Cruise Line Focus

Cruise line focus: Norwegian Cruise Line

Famous for its freestyle dining, all-inclusive options and Broadway entertainment, Norwegian Cruise Line punches above its weight among the Big Three cruise lines.

Norwegian Bliss; Norwegian Joy; AquaLoop; Aqua Loops; Waterslide; PoolDeck

Norwegian Bliss AquaLoops in the waterpark.

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Norwegian Cruise Line, the smallest of the Big Three major cruise lines, made a name for itself by revolutionizing the cruise experience through its “Freestyle Cruising” concept.

Where most cruise lines have set dining times in the main restaurants and specialty restaurants that are only open during certain times, Norwegian has done all it can to make the whole cruise experience as customizable as possible.

You can eat when you like, where you like, in the main dining rooms, for example, and room service is available 24/7.

The line regularly wins awards for its entertainment, which includes Broadway-style productions, live music, cabaret-style shows and more.

Aboard its newer ships, there are also ‘ship within a ship’ luxury hideaway, with their own staterooms, lounges, bars and pool areas.

Norwegian Bliss La Cucina Waterfront

Waterfront dining aboard the Breakaway Plus class.

The newer ships also have adult-only sun decks, martini and Champagne bars, large spas and thermal suites, interconnecting cabins, ropes courses, water parks and electronic restaurant reservation systems.

The electronic restaurant reservation systems come in handy aboard Norwegian’s larger cruise ships, which are packed with a staggering array of in-demand specialty dining options.

Specialty dining generally comes with a $10 to $25 cover charge and/or a la carte menus ranging from $8 to $25. All specialty dining venues require reservations, and getting one as soon as you book is key.

Many passengers book all their meals before they board. The same is true of the on-board attractions, such as the race track and laser tag aboard Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Bliss.

Norwegian-Bliss

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The Norwegian Cruise Line on-board experience

Norwegian Cruise Line offers a hybrid cruising experience, mixing traditional elements with innovative features, amenities and ambience.

Decor is colourful and fun and the dress code is flexible, leaning toward casual. It’s not unusual to see T-shirt-clad passengers dining alongside suit-and-tie or evening gown-attired passengers.

This isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it works for Norwegian and its passengers.

In addition to eateries, the ships also have a plethora of bars and lounges, each offering a different kind of experience. There’s comedy from Second City, live bands, lounge singers, piano bars and DJs in the discos.

Norwegian-Star

Atrium lobby aboard Norwegian Star.

In the theatre, there’s Broadway shows (Jersey Boys is offered aboard Norwegian Bliss, for example), as well as off-Broadway productions, such as Prohibition and iHAVANA.

The requisite libraries, game rooms, shuffleboard, Ping-Pong, art auctions, perfume seminars, gaming lessons and port talks are available every day.

Steiner-run Mandara Spas offer high-end treatments, with teeth whitening and acupuncture sessions, as well as Botox by visiting on-board doctors. All ships have fitness centres.

Norwegian-Bliss-go-kart

Racetrack aboard Norwegian Bliss (also found aboard Norwegian Joy).

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Kids facilities aboard Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line does kids entertainment and facilities very well, putting it up there with Carnival, Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises.

Well-trained counsellors staff the children’s programs with age-appropriate activities and facilities ranging from parties and video arcades to kid-friendly learning sessions.

The Guppies program offers sensory-based interaction for parents with children 6 months to 3 years and there are teen centres, discos and kids’ pools, too.

The focus on catering to families is reflected in the staterooms as well, Norwegian has a large number of adjoining cabins and family suites.

Norwegian-Joy

Chinese artist Tan Ping did the artwork on Shanghai-based Norwegian Joy.

Norwegian Cruise Line ship design

Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships are loud and distinctive. Unmissable in any port into which they’re sailing.

The line is most recognizable for the colourful hull art that adorns each ship. These designs have been created by famous artists aboard the newer ships in the fleet.

Peter Max created the bow art for New York-influenced Breakaway; Guy Harvey for Miami’s Norwegian Escape; David “Lebo” Le Batard for Norwegian Getaway and marine artist Wyland painted Alaska-bound Norwegian Bliss. Chinese artist Tan Ping did the artwork on Shanghai-based Norwegian Joy.

Types of passengers on Norwegian Cruise Line ships

Norwegian Cruise Line is marketed internationally. It has dedicated sales agents across the world. As a result, the passenger mix aboard each ship depends entirely on the type of cruise and region in which it is sailing.

Caribbean cruises are dominated by Americans, ranging in age from young families to retirees, as well as a good many cruisers with disabilities.

In the UK and Europe as well, though, the Norwegian brand has found a strong following.

It cruises roundtrip from the UK seasonally and has ships based year-round in the Mediterranean. These cruises have a more even split between Brits, Americans and continental Europeans (Germans, Italians, Spanish and French).

On a side note, Norwegian Cruise Line is the only mainstream cruise operator to sail year-round in Hawaii.

Pride of America was built in the US, and is staffed entirely by Americans in accordance with the Jones Act, making her a novelty in the modern cruise industry as she is the only mainstream cruise ship in the world with an all-American crew.

Cruise ships in the Norwegian fleet:

Norwegian Bliss

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Dawn

Norwegian Epic

Norwegian Escape

Norwegian Gem

Norwegian Getaway

Norwegian Jade

Norwegian Jewel

Norwegian Pearl

Norwegian Sky

Norwegian Spirit

Norwegian Star

Norwegian Sun

Pride of America

Due in 2019: Norwegian Encore

Due in 2022: First of four Project Leonardo ships

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