Overview: NCL is one of the largest and most popular cruise lines, featuring more than 20 gorgeous and state of the art cruise ships sailing all around the world. Featuring well appointed cabins, Broadway productions and a dedicated suite area called The Haven, NCL features Free At Sea, a nearly all inclusive sailing experience.
Who This Is For: With the wide range of cabin categories and experiences for solo travelers, couples, and families, NCL is a great general interest cruise line for almost anyone. First time cruisers in particular will like how much is included in the base price making for fewer surprises on board. And with such a wide ranging option, it is a good cruise line for small groups (extended families, wedding parties, etc) who need a “something for everyone” experience. High end travelers who want a luxurious self contained experience in The Haven.
What we like: The Free At Sea promotion which usually includes an open bar drink package, some premium dining, some wifi and a shore excursion credit makes this a great value. Cabins are well appointed, including studio cabins on most ships that are specifically priced and designed for solo travelers. A wide variety of dining options, entertainment options and ports of call mean there is truly something for everyone here. And while cruising is not inexpensive, most people will find pricing and options here on par with what they might spend at an all inclusive resort or a weekend getaway trip. For entertainment, most ships include recent Broadway hit shows and features like ropes courses, rock climbing walls and race tracks at sea mean there is always something fun to do during sea days. The Haven is a truly elevated experience for those who want to splurge and indulge. Most ships have terrific spas for an additional fee for relaxation or for treatments. The Breakaway Plus class of ships (especially the Encore) are really lovely and offer a lot of bang for your buck. The Pride Of America is an older ship with fewer features but the seven day sailing they offer in Hawaii is a real winner.
What we don’t like: While the food on board is diverse and better than average in cruising, it isn’t the best at sea (Derek finds the desserts disappointing). The food is better in the premium restaurants but for an upcharge. The Norwegian app doesn’t have many features and while it can be used to connect with other travelers the lack of notifications mean you may miss some of those connections. You can’t make cruise payments or check your balances through NCL.com. Ships will feature a bunch of theme parties (GLOW, 80s, latin night, etc) but NCL doesn’t do a great job of letting you know what parties are on what ship so it makes it difficult to pack fun costumes and plan ahead if that is your thing. Drink package doesn’t include premium brands but you can pay extra to have that added to your unlimited package. In room entertainment is a light offering. The Norwegian Epic should be avoided because of a weird bathroom configuration that many travelers may not like. The new Prima class of ships is a bit of a let down. The Norwegian Joy doesn’t have a spa. NCL offers bundled air but we strongly discourage using it.
Where To Sail: If you are new to cruising and want to try Europe for the first time, NCL Is a great cruise line for both. With numerous itineraries with great shore excursions on gorgeous ships, a Norwegian cruise is a great way to experience Europe for the first time. Alaska is a wow and Norwegian ships that feature an observation lounge (like Encore) really let you experience the splendor even if you have an inside cabin. NCL has the only ship that does a regular 7 day sailing in Hawaii and it is THE BEST way to see Hawaii for the first time and experience the magic of the islands.
Best Ship(s): Breakaway Plus class ships like Encore are large but manageable featuring lots of restaurants, entertainment options and different cabin categories to make for a really solid cruising experience no matter what ports you are visiting.
Price: $$$. Moderate. While this is not an inexpensive cruise, you do get a lot of value for your money, especially when you factor in the Free At Sea promotion. Pricing tends to rise as you get closer to the sail date so book early (1 year or more out) for the best prices. If you live near a port city (like Miami) and your plans are flexible sometimes there are good last minute (30 days or less) deals.
Cancelation Policy: Subject to change. Please review cruise line policy directly as this information may not be current at your time of reading. Your deposit is fully refundable up to 120 days before sailing. The exception is the use of a Cruise First or Cruise Next deposit which does return to your account to use again but does expire if unused after 3-4 years and are non-refundable after purchase. Within 120 days of sailing some or all of your cruise fare is non-refundable. With all cruises, we always recommend some form of travel insurance.
Bottom Line: Recommended! NCL is our home cruise line, the line we book the most for our group cruises. NCL offers the best options for a full range of budgets and experiences. While the something for everyone approach means everyone will enjoy the experience, it does also mean it isn’t specialized to any one group so those looking for a more specific experience may find it lacking. But this is the broadest offering available with very solid pricing that make it a really terrific option for people who have never cruised before.
How To Book: For our group cruises or an individual sailing, fill out our cruise information form. You can also give us a call at 917 900-1477 to get started.