Norwegian Cruise Lines
Cruise & Travel Depot is a Certified Norwegian Specialist
To differentiate themselves from the rest, Norwegian Cruise Lines introduced a new concept coined Freestyle Cruising. Moving away from a formal environment, Freestyle is designed to foster a more relaxed, casual atmosphere throughout your sailing. This includes giving passengers the option to dine their way around a multitude of eateries at no fixed time, should you choose to go this route in lieu of using the main dining room. Norwegian Cruise Line has phased out formal nights, so you don’t need to worry about packing (then pressing) a suit or gown. The main focus of Freestyle Cruising is to enhance the guest experience through freedom, flexibility and relaxation. Along with traditional cruise itineraries, Norwegian also offers special musical themed cruises – each highlighting a specific genre such as classic rock, hard rock, country, jazz, pop, soca or blues – featuring live entertainment headlined by renowned artists. In addition, the company has invested in private resort-style islands, exclusively for Norwegian passengers on itineraries that include the Bahamas or Belize. Once you set sail, it’s all about putting your feet up and unwinding.
To me the sea is a continual miracle; The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the ships, with men in them, What stranger miracles are there?
– Walt Whitman
Norwegian Cruise Line runs the gamut in stateroom options. From Studios designed to accommodate solo travelers to vast Garden Villas that sleep eight, there is a wide range of choices to fit different budgets and wants/needs. Even some of the Oceanview staterooms can sleep up to five guests. All ships have connecting Balcony Staterooms that can bring together larger groups. Located close to the Mandara Spa, special Spa Balcony Staterooms, Mini-Suites and Suites come with complimentary use of the sauna, hydrotherapy pools, steam room and heated loungers. Five ships in the fleet have Studios for solo travelers – a first in the industry – priced for single passengers and with exclusive access to the Studio Complex and Lounge, a private area where Studio guests can congregate – have a drink with your neighbors, order room service, relax in front of the big-screen TV and enjoy complimentary coffee and snacks throughout the day. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Haven – described as a ship within a ship – features the largest and most opulent guest rooms, complete with a concierge, 24-hour butler, priority embarkation, debarkation and tenders on shore days, gourmet treats that magically appear in your room each night, a cocktail party with the ship’s officers, and access to a private restaurant and the exclusive Haven Courtyard facilities.
On every ship you will find up to three Main Dining Rooms, an Irish-style pub and multiple casual dining options. The onboard buffets feature interactive stations such as meat carving or a popular pasta-toss where you can select your own ingredients and have exactly what you want cooked to order. With the Freestyle Dining option, you can choose when and where you eat, without having to be locked in to a fixed schedule. Specialty Dining packages allow you to enjoy specialty restaurants for 3 or more nights, all for one fixed price. From steakhouses to seafood bistros, French to Asian, Italian to Latin American, there are tempting flavor profiles to excite even the most discerning of palates. Children aged 3 or younger dine for free in all specialty restaurants, and a complimentary kids’ menu is offered to those aged 4-12 years. For those who enjoy fine wines, a wide selection is available across all Main Dining Rooms and Specialty Restaurants. If you prefer to indulge in something more colorful, the onboard bars and lounges feature an array of bold and flavorful concoctions.
From dance parties on deck to world-class stage shows, there is never a dull moment on board a Norwegian ship. Theater productions will enthrall audience members of all ages and feature everything from Latin dance shows to Broadway-style productions, Cirque du Soleil and an award-winning barbershop quartet. On the ever-popular pool deck, Norwegian Cruise Line always strives to push the envelope with exciting and unique water slides and splash parks. While the youngest passengers squeal in delight amidst sprinklers and mini-slides, their older, braver siblings may find themselves bold enough to revel in fast-moving slides, tubes and even free-fall plunges. A quieter, more relaxing poolside experience – including a waterfall – is available in an adults-only pool area on the top deck. Athletic challenges, too, abound at sea with such offerings as a sports deck, ropes challenge, bowling, mini-golf, zip-lining and rock-climbing walls. Thrill-seekers can try their hand at walking the plank, a supervised (and harnessed!) board extending 8 feet out over the open water. Shopping enthusiasts will find plenty of duty free stores on board, and let’s not forget the art galleries, complete with scheduled auctions, and the exhilaration of the vibrant casino.
Every Norwegian ship has a top-notch gym with the latest cardio-vascular equipment, free weights and a variety of classes such as spinning, yoga and pilates. Breakaway Class vessels offer Flywheel classes, a choreographed cycling workout with specially-placed weighted bars on the exercycles. You can also participate in Rockettes® classes, where you will learn techniques for stretching and strengthening your muscles, or boxing classes led by experienced trainers. When you’re ready to take a deep breath and indulge in some pampering and rejuvenation, step into Mandara Spa. In addition to salon services, manicures and pedicures, the spa offers a full menu of facials, body wraps, medi-spa and acupuncture treatments. They even have hand and foot reflexology to relax your furthermost digits. Mandara Spa’s flagship service is the Four Hands Massage, in which two therapists work together in synchronization to ease your tension while you unwind at sea.
Norwegian Cruise Line offers a plethora of activities across their complimentary youth programs. For the Guppies, aged 6-36 months, open play and scheduled activities such as music and movement or sensory play will give you the opportunity to enjoy special bonding time with your baby in a fun and engaging environment. Splash Academy caters to the 3-12 year olds, separated into groups of their peers for age-appropriate activities overseen by a caring and professional staff. They offer all kinds of workshops, games and sessions including such delights as circus training, arts and crafts, storytelling, treasure hunts, theme nights, sensory activities, team-building challenges, parades, scavenger hunts and more. The Entourage program will keep teenagers busy in a safe and supervised environment that’s also hip. Teens have their own exclusive lounge and dance club. Scheduled programs for this age group may include art (sculptures, graffiti art and more), movies, video gaming, sports, circus skills, dance classes, music, fashion and weird and wonderful theme night parties. The whole family can come together for game shows, pizza making, sports challenges and other scheduled activities. On port days, if the grown-ups are planning a non-kid-friendly shore excursion, group sitting is available onboard for an additional charge. Likewise, babysitting can be booked in the evenings so that parents can go enjoy a night out for dinner, drinks, the casino, a stage show or just a nice relaxing stroll around the promenade together.
Some Norwegian packages include free shore excursions, which can prove to be a real boon if you’re traveling to exotic destinations such as Peru (think Machu Piccu) or the Falkland Islands, renowned for their penguin colony. From Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest, Canada, Alaska and Florida, this cruise line covers hundreds of miles of North America. They also venture far and wide with trips through the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Central and South America, New Zealand and Australia. If you’re on a tight schedule and are looking for a short getaway, try one of their weekend cruises to the Bahamas (with a free open bar!) or a quick stint from Vancouver to Seattle. Longer trans-Atlantic itineraries will afford you plenty of time to relax and enjoy extra sea days in between exciting port days on either side of the big pond.