Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Norwegian Cruise Line

Good afternoon to all! I am just wrapping up another day here in the big city of Dothan and decided to continue with my series on the different cruise lines. Today we take a closer look at Norwegian Cruise Lines, also considered a first-class line. From this point forward I will just refer to them as NCL because my elementary brain is having an extremely hard time spelling Norwegian.
Freestyle Cruising, that's the theme and these guys do a great job to make sure this is what they live by. I love their commercials from a couple years ago where they have people who look like robots walking around a ship because they are told when and where to eat. I am very glad NCL did break that trend in cruising because I, for one, do not like to have to pick a time to eat and then be seated with complete strangers. On a NCL cruise they have the most encompassing dine as you wish program out there. You have the choice to call in for same day reservations at the dining venue of your choice or they have live monitors all over the ship with the restaurants listed and their capacities/wait time. That way you can choose when you are ready to eat, where you want to eat. Even if you choose a restaurant with a wait all you have to do is get on the list, they give you a pager, when your table is ready you are paged. Freestyle Cruising does include other free choice things from entertainment, dinner in your cabin, and others but the dining is what put them on the map as a "different" cruise line. This, in my opinion, has forced most all other cruise lines to change their dining policies and slowly but surely they are making the transition. People truly do not want a schedule on a vacation.
NCL also has the only ship, Pride of America, that doest a 7-day Hawaiian cruise that starts and ends in Hawaii! This cuts out a lot of sea days you will spend if you leave from the west coast to Hawaii due to sheer distance. I did learn an interesting fact about Pride of America recently on the travel channel. It is the only U.S. flagged cruise ship sailing right now. I do not know the laws but where you flag the ship is by whose laws the ship is operated under. NCL was really trying to cash in on America's patriotism and hit a home run with this ship...well it back fired. With the minimum wage laws and the fact they couldn't put a casino on-board they almost went under. I don't think anyone is going to flag another ship in the U.S.
NCL's cabins are smaller than the industry average but they make up for that in other areas. They do a really good job with entertainment. They have themed parties like the Monte Carlo party in the casino and a "white hot" party complete with smoke and all white costumes. NCL's newest ship, the Epic is due out in June of 2010 and looks really nice. It will be based in Miami year round and even has an ice bar!! Yes, real ice and you are issued a faux fur coat at the door. I can't get my mind around how this will work but I bet it will be really cool :). One more unique feature is there will only be interior and balcony cabins...NO ocean views. This baby is balconies from the first floor to the top and I like it.
I haven't been on a NCL cruise but I sure do want to. Those of us located here in the Southeast have a great opportunity to avoid the dreaded flight to a cruise each winter because NCL has a ship in New Orleans for a couple months. One more tid bit of good news is that NCL is very competitive with Carnival in pricing, which at the end of the day we all know price does matter!

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