There are 7 things that make Norwegian Cruise Line unique to other cruise lines operating today.  In this article we will dig into what makes them different and what type of traveler this benefits.

Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

When deciding on your next cruise vacation, it can be difficult to choose which cruise line might be best for yourself, or your family. With over 50 cruise lines operating today, the choices are understandably overwhelming with several factors to consider from dining to entertainment onboard, excursions off-board and countless amenities.

Even when considering all these countless aspects, Norwegian Cruise Line boasts a few notable offerings in the industry. See the list below of 7 things that make Norwegian Cruise Line Different among other cruise lines today.

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1.     Pioneer of “Freestyle Cruising”

One of the most notable things that Norwegian Cruise Line is known and loved for is their laid-back atmosphere across all their fleet. Norwegian was the pioneer behind “freestyle dining,” a concept that was otherwise foreign to the cruise line industry prior to its introduction back in 2000.

This innovative dining style allowed cruisers to dine at sea as they do on land – at any time and at any restaurant they wanted and all they had to do was show up. Formerly, dining on cruise ships meant reserving dining months in advance and showing up in ballgowns, dressed to the nines.

Norwegian completely re-wrote this script when they introduced a new era of dining, which most cruisers have arguably preferred due to its low-pressure environment.

Additionally, Norwegian’s relaxed atmosphere continues throughout all aspects of their cruise line. This means that Norwegian enforces no strict dress code onboard their ships and does not hold a typical ‘formal night,’ a classic tradition held by most cruise lines.

Instead, they will host an optional dress up night on, which is more toned down and only observed by about half of the ship’s passengers.

This means, if you decide to dress up or not, you will not look out of place. Cruisers love Norwegian especially for their relaxed dress code. In fact, Norwegian permits jeans in the Main Dining Room, so long as one is clean and presentable.

So, if you enjoy vacations where you can no more than pack jeans, swimsuits and flip flops, Norwegian Cruise Line is the fleet for you.

2.     Ideal for Solo-Cruisers

Traveling, and especially cruising, as a solo passenger can seem intimidating, but Norwegian is aiming to erase this stigma with the introduction of their state-of-the-art studio cabins.

Norwegian Cruise Line is the inventor of these unique studio cabins, which were crafted specifically to cater to solo cruisers, as the demand for this population has increased in recent years.

These studio cabins will soon be offered across all Norwegian Cruise ships, which is ideal for those traveling solo and looking to cruise to different parts of the world. The cabins have been described as modern, clean, bright, and efficient for an individual.

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Each cabin measures 100 square feet and features a full-sized bed with a private, separate bathroom area and plenty of storage throughout. One of the modern technological features is the live camera ‘window’ above the bed, which gives guests the impression these interior rooms of having an exterior feel.

Regarding technology, each stateroom comes equipped with a standard TV, plenty of outlets, USB ports and even traditional European outlets, with a grand total of seven (7) outlets throughout the room despite its small size.

Though the staterooms are notably smaller, especially in comparison to its balcony and suite counterparts, the bathrooms have been described as arguably similar in size comparison.

Outside of the elimination of a single toiletry shelf within the shower, the reminder of the bathroom includes several storage areas, and a drawer.  The shower, sink and toilet are all sized the same as traditional staterooms across Norwegian’s fleet.

The stateroom itself contains a desk, an ottoman instead of the standard cruise sofa for lounging, plenty of closet and drawer space, especially when considering this room was built for one, and efficient shelfing for storage.

A huge plus for these solo cabins, however, arguably isn’t even within the cabin itself. An exclusive extra, which is available to all passengers staying in these staterooms only, is the private Studio Lounge. This lounge is located in the middle of the two Studio Stateroom areas and is accessed with your stateroom card only.

The lounge is fully stocked 24/7 with complimentary refreshments such as: snacks, water, coffee, and tea. It also provides solo travelers the opportunity to meet other solo travelers, which has proven very effective.

3.     The Haven

The Haven on Norwegian Encore. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

Although all cruise lines have their own unique suite experience and amenities, none are quite like Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) exclusive The Haven.

In 2005, Norwegian introduced the idea of an exclusive suite beyond what the traditional cruise line was currently offering at that time.  By 2010 the concept of The Haven was realized across the entire fleet.

The Haven was and is an exclusive experience with top-notch experiences and white glove services, surrounded by Norwegian’s best of the best.

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While it was introduced on a few fleets at its inception, The Haven is now a staple across NCL fleet-wide and is a unique experience depending on the ship which you sail on.

The true difference between The Haven and most other cruise line’s suites is your experience. On other cruise lines, you simply sleep and lounge within your suite, however, Norwegian took things one step further, and brought the amenities to you.

This means, you can dine, lounge, drink, sleep and be entertained without ever leaving your suite if this is how you decide to spend your cruise. From a private sundeck, hot tub, pool, bar, and custom-curated restaurant (serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner), all these experiences are included within in The Haven.

On some ships, passengers are even given a private cellphone, which will connect them directly to their concierge for help with reservations for spa, excursions, dining and more. The Haven truly was crafted to be a “ship within a ship” for guests to feel like true luxury.

The Haven boasts several different rooms not only fleet-wide, but within the ship itself. This means, you’ll have your choice of accommodations depending on your party side and space requirements.

Some options may include Spa Suites, which allows direct access to the spa with priority or complimentary reservations throughout your cruise, as well as hot tubs, and waterfall showers within the suite. Other options are the two-bedroom villa or a 3-bedroom Garden Villa, which are ideal for larger families.

For those who love to entertain, the Penthouse or Owners Suites would be your best bet, as they offer the most square-footage, large living and dining room space and the best aft/forward views on Norwegian’s ships.

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Pricing for The Haven is largely dependent on the itinerary, season, and port of departure, but one can expect to pay roughly $3,000 per passenger (not stateroom) for a week-long cruise. The Haven is on average two to eight times more expensive than a standard stateroom.

4.     ‘Free at Sea’ Offers

For those searching for a vacation that includes nearly everything, Norwegian Cruise Line is an ideal choice, especially when considering their unique ‘Free at Sea’ promotion.

This exclusive promotion, which runs almost constantly, offers guests the opportunity to choose between a handful of perks when booking their cruise. These perks do fluctuate; however, they typically include the following five offerings:

Free unlimited open bar
Free Wi-Fi/Internet packages
Free shore excursion(s)
Free specialty dining
Free third and/or fourth passenger in your cabin

While these offers are typically in rotation, Norwegian has also added other options in the past, such as: free or discounted airfare, or free gratuities.

This promotion is redeemable based on the current sale being offered, and the stateroom category that is booked. For example, those passengers who book a Porthole cabin may be eligible to redeem two (2) offers. Those who book The Haven are historically eligible for all five (5) free perks.

Please note: Norwegian reserves the right to adjust and change these conditions at any time. Any discounted cabins, namely the “Sail Away” rates, are often excluded from this promotion, so it is important to read the fine print when selecting your stateroom.

Additionally, no taxes, port fees and expenses, or gratuities are included in these rates and will be charged separately.

Knowing which ‘Free at Sea’ offer is best for yourself and/or your travel party depends on how you prefer to spend your vacation time. If sit-down dining after a long day is your thing, the free specialty dining offer would make most sense. For those who enjoy exploring destinations through different excursions, the free shore excursion option is ideal.

The best thing about cruising with Norwegian and their freestyle environment is that there truly is something for everyone to enjoy.


5.     Go-Karts at Sea

Norwegian Cruise Line is no stranger when it comes to providing top notch, first-of-its-kind entertainment for its passengers. It should come as no surprise that they would be the ones to introduce the first go-karts at sea onboard their fleet: Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy , Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Prima, and Norwegian Viva.

These Ferrari branded; electric-powered racecars can reach a speed of up to 30 MPH on the 1,400-foot track which spans two-levels on these megaships. Each passenger must purchase either a single session, which is $15 for ten laps, or the unlimited go-kart package for $199 per passenger, which lasts for the duration of your cruise.

Reservations are not required to participate, but highly recommended as this unique experience does fill up quickly.

This experience has been voted a favorite among all passengers onboard – even the smallest riders. Although you must be over 55 inches (4’7”) to drive the go-kart alone, you can be a passenger at any height. Single riders are also welcome, as there are go-karts made specifically for those riding individually.

So, if go-karting in the middle of the open sea has been on your bucket list, you should consider Norwegian Cruise Line for your next vacation!

6.     Hawaii-Only Itinerary

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If you are interested in cruising to Hawaii without leaving the United States, Norwegian has you covered. Their vessel, Pride of America, is the only U.S. registered mainstream cruise ship that is legally permitted to sail to the Hawaiian Islands.

Norwegian’s weeklong itinerary sets sail all year long, departing from Honolulu, visiting ports of call including Maui, Hilo (the big island – Hawaii), Kona and Kauai. This sailing lets you visit four (4) islands in seven (7) days without the stress of flying to and from various destinations. Cruisers love this itinerary so much, that Norwegian was voted “Best Hawaii Itinerary” by Porthole Magazine, a popular cruiser’s magazine line, for 12 consecutive years!

If you prefer to visit several Hawaiian Islands within a short timespan by cruise ship, Norwegian is your only option, which makes this itinerary extremely unique. The Pride of America vessel was crafted specifically for this voyage and can only be experienced on this specific itinerary.

Related: 12 reasons to cruise Hawaii on Norwegian’s Pride of America


7.     The Largest Suites at Sea

Photos courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

If you’re someone who likes to vacation with plenty of square footage, don’t sleep on Norwegian’s staterooms. Boasting some of the largest cabins at sea, Norwegian’s Garden Villas each measure up to 6,694 square feet on average (varying only by vessel) and top-notch amenities.

The idea of an owner’s suite dates back to the 19th century with the inception of ocean liner travel and was quickly adopted by the cruise line industry. These suites were designed to be a ‘ship within a ship’ where passengers could enjoy a luxury experience.

Amenities and accommodations such as a private bar, sun deck, hot tub, pool, premium spa access, concierge service and more are all typically included within the rate of these staterooms.

Norwegian Cruise Line certainly takes the cake and actually holds the title of ‘largest suite at sea’ onboard its vessel Jewel of the Seas. Two of their Garden Villas, which are part of the Haven collection, at 6,694 square feet, contain three bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms, complimentary room service for all meals, a dining room, two balconies, a grand piano, a private bar, pool, sundeck, steam room and hot tub.

These rooms also come with the added luxury of butler service, and private concierge to assist with dining, entertainment and shore excursion reservations should you need it.

The Haven collection offers several different accommodations, which vary in square footage. The largest suites can sleep up to eight (8) passengers, and the smallest typically sleep up to five (5). Whether you’re in search of a one-bedroom, two-bedroom, or even a three-bedroom villa, Norwegian has you covered for your next cruise vacation.

Related: 10 largest cruise ship suites in the world

Final Thoughts

Deciding which major cruise line to sail with for your next vacation can understandably be a difficult decision. Since cruises are not a ‘one size fits all’ and with so many options, it can leave you wondering which one is best for you.

If you prefer a laid-back, freestyle environment with plenty of entertainment and activities at every corner, you should consider Norwegian Cruise Line for your next cruise. From go-karting to an ample number of restaurants to choose from, you’ll simply never be bored when sailing with Norwegian as there is always a plethora of things to do and for all ages.

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