culinary experience. You can also get free specialty dining as a perk with Norwegian’s Free at Sea promo.
On many Norwegian cruises you’ll find Cagney’s Steakhouse, Teppanyaki, OceanBlue (sea food) and La Cucina (Italian food). Depending on the cruise you are on, there can be many other specialty restaurants as well.
If you’re celebrating a special occasion on a cruise, going to a specialty restaurant is a great way to celebrate!
Norwegian Cruise Line was an innovator in flexible dining, with it’s Freestyle cruising concept. With Norwegian, you won’t have traditional early or late seating in a main dining room .
Instead, you be able to choose which dining room you would like to eat at, whether it’s included or has an extra charge. While you can go to the free or included restaurants at any time, there may be a wait for a table without a reservation. Specialty dining is best with a reservation, as the restaurants are quite popular.
However, having dining options and being able to eat at your own schedule, may enhance your cruise vacation experience.
Variety of Activities
Whether you’re a young cruiser or an older cruiser, there are activities for everyone onboard a Norwegian cruise. On a sea day, there are poolside activities that are fun to watch or participate.
Throughout the cruise, there are activities like trivia, karaoke and themed parties which are super fun for young and older guests.
For those who like thrills, Norwegian has some of the best waterslides at sea, as well as ropes courses and virtual reality games.
On select Norwegian ships, there is laser tag, go-karting and escape rooms. These activities are a fun time for the whole family.
Related: 6 Best Norwegian Cruises for Families
Great For All Ages
Norwegian Cruise Line is great for all ages. Whether it’s for young families with kids, adults or senior cruisers, there are activities that are fun for all ages.
Families will appreciate the kid’s club on Norwegian . This is a great place to leave your children in a fun, safe and supervised environment. As someone who has cruised since I was 4, I always enjoyed the kid’s club and it was a great place to make friends!
Norwegian cruises also have activities like water slides, ropes courses, mini golf, laser tag and some newer cruise ships even have go-karting.
For adults and older cruisers, there are plenty of lounges and bars to relax and have a drink. There are also be activities like trivia, Deal or No Deal and art auctions hosted throughout the cruise.
Spice H2O, an adult only outdoor area is a great place to hang out with friends or make some new ones. Sit back and take in the sun on a lounge chair with a frozen drink, or head into a hot tub.
On cruises with warm weather, Spice H2O will turn into an adult only club in the evening times. There are some great parties and events, which are a really fun time on a Norwegian cruise.
Good Bars and Drinks
If you like to drink, then you will have a great time on your Norwegian cruise vacation. Onboard a Norwegian cruise ship, there are many bar areas, many with different themes.
For example, on the Norwegian Joy there was The Cavern, which is a a Beatle’s themed bar. Every night there would be a very talented Beatle’s cover band playing. People were sitting with a drink while listening to live music and enjoying the show.
There was also the Sugarcane bar, a mojito bar. This bar served fabulous fresh mojitos, and cruisers could dance or watch the live band.
Malting Wine & Whiskey Bar is another bar, and this one was more quiet and had an exclusive feeling to it. It’s a great place to sit and talk with new friends.
The drinks on Norwegian cruises are also very good. They have an extensive menu of drinks. Plus, if you request a drink that’s not on the menu, they will make it for you.
Related: Norwegian Cruise Line Beverage Packages: What’s Included and is it Worth it?
One of the great things about cruising with Norwegian is the friendly and helpful staff. At the bars, the staff members are talkative and jovial. The restaurant waiters and staff are very helpful.
The crew always seems genuinely happy, which really makes the cruising experience better.
Variety Of Staterooms
The variety of staterooms on Norwegian is a major plus. If you’re on a tight budget, you can book an inside cabin , which is still a very nice, albeit small. There are also ocean view cabins, balconies , mini-suite options and even studio cabins for solo cruisers.
If you have a bigger budget, you can book a Haven Suite, which will give you access to a private pool area, private lounges and a restaurant for Haven guests. The Haven, ship within a ship concept, is a nice option for those who like a special experience, and prefer to keep away from the crowds.
Since Norwegian has such a wide variety of staterooms, this makes the cruising experience enjoyable for everyone.
Related: 15 Best Tips for Cruising in an Inside Cabin
Many guests love Norwegian because of the casino. The casino onboard Norwegian cruises is large, has an enclosed smoking area (on certain ships) and even has a small buffet.
It’s in a central location, which makes it convenient for those who want to play in the casino. In the evening time, the casino is quite busy and the passengers love it!
There are slot machines, blackjack tables, poker tables and even a high roller room. If you like to gamble, then you will love the casino onboard Norwegian Cruise Line, as well as the Casino at Sea program.
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Norwegian cruises are very clean. In the main areas, you can often see crew members disinfecting the elevators, railings and bathrooms, to ensure that the ship is always clean.
Even the pool areas, hot tubs and sun deck are always clean, which makes the cruising experience a lot better.
People who cruise with Norwegian tend to be relaxed and fun to be around. Norwegian is also the “freestyle” cruise line, with a relaxed dress code .
Norwegian attracts families, young adults and those who are young at heart.
In the evening time, there are both older and younger people dancing at the club. During busy times of the year, Norwegian cruises can be real party ships and tons of fun.
At times, new cruisers may think cruising is for snobs. However, on Norwegian, almost every passenger is super friendly and is just looking to have a good time.
Related: Norwegian Cruise Line Dress Code: What to Wear on a Freestyle Cruise
Cons of Norwegian Cruise Line
Although there are not many, there are still a few negatives about cruising with Norwegian.
Extra Charges & Fees
A major con about cruising with Norwegian is that there are a lot of extra charges onboard. When it comes to a cruise vacation, many people like cruising because it’s mostly all-inclusive.
However, this just isn’t the case with Norwegian. Norwegian charges for many things onboard, like certain activities, specialty restaurants and the vibe beach club (a private quieter adult area).
If you’re cruising with kids on Norwegian , it can get quite expensive, as the activities can really add up. For example, each virtual reality game on the Norwegian Joy costs $8 and only lasted for 2 minutes.
Unless you get an unlimited pass (which has an extra cost of up to $199), these activities can really add up.
There are drink packages included in the Free at Sea promotion, however you should be aware that there are extra costs of a gratuity on the value of the package. This can be more than $20 a person, per day for the Open Bar package. As well, not all drinks are included, so you may want to purchase a Starbuck’s package for coffee, which costs about $15 per day, and you have to get it for every passenger in your room.
If you’re trying to keep to a budget and save money on your cruise , it’s important to be aware of the potential extras and plan accordingly.
Mediocre Included Food
The included food on Norwegian can be hit or miss, especially in the main dining rooms. If you’re someone who loves to eat well on vacation, you may want to reserve a few specialty restaurants.
While you’ll always find fast food style options and a pretty good buffet, in my experience the included main restaurant isn’t meant to wow you.
If you’re a foodie, this is something to consider and plan for.
Crowded Pool Areas
Norwegian is unfortunately known for having crowded pools and pool areas. On a nice sunny day, it can be hard to find a lounge chair by the pool, or even a chair in the pool area.
While this can be an issue on other cruise lines as well, the pool areas on NCL are just not their strongest point. Perhaps this is because some of the deck space is used for other attractions and activities, and there are fewer pools.
Of course, this problem can also be solved by paying for the Vibe Beach Club. This is a private area which is available to a limited amount of guests.
Compared to a few other cruise lines, Norwegian internet packages are more expensive. However, even with the premium, most expensive wifi package, our experience was that it was very slow.
This is a downside to Norwegian is you need to do some work while on vacation, or just like to have good wifi while you cruise.
Lines for Popular Activities
On a busy sailing, you can expect lines for the most popular activities . Naturally, when you have over 4,000 people on a cruise ship, you will have to wait for some of the cool waterslides and attractions.
However, for activities like Go-Karting, you can skip the line by paying for the Go-Karting Unlimited Pass ($199 for the whole cruise).
Video: Norwegian Free at Sea Explained (free perks)
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Final Thoughts on Is Norwegian Cruise Line Worth It?
Well there it is. The pros and cons of Norwegian Cruise Line!
There are a lot of reasons why you may really enjoy a Norwegian Cruise, but also a few things to be aware of so you aren’t disappointed. When it comes to choosing the right cruise for you, it really comes down to preference and your wants and needs.
There are a ton of things that are really great about cruising with Norwegian. If you like all these things, then a Norwegian cruise is worth it!
In this post, I shared the pros and cons of Norwegian Cruise Line.
Do you think cruising with Norwegian is worth it? Please let me know in the comments below.
P.S. If you found this helpful, please don’t keep it to yourself ;-). Please share on Facebook or PIN to your favorite Pinterest board (share buttons at the top). Thanks so much!
Author Bio: Ethan Schattauer writes about fashion, travel and college advice on the website WhatToWearMen.com . As a frequent cruiser, Ethan shares his unique perspective on what cruising is like for teens and young adults.
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Find the best norwegian cruise, why should i book a norwegian cruise.
If you're looking for an unforgettable vacation, Norwegian cruises are a perfect choice. Norwegian is one of the best cruise lines in the industry, with a successful history of providing excellent service and luxurious experiences. The Norwegian cruise vacations take you to some of the world's most beautiful and fascinating destinations. They’re sure to have features to please everyone in your group.
How to find the best Norwegian cruise deals?
There are many different Norwegian cruise deals to choose from depending on your destination and the experiences you would most like to enjoy. These deals let you include additional features for a lower price to make your vacation even more comfortable. You can find the best deals by searching for your destinations, and filtering by your desired cruise lines. This way only the companies you wish to travel with will appear. You can also sort your results by price and length of time.
How to choose your cruise with Norwegian?
If you want to book aNorwegian cruise there are plenty of amazing Norwegian cruise deals available. Add your destination, cruise vacation, and number of travelers. Then you can sort your results by price, duration, and departure date. You can also filter by cruise line, cruise ship and cabin type. You’ll find different amenities to suit your vacation needs on each Norwegian cruise. For example, youth programs, fitness facilities, and spa facilities.
What do I need to look out for when booking a Norwegian cruise?
When booking your 2024 Norwegian cruise it’s important to consider a few practical tips. Check what the cost covers, and what you may need to budget for or need insurance for. Think about any amenities or onboard service you’ll require, depending on the length of the Norwegian cruise. For example, youth programs, entertainment, fitness facilities, spa facilities, and room service. Secondly, research the weather conditions for your journey and destination. In some locations, summer and winter weather can vary a lot. Another tip is to go over the ship layout to see where you’d like to pick a cabin. Don’t forget to check visa requirements and any flight logistics.
When is the best time to book a Norwegian cruise?
You can book a Norwegian cruise as early as you like depending on availability. There’s a higher chance of finding cheaper Norwegian cruise prices by booking between 6 months to 12 months in advance. But there are also lots of last-minute cruise deals closer to your preferred departure date, but this will depend on your flexibility.
Are last minute deals available with Norwegian?
Yes, you can find last-minute Norwegian cruises on Expedia. Add your travel dates to the cruise finder and sort your results to find the best price available. Cruise deal discounts are indicated by a green box above the Norwegian cruise price.
How do I book a cruise with Norwegian?
To book a Norwegian cruise on Expedia select your Norwegian destination and filter by cruise line. You can also browse our extensive selection of pre-selected cruise deals and find the perfect cruise for you. Once you have found the one you want, choose your dates and the port of departure. You can also refine your search by cabin experiences, or cruise ship. Each ship will have amenities to suit your needs including room service, spa facilities, and fitness facilities.
Is Norwegian great value for money?
Norwegian cruises are excellent value for money if you're looking for an enjoyable and relaxing cruise vacations. A Norwegian cruise offers a high standard of service, a great selection of dining, modern amenities, friendly staff, and exciting activities. The exceptional quality of the experience is worth the price.
Can I cancel a Norwegian cruise booking?
Yes, you can cancel your Norwegian cruise. We all have unfortunate circumstances where we need to cancel a booking, so Expedia makes it easy to do so. All you have to do is head to your My Trips page on Expedia and click on the cancellation button. Another option is to contact customer service, where you’ll receive help with cancelling. Do make sure that you’re aware of the refund policy that applied to your booking, to see if you’re entitled to a full refund.
Norwegian Cruise Guide
Norwegian Cruise Line's "Freestyle Cruising" allows guests to cruise at their own pace and have complete control over their vacation. There are daily itineraries created by Norwegian but guests can choose what to do, whether it's freestyle dining at one of the many complimentary or specialty dining options, or grabbing food from the buffet and catching one of the many award-winning shows onboard including Kinky Boots and Footloose. Don't forget to join in on the nightly deck parties with various themes such as White Hot, Caliente, Glow, and Nashville Nights. Norwegian has many unique amenities that you won't find on any other cruise lines, such as open-air laser tag courses on the Norwegian Joy, Bliss, and Encore, or The Waterfront, which is a quarter-mile oceanfront promenade. Another Norwegian exclusive is The Plank, which extends 8 feet over the side of the ship. The newest ships on the fleet, The Breakaway Plus Series, feature even more innovative activities. For example, the Norwegian Bliss has the largest race track at sea and an expanded three-story Ropes Course. With so much fun on board, it comes as no surprise that the cruise line has been voted Best Family Experience by Travel Weekly. Each ship is inspired by the departure ports and destinations that they sail to, like the Miami-inspired Norwegian Getaway or the New York City-inspired Norwegian Breakaway ship. Norwegian's Pride of America ship is also an industry favorite for having authentic Hawaiian itineraries available year-round. There's a wide assortment of staterooms, ranging from studios that have been specifically built for solo travelers, to connecting staterooms that can accommodate entire groups. There are also luxurious suites like The Haven, which offers an all-inclusive experience at the very top of the ship, equipped with a 24-hour butler service and a personal concierge.
Looking to save big and get the best deal on your next cruise? Check out Norwegian's latest promotion.
6 REASONS NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE MIGHT BE THE RIGHT FIT FOR YOU
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Discover what makes Norwegian Cruise Line unique and determine if it’s the right fit for your travel style!
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Cruise lines continue to adapt their sailing plans to these measures with diligence and enthusiasm and are beginning to announce sailings dates for a return to the sea. Want to be prepared to sail too? Here is everything you need to know about the restart of cruising.
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- Travel Ideas
Insane detail inside ‘hybrid’ cruise ship launching in 2025
It’s the multimillion-dollar cruise ship set to “push the boundaries” for travellers, including one “world-first” experience.
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A European company is launching a brand-new cruise ship in 2025 – with the world’s first at-sea hybrid rollercoaster and water slide. Norwegian Aqua is the latest cruise ship from Norwegian Cruise Line.
The Sun reports the company’s newest adventure is that of Norwegian Aqua, which will form part of their Prima Class.
The ship is due to set sail from Florida in April 2025, and it will take passengers on a seven-day voyage through the Caribbean.
Cruises are expected to call at a variety of exotic destinations, including Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as the cruise company’s very own private island in the Bahamas.
Norwegian Aqua will be able to hold 3,751 passengers inside a variety of different rooms and suites.
There will be a variety of accommodation options on-board, including the three-bedroom Duplex Haven Suites.
The luxury suites will span across two-floors, and they will include features like a living room, dining area, three bathrooms, a balcony, and floor-to-ceiling windows.
There will also be a series of Studio Staterooms designed for solo travellers.
In addition to the rooms, Norwegian Aqua will also be home to the world’s first at-sea hybrid rollercoaster and water slide.
The Aqua Slidecoaster will have dual slides, and it will span across three of the ship’s floors with a series of twists and turns.
There will also be a new digital sports complex on-board the ship.
The Glow Court will have an interactive LED floor where passengers will be able to play a variety of activities during the day.
It will then become a nightclub space in the evening.
Other features on the ship include The Drop – a 10-story free-fall slide, and a game space called the Stadium where complimentary activities will be offered.
There will also be family-friendly activities on-board, like the Splash Academy for guests aged between 3 and 12, while the Entourage will be the ship’s dedicated space for teenagers.
Other features will include an infinity edge pool, a main pool deck with sunloungers, and an adults-only beach club.
Meanwhile, other outdoor spaces will include an outdoor walkway that will wrap around the entire ship, as well as a glass bridge called Oceanwalk.
At Infinity Beach, passengers will find several pools overlooking each side of the ship.
There will also be an open-air lounge called La Terrazza where passengers will be able to soak in more views.
In a press release, David J. Herrera, president of Norwegian Cruise Line said: “Norwegian Aqua is a true testament of fusing together what represents the future of our Brand as the first ship in the Prima Plus Class, and our commitment to pushing the boundaries in guest-first experiences that will make new waves at sea.
“Named for both the beautiful shades of blue from the ocean and our connection to the sea, Norwegian Aqua will feature new, elevated and exhilarating offerings that once again showcase NCL as the innovator in the industry and as a key contributor to a new era of cruising.”
Passengers will be able to book onto the ship’s first voyages from today.
Norwegian Aqua isn’t the only cruise ship launching soon, Explora I will be the first luxury cruise ship from Explora Journeys.
The Explora I will be able to hold 922 passengers inside its 461 suites, and it will also be home to the world’s very first at-sea Rolex store as well as a Cartier store.
Meanwhile, passengers on the MV Gemini can explore 135 countries for less than it costs to rent a flat in London.
The Life At Sea Cruises ship promises “an experience like no other” with a fitness centre, a 24-hour-on-call hospital, a salon, a sundeck, and a swimming pool as well as several dining options to satisfy foodies.
Payment options start from $3,965 (£2,061) per month, which works out to $135 (£70) per night for an all-inclusive room.
The per-month cost is cheaper than plenty of central London flats – with some one-bedroom properties costing upwards of $5770, not including bills.
And this man revealed he bought an apartment on-board a cruise ship because it is cheaper than living in San Diego. Austin Wells said it made sense for him because it was a way for him to travel the globe without “up-ending his daily routine.”
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission
Carnival Cruise Line has banned a woman from its fleet for life over a seemingly harmless item found in her bag.
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From Virgin Voyages to Carnival: These 10 cruises are worth the money, travelers say
When it comes to a cruise vacation, it's all aboard. An October survey from Condé Nast Traveler revealed that 47% of people said they would be interested in setting sail on a ship.
A study by the Cruise Lines International Association also found that traveling by cruise is becoming one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors.
In October, U.S. News and World Report published its 2023 ranking of the best cruises for the money. The report ranked the top ships out of 17 of the most popular ocean cruise lines and gave them a rating of one through five.
U.S. News and World Report ranked the cruise lines based on the following factors:
- Average overall rating
- Average nightly pricing on a scale of one to five
- Value-added benefits included in the base fare, such as prepaid gratuities, free onboard Wi-Fi access, etc.
Virgin Voyages is worth the money, travelers say
Overall rating: 4.39
Created by British entrepreneur Richard Branson, Virgin Voyages ranked as the best cruise line for the money.
The adults-only cruise has three ships in the fleet, with a fourth debuting in 2024. Virgin Voyages stands out thanks to its free Wi-Fi access onboard, over 20 dining venues, unlimited group workouts and all essential drinks, which include sodas, drip coffee, water and more.
All Virgin Voyage ships are nearly identical and feature similar layouts, according to the U.S. News and World Report. The cruise line offers sailings to the Caribbean, Europe and the South Pacific and has ports in Miami, Puerto Rico, Spain and more.
According to Bloomberg , rates start at $1,550 per double-occupancy cabin.
Top 10 cruise lines that are worth the money
- Virgin Voyages
- Celebrity Cruises
- Princess Cruises
- Royal Caribbean International
- Holland America Line
- MSC Cruises
- Carnival Cruise Line
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Cunard Line
- Costa Cruises
Celebrity Cruises is the No. 2 cruise line that is worth the money, according to travelers. It has an overall rating of 4.36.
The line has 16 ships and stops in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and more. Each ship carries approximately one crew member for every two passengers, according to the report.
Voyages range anywhere from three to 18 nights. Since late 2020, Celebrity Cruises has included free Wi-Fi, unlimited drinks and daily gratuities in its base fare .
Princess Cruises ranked as the No. 3 cruise line for the money, with an overall rating of 4.02.
It is the fifth largest cruise line in the world with 17 ships and trips that last between two and 116 days. It sails to popular destinations in Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska and more.
Princess Cruises has approximately one crew member for every two or three passengers, according to the report.
As an homage to its Hollywood debut on the 1977 TV series, "The Love Boat," Princess Cruises offers versatile itineraries like "Movies Under the Stars" poolside screenings and their takes on "The Voice," "Deal or No Deal" and more.
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Affordable vacation ideas in the year ahead include four cruise options: Here's what to know
In the mood for cruising here are 4 travel options to consider as vacation ideas.
Cruise industry seeing summer boom with pandemic restrictions lifted
Cruise ships are seeing more people come on board this summer. 31.5 million people are expected to cruise this year. That would be more than the last full year before the pandemic.
Many people think a cruise is just a tropical getaway to the Caribbean — which can yield value, great weather and a good time for all.
Yet cruises can be affordable and enjoyable vacation travel options to a variety of other destinations as well.
For those so inclined, here are four alternative cruise options to consider, especially as people look ahead to spring and summer vacation ideas.
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These are quite different than taking mega-ships to the islands of the Caribbean.
Viking ocean cruise to Canada and New England; the British Isles; or Venice, the Adriatic and Greece
A global corporation, Viking is widely known for its leisurely river cruises.
There is also a fleet of ocean cruise ships that sail to enriching itineraries that include The British Isles; Canada and New England; the British Isles; and Venice, the Adriatic and Greece, according to the company.
The Viking Mars accommodates a little over 900 guests; it began sailing in early 2022. (Viking / Fox News)
These vessels are designed for about 950 guests per sailing, which can be a welcome change for those who might feel overwhelmed by thousands of passengers on a cruise ship.
On board, there is no casino, all guests must be 18 or over, and there’s an abundance of value included in the cruise fare , such as free Wi-Fi, an included excursion in every port of call, wine-pairings at lunch and dinner (which are included), and lots of extras.
VIKING ANNOUNCES 136-DAY, 27-COUNTRY WORLD CRUISE
The extras include complimentary high tea daily, specialty dining restaurants that are free, and education lectures given on board by a historian.
Viking's ocean service can also accommodate special dietary needs .
One standout of the fleet is the Viking Neptune, christened earlier this year. It offers a variety of itineraries in 2024 and 2025, which can be booked now for best pricing and cabin selection.
A Viking cruise ship, Viking Mars, touched the sea for the very first time on July 15, 2021. Viking launched in 1997 as Viking River Cruises and operates river vessels and ocean ships. It expanded into the American market in 2000. (Viking / Fox News)
All cabins on Viking ocean ships have verandas.
Viking, based in Switzerland, launched in 1997 as Viking River Cruises and operates river vessels and ocean ships. It expanded into the American market in 2000, establishing a sales and marketing office in Los Angeles, California, according to its website.
Said Colleen McDaniel, spokesperson with Cruise Critic, "Viking’s ocean ships are truly spectacular vessels, and they sail some phenomenal itineraries – from the Mediterranean to Norway’s fjords. The ships themselves are beautiful and they’re all pretty much exactly the same."
"If you’re looking for a smaller-ship experience, with more luxurious offerings and thoughtful inclusions, this is a great line to try."
She added, "So if you’ve taken a cruise on one ship with the line, you know exactly what to expect on the next. If you’re looking for a smaller-ship experience, with more luxurious offerings and thoughtful inclusions, this is a great line to try."
Norwegian Cruise Line to Hawaii
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America is the only cruise ship that sails round-trip from Honolulu year-round and is the only U.S. flagged cruise ship, according to the company.
Pride of America visits four Hawaiian Islands and five ports in seven days for those who would like to vacation in paradise.
In this photo illustration, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) logo is seen on a smartphone screen. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America is the only cruise ship that sails round-trip from Honolulu year-round and is the only U.S. flagged cruise ship. (Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)
This cruise option is ideal for a honeymoon or a memory-making family vacation.
No passport is needed for this cruise.
NEED YOUR PASSPORT EXPEDITED? THERE ARE OPTIONS BUT THEY'LL COST YOU
In addition, Norwegian Cruise Line offers a Military Appreciation Program, according to its website, which was introduced last year.
All active and retired military veterans and their spouses receive a 10% discount on their cruise fare. This Military Appreciation Program offer can be combined with the cruise line’s Free At Sea offer.
The cruise ship Norwegian Sun is shown departing the harbor in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sept. 14, 2008. (REUTERS/Andy Clark (CANADA) / Reuters Photos)
The choice of perks occasionally changes, according to The Points Guy.
Yet Norwegian typically offers the following five: a free drinks package, free specialty dining, free shore excursions, free Wi-Fi and free third and fourth guests in a cabin.
Occasionally, said The Points Guy, free airfare or a 50% air credit for the second person in a cabin is also a Free at Sea option.
"You can see a lot of Hawaii in a short time because you're leaving from Hawaii rather than the West Coast of the U.S."
Said McDaniel with Cruise Critic, "Norwegian’s Pride of America Hawaii cruise is unique in that it’s a round-Hawaii cruise that leaves from Hawaii. For travelers who are looking to experience the wide range of experiences Hawaii has to offer, this cruise is a convenient way to do so — no planes or packing and unpacking needed."
Duke Kahanamoku Beach, located in the Honolulu tourist neighborhood of Waikiki, Hawaii, is pictured on May 21, 2014. (Sam Eifling, File / AP Images)
She also said, "You can see a lot of Hawaii in a short time because you're leaving from Hawaii rather than the West Coast of the U.S."
Regarding passports, she noted, "While we always recommend all cruise guests sail with passports, U.S. guests don't need them for this itinerary, as this starts and finishes in the U.S. without stopping in another country. The ship was also recently renovated, so that’s an added perk."
"It gives you a way to see the islands without having to fly between them or having to unpack multiple times."
Lisa M. Lee, a travel adviser with Avenue Travel Group in Bernardsville, New Jersey, told FOX Business, "The best thing about the Pride of America is it’s the only one that’s fully inclusively around the island without having to come from the mainland."
3d Cruise Ship Vacation Holiday Summer Illustration Concept (iStock / iStock)
She added, "It also gives you a way to see the islands without having to fly between them or having to unpack multiple times."
She also noted that "it’s the only cruise that's as close to all-inclusive as you can get in the Hawaiian islands. And yes, the military discounts are good."
AmaWaterways river cruise on Europe's Danube River
River cruise company AmaWaterways, based in California, is a pacesetter in the river cruise industry, as it's raised the bar on vacation experiences along the Danube and other rivers in Europe and throughout the world.
Guests get a front-row seat to history, culture and foodie experiences from these luxury river ships.
With a wellness host on board , a pool, exercise classes, a fleet of bicycles and excursions with a range of fitness levels, according to the company, guests get a front-row seat to history, culture and foodie experiences from these luxury river ships.
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One ship, the AmaSonata, boasts several itineraries along the Danube and visits cities including Budapest, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Austria; Weissenkirchen, Austria; Linz, Austria: and Passau, Germany.
With AmaWaterways, there’s a complimentary excursion included in each port, an included gourmet dining experience at the line’s signature restaurant , The Chef’s Table, and complimentary unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks during lunch and dinner.
With AmaWaterways, guests are treated each day to a free "sip & sail" cocktail hour with beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks. (iStock / iStock)
Also, each day guests are treated to free "sip & sail" cocktail hour with beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks.
Said Daniel about this cruise line, "AmaWaterways is known for its active adventures – so for travelers looking to really explore the beauty of Europe , this is a perfect line to do it with. The ships have great wellness options on board, and you’re able to borrow bikes or take other active excursions once you’re on land."
"You’re able to really experience a number of European destinations, from Vienna and Budapest, to the Wauchau Valley."
She also said, "The Danube is also a fantastic river to cruise. For those who haven’t cruised Europe before, it’s a popular starting point. It’s also an itinerary where you can pack a lot in at once, so you’re able to really experience a number of European destinations, from Vienna and Budapest, to the Wauchau Valley."
She added, "It's a beautiful balance of history, culture and modernity."
Celebrity Cruise to Alaska
Celebrity Cruises’ Alaska season returns in May 2024, but planning now is the best way to secure the ship, cabin and Alaskan itinerary of your choice .
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There are three Celebrity ships offering Alaska sailings in 2024: Celebrity Edge, which will sail round-trip from Seattle; Celebrity Solstice, which will sail round-trip from Vancouver, Canada; and Celebrity Summit, which also sails round-trip from Vancouver.
The Celebrity Apex, another cruise ship operated by the company, has an open-air platform that is attached to several levels and provides views for cocktails, meals and can even double as a disembarkation point. (Celebrity Cruises / Fox News)
The round-trip excursion from Seattle takes guests on 7-night itineraries to the pristine Endicott Arm Fjord and Dawes Glacier, complete with views and waterfalls, with stops in Victoria, British Columbia and Ketchikan.
Also, Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Solstice combined offer 57 sailings and an array of itineraries lasting 6-8 nights from May to September 2024.
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All itineraries feature the unspoiled beauty of Alaska, offering a summertime escape for multi-generational trips during the summer vacation months.
Celebrity Cruises is a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle .
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5 replies to this topic
Alaska is more about what’s off-ship. Check to see if the excursions you are interested in are available during that time.
If it were me, I would pay more and cruise later in the season.......just my opinion
I would rebook for a later time…later May at the earliest and early September at the latest!
We've cruised on NCL end May and also mid September and both were nice times, plus some other times. If you are looking for animal sightings such as bears, etc. they may still be snoring in their caves in late April.
here's what it is like in April
Just ask NCL if you can move your trip a few weeks - may be more expensive though - if you have the flexibility to do so.
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