Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line Review

Norwegian Bliss in Alaska. © Danny Lehman

Norwegian Cruise Line is the proverbial underdog of the cruise world: not quite the power elite of some larger competitors, but scrappy and determined and lots of fun – you just can’t help but root for them. This cruise line provides a adventure filled crusing experience for the solo-traveler, couple, family, or group. The good news is, they are one of the most affordable ocean cruise lines on the market. As of 2020, the line operates 17 ships that will take you on trips to the many destinations around the world.

Norwegian Cruise Line Overview

Top Deck on Norwegian Joy. Photo Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line got its start in 1966, making it the oldest major cruise line based in the United States. In the late ’90s, after years as a budget cruise line, it began a series of moves that eventually gave this company a big boost. Today, the line has a fleet of new or recently renovated mega-ships and offers a casual onboard experience that’s heavy on dining and entertainment, with a dash of new-age innovation. The Norwegian fleet offers its guests premium top deck experiences, waterfront views, flexible dining options, and countless hours of award-winning entertainment that appeal to adults and kids alike. You’ll find more young couples and young families aboard NCL than aboard many other mainstream lines because of their generally low fares and a cruising atmosphere designed for a younger clientele.

Freestyle Cruising

American Diner on the Norwegian Encore. Photo Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Once it started building its modern fleet around the turn of the millennium, NCL became known for two main things: it’s casual “freestyle cruising” and the endless number of dining options. Instead of the traditional formal and informal nights, NCL went with a casual dress all the way but, as the guest, you can choose to dress it up if you like. This freestyle cruising experience allows you to enjoy award-winning entertainment, extreme relaxation, or live on the wild side and walk the plank, all at your own accord. The staff onboard excel at arranging prime cuisine options to satisfy all of your specific cravings, accommodating the most adventurous and picky eaters. No matter the ship, there are always various dining options – you can indulge in the traditional 4-course meal in one of the grand main dining rooms, stop by the poolside grill, or enjoy a quick bite from one of the grab-and-go options, each experience carefully crafted to satisfy your tastebuds. Most importantly, you will eat what you want, when you want, with whoever you want.

Entertainment

Scene from Kinky Boots. Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Each ship features production shows and events that with inspired themes, music, and choreography. Each night of your cruise you will have access to a variety of performances from highly trained and talented performers. The Norwegian Production Cast offers something for every guest, from theatrical dining experiences and acrobatics to live entertainment from professional tribute bands. Comedy is a must-do for every NCL Cruiser – it’s fresh, fun, and guaranteed to bring a laughable night to your cruising journey. The Norwegian Getaway, a ship that was recently refurbished in 2019, features the Headliners Comedy Club with the priceless and lively Levity Entertainment Group, the largest producer of live comedy in the United States. Norweigian takes into consideration that sit-down entertainment isn’t for everybody, so for all the lively dancers in the group, be sure to check out the pool decks or the Bliss Ultra Lounge. These parties are a sight to see and a must for anybody who wants to dress up and dance.

Activities

Norwegian Encore’s Splash Academy Cinema. Photo Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Fleetwide, NCL’s ships offer an array of different activities arranged with each member of the family in mind. You can visit the award-winning casino, epic waterparks, state of the art fitness centers, take bartending and cooking classes, or check out some of the shore excursions. Onboard the newest ship in the fleet, Norweigian Encore, guests have access to a virtual reality wonderland at Galaxy Pavilion or getting an adrenaline rush at the epic Norwegian Encore Speedway, the world’s largest race track at sea – suspending 13 feet over the side of the ship! As the name suggests, it’s so good you’ll have to do it again. All of the cruise activities were designed with families in mind. Kids get a full program of activities divided into age groups; Guppies Program, Splash Academy, and Entourage are all centers for youth to make friends and enjoy the cruise. Best of all, these activities are complementary and supervised, so the kids will be occupied while you enjoy a hot stone massage at the Mandara Spa.

Suites & Staterooms

The Haven Observation Lounge on the Norwegian Bliss. Photo Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Accommodations tend to be about average for the industry, with standard cabins a bit smaller than those aboard some other competing lines. The decor is generally a mix of stylish and fun elements — considerate lighting, island-colored carpets, and fabrics. On most of the ships, those looking to splurge can opt for “The Haven by Norwegian,” a separate first-class section sequestered away toward the top of many of NCL’s ships, offering spacious accommodations and a private courtyard, private sundeck, a concierge lounge, and (on some ships) exclusive restaurants, bars, and fitness centers, all reserved for Haven guests only. The Spa Suites, Mini-Suites, and Balcony staterooms offer exclusive spa treatments while you are at sea. These suites include access to the Thermal Spa Suite, which will take your relaxation to a new level of luxury and you will return home rested and rejuvenated. If you are a solo traveler, you should consider the contemporary modern Studio, built for the solo-traveler at a discounted fare on select Norwegian Cruises. Guests that book the Studio option will also have access to the studio lounge.

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13 Comments

  • We spent A HUGE amount of money to have the cruise of a lifetime in a Penthouse suite on Norwegian looking forward to the “exceptional” customer service, We haven’t had our cruise yet, but all of the customer service we have had to date has been HORRENDOUS! Our agent and myself have been on hold hold or the one with them for over 7 hours trying to solve problems THEY created (such as deleting one of our group members) and trying to get Latitudes member cruise benefits (which they said we were eligible for, said they put a note in our account to credit once our agent called, only to have done NOTHING, no note or anything and refused to apply the credit with our agent.). And the final straw is their customer service after a SIGNIFICANT price drop – we understood we wouldn’t be able to get an upgrade with our category, but they were unwilling to do ANYTHING at all after a $2000 price drop, when others we know received category upgrades and on board credit. I have lodged a complaint about their customer service and received NO reply from corporate. This is our third Norwegian Cruise and will be our last after this experience. It has really taken a lot out of our anticipation for the vacation. If you want a once in a lifetime special cruise experience and to be treated with consideration and respect, choose another cruise line.

    Reply
  • I have never been one to leave reviews. Anything could be good or bad, and I’ve always just rolled with the punches. However, I feel I have to say something about my experience so far with Norwegian’s customer service. I am currently booked to go to Alaska in July. I have had questions about excursions, add-ons, airfare etc. and have had to call in several times to get the answers because the website is difficult to navigate. I have spent a minimum of 35 minutes waiting for someone to come on the line, and up to an hour and a half before I spoke to a human being. I have to say after spending over $10,000 so far, this is highly unacceptable. There has been an issue with my airfare, and I still don’t know what airline I am on and what time I fly. I need to get seats for my family and can’t get it done. I would really like to be able to sit with them!!
    I have cruised with Disney 4 times, with customer service second to none. They are available almost immediately every time I call. Because the cost was a couple thousand cheaper for this cruise, I decided to try another cruise line. I feel I have made a mistake.

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  • I’m suggesting not cruise with Norwegian cruise line ever again. Also, do not book directly with Norwegian, check prices on other websites.
    I booked the cabin well in advance assuming the price would be competitive. During booking over the phone with Norwegian I was told that the price will be adjusted if drops before sailing.
    I found out just few weeks later that price drops and when I called Norwegian, was told that they can only give me onboard credit for $50. This was just 25% of the price drop that they never clarified about their unethical policy.
    I would have saved at least $500 if booked thru travel agents or other web sites just few weeks before cruise.
    I’m done with Norwegian and would like to suggest other customers not to sail with them.
    There are many other choices you can save lot of money and enjoy your vacation.

    Neil B
    R

    Reply
  • I received an email from Tonya from inside sales, we communicated months earlier, with me asking for a long term cruise.
    She was excited to tell me about a 16 day cruise on the Joy form LAX to MIA. With that prompt i booked the cruise for a base rate of $4,398.
    Now they have dropped the same cruise, same cabin to $2,249.
    It’s not their problem that i live on Social Security and a small pension, and it has taken me 4 years to save for a cruise.
    NCL did offer me a nice inside room, unlike the Balcony I booked.
    Gee, no thanks.
    Can I just get a credit for future cruise, No but we can upgrade you to a nice inside room.
    NCL really does not care a bit about the customer, as long as they have sucked out all your money.

    Reply
  • The last experience cruising on NCL I had nothing but great things to say, 2 cruises on the Jade, in the Adriatic and Mediterranean and twice on the Epic from Spain to Sicily… we were sold, great service, great trips… fast forward from 2013 to 2019… WHOAH how far can a company drop? This 5 night cruise from NYC to Bermuda has been the worst… to see how they’ve altered services in favor of MORE people, less quality in food, services and courtesy… for example; the spa… no longer do you get the luxury of a ROBE.. get escorted to a tranquil lounge to wait, no no…. just hustled into your massage room by the therapist, change right there… lie down get your quick and expensive massage, put back on your Bermuda shorts and hurried out… oh the worst thing we had on our $15,000 vacation, our big suite has 2 TVs – 2 remotes…. the remote? Yes. We’re told “hold it to the blue light located on the tv” or it won’t work…. so forget lying on the bed and changing channels…. no no… it’s not low batteries… it’s just how it works in all staterooms ?…. the room service, cold food, Pepsi only, 45 minutes if you ask for ice tea…. worst room service ever… 24/7…. entertainment is sad…. sorry NCL… how low can you go? Your prices are the only thing that rose to the top… ?? Zero stars …

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  • Terrible customer service!!! Never go on this cruise!!! They charged me 280$ travel protection for a trip that was cancelled by them!!! They had to cancel my cruise because of the corona virus and now since they cancelled I get screwed out of 280$!!! The travel protection is “non refundable”… How are they charging for services that I never even got to go on??? I’ll definitely be speaking to a lawyer about this!!!! I’m so pissed off I can’t believe a business can actually get away with this!!! They’re making people pay for fake services and collecting money from it!!! Total crooks!!!

    Reply
  • NCL is a ripoff. My orinignal cruise was cancelled and they said if I rebooked, they would refund the money. Well, the second cruise was cancelled and guess what? NO REFUND–just a future cruise credit. What a ripoff. I will never sail with them again. They are thieves.

    Reply
    • We always recommend travel insurance, particularly Cancel for Any Reason insurance.

      Reply
  • Norwegian, you should consider cruises to nowhere or shore lines like 1000 islands st. Lawrence. The trip from Quebec City to Toronto around lake Ontario with one of your small ships could be something for now. There are some great shore lines around the world.

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  • The destinations in Alaska were amazing and I’m glad we got to see them. This cruise line is garbage and all the bad press ideas people have about Norwegian seems to be well founded.

    Without making this too long, we had to get off the ship early before it left the US continued into Canada on the last day. My Canadian wife was in the immigration process and wasn’t allowed to leave the country. We were charged a fee called the Jones Act for disembarking early because of this, about $1500. Fine, it’s an antiquated US law that we can’t avoid.

    We come to find out a few days later that Norwegian reported to the US Govt (CBP) that we STAYED ON THE SHIP and left the country! So not only did they get to pocket our fines that they DID NOT have to pay themselves, they LIED to CBP. This also caused us a lot of problems with her immigration process, and Norwegian refuse to do ANYTHING to help us here, they wouldn’t even write something saying we actually disembarked.

    Luckily the CBP office in Ketchikan, AK where we disembarked was awesome and they wrote a notarized letter for us that we were able to give to the immigration office. Without their note my wife would have been deported back to Canada. They swindled me out of money and made 0 attempt to fix anything. Hopefully you don’t have any unique circumstances they can’t handle, but just with a more organized cruise line with better customer service.

    Reply
    • What a story. Sorry to hear how this played out. Thanks for sharing it Jason.

      Reply

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