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.

Facebook
Pinterest
Twitter
LinkedIn
StumbleUpon
Digg

22 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.

    Reply
  • 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 …

    Reply
  • 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
      • Ralph, we bought the insurance but after they canceled our cruise twice, they refuse to refund our money. Insurance means nothing to NCL.

        Reply
      • Cancel for any reason does not cover a Pandemic. We are in the same situation with two cruises cancelled and our money is being held hostage because the second cruise was cancelled and no recourse but future cruise credit.

        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.

    Reply
  • 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
  • I was called by Norwegian cruises about a potential cruise. I gave my credit information but did not select a cruise and made it clear I did not want to place a deposit until I selected a cruise. I about a month later I found a charge on my card, even though I never got anything from the cruise line confirming a cruise or even a deposit. They refuse to correct the unauthorized charge. I fear they resorted to fraud in this case. Beware!

    Reply
  • My husband and I have taken several cruises on NCL and were really becoming fans. However our most recent cruise did not at all turn out as we had hoped and paid and the customer service we received was absolutely abhorrent. We are completely done with NCL and recommend you should be too, unless you like to be belittled if you ever have an issue. We will be selling all of our stock, which we now understand why theirs are some of the lowest.

    We originally booked the Israel and Turkey cruise that also included Italy, Greece, and Cyprus. About one month before, we received notification that Israel and Cyprus were removed. We were very disappointed, but decided to continue with the 25% refund, which we’re still waiting for!
    The day of trip, we showed up at the port during our allotted time and pre boarding was a complete nightmare of incompetence and waiting for hours! Once we finally got to the check in, we were handed a completely different itinerary (only Greece and Italy!!) We were crushed: we took so much time off from work for this cruise and paid so much money to see countries we hadn’t yet been to. We did a similar Greece and Italy trip a few years ago. Plus they made it a Greek isle trip in the middle of the off season, when most things were closed. Further, we heard that NCL knew about the change with Turkey wells before, as they cancelled the port on a different cruise, yet they waiting until the sail date to tell us! Talk about shady business practices!

    I will say the service on the trip was great, but we ended up having almost 4 days at sea, instead of 1, because of the change and weather issues. Things that were free: library and games, were closed due to covid, however the arcade and casino that made NCL money were open.

    We had issues flying back, which we had also booked through NCL and are still fighting the travel insurance. We reached out to NCL about all of the issues: excursions being advertised as something different than what was actually run, due to covid, and the NCL brushoffs commenced. We called, emailed, and I doubt they could have been any less responsive or any more rude. We didn’t even ask for money back, other than for the 25% and excursions and still nothing. So instead of getting maybe a couple hundred off or toward a future cruise, we will take all of our cruising and the thousands of dollars that we would spend to a different company and will never sail with NCL again! We advise everyone to stay away from their company! It’s one thing to change itineraries (within reason) and excursions, but you can employ better customer service representatives so as not to lose business!

    Reply
  • My husband and I have taken several cruises on NCL and were really becoming fans. However our most recent cruise did not at all turn out as we had hoped and paid and the customer service we received was absolutely abhorrent. We are completely done with NCL and recommend you should be too, unless you like to be belittled if you ever have an issue. We will be selling all of our stock, which we now understand why theirs are some of the lowest.

    We originally booked the Israel and Turkey cruise that also included Italy, Greece, and Cyprus. About one month before, we received notification that Israel and Cyprus were removed. We were very disappointed, but decided to continue with the 25% refund, which we’re still waiting for!
    The day of trip, we showed up at the port during our allotted time and pre boarding was a complete nightmare of incompetence and waiting for hours! Once we finally got to the check in, we were handed a completely different itinerary (only Greece and Italy!!) We were crushed: we took so much time off from work for this cruise and paid so much money to see countries we hadn’t yet been to. We did a similar Greece and Italy trip a few years ago. Plus they made it a Greek isle trip in the middle of the off season, when most things were closed. Further, we heard that NCL knew about the change with Turkey wells before, as they cancelled the port on a different cruise, yet they waiting until the sail date to tell us! Talk about shady business practices!

    I will say the service on the trip was great, but we ended up having almost 4 days at sea, instead of 1, because of the change and weather issues. Things that were free: library and games, were closed due to covid, however the arcade and casino that made NCL money were open.

    We had issues flying back, which we had also booked through NCL and are still fighting the travel insurance. We reached out to NCL about all of the issues: excursions being advertised as something different than what was actually run, due to covid, and the NCL brushoffs commenced. We called, emailed, and I doubt they could have been any less responsive or any more rude. We didn’t even ask for money back, other than for the 25% and excursions and still nothing. So instead of getting maybe a couple hundred off or toward a future cruise, we will take all of our cruising and the thousands of dollars that we would spend to a different company and will never sail with NCL again! We advise everyone to stay away from their company! It’s one thing to change itineraries (within reason) and excursions, but you can employ better customer service representatives so as not to lose business!

    Reply
  • Norwegian’s customer service is horrible. Just tried to use their “ Best Price. Guaranteed” program and they refuse to honor it. It says 110% of price difference as an onboard credit. When the price dropped and I called them they said they could give me 50% of the difference toward another cruise. When I asked where it said that rather than what it said on their website, they told me in the contract. Checked the contract and there was nothing. Called back and asked them to tell me where it was in the contract and they couldn’t find it. Put me in contact with dispute resolution and they told me it was on their website. When they couldn’t find it there they said they no longer offered it and would not honor it. Book with another company.

    Reply
  • I would not book a cruise with Norwegian. We were booked and 100% paid to cruise in Hawaii. 30 days out they cancel our reservation because of staffing (they say). So now my daughters graduation gift is gone. You can plan a last minute trip like that unless you are willing to double at least what you paid.

    Reply
  • On 8/1/22, I sent Guest Services at NCL, a list of issues that marred our recent NCL Sun group cruise (18 people) on 7/21. With no response forthcoming by 8/5/22, I sent the message again to NCL with a deadline of 8/9/22 at which time I intended to escalate the complaints to higher levels. On 8/9/22, NCL sent a short message requesting more time to investigate my claims of incompetence. I waited until 8/11/22 and sent NCL a message saying that I would escalate by 8/12/22 if I did not get a phone call by 8/12/22. NCL has not responded and I am now going to send complaints to the CDC, FMD (CADRS) Cruise Critic.
    (group reservation A1159910, two of the 8 booking id’s 46010680, 46010704) It is with great disappointment and dissatisfaction that I write to you about several issues that reared their very ugly heads on our 7/21/22 cruise on the NCL Sun round trip from Seattle to Alaska.

    1. On Sunday 7/24/22, one of our group (R.H.) experienced very painful symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea and she went to the ship’s doctor. The doctor apparently administered a Covid test which came out negative (common during 1st 3 days after exposure) and concluded she had a bacterial infection and prescribed an antibiotic. He said she was not contagious and was free to wander about the ship. I would like to know what test was run to provide evidence of a bacterial infection. As I understand it, R.H. revisited the doctor on about 7/26/22 but was not retested for Covid and was told she did not have Covid. She disembarked still not feeling well on Thurs.7/28/22. She tested positive for Covid on Friday, 7/26/22 indicating she was probably infected and contagious several days earlier. My unprofessional opinion is that she had Covid from the beginning and by not quarantining her, she exposed many members of our group and others on the ship to Covid. In support of this, the Friday testing site would not give her Paxlovid saying she was too far along for the drug to work. Since she started expressing symptoms 5 days earlier on the day she went to the doctor, this indicates she could have had Covid from the beginning. Out of the 18 people in our group, at least half tested positive within 2 days of disembarking. While I cannot prove they contacted Covid on board, it is highly probable because of the incubation period. l contracted the disease while on the ship probably getting it from contact with R.H. I tested positive (on 7/31/22) and at the age of 81 with only 14% kidney function, this is a serious threat.. Incidentally, I had two appointments with kidney doctors this week which I have had to reschedule. It took 3 months to get one of the appointment last time. What does NCL propose to do to fix this problem? The symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea are generally more consistent with a virus than a bacterium. The Internet on reputable sites lists vomiting and diarrhea as two common side effect of Covid. While it is possible that R.H. first got the bacterial infection followed very closely by Covid, as a scientist, I think this is unlikely as the principle of Occam’s Razor probably applies. I think there is a very significant probability that the doctor misdiagnosed her and instead of erring on the side of caution by quarantining her, he told us she was not contagious and erred on the side of high risk. Even if it was initially a bacterial infection, R.H. should have been quarantined and retested. If she had been quarantined and retested on 7/29/22, it is probable that she would have tested positive and that fewer people would have been exposed. We have been told that two other families tested positive shortly after disembarking. One member of our group informed NCL of the Covid cases on the Sun but there has been no notice from the Sun about the Covid exposure risk on the Sur nor any attempts to find out how many people contracted Covid immediately after cruising on the Sun.

    2. On board, we found Guest Services unable to straighten out another NCL flaw. A couple of our rooms had unrelated people in the room but your desk was not able to separate the billing and onboard credit for the two people. One of our group talked to many of the guest services personnel each time getting a different response and each time concluding they could not fix the problem. Their training was clearly inadequate. We were referred to the financial manager who knew much less than each of the regular service people. Finally, most but not all of the problems were resolved by transferring funds from one person to another. One of us had to visit the desk several times before a partial fix was found. Unfortunately, this required substantial time at the desk. We did not pay for this cruise so that we could stand in lines. This added substantial stress to the cruise and is unacceptable as there should be an easy way to accommodate two unrelated people in the same room. One of the Guest Services reps even suggested that we solve the problem by not paying the daily gratuity. This is a disgusting solution as the crew and staff with the notable exception of Guest Services was very courteous and friendly for the cruise. They earned their gratuities.

    3. On one of the visits to the desk, my sister noticed a $100 bill near my feet, and she bent over and handed it to me thinking I had dropped it. I did have a couple of hundreds in my wallet and did not know if I had dropped it so I put it in my wallet. Later in the day, I was hunted down by a security person who had a picture of me but she would not take the $100 bill and said I had to return it to the desk. While she and the person at the desk were nice, there seemed to be this feeling that I had done something wrong. Did they have to hunt me down and embarrass the heck out me?
    4. From the time we initially booked the cruise to the date of cruising, NCL whittled down the length of the port stops from the already too short amounts by another 1.5 hours at each stop. This left inadequate time especially at Juneau and Victoria. Isn’t this called bait and switch?
    5. Very early on (several months before the cruise) we booked the Icy Strait Shore excursion on the gondola and tram for 3 pm. Once on board, NCL changed many of the times for our group to 4 pm. When we told the excursions desk that we strongly preferred the 3 pm excursion, they moved all of us to 4 pm and then proceeded to charge us the on board rate instead of the price we had booked it at. This took more guest services time to straighten out and left us with the much less desirable excursion time. This meant some of us got too tired at the end to visit Hoonah. This was another NCL mistake which we ended up suffering from.
    6. A couple of weeks before boarding, many of us tried to download our boarding passes but could not because the site said our payments were incomplete. After many calls and wasted time, it turned out that NCL had made a few cents error out of over $20,000 in our billing and this was causing the problem. The error was made by NCL and again, we had to use valuable time to fix their mistake.
    What do I want NCL to do about these issues? First, I do not want apologies. Second, I want transparency on all these issues. Third, I want you to explain how you are going to fix all the problems mentioned. As I told the financial manager at the Guest services Desk, unless these problems are fixed (the financial manager couldn’t even fix #2), I will do everything I can to discourage any of our18 member group from cruising on NCL again.

    Reply
  • Cruise review
    I’m not one to leave reviews but I’d strongly advise against cruising with Norwegian. Their customer service is literally awful, and they do not communicate with their staff. The representatives on the phone are extremely rude and constantly try to make you feel like an idiot. For example, the Vibes Beach Club started allowing guests to pre-book passes, but each time we called we were continuously told that it is impossible. We paid for priority boarding in order to buy these passes quickly onboard, and even though we were the first ones to get to guest services they told us it was completely sold out…which was not true. We spent the first three hours of our cruise navigating customer service in order to buy passes, and low and behold there were tons available. On its busiest day I think there were maybe 20 people in the beach club, which is just a glorified sun deck with no pool and about 5 umbrellas. You can only use spa credits on port days, and when you get spa services they swarm you in the last 10 minutes in order to sell you the products. The ship has just one pretty small pool unless you are in the Haven club. I could go on but it’s not really worth it. Just do yourself a favor and do not book a cruise with NCL.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

x Logo: Shield Security
This Site Is Protected By
Shield Security